“We are born and we die…” John Tarrant

An excerpt from the poem

In Blackwater Woods

by Mary Oliver

To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Today

Today death came to the husband of a reader of this blog. It came suddenly but not unexpectedly. There is sadness, yet, there is gratitude to see the end of suffering. Furthurmore, we know so little about the end of life. But those who remain grieve and cry and will  live with sadness for awhile. “Awhile,” is different for each of us.

It has been my experience that story telling, about our loved ones who die, is one of the loveliest things we can do for each other. And we don’t need to only tell the great things. It seems to me that there is great humanity, joy, love, laughter and truth in being able to talk about foibles, quirks, eccentricities…the whole gamut of what makes each of us unique. We can even tell stories through memorabilia. What were the things our loved one collected, would waste money on, treasured. Hearing stories through the lens of others can warm and soften our hearts as we all know too well that no one is perfect. (well, maybe my Mother) :-))

There is no way to avoid death, and the longer we live the more often we will face death. This is hard.

I extend words of solace and comfort to all of you who are grieving the loss of a loved one. When the time comes, life will be there to  gently move you forward. Don’t you think we are all life’s helpers…  we are in this together and are here to help and to be helped.

Always know you can reach out if you need a hand. If you like, you are always welcome to write to me and tell me a favourite story of your loved one. I would be honoured to hear it.

Some of you know by now that I love this little poem by Rumi. He speaks words of comfort to me, and I hope he does for you too.

Meaningful Memories JapanThe Window by Rumi

Your body is away from me
but there is a window open
from my heart to yours.

From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.

Notes

Note 1:) Knowing we will not live forever can help us treasure the precious moments we have.

Note 2:) We all have regrets because we are humans not robots. There is no need, however, for our regrets to hold us back.

Note 3:) The banner photo was taken in Hawaii by Gottfried, who has kindly donated a library of photos for my use, and the one of the water and cosmos, I took in Japan, while on a five day walking trip.

Note 4:) I am grateful for your confidence in me. Showing up; reaching out; staying in touch. Thank you. My heart is with you and I extend warmest wishes to each of you. Trudy

 

 

 

 

A Hot and Humid Summer Night – Life is Good

This evening it is exceptionally hot in my study. So I see it as an opportune time to share a poem, an excerpt and a short video. The poem is a favourite of mine and I put a link to its online home.

The poem

 

Any Morning

Just lying on the couch and being happy.
Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head.
Trouble is busy elsewhere at the moment, it has
so much to do in the world.

People who might judge are mostly asleep; they can’t
monitor you all the time, and sometimes they forget.
When dawn flows over the hedge you can
get up and act busy.

Little corners like this, pieces of Heaven
left lying around, can be picked up and saved.
People won’t even see that you have them,
they are so light and easy to hide.

Later in the day you can act like the others.
You can shake your head. You can frown.

By William Stafford

 

Perfectly OK

“When we plant a rose seed in the earth, we notice that it is small, but we do not criticize it as “rootless and stemless.” We treat it as a seed, giving it the water and nourishment required of a seed. When it first shoots up out of the earth, we don’t condemn it as immature and underdeveloped; nor do we criticize the buds for not being open when they appear. We stand in wonder at the process taking place and give the plant the care it needs at each stage of its development. The rose is a rose from the time it is a seed to the time it dies. Within it, at all times, it contains its whole potential. It seems to be constantly in the process of change; yet at each state, at each moment, it is perfectly all right as it is.”  W. Timothy Gallwey – The Inner Game of Tennis

I discovered this on James Clear’s (author of Atomic Habits) weekly newsletter.

A new discovery this week is Dr. Edith Eger

An amazing woman in her mid 90’s who still works, writes, and gives numerous interviews and keynotes around the world.

“I don’t want you to hear my story and say, “My own suffering is less significant.” I want you to hear my story and say, “If she can do it, then so can I!”
Edith Eger, The Choice: Embrace the Possible

The Video

Finally, a short joyful video with Desmond Tutu wishing the Dalai Lama birthday greetings last week on his 86th Birthday. When I see these two together I am beaming from ear to ear with joy. I just can’t contain myself. Their affection is self-evident. Recently, a new movie was made about their friendship called  Mission: Joy – Finding Happiness in Troubled Times. At this point I have not been able to find a way to stream or rent it in Canada. Please send me a note if you spot its availability.

Notes

Note 1: You will notice a new link to my book on the right hand side. I created a page with the help of my amazing webmaster, Margaret Rode. Also, on that same page is a link to the podcast where I was recently interviewed. (for those who are interested)

Note 2:) I took these two flower photos in two different yards, in the next block to where I live. How lucky am I to stroll around in the midst of  such blooms. 

Note 3: Thank you for all your warm notes and comments. I wish you a lovely July week and thank you so much for continuing to show up here. Warmest wishes to you all, Trudy

PS I just discovered that if you read this on your phone you don’t see the right hand margin where the link to my book lives. In the meantime, here is the link.

 

cherry blossoms Gabriola

Thinking about Kokoro

Mind and Heart

Yesterday was the Dalai Lama’s Birthday, July 6th.  It reminded me of when I heard him speak, in person, back in 2004 in Vancouver.  One of the important messages he delivered at UBC,  was to not focus exclusively on educating the mind. As he said, North Americans do an excellent job of educating the mind but not so good when it comes to the education of the heart.  This memory started me down my Japanese word list because I knew there was a word for mind/heart.

I recall  postponing a difficult decision years ago because my mind and heart were not in sync. And taking another because they were. The longer I live the more convinced I am that good decisions necessitate both the mind and heart. When they come together and I act, unexpected doors open. It doesn’t take away the hard work but the struggle has less agitation.   When I don’t listen to my heart but overrule it with my mind, I soon regret it.

I want to clarify that I am not speaking of fuzzy thinking or positive thinking. Rather, I am talking about a sincere process of investigating both mind and heart to see if they are in sync.

I couldn’t remember what the Japanese word was to illustrate this so I went looking. My Japanese readers are welcome to add any nuances to the translation. Luckily, I found an interesting  article on the topic and include an excerpt.

Let’s start with the idea of heart.

In Japanese, there are three words for “heart”: shinzou, which refers to the physical organ, ha-to, which is the Anglicized word for a love heart, and kokoro, which means… well, that’s more difficult to explain.

Kokoro is well understood in Japanese, but difficult to explain in English,” says Yoshikawa Sakiko, director of Kyoto University’s Kokoro Research Center. Conceptually, it unites the notions of heart, mind, and spirit: It sees these three elements as being indivisible from one other. “For example if we say, ‘She has a good kokoro,’ it means heart and spirit and soul and mind all together.”

One of the problems of discussing kokoro in English is that by linking words—heart and spirit and mind—with “and,” we imply divisions that simply don’t exist in Japanese. But in this Eastern culture, the three aren’t intrinsically linked as one: They are one.

Researchers are beginning to break down conceptual barriers and explore what artists, writers, mystics, and dreamers of many cultures have long acknowledged: the mysterious tie between heart and mind, a.k.a., kokoro. For example, scientists in Japan consider this concept while working on computer simulations, robotics, primatology, and more; it has allowed Japanese researchers to explore and discuss spiritual matters in a way that’s otherwise impossible in an academic environment.

We should take the interrelationship of our thoughts, feelings, and desires into account in order to understand human experience.

American Scientists

American scientists have also explored the connection between body, mind, and spirit. A 2015 article in The Atlantic, “The Brains of the Buddhists,” highlights the work of neuroscientist Richard Davidson, who studied monk brain activity at the behest of the Dalai Lama. Davidson concluded that compassion activated positive emotion circuitry in the brain and that Buddhist monks were extraordinarily mentally healthy as a result of a cultivated spirit of generosity. “The systems in the brain that support our well-being are intimately connected to different organ systems in our body…compassion is a kind of state that involves the body in a major way,” he said.

But you don’t need to be a specialist to understand the implications of kokoro. In fact, you probably already have a sense of it, even if you had no word for it before. Take a moment to reflect on the interconnectedness of all things, and you’ll feel your heart—the shinzou one—flutter in response.   Excerpt is from this article in Quartz, for those who are interested.

Practical Examples

I have experienced and met several people who had cancer, where the tests didn’t detect it, but where their heart and gut was certain something was wrong, only to discover after much persistence they did have cancer. Now, this is not for one instant a criticism of medicine.  My medical team and all of the medical teams I have been involved with have been remarkable, brilliant, caring and life saving.

What it is, is a reminder to each of us to also trust that inner voice that isn’t satisfied with the test results. Sometimes, we may be over anxious under the circumstances but if a sense of foreboding  persists than check it out. Get a second opinion. Turn over every stone.

This works with love too. We may be crazed with romantic love and refuse to acknowledge the warning signs from our mind. Best to take those into consideration too.

I love the word kokoro – “heart and spirit and soul and mind all together.”

Notes

Note 1:) Thank you, thank you, for all of your encouraging words and downloads of my small book. Also, I am not a Facebook user and I was surprised by joy at all the lovely greetings I received as well. I am  fortunate to know so many wonderful people around the world.

Note 2:) A friend sent me a good news video of one woman’s creative gratitude/art project. Here is the link. It is 8 minutes long and lovely.

Note 3:) For my poetry readers I think you will like this. Months ago I told you about the poetry pharmacy and here is an update. For anyone who is in need of a poem, please write to me and I will send you one. In the meantime, the link.

Note 4:) I wish you another lovely July week. Be bold and brave and cast your smiles far and wide. We all need them. warmest wishes, Trudy