Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Month: September 2011 (Page 2 of 2)

Entering the Forest of Many Delights

The forest-dweller stage of life

In her amazing article on aging gracefully – which also explores the subtle forms of resistance to seeing the truth of aging – Deborah Willoughby explains the Four Stages of Life according to the yoga tradition.

In brief, they are:

  • Student
  • Householder
  • Forest-dweller
  • Renunciate

Deborah goes on to explicate these stages in further detail:

“The yoga tradition offers a completely different script, one rich with possibility. In this version, the play of life unfolds in a graceful arc from birth to death, becoming more nuanced and rewarding as it moves toward the denouement—perfect fulfillment, not “mere oblivion.” Here we play four distinct roles as the drama of life unfolds: student, householder, forest dweller, and renunciate.

The first two are self-explanatory and accord well with our modern view. During the student years—childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood—our primary task is acquiring the knowledge and skills we will need to make our way in the world. We draw on these attainments when we become householders, immersing ourselves in the rush and roar of life as we go about earning a living, raising a family, and doing our civic duty.

But here the resemblance ends. In our modern script, the third act—retirement—defines us in terms of what we’ve left behind instead of what lies ahead. Up through our late 50s and into our 60s, our energy has been mainly focused on tangible achievements: earning a degree, building a career, raising children, acquiring property, perhaps making a name for ourselves. Now, as these familiar identities and activities fall away, we find ourselves without a clear, purposeful direction.”

Deborah then zooms in on her own personal resistance to entering the Forest-dweller stage – which manifested as a persistent detaching retina.  Her refusal to slow down her pace as Editor of Yoga International magazine impeded her full recovery after the first episode and laser surgery.

Quickly returning to a frenzied pace, Deborah’s retina detached again.  Not just once or twice.  Four times altogether.  This forced an extended state of convalescence. The physical ordeal and total collapse took three months, but Deborah’s recovery and internal shift to the forest-dweller stage took much longer.

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“For Our World” ~ a 9/11 poem by Mattie Stepanek

9/11 poem for World Peace

For Our World

by Mattie Stepanek

We need to stop.
Just stop.
Stop for a moment…
Before anybody
Says or does anything
That may hurt anyone else.
We need to be silent.
Just silent.
Silent for a moment…
Before we forever lose
The blessing of songs
That grow in our hearts.
We need to notice.
Just notice.
Notice for a moment…
Before the future slips away
Into ashes and dust of humility.
Stop, be silent, and notice…
In so many ways, we are the same.
Our differences are unique treasures.
We have, we are, a mosaic of gifts
To nurture, to offer, to accept.
We need to be.
Just be.
Be for a moment…
Kind and gentle, innocent and trusting,
Like children and lambs,
Never judging or vengeful
Like the judging and vengeful.
And now, let us pray,
Differently, yet together,
Before there is no earth, no life,
No chance for peace.

Mattie J.T. Stepanek ©
September 11, 2001

Hope Through Heartsongs
Hyperion, 2002
Just Peace: A Message of Hope
Andrews McMeel, 2006

Mattie Stepanek was 11 years old when he wrote this poem on the day of 9-11.

During Mattie’s ‘almost 14 years’ of life, he penned seven NY Times bestselling books of Heartsongs poetry and peace essays, and served as an ambassador for many peace and disability-related organizations.

Mattie died in 2004 due to complications of a rare neuromuscular disease.  You can learn more about Mattie and his foundation at The Mattie J. T. Stepanek Foundation.

I am posting Mattie’s poem as part of the For Our World Campaign, a global peace effort to translate, share, and spread Mattie’s message of peace far and wide.  Please share the link and, if you are inspired, post Mattie’s poem on your blog too.  Thanks for being part of this peace effort!  All my love, Sandra

Image:  Lumbini, World Peace Monastery

Your Energy Pie

Apple Pie

While our energy might seem boundless when we are young, in reality it’s limited.

I felt depleted one or two days this past week.  This led me to consider how I am dividing up my energy pie.  For example, thinking takes considerable energy.  It takes energy to work with challenging emotions and situations.  It takes energy to heal.  And we haven’t even started on work yet.

I was reminded that without making conscious choices, there’s the possibility of using up one’s fuel in the wrong areas. Or running dry.

Question for reflection:

How much energy do you have?  How do you want to use it?  What’s your energy pie look like?  Is it divided into the right pieces?

Image:  Public Domain

If you like this reflection, please share the link with others.  I would love to connect with you on Google+ or the Always Well Within Facebook Page.  With love, Sandra

Befriending Fear: 36 Inspirational Quotes and A Few Secret Tips

Fear gets the best of me from time to time.  How about you?

If you sometimes – or often – feel overtaken by fear, I want you to know:   you are not alone.

It’s OK to feel fear…at least in my world.  You don’t have to feel ashamed for one minute.  I am right here with you.

I will never tell you, “Just get over it.”  I know it’s not easy to conqueror fear.  It hasn’t been easy for me.  But it’s easier.

You see fear many be encoded in your DNA.  It may have infiltrated your bones.  Chances are it’s running the show in your brain.

FEAR!  It feels so real.  So all-consuming.  So body embracing.

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