breathe in, breathe out

Today is this rare occasion when I find myself home alone. It’s a scorcher of a day! Still, I decide to sit outside, a stack of books next to me on the table, phone put away, a glass of iced coffee. I pick up the first book, Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh. I haven’t read this in a while and given how I’ve been feeling lately, I need the reminder. First chapter … Breathe! You Are Alive and within the first few pages the reminder for Conscious Breathing.

Breathe In, Breathe Out, Breathe In, Breathe Out, Breathe In, Breathe Out!

“Recognize your in-breath as an in-breath and your out-breath as an out-breath. This technique can help you keep your mind on your breath. As you practice, your breath will become peaceful and gentle, and your mind and body will also become peaceful and gentle. This is not a difficult exercise. In just a few minutes you can realize the fruit of meditation.” ~ Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hahn

I begin to practice and soon I become very still. My senses open up to the world around me. I can hear the light breeze, the leaves flattering and a myriad birds chatting away. A motorcycle revving up far away, the sound of a passing car, the indistinct voices of people next door. The sound of my breath and the dog panting next to me. I offer her some water.

There are bees humming, ants hurrying along, a hummingbird visits the salvia.

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morning meditations

Early morning and I heard rain was coming. The peonies are in full bloom and already weighed down. They’re going to get damaged by the rain so I’d better cut some and bring them in the house. Off I go, clippers in hands when I see a ladybug sitting on one of the young, unopened peony blooms.

Change of plans. Running to get camera. What a treat!

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I begin to notice the magical activity taking place in the garden early in the morning. The bees are working hard already. Nepeta and the roses seem to be their destination of choice.

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the way through

It was the summer of 1991 and I had just obtained my teaching certification. The previous years had been quite busy and stressful; going to school, working two part-time jobs and going to Greece to be with my mother who underwent bypass operation.

There wasn’t much downtime and, by that summer, I was burnt out.

Neal and I were were actively involved with a retreat center in upstate New York. We decided to celebrate my transition by spending the summer there; volunteering as we had done many times before. Our goal was to unplug, focus on our spiritual practice and gain a new perspective on life.

It was a bustling summer. There were thousands of people coming through and my job was to welcome people and help them navigate the center and its workings.

During one of the weekend meditation retreats, I was one of the people responsible for facilitating the flow in and out of the meditation hall. There were more than two thousand people in the center that weekend and, by Sunday afternoon, I was feeling tired and overwhelmed. Read more

sea turtles – early morning meditation

We left before dawn, hoping to see the newborn sea turtles
make their journey from nest to sea and onwards,
the breeze, cool and damp on my skin,
the ocean breathing in and out,
the clouds, changing shape and illuminated
by the sun sending the first light up the horizon
deep purple, fiery red and orange, yellow and periwinkle blue.

The Sandpipers are scurrying, digging,
making good use of their time,
they don’t seem to be distracted by my footsteps.

The seagulls, gliding above the water and
landing on the wet sand.
I see the shape of their early morning catch
dangling from their beaks.

Crabs are darting in and out their holes,
a jelly fish lying lifeless – left behind –
a solitary reminder of impermanence
and what happens when one becomes lost and stranded,
cut away from the source.

Initially we too behave like crab,
looking for something,
talking, laughing, asking questions, making up answers.
Then, slowly, silence descends.

Quietly, breathing with the ocean,
my feet feel the wetness of the sand
my skin, cool and damp,
my eyes following the ever changing light and colors on the horizon.
I’m not thinking of the turtles anymore and their journey.

Today, they don’t appear
but the sandpipers, the seagulls and the crabs are here with us.
So is the damp sand and the ocean waves,
the sun light bursting forth and the morning air.
There are others, walking quietly,
in their own pace.

We are here, now
this morning, this moment
how full and perfect it is.

Copyright ⓒ 2011 Yota Schneider – the art of pausing

summer morning

I went out, on the porch, early this morning. The girls were still asleep and the house felt quiet. There was a slight breeze and the morning air felt cool and inviting. I made a cup of tea, cut some flowers for a little blue bottle I like, took one my favorite books and sat down for some uninterrupted time with myself.

Uninterrupted time is a gift, a blessing and a necessity . . . as most of you know.

It wasn’t long before this bumble bee came around. I watched her as she made her rounds, from bloom to bloom. Nasturtiums, echinacea, salvia, butterfly bush, cosmos. I put my book down and picked up my camera. She didn’t seem bothered by me. She just kept flying around, seeking, tasting, making her morning rounds.

I sat there, still, breathing deeply and taking all in. A hummingbird came by next. I didn’t even try to take a picture. I know her. She doesn’t like it when I move. I chose to be present. This moment was a gift.

Today, perfection was in the quiet morning, the gentle breeze, a cup of tea, a small blue bottle with flowers from my garden, a bumble bee tasting the nectar and a hummingbird showing her appreciation for each bloom.

Beauty and harmony are ever present – if only, we stop and look.