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Over the years I’ve kept this blog, I’ve had a hard time staying consistently present. Unsurprisingly, this is because I feel the pressure to consistently share things that are meaningful. Even if it’s just a short thought or poem, I’ve felt that I need to ensure I’m sharing something of myself to add to another’s day.

Today, I can’t think of a darn thing.

I’m processing the cold germs that have been keeping my son coughing and achey today. The long day of trying to rest together has left me feeling more worn down than recuperated. I want so much for us both to feel completely better tomorrow, so we can enjoy the day. I want to feel PRESENT.

After a pause to sigh, I’m realizing that desire alone is a signal that I’m fighting being sick… again. I think I’ll take my own advice and surrender to the process, so the healing may flow freely without me getting in my own way. Rather than keep trying to hang onto that tiger’s tail, it’s time for me to just let it all go, and rest.

May this serve as Solidarity with you as allow some things to flow more freely for your life, as well.

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My little boy is generally very healthy. On the few occasions when he catches something, he is only very mildly ill, and is quickly fully better.

Not so, this week.

Yesterday he had a bit of a cold, and tonight he has coughs and sniffles and a low fever. He’s not used to being sick, but he’s weathering it well. I just pulled out the humidifier, and a diffuser with eucalyptus oil to help him breathe better and get some sleep.

This was another good evening to practice just being there, supportive but not dismayed at the challenge he’s facing nor my inability to simply cure it for him. It’s been a long, complicated day of practicing Active Zen at work, but none of that involved my little boy.

He’ll be fine, though, and I think he’s about to finally rest. I will, too.

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When I began practicing Sitting Zen, my best aid was an occasional temple bell. Its beautifully ringing sharpness and clarity created that same resonance within my mind, pulling away any stray thoughts with it as its tone gently faded.

The temple bell is also the best aid for my practice of Active Zen. That is, trying to bring that same quality of receptivity and non-judgment to all parts of my life, not just the quiet times. In particular, my practice of Driving Zen.

I don’t have a terribly long commute in the morning, but it is 30-45 minutes of generally heavy, somewhat dangerous traffic. While I try to focus my mind within the Zen state upon awakening, it’s during this drive that I most dedicate myself to this practice. I have a whole day of many, many issues to tackle, so it’s important to center my awareness.

My practice of Driving Zen involves trying to be aware of all of the cars around me: ahead, behind, and to the sides. I also focus on being aware of the sky, the trees, and other landmarks that I pass. If anything has changed about the environment, I try to be aware of it, and welcome it into the otherwise familiar space. I also stay mindful of how I am feeling, without allowing those feelings power to control my thoughts. Through all this, I focus on retaining a joyful receptivity, taking it all in without judgment or hangups.

This can be pretty difficult some days, and not just because Rush Hour on the Florida Turnpike is a Master Teacher. I’ll have interesting dreams I remember snippets of, memories from the day before, or even problems to resolve at work that try to pop into that space I’ve cleared and demand attention. Often, they’ll get some of that attention for a little while, until I remember to return to my practice.

At those times, I let my mind ring with the sound of the temple bell. I let the clarity wash through me, and allow the sounds to gently fade from my mind.

Refreshed, I turn my awareness back to the road I travel, joyfully receptive to all it may bring.

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What is that thing that makes you light up at the idea of doing it?

What kind of activity do you feel that itch-under-your-skin to get done, and done right?

When you’re feeling idle or delayed by some part of the day-to-day, what is it you daydream about accomplishing?

How could you pursue that thing, just a little more?

How could you fit a few more minutes, or perhaps an hour, into your day or week?

How much brighter might your life be with more of your dreams alive in it?

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This morning, my husband got up very early & woke our 5 year old so they could go outside to see the Planetary Alignment. The sky was clear, and the moon was nearly full behind them. It was a magical experience for my tiny little astronomer to be introduced to the galactic bodies by his dad who’s watched them since he was young.

My son asked me to let them star gaze alone, so when I got up a little later, he was engrossed in a show he likes to watch where little cartoon jets explore the solar system. He was so excited to have seen the planets with his own eyes, all lined up.

I was excited, too. His wonder and happiness reminded me to be mindful of the truly spectacular and valuable experiences: observing the universe around us, appreciating the beauty.

It reminds me to keep my gaze up, and my eyes open.

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Today went very quickly for me, yet didn’t seem to leave anything of itself in a meaningful way.

Looking for meaning in that, I have only this haiku by Issa:

A giant firefly:
that way, this way, that way, this –
and it passes by.
Issa

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In any given day, you may interact with people who think of and/or treat you as a complete idiot.

You may feel the same way about them.

But as a rule, it’s counter-productive to dwell on either. What they think of you is their problem, not yours. The reverse goes for what you think of them. If you can turn the interaction into neutral, or at least not as bad, it’ll help you get through it in a better way.

More importantly than that, it can help you practice being mindful of how interacting with such people makes you feel, and what you can do about that. Is there a reason things like that would tend to get to you? Is there a way you could strengthen your sense of self and/or patience and compassion? Interactions like these can be an Advanced Course in finding out more about how your mind works, and how you can make it work better.

Running into people we really feel at odds with isn’t always such a bad thing. These can be the times we can most quickly learn lessons we wouldn’t have mastered another way.

We must be patient with our differences. Our best teachers are often the hardest to hear.

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