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Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.

– Etty Hillesum

Just reading her words gives me space, changes my pace. I stop and notice, inhale, pause and savor. One long waterfall of love and light winds through my head and chest and out.

Each breath has hills to cradle the pause, the intention to rest.

I renew, with zest, as guest.

The rain continues, a steady strumming that matches an inner alertness. I feel like a robin looking for worms.

I open Mirka Knaster’s wonderful book, Living This Life Fully, Stories and Teachings of Munindra.

Munindra wrote that “When mindfulness is there, all the beautiful qualities are nearby.”

He emphasized that whatever we are doing, “everything should be done mindfully, dynamically, with totality, completeness, thoroughness.”

When I was in cancer treatment, It was easy to be mindful; it was necessary. I couldn’t rush around mindlessly. My energy was limited. Each task invited attention. “I am brushing my teeth.” “I am placing a plate on the table. My arm absorbs the weight of the plate as I swirl in movement, aware of inner and outer as one.”

Now, I am “well,” and mindfulness is more challenging. I distract and judge. The voice is back, “I’m not doing enough,” and then, I ask, “What is enough?” and the mind is off and running round and round a track, and yet, today, as I listen to the rain, I come back to myself, and remind myself to do this again and again.

As Charlotte Selver, my teacher of Sensory Awareness said, “People who don’t love the moment are always trying to achieve something, but when one is on the way, every moment is it.”

It is raining here as I read of snow in the land of many of those I care for and love. I am wrapped in gray, wintry light, even as I imagine them in white.

On Sunday, I participated in a meditative, contemplative movement group to explore Death and Art in Our Everyday Life. We walked at first, walked randomly, then, walked in grids, aware of others and the space, and then, we each chose our time and way of circling down, down, down, to the ground, and then, when we were ready, we rose. It sounds simple but it was a way to feel how each moment there are beginnings and endings. Sometimes we may spiral down, and, other times, we rise.

There was a continuity to it, a sense of living and dying, and movement as a base, a hum.

I just heard from a friend who apologized because she had no “cheery” news. She is grieving.

We are programmed to believe we are meant to be “happy” all the time, but anyone who watched and enjoyed the lunar eclipse last night would know the shadow of the earth on the moon led to an orange glow. We are meant to be open to all.

I keep wanting to bring back the idea of the black armband to show we are grieving, to make it okay to wear black for a year if that is what we need. This idea of cheeriness and measurement of how “happy” we can be is harmful. What is true now? Pause and feel your breath? Is it shallow? Deep? Could you allow it more entry, more spread through the length of your spine? Take off your shoes. Caress the earth as though you were at the beach playing in warm sand.

I often speak of somatic work and receive a blank look in reply. I use it as an umbrella word for the work I am involved in: Rosen Method, Sensory Awareness, Essential Motion, and various explorations of meditation.

What does it mean? I take this from the Feldenkrais website.

Use of the word “somatic” was initially suggested by the late Thomas Hanna, Feldenkrais practitioner and philosopher, founder and editor of SOMATICS: Magazine-Journal of the Bodily Arts and Sciences.

In 1986, Hanna defined somatics as, “the art and science of the inter-relational process between awareness, biological function and the environment, all three factors being understood as a synergetic whole.” The concept of learning did not seem central to the definition of somatics while “learning” will be central to somatic education.

This field of somatics includes biofeedback, martial arts, relaxation techniques, yoga, bodily oriented psychotherapies like Reichian bioenergetics, meditation practices, and a variety of other modalities that converge at the body-mind interface, wherever and whatever that is! Somatic education is actually a subset of somatic and should be differentiated from the broader domain of somatic. Nevertheless, Hanna made a very interesting decision. He employed the word soma to mean “the living body” – a meaning that goes back to Hesiod.

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I’ve been working on a speech for Toastmasters on the “pause.”  I was struggling with actually allowing myself to feel the pause as I worked hard on the perfect speech and then I was driving on the freeway and the flat tire light came on in my car.  I stopped at the gas station and couldn’t discern the problem, so called AAA.  Then, I realized I had nothing in the car to read while I waited.  I practiced enjoying the “pause.”  It was quite delightful.  I am still with the pause this morning, the refreshment it gives to sit, savor, and enjoy with absolutely nothing to “do.”  Try it out.   Stretch time and joy with the pause.

We are graced with a tongue that is often used to flap and chat, but I think of the five senses we sometimes forget how important it has been to our survival to taste.  Taste tells us if water is safe to drink, if it is safe to bathe, to immerse.    We taste not just with our tongue.  Each cell has a capacity to discern.

May today be one where we resonate to the following words using all we are to taste, evolve, immerse.

The winds of grace are blowing all the time. You have only to raise your sail.

– Ramakrishna / Mystic / 1836-1886

Dr. Christiane Northrup gives this excellent advice for changing our lives.

“Next time you start having a bad day, stop everything. Notice what you’ve been thinking. Bring yourself into the present moment. Touch the fabric on your clothing. Run your hand over a smooth surface. Breathe fully. Choose one thing to be grateful for. This simple act normalizes blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing- and will turn a bad day into a good one.”

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Cathy and Jane started writing together during Cathy's illness, and that writing became a blog, which then became a book!

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