everydaybalance

inspirational tools to create life balance in your everyday

airport day

August1

stepping through Sydney customs
I hold
your hand
as if I

might fall off this cliff
if I let go
my eyes are blue
and filled

the tide is high today
in my body
my mind
my soul

and the waves
they just won’t stop
back and forth
I’m pulled tangled up

between the tears
which hold
such extremes
so many good-byes

and i feel
slippery as I reach for the bottom
and find no sand
but just as

we pass security
you reach towards
me and I’m stopped by the weight
of heart in your eyes

and you say
this is the time
we will look back on
this is a pivotal moment in our life

and you were right
and we stood as if the moment
had just been born between us
and held it new and small between our hands

in awe
with a kind of reverence
you might find in a church
or a field of flowers or at dawn

and we met this moment
laced in energy
and we smiled
and I found the ground

copyright – christina adler – 31 July 2008 – Mill Valley, CA, USA

posted under 2008 poetry

2008 – finding everyday balance in august

August1

Giant Green Sea Turtle

Writing at the window of my childhood bedroom I am filled with a kind of ease that comes from knowing a place for a very long time. The Maple tree outside the window still shades the square panes of glass that as a child I fit my small hands against. Following this move from Australia to America, my eyes are as wide open as that little girl.

Over the past weeks I’ve felt awake with wonder at the sound of my mother’s voice in the next room, my father’s laughter next to me during a movie, my sister casually meeting me for breakfast in the middle of the week and my husband scattering his love amongst my extended family. It has been so long since these important relationships have been this close, this casual, this carefree and my heart soars at the ease that paves the days that I have walked since our arrival.

Having lived on the ocean for many years, living in my parent’s home which sits on the lip of a canyon, what we notice most is the silence. The caw of the blue jay from across the hill echoes into the midday sun, reaching us even as it’s wings flap in the opposite direction. A woman calling to her daughter slides into our pockets from several streets away. In the absence of the sounds of neighbors or the louder wildlife, the ticking clock or the tentative steps of a deer through the redwood brush is all that can be heard. In this silence there is a kind of emptiness of sound which mirrors the emptying of our life that we just experienced. Words seem to hold more meaning when spoken against such a blank canvas. And the theme of emptiness resonates with the place in my life that I have just recently arrived to.

Previously, this idea of emptiness held sadness and fear to me. The fear of leaving the job I loved so much, the emptying out of our home, the walking away from our car, the empty key ring as I boarded the plane. But in the act of emptying our home of our material possessions, some stored, some sold, some shipped, I also experienced a kind of freedom of spaciousness. Letting go of our much loved workplaces, a gap was opened that feels uncomfortable and yet the love and support provided there continues even in a country oceans away. Stepping away so far from our friends and family in Australia, a space was created, yet the voices and friendships still feel near.

This idea of emptiness is something that I’ve been sitting with gently. I’m someone that loves a home full of warm objects that remind me of the special people and interests in my life. I love familiarity. I relish the routine of buying my tea at the same cafe, the expected ring each day on my phone from my dear friend Jo, the supermarket aisles that hold the food I love, the familiar faces that arrived at my work with stories of their lives, the feel of the wooden floorboards that stretched the yoga room where I held my morning practice, the unfolding of my yoga class on Wednesday mornings and the energy of my students who held the space for me to teach, the sound of the waves changing with seasons rocking us to sleep. All of these details, so familiar, were swept up into my heart leaving wide open days, journals with blank pages to write, shelves to be filled, new roads to walk and new souls to meet.

And lets get this straight. This is not my strong suit. And at first even writing on this idea of emptiness felt daunting. But as the days have unfolded, it seems that the universe is persistent in encouraging me to embrace this idea of working with the concept of emptiness. On my first morning in my parent’s home, I made myself a cup of tea and on the end of the string of my tea bag was a message that read “Empty yourself and let the universe fill you.” The next morning during my meditation practice, I opened the book I read daily from called Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates and the quote that greeted me was by Lao-Tzu saying “We shape the clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.” Rolf Gates goes on to say “that before we can learn to appreciate emptiness, we must first learn to let go.” He continues by saying that as we let go of our expectations, we open ourselves to a new understanding of old situations. For me this sings of the possibility that as we let go, we then open to a new appreciation of what we may have once considered mundane.

This past Monday evening, at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, we arrived to the regular meditation evening to find a new woman speaking. Her name was Marlene Jones. The topic she kept returning to was embracing emptiness. She asked us to sit in meditation for forty minutes, encouraging us to let go and to sit with whatever came up in that space. I sat still and was able to drop deep into my meditation. There was silence and there was not knowing. My heart felt unsteady, tears felt near. Yet I heard a message coming through the letting go of thinking and planning and remembering, that encouraged me “to have faith, this is the right path.” Marlene encouraged us to simply sit with the not knowing, to let the emptiness be filled of it’s own accord, to get comfortable with the absence of sound. “Have faith” I heard over and over within that emptiness and I tentatively tried the concept on like a pair of new shoes.

I sat for several minutes saying the word “in” on the in breath and the word “faith” on the out breath as my knee began to hurt and my mind began to tire. I continued to focus on my breath against the tide of unknowing. I sat until Marlene brought us back into the room and told us her story of starting anew each day. She spoke of how in the face of a difficult situation in her life, she is working on waking up each day and embracing emptiness. She tries to greet each day as if it were her first. She tries to shake off her likes and dislikes and what she thinks she knows in place of giving it all another chance. I listened knowing that this message was really important for me in this new phase of my life. It helped me to understand emptiness not as a concept of “without” but as a concept of “allowing” whatever arises just to be without the prior judgements that might have been held, to have faith that each situation or person has arisen for a reason.

This was confirmed even more strongly when Marlene asked us to split into pairs, to greet someone you had not met before and to tell part of the story of how you had arrived to that moment. I introduced myself to my partner, a woman with jet black hair and kind eyes. “My name is Chris,” I said and I told her my story of crossing a wide ocean and leaving the life I loved to take this leap of faith to a new place. She said in return “my name is Faith.” And that was all I needed to hear as she began to tell her tale.

This month, I invite you to have faith by embarking on something unfamiliar, something new. Often times we hug the familiar aspects of our lives like an old orange life raft. Floating along the surface of our lives comfortably without peering at the wonders that may reside beneath the surface. The definition of faith in the red Webster’s dictionary that still sits on my childhood shelf is “believe, trust”. Often I think we could all use a little bit more believing and trusting in our lives.

A few weeks ago in Maui I took a chance and literally dived through that surface by believing and trusting. My husband, Peter, asked me to come snorkeling with him in a bay close to our hotel. I ummed and awed, not that comfortable in the water and tired from jet lag, really in the end only going with him to make sure he lived through the experience and wasn’t taken by a shark. We got to the bay and had to time our entry into the deep water with the tide, the waves would die down and then come back, crashing with gusto against the rocks. With trepidation I stood there staring out to the expansive bay. Pete said “trust me” and when he gave me the signal to go, I jumped and swam with all my might out into the dark water of the bay. Pete followed close, familiar with my paranoia of all things wet and slippery looming in the ocean, and we took off with fins flapping.

Within a few moments, through my mask the largest turtle I had ever seen made it’s way up from the darkness below me and swam towards the light. Its presence filled me with peace and suddenly my body felt more relaxed than it had in years. I kicked hard and followed the turtle like I was the new Jacques Cousteau. Over the next hour, almost alone in the bay, we swam with a family of ten giant green sea turtles. They took time to nap on the tops of coral or large rocks and then would glide so fluidly, so lovingly and so patiently to the surface to come nose to nose with our masks. I felt held in an ancient dance. I felt so thankful to have shaken that life raft and sailed beneath the surface.

This month, start to work with emptiness by writing down one new thing that you would like to try and one old thing that you would like to let go of. When deciding on your new activity, try to stay away from those things that you know that you’re good at. Listen out for the activities that your heart soars around rather than your head. Try stepping out of your comfort zone. If you’re a wonderful dancer, try mountain biking instead. If you always have painted, try taking a sculpture class. If you are an expert chef, why not take a lesson in archery?

Follow those wild whims of your heart and feel what it is like to walk with the new. Notice the emptiness that accompanies the first steps of a new task, no expectations, no old habits, just a sense of abandon and anticipation. Embrace this emptiness and have faith that it will be filled with emotions and experiences that you may never have felt or seen from atop that orange life raft. As you decide on something that you can let go of, pay attention to what you were drawn to as you chose a new activity. Is there a passion there that is being blocked by something you are holding on to? Would clearing out the garage of your paints that you haven’t used in years make room for a photography darkroom?

Practice letting go without knowing what will fill the space. Try creating a few hours just for you on the weekend without making plans. Practice watching what fills that space. Let go of a piece of furniture that you’ve never really liked. Allow there to be emptiness in its place and trust that it will be filled. Allow this practice of working with emptiness to be one of trust and believing. Get comfortable with the blank spaces in your life, not rushing to fill them right away. From my experience over the past few weeks, creating this space in your life, you will be surprised at the wonderful people and opportunities that will come your way.

Use your journal to write about both your experience of letting go and trying something new. If one of the practices is particularly difficult or new for you, set yourself a second task. Get into the habit of stretching your wings and before you know it, you’ll be like the Blue Jays in this canyon, leaping off and ready to soar. So step forward, the month of August is waiting for your spirit, your courage, for this leap of faith.

Please Note: In the move between Australia and America, my inbox for everyday balance and part of my mailing list for these inspiration pieces was unfortunately lost. If you regularly receive a monthly reminder and did not in August, please send an email to chrisadler@everydaybalance.net with “please subscribe” in the subject space. If you sent me an email and I didn’t respond, there is a chance that I may not have received it and would love for you to forward it on. This problem has been fixed and I’m now set up in the northern hemisphere. My contact information has also been updated should you need to contact me by phone.

For new readers, this is a monthly inspiration piece brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools or subscribe to this inspiration piece each month, please send your name and email address to chrisadler@everydaybalance.net or visit this website in the first week of each month. For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, send an email to the above address with your name and phone number or visit the contacts section of this website.

posted under 2008 life balance