Along the Way

Most of us forgive

Because we have trespassed

Not because we are magnanimous.

The Women Gather, by Nikki Giovanni

Going to our center is a journey–one that we make again and again having been called away from our center by a hundred thousand things. The more we practice returning to our center, the easier it becomes. Those first attempts feel like looking for a needle in the haystack. We go there, though, and eventually we begin to know the way, more or less.

As that familiarity of the way to the center begins to form in us, something else happens. We begin to notice the potholes.  The uneven path. The tree that has fallen across the way and threatens to halt the trip back to center altogether. These obstacles! How did this happen? But we know. A transgression here.  A fault there. Anger unresolved.  A wound so deep that the scar itself is like a boulder in the road. Inattention, forgetfulness, denial and those walls of shame and guilt rise up.  At some points, we even encounter a river flooding across our pathway to the center, that river called grief. 

Despite the obstacle, we can still journey back to our own centers. We have the tools. Forgiveness is one, and it works best if worked first on ourselves. And then, compassion. Gentleness and kindness are more. We see that we are wounded, broken, failed, and so we hold ourselves with compassion. And then, we can hold others as well. 

Forgive yourself.

All of your faults

Have root in something


Chelan Harkin

The journey to the center will show us our true selves. For all those obstacles that we face, there is a beauty within that we belong to. Go there often. Forgive yourself as often as necessary. Be gentle and kind and tender. And from that place, go do the work of Compassion. She’s just waiting on someone who knows the way.  And we do.

~Bob Patrick

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Why Me?

Why is it, when one problem is solved another takes its place?  Why me? Why always me? Well, that’s my anxiety talking to me. It always overwhelms me by telling me nonsense. The thing is most of the time I listen to it. 

My water heater had a leak, it was replaced, The water heater did not stress me out because I knew it had to be replaced for a while. It was replaced with joy.

Two days later, my shower started leaking and making a whistling noise. Well, my old friend, anxiety decided to visit me. It was a rough evening. 

The next morning friends of mine came to see if they could fix it. They could and the part was ordered. Well, my anxiety reminded me how much I don’t enjoy its company. I had to find a way to my center, my peaceful place. 

I told myself that I did all that I could do. I sat down and turned on the tv. I picked up my crochet and focused on those two things. I’m crocheting a rug for a reading nook that I will have for myself. I kept telling myself that in the end, it will be ok, I kept telling myself that throughout the day. Even when a nut was stripped, I kept telling myself that everything will be ok. 

I’m happy to say that I stayed calm. Anxiety didn’t put me over the edge this time. I don’t know about next time but this time finding my peaceful place, my center, helped me greatly.

~Rita Romero 

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What I Don’t Know

Not being afraid

Of what I don’t know

I unanxiously await the emergence.

Nikki Giovanni, Space

What I don’t know.  It can keep me tossing and turning in the bed, unable to surrender my over-thinking mind to sleep. It can put me on edge so that regardless of what else I am doing, I am ramped up in my feelings and shut down in my ability to think clearly and listen well. 

Knowing what we know, and our ability to rely on that, is one of the things that we use to keep ourselves calm and centered.  Whether we like what we know about life or not, the confidence we have in what we know somehow creates a balance and a framework that we can work with. 

Just let any of that change. Word gets out at work that there is going to be some downsizing. Look at the ceiling and see a leak that wasn’t there yesterday. Let the doctor say “we’ll do some tests to see what this is” and then “you’ll have to wait 3-5 business days for the test results.” One of your children calls or comes into the house and says “can I talk to you about something?” Your significant other is just “off” today. A pain in some part of our bodies shows up, out of the blue. This list could fill pages.  We know those moments when what we thought we knew is called into question, and we no longer know. 

Nikki Giovanni does not make light of these moments in these lines from her poem. She embraces the struggle. She knows the pain.  She has also lived through enough of these scenarios to know that she can surrender even to what she does not know (yet), and find a new center, a new peace.  The center of not knowing.  The center of waiting.  The center of being unanxious. I suspect that we know how to do this, too, but we don’t engage in it as often as we do the anxiety that these new situations provoke. I think it can work like this.  The new and unexpected arises.  After allowing ourselves to feel what that is for us, we settle ourselves with some conscious breathing, and then we choose to move our hearts and minds into this new space: I don’t know XYZ.  Breath. And so I wait for the new emergence.  When it arrives, I know that I will find my way through.

If we look back over our journeys, we do see all those times when we had to shift into not knowing, and then knowing some new reality.  And we made it through.  And we will, again.

~Bob Patrick

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Out of Whack

What puts me out of whack? Well, actually a lot of things. I’m going to tell you about the one thing that is the hardest to deal with and that’s my health. It is with me wherever I go. It’s my alter ego. But, instead of making me stronger, it makes me weaker. Or does it?

Watching She-Hulk at the moment. I’m not only a Trekkie but a huge Marvel fan. I do see one thing in common with certain superheroes and that is that I have to deal with a situation that has changed me forever . Hey, looking on the bright side. 

I had spinal injections and it brought tears to my eyes. It was a day for my alter ego to rule. I felt bad today because my lumbar back is what is keeping me from an ordinary life. I can’t stand without pain. I can’t sit without pain. I can’t walk without pain. I know that many people understand me. 

Having my center on the outside helps me calm down fast. I put dinner in the slow cooker with Jalilas help. I got my crochet and made myself comfortable in front of the tv and binged movies and crocheted. I felt bad because that is all I could do. That is life for me in the foreseeable future. 

When I see people doing things that I want to do but can’t do, it’s hard on me. Many times I feel worthless because I can’t help around the house like I used to. I can’t mow the lawn anymore. I used to enjoy it because it was peaceful to me. But, that is life.

Coming to terms with my alter ego helps me find my center quickly. Nevermore will I be without her. Mourning what I used to be and accepting who I am now is a hard path to go down but necessary.  

I should name my alter ego. If anyone has any suggestions I would surely love to hear them. Oh! Edgar Allen Poe fan. Let me know of names. 

~Rita Romero 

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In the Heart

Succumb to the warmth

In the heart

Where divine fire glows.

Axioms for Wildness, John O’Donohue

If someone were to say to you–where are you? Think about how you would respond. The most likely simple response would be almost unconscious:  I am here.  And very likely, we might move a hand to our hearts.  I am here. In many respects, the middle of the chest, the place where our actual heart resides, is also a place that we most often identify as “home,” as “here.” 

We know that the neurons that allow us to think with our brains show up in other parts of our bodies, too. There are also neurons in our heart and in our gut. In addition to that newer understanding of ourselves, we know that there is an electrical coherence between the brain and the heart.  We know that strong emotions can have a negative effect on the heart (e.g. extreme anger and deep grief) and that other strong emotions can have a positive effect on the heart (e.g. joy and contentment). 

When we allow our conscious awareness to sink down into our heartspace with intention, that coherence between brain and heart strengthens. Our heart rates slow down. Our breathing deepens and lengthens. Past worries and future anxieties fade away, and we find ourselves here, now, present. 

John O’Donohue invites us to lavish this powerful gift on ourselves–today, often. We can find moments all over the busi-ness of our day to pause, drop down into heart space. Bring a hand to the heart to help that process. Breathe. Stay there just long enough to notice the shift in your breathing.  Stay there a moment longer if you can. Enjoy your return to here and now. Enjoy the warmth of your own heart. Offer a word of gratitude. 

~Bob Patrick

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Return to Center

We cannot eliminate hunger,

but we can feed each other. 

We cannot eliminate loneliness,

but we can hold each other.

We cannot eliminate pain, 

but we can live a life of compassion.

“Accepting This” by Mark Nepo

Sometimes the overwhelm, the depression, the anxiety, they come to us because we have just seen too much. We have pondered the world around us and found it to be too much. Suddenly it was an invasion of difficulties that we simply could not manage, had no response for, and that left us feeling lost and unable to move with any sense of meaning. 

World hunger. Deep loneliness. Discrimination, injustice, hatred, pain and suffering of a million kinds. 

That’s the sign, when we feel these things crashing down on us, to return to the center. Returning to the center, as these daily reflections have tried to remind us, can be done in many ways: walking a labyrinth, meditating, breathing, getting outside, engaging with nature. The list, fortunately, is a long one. There are many ways of returning to our center. 

And here are a few more. Feed someone. Hold someone or give them a hug, if they are open to it. If not, hold them with your gaze, with your attention, with your listening ears and heart, with a supportive word. Extend a hand of compassion. 

When the largeness of difficulty becomes too much, and it always does, for all of us, at some time: return to center. Look down and find the ground. Look around and see who is hurting.  Reach out, and be the difference for someone else who is currently being slayed by the overwhelm of life. 

We can do that.  We can find a way, today, to take care of one another. 

~Bob Patrick

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Heal: A Candle Meditation

Editor’s note: This is a candle meditation and centering practice. If you can, light a candle and place it in front of you. Sit with the candle and its flame for a few minutes becoming aware of your breath and the flame and your connection to it. Then, read these lines slowly outloud to yourself. If you cannot light a candle, close your eyes and light an imaginary one.

I still,

I fill,

I will My Soul,

I concentrate upon the Whole.

The candle’s glow,

Desire to Know,

The flicker/focus ebb and flow.

Flicker, Quicker, magic spell

Harm me not,

Health fill my well.

Blending, Bending, mend my skin,

Cool the fever that

Dwells within.

I hunger for The One to take me higher,

Pulse magic into mind-transforming feat,

Divinity delineates The Power,

Creator and creation journey-meet.

I hunger for the God and Goddess blessing,

Almighty Father lead me to The Day,

Great Mother bathe me in Your vision’s healing,

Unite my tri-part soul in Heaven’s Way.

I hunger for the knowledge locked inside me,

Forgotten in the troubles of the night,

The bounty of the harvest is upon me,

I revel in the nourishment of light.

~Sherree Bailey

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