Author: susantara

Floatation Restoration (Part Two)

Floatation Restoration (Part Two)

It’s been a while since I’ve written about floating in a float tank (after my first experience back in April). Seven months later, I have several floats under my belt and derive so many benefits from floating that I want to write about it again! (Before proceeding, you might want to click HERE to read my previous article so you know what I’m talking about in the first place.)

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Assuming you now know what a float tank is, I won’t go into any greater detail than to say it’s a sensory deprivation tank that is filled with about ten inches of heavily salted water that makes you completely buoyant without having to do anything whatsoever to stay afloat. There’s a dim light inside the tank that you can leave on if you want to, but I don’t see any point in doing so because I always float with my eyes closed – and you wouldn’t want a drop of very salty water to fall into your eyes if any condensation accumulates on the ceiling.  You step inside the tank, close the door (or keep it slightly propped with a towel if it helps you feel more comfortable), turn off the light (if you want to), and float effortlessly on your back. And then your journey in dark and silent nothingness begins!

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Though people’s float tank experiences differ, there are some themes that have been quite consistent for me before, during, and after floating. Oftentimes before floating, I feel flustered because there’s so much I feel I need to do. There’s just not enough time for everything I want and “need” to do, and I feel a great deal of pressure to accomplish it all. It feels so important.

But inside the float tank, the sense of urgency and pressure melts away and doesn’t matter. There’s nothing so critical that I should allow it to disturb my repose, and I’m able to let go of any anxiety and urgency around my to-do list. Floating in a sensory deprivation tank puts everything into perspective, and my attitude softens into: Just do what you can do! It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get everything done that I think I need to do today.  I’m able to see the small stuff for what it is, and much unnecessary activity falls away. Then I emerge feeling ever so calm and aware of what I really do need to prioritize (i.e. purging my living space!). It’s like pushing a supreme reset button in there. You come out with a clearer sense of what’s important, liberated from what was weighing on you when you went in. You emerge completely reset. Or at least that’s my experience!

Inside the float tank, I find that no thoughts are compelling. I’m simply not interested in thought! I feel like a cell with an impermeable membrane that nothing of this world can penetrate. Thoughts don’t carry any kind of emotional charge when I’m in there. They arise. But they’re not interesting. And they go away. It’s incredibly refreshing! It’s like blowing soap bubbles. They float in the air for a few seconds and then gently pop, and – poof! – there’s no more bubble. It simply disappeared.

Instead of fixating on thought, I focus on the sensation of relaxation and effortless suspension, without anything solid underneath me (which is something you really don’t experience any other time).

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Out of the tank, I try to practice 25 minutes of mindfulness meditation every day. For the first five minutes, I focus on my breath. The next five minutes, I expand my focus to physical sensations. Then listening. Then thoughts. Then all of the above. Being in the float tank for 90 minutes is very much like an hour and a half of mindfulness meditation. Inside the tank, there is no sound except for my deep, steady breathing (which is quite audible), so mindful breathing and listening are completely intertwined. That’s what I focus on the whole time (because with my ears immersed in the water, my breathing is quite loud), along with the sensation of complete relaxation. And I get deeply relaxed in there. I am talking about serious theta brainwaves!

It’s incredible to have no interest whatsoever in thinking! I keep returning to the sound of my breath – which is very slow, rhythmic, and calming – and to the sheer sensation of complete relaxation and suspension. Floating is the only time I experience that, and it’s what I want to focus on in the tank. It really is incredible. I feel the energy in my inner body. I’m not aware of my physical boundaries. I feel so light, and nothing physical matters or even registers. (There’s no gravity, temperature, or sensory input to process. Can you imagine that?) Everything, from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, is completely relaxed. Immersing myself in that sensation of extreme and complete relaxation is really all I want to notice or attend to in there. It’s all that seems to matter. Sheer presence devoid of sensory input.

My experiences in the float tank pose the question: Who am I removed from everything else? Who I am is energy and peace.

Here’s an example of the difference between my post-float and ordinary consciousness: After floating, I turn my phone back on and see that there are text messages and notifications from social media. But there’s barely even a hint of curiosity or interest around that. I’m not looking for communications or information to enhance my life in any way or to add anything to my reality because I am absolutely complete right now. I don’t need anything at all – from anybody. There’s really no need to check my phone in the first place. Nothing can contribute to my experience right now. It’s awesome to feel absolutely complete, fulfilled, and tranquil.

I really appreciate the sensory deprived environment because I am quite sensitive to sensory overload in general. I don’t have a TV and find it extremely jarring when the television is on when I’m away from home. The same is true when I go to a mainstream movie theater and have to sit through pre-show entertainment and trailers. It’s too loud and over the top! I also experience sensory overload in shopping malls and at crowded places and events. And forget bars! I can’t handle anything about that environment and have avoided them my entire life! Even when I taught kindergarten and spent the day steeped in the energy of a classroom of active, young children, I needed to lock my door, turn off the lights, and decompress/meditate next to my soothing water fountain when they were out of the room, to recharge my batteries for the rest of the day.  For me, the quieter and simpler the environment, the more at ease I feel. So I am totally in my element in a float tank.

From my experience, it seems the state of mind you bring into that float tank shapes your experience. There was only one time when I didn’t have a pleasant float. It was in late May heading into the weekend of the anniversary of my mom’s death. I was in a great deal of emotional pain at that time, fraught with raw grief, and the sensory deprived environment just made me more aware of the illusion of separation between me and everything else. It was the exact opposite of what I’ve experienced every other time I floated and was only because I was in such a fragile state of mind at the time. In the tank, I experienced the urge to be connected to the living world and couldn’t handle being alone. I turned on the light at one point just to feel anchored to something instead of surrendering to the usually deep and fulfilling nothingness of the tank environment.

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But that experience provided me with some insight about what it must be like to die – which was totally relevant to the anniversary of my mom’s death and re-experiencing the days and hours leading up to it. I remember thinking that when you die, you want to be in a place of resolution. You don’t want to have unfinished business or deep, dark secrets festering inside because something like that could make it really hard to let go. I recall when my grandfather was dying and kept repeating an agitated cycle in which he looked up at the ceiling, exclaimed his (still living) sister’s name, and stated with urgency, “I’ve got to get out of here!” It seemed there was something important he needed to tell his sister before he could give in to the process and die a peaceful death. I advised my mom and uncle to contact her and see if she could talk with him on the phone. They were unable to reach her, told him so, and asked if they could convey a message for him. After hearing that, he fell silent. The cycle stopped, and he died a couple of hours later. I always wondered what was so important that caused him to fixate on her during the final hours of his life. Was their last interaction discordant? Did he need her forgiveness? Did he have information he needed to share with her? Was he worried about her? He took that mystery with him to the grave, but one thing was certain: Something related to her was getting in the way of him being at peace.

My takeaway is that when everything is stripped away from us – and death is a process of stripping away everything we think we are and believe we need until we’re left with just our core essence – where you are mentally, emotionally, and spiritually is what matters. I imagine it can be terrifying if you’re not in a place of acceptance. You don’t want to get to the end when you’re leaving this life and think that you’re not a “good” person or didn’t live a “good” life, or worry about loved ones. You want to go out with a sense of integrity, reconciliation, and peace. When that stripping away happens, you cannot hide from yourself. Your world becomes progressively smaller, and you enter a cocooning process that seems similar to being in a float tank. There are so many distractions in this world that allow you to hide. But there are no distractions in the float tank. My May float signaled that my emotional “pain body” was so strong that I couldn’t let go and access deeper layers of consciousness that day.

Having no distractions and connecting with deeper layers of consciousness is something I absolutely love about the float tank. Removed from sensory input, the daily stress and all the other dust that has accumulated at the surface dissolves, allowing me to go deeper, like an astronaut floating in the vast universe of inner space. It is an experience of incredible lightness, even in complete darkness. Even when I float on cloudy days, after leaving the float spa, I feel like I’m shining like a sun – because it seems light is what I am at my core when all else is removed. It’s what I find in the deep nothingness.

In the tank, there’s just me, the steady rhythm of my breath, the incredible sensation of relaxation and suspension, and freedom from thought, emotions, and any sense of urgency. It is tremendously therapeutic, relaxing, and simply awesome.

© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

River of Leaves Meditation

River of Leaves Meditation

Today I want to share with you a powerful “letting go” practice that came to me a couple days ago. It articulates the inner significance of what is going on in nature at this time of year and was inspired by a “Days of November” meditation shared by psychic medium extraordinaire, Adam Bernstein. When I read through the meditation earlier this week, it resonated deeply. It begins with visualizing yourself sitting next to a river as leaves fall from the trees and into the water. As you watch the leaves spiral downward and float away on the river, think of what you want to fall away in your own life. Adam’s visualization continues, focusing on how more sunlight can shine through now that the trees are bare. What we couldn’t see before (when the leaves obstructed our view) is now revealed, and light is able to reach places that had been in darkness under the leafy trees. It is an exquisite meditation that continues on from there.

After reading through the meditation, my first inclination was to record it word for word so I could do it without having to recall the details or open my eyes to read it. And I’m going to do that. But first, I was inspired to create my own ritual based on part of the meditation. The inspiration came while kayaking on the river during our unseasonably warm weather this week. When I noticed flotillas of fallen leaves drifting by, I knew exactly what to do.

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I found a small basket and filled it with a piece of silk and some fallen leaves I had picked up from the ground during recent walks. These were leaves that stopped me in my tracks because their colors were so vibrant! I meant to press and preserve them but never got around to it because it slipped my mind, and they became curled and dry and past the pressing stage. I also have a collection of pressed leaves from last year that I’ve been holding on to even though their colors have faded. I added a few of them to the basket, as well. The idea of using leaves that I found wonderful at first but then faded appealed to me. But really, any leaves would do.

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The next morning, the air was warm, and the sky was filled with puffy clouds. The reflection on the river looked like a river of clouds, and the conditions felt perfect for doing my “river of leaves” meditation. I brought my basket of carefully selected leaves to the dock, along with my yoga mat and meditation cushion, and set an intention to release one leaf at a time into the river while contemplating what it represents in my life. What am I ready to let go of and leave behind? Then I’d watch the leaf float away, carried along by the river’s flow.

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As I released the leaves into the river, a parade of solitary leaves and leaf flotillas drifted by. It made me feel that I was in good company and that the time was right to let go of what no longer serves a constructive purpose. Instead of focusing on letting go of particular people, things, or circumstances, I turned my attention toward the unhealthy attachments, attitudes, illusions, programming, patterns, etc. that get in the way of my inner peace and freedom – because that’s what attracts unhealthy energy into my life in the first place.

For instance, the first leaf I let go of represented fear. I watched the “fear” leaf float away gently, with an attitude of honoring it – for it was with me for a long time and initially must have served some kind of well intentioned (albeit misguided) purpose. And surely there is room for healthy fear in my life, such as fear as an intuitive signal that something is wrong. But allowing fear to remain in the driver’s seat is what I wanted to let go of. It was satisfying to watch it float away from me, and as I did, I imagined how my life would feel different without it. I really experienced the new vibration and felt much lighter and more empowered – for I was acknowledging and accepting my own responsibility in authoring my life.

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I also let go of a consciousness of lack, certain illusions that have clouded my thinking, making my happiness dependent on any person or condition, placing more importance on the approval and advice of others than on my own intuition and wisdom, and shame about all of the above. Release it all with love, and feel what it’s like to be unencumbered by them. Appreciate how light it feels to be free of them!

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As I watched each leaf float away, I reflected on how my compassion has grown as a result of my choices and experiences. I noticed that gratitude was becoming part of this process.

My spiritual director recently recommended a breathing practice that helps to fill the empty hole inside me with what I desire and feel is lacking in my life so I won’t try to get it from others. This felt like an important exercise to complement the letting go exercise. It seemed that letting go, being grateful, and filling the holes were all important parts of the overall process, encompassing past, present, and future.

I didn’t release the next leaf until it really felt complete with the previous one. Some I watched float away until they were out of sight. As they floated away, I felt them lose their hold on me and experienced a greater sense of inner freedom and joy. With distance and time, the river of life really does pull things away from us, and helps us get over our attachments and move on.

In preparation for the activity, I put leaves in my basket until I felt I had the right number. Also, it occurred to me that you could write a word or phrase on each leaf to express what you’re letting go of. Or you could just write it on your heart, as I did.

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While releasing the leaves into the river, I thought of my friend, Jayne, who traveled throughout Asia after undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She was in Thailand during the Loi Krathong festival during which people practice letting go by releasing floating lanterns into the sky and launching beautiful handmade flower boats into a body of water. As she and her husband let one go together, they focused on releasing “bad health juju as well as any ill feelings towards anyone” and inviting well wishes for the future. She explained, “It was cathartic and a beautiful moment we shared putting the past behind and creating space for something new!”

That is a perfect way to describe how it felt to release leaves into the river a couple mornings ago. I love to be in sync with and inspired by the cycles the natural world!

© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

When the Veil is Thin

When the Veil is Thin

Today is the third and final day of a stretch of festivals and traditions that focus on remembering and honoring the dead. In addition to being Halloween, Saturday was also Samhain, a festival celebrated by Witches, Druids, Wiccans, and Pagans. According to tradition, this is a time when boundaries between this world and the afterworld are blurred, and spirits can pass through more easily. Today is the Christian (mostly Catholic) observance of All Souls’ Day, a time to remember and pray for deceased loved ones. Meanwhile, Latin American communities are celebrating Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead). These special days are celebrated by praying for departed loved ones, constructing alters and making food offerings to honor deceased ancestors, visiting cemeteries,  holding costume parades, and participating in other rituals to honor the dead.

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Today is also my daughter’s 21st birthday. She is expecting her first child – a daughter – in exactly three months.

What do you get when these various celebrations are taking place, and the veil between the living and the dead is believed to be thin? A mighty interesting dream. I woke up from it about an hour ago. I had intended to write about something else today, but that will have to wait.

The dream began with me looking at the sky as the sun was setting and the moon was rising. Something about the moon and clouds hovering just above colorful autumn trees commanded my attention. The clouds seemed to be fluttering more like a flock of white birds flying as a single unit than as clouds would normally appear. I was transfixed. Then the moon and the surrounding clouds suddenly shot up much higher in the sky, and I sensed some kind of message was about to come through.

The clouds started forming numbers and words. (Now it was a blue, daytime sky, not a nighttime sky.) It seemed to begin with lots of numbers that meant something, followed by, “Hi Susan. How are you?” It was like the blue sky was a chalkboard being written on at super-speed and then erased, and then another message would appear and disappear. The clouds kept forming words, and so many messages were coming through, in such rapid succession! I was aware that I was being given relevant information and messages to pass on and tried to remember as much of it as I could. It definitely seemed to be my mom writing messages for me in the sky.

Then I “woke up” from that into a more “normal” level of dreaming, in which I was telling others about the dream and trying to remember the messages to record in my dream journal. When I finally woke up from dreaming for real, I was breathing loudly (as if I had been startled) and was disappointed because I was unable to recall virtually any of the content! It was as if the content was erased from my memory as I returned through layers of consciousness. But I do feel that a “happy birthday” message came through for my daughter during the sky-writing. (I remember a small portion of it looking like the writing on a birthday cake.) There was also important information about my life and messages for others. It feels like it was information I’m either not supposed to or ready to remember consciously but received at some other level. Some part of me is aware of it.

I write about this because my intuition has guided me all along to share my experiences following my mom’s death. Also, a psychic medium told a close relative that my mom is aware that I am writing about her in a public forum and thinks it is a good thing because it can help people. But psychic or not, I would do it anyway because it feels right.

The cloud-writing presence in the dream seems related to a voice I mentioned in my previous blog post. Two weekends ago, I opened my eyes early in the morning and saw bands of color that suggested the sunrise was going to be a captivating one. But I was tired and determined to resist getting out of my warm, cozy bed on such a chilly morning. After all, I take sunrise photographs all the time, all year long. What would it matter if I skipped this one? I decided I would be okay with missing the sunrise that morning even if it turned out to be dazzling. So I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep.

But a few minutes later, a female voice inside my head asked, “Did you see it? Did you let it fill you?” It persisted until I finally opened my eyes again (knowing what that would mean). Sure enough, I was unable to resist the magnificent colors that were now at peak on the canvas of the sky and reflected on the river below. A minute later, I was standing on the dock with my camera.

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I’ve learned that it’s always worth it to listen to that voice.

And it turns out that the photograph I took of that sunrise has received more positive responses online than any photo I’ve shared previously.

I am convinced that the veil really has been thin lately. My daughter, who never dreams of my mom, had three dreams of her in the past week or so. She can’t recall the dream messages, either. But amazing things tend to happen when we share what we do recall and experience.

For example, my dad recently shared a dream of my mom. In the dream, she suddenly appeared in the living room. After a brief, nonverbal communication, she turned to walk back up the stairs to return to the room where she had been resting. (There is almost always a staircase or doorway involved in such dreams.) Hearing about the dream gave me goosebumps. But the next day, I remembered it and shared it with someone else. Right in the middle of doing so, a bald eagle circled overhead twice and then flew away – which is significant because there is a belief shared by some relatives that my mom appears as a bald eagle. And I looked at the clock and noticed it was 11:11 – a time that is highly significant to me (in part because my son was born on 11-11).

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When you put all of that together, it goes beyond goosebumps and convinces me that when we share our experiences, we discover that there is even more to them than we realized! This is especially true for me because most of my relatives are quite skeptical when it comes to anything “supernatural”. So when I share what I experience, it reinforces their intuitions and inklings that might have made them go hmmm but then were more or less shrugged off or otherwise minimized. It’s like each of us has a different piece of the puzzle, and when we put our pieces together, we see more of the picture and elevate the hmmm to a full-blown WOW!

So that is what I have to report on this morning of my daughter’s birthday, All Souls’ Day, and the Day of the Dead, when it seems the veil between worlds really is thin!

© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

Circling Back Around the Sun

Circling Back Around the Sun

“Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.”

-Mary Oliver

October is such a vivid, dynamic month in the Northeast as the natural world undergoes dramatic transformations of appearance and temperature. It’s a time of year that really nestles into your memory, perhaps because it is so fleeting. Whereas snow can cover the landscape for four or five months a year, the blazing colors of autumn foliage are pretty much limited to a few short weeks during October. I am in the midst of creating my 2016 photography calendar, and it will be a painstaking task to select only a couple fall images. I wish I could fill the entire calendar with them because they are among the most vivid images of the entire year!

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I have been experiencing a lot of déjà vu this fall in regard to certain dates. It seems a piece of our essence remains in places where we experienced special moments – and that we also leave behind an energy imprint at significant points along our elliptical orbit around the sun. I’ve noticed this especially during the past year, which was the first year following my mom’s death. Meaningful dates took on an extra weight as memories from the previous year(s) arose like ghosts determined to haunt me. I have been told (and hope it’s true) that these ghosts are strongest the first year as we circle back around and become less intense as time goes on.

So, I’ve been reviewing my photos from the past year to select images for my upcoming calendar. My photo library serves as a poignant reminder of what a challenging year it has been – probably THE most heartbreaking, intense, bewildering year of my life! In May – the most anguishing month this year (and the month of my mom’s death anniversary) – the lilacs reminded me of her rapidly deteriorating health last year, just as the cooler temperatures at this time of year generate other associations. Some are more wistful and emotionally charged than others.

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In nostalgic moments, I sometimes ask myself: If I had the power to return, would I really want to, knowing what I know now? Would I want to relive that all over again? What, if anything, would I do differently? Could my intuition have been the voice of my present self returning to guide me? Or would I not have done anything differently because I understand from a higher vantage point that everything I experienced served an important purpose and that the spiritual gifts would ultimately outweigh the tears and fears?

It’s no small consolation to realize that, as I watch colorful leaves twirl to the ground just as they did a year ago, I am better off today than I was a year ago today. And that is something to be grateful for. I have weathered some storms and become stronger as a result. In the past year, I have liberated myself from restrictive energies and have learned a thing or two about myself in relation to others. The journey wasn’t an easy one, but it is a net positive. No doubt about it.

Sometimes we require or choose bitter medicine. Difficult circumstances shake us from our sleep so we can perceive things from a different angle that may help us to grow and to position ourselves more favorably in relation to key situations, people, and events moving forward. Perhaps we can come to know our suffering as labor pains that we can handle with some support – for ultimately we are all midwives for one another, helping those around us to give birth to their greater selves. I’m so grateful to be looking behind at, rather than heading into, the storm of the first year without my mom and grateful, too, for the wisdom that resulted from it.

Historically, fall was the time of year my mom became more available to us again after we hadn’t seen much of her during summer, her busy season. So fall was when her loss really began to hit hard last year. It also heralded the cold, dark time of year and a string of birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays when her absence would be felt most poignantly.

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Memories are often activated when we return to the same spoke on the wheel of the year – except that this time around, following significant loss, everything is different. Our world has changed. Any sensory impression or seasonal nuance can serve as a trigger that reopens a wound that is still in the process of healing: sights (colorful trees, leaves twirling down, plants going to seed), sounds (crunching of leaves, geese squawking), smells (decomposing leaves, bonfires), foods (apple crisp, squash, soup), changes in temperature and angle and duration of sunlight, etc.

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It’s as if these sensory impressions are keys or passwords that unlock memories that tug at our heartstrings and pull us back. But of course, we can’t go back. We can only move forward.

While traveling through significant dates and memories where ghosts lurk, I have experienced myself doing everything in my power to resist trains of thought that could hook me and set more tears in motion. It was as if the train was approaching. I heard and saw it coming and felt the ground vibrate as it came closer. I felt the anticipation of getting on it – and jumping on that train had become a habit. But I didn’t want to get on it, even though the destination sign was lit with the name of a place that was somehow compelling. I whispered to myself (out loud!), “Don’t go there! Don’t go there! Don’t go there!”

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But in the next breath, I realized I can go there – but not as a vulnerable child who becomes overwhelmed by the view and is afraid of the shadows and the precipitous drops. Rather, I can go there with a wise and loving guardian and not linger in uncomfortable places but pass through safely and unharmed. I need not avoid this thought territory altogether because it’s so “scary” or “dangerous” but can go there with someone who understands the terrain and is looking out for me and my best interests. That caring presence is the inner presence and consciousness that arises. It’s the witnessing presence that is strengthened through mindfulness practice on and off the cushion and is able to be there with me as I navigate the colorful and sometimes dramatic landscape of thought. Sometimes I will stumble, and sometimes I won’t. But when I do, the witnessing presence will assure me that it I am okay and will see me through.

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My mom has been gone for 17 months, and I have longed many times for the nurturing, maternal presence that only a mom can provide – especially with all the changes and losses I’ve been dealing with since she passed. She was a devoted listener who always stood up for me and wanted to make sure I was being treated right. It didn’t matter who it was, even if it was one of her grandchildren! She would declare, “This is my daughter, and I love her and want you to treat her right!” My mom is not around to do that anymore, but there is a familiar voice in my head that had never been there before and keeps growing stronger. It arises from within and is so comforting, loving, nurturing, reassuring, and maternal. I don’t know if it’s her voice, but it is the most tender voice of loving-kindness I have ever known. And it arises instantly, without me attempting to conjure it. It feels like this is the same voice that mysteriously wakes me up and prompts me to look out the window at exactly the right moment to catch and photograph a magnificent sunrise. This voice looks out for me and is one of the greatest gifts I have received since my mom’s passing.

If weathering the storms of the past 17 months has cultivated this new voice inside me, it is one of the best justifications I have to be grateful for this bittersweet journey. It’s true: My life will never be the same. There is a kind and loving presence growing in me that will not allow me to be mistreated or undervalued by anyone, including myself! And the best part of all is that it is a gift I can give to others by being a loving, affirming, maternal presence in the world. It is what we moms who have lost our own moms can do for others. We need not limit our mothering to our own children and can spread it around the world because we truly and deeply realize what a difference it makes. We can become, ignite, and inspire that voice and presence that makes inner space a kinder and more welcoming place to be. A place where new stars can be born from the gaping void where the brightest stars used to shine.

© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

The Wisdom of Deciduous Trees

The Wisdom of Deciduous Trees

As I write, there is still a lot of color left on the trees, although we are past peak. There are also plenty of leaves piling up on the ground so that when I walk on my favorite trails, my footsteps are noisy and crunchy.

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Outside my window, the silver maple tree that looms over the house is sending many yellow leaves twirling and spinning elegantly to the ground. There’s barely even a breeze, so it must be the day the tree decided it’s time to let go.

It’s as if groups of leaves made a pact to fall at the same time: Ready, set, go! They make me smile because they look so playful. It’s their Big Fall, and they are twirling all the way down. Well, some are. Others just plunge down. But the twirlers and the spinners make me smile. If I were a leaf, I would want to do as much twirling as possible during my brief descent to the ground. I’d want my journey to be as artful, authentic, and inspiring as possible, like the plastic bag scene from American Beauty. Do it with gusto. Dance with the wind!

Yesterday, I had my morning all planned out. Then the sun emerged, and I had a feeling that the trees near the main village intersection would be particularly enchanting with the mid-morning sunlight shining through. If I were to adhere to my schedule and visit the trees later, the angle of sunlight would be different. Or clouds might roll in. If the leaves weren’t still brilliantly aflame by the time I arrived, I could try again tomorrow.

However, this time of year beckons us to take action now! Don’t put it off. Between today and tomorrow – or even now and an hour from now – a gust of wind could come along and bring all the leaves to the ground. You can’t assume the leaves will still be on the trees tomorrow or in an hour.

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The dramatic, autumn foliage inspires me to take immediate action. Don’t just make lists and think about what to do. It’s time to actually engage that energy. What do you feel drawn to do right now? What impulse is arising from deep inside of you?  Don’t ignore it! Write that letter. Send that email. Make that phone call. Go out for that drive. Follow up on that lead. Make a meal for that family, friend, or relative. Say those words you know you’d regret not saying if one of you were to die today. Do it! You never know when it will be your last chance or when following your intuition will open a door or build a bridge that would not have manifested if you had ignored it.

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But that’s not all. Colorful, deciduous trees at this time of year also offer another lesson.

Many times this month, I’ve contemplated what the brilliant red, orange, and yellow foliage means to a tree. Leaves turn such vibrant colors as the tree begins its process of shutting down and releasing them, for they are no longer useful. Summer’s green leaves gathered sunlight like many thousands of cells in solar panels and were the means by which the tree received its energy for this year’s growth. But there’s a rhythm to trees and to the year. Now is the time when trees need to let go of all the leaves that provided them with energy and nourishment. For trees, now is not time to accumulate energy and grow. It’s time be wise about conserving energy and let go.

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Here’s a small personal example: I’m taking an online “money manifesting” course because I realize that, as I embark on a new venture, I need to work on my attitude toward money and raise my “money vibration” before I can go any further. Part of the process is visualizing a new money persona and how it would feel to inhabit that persona. During meditation one morning, I noticed all the clutter was cleared out of the house of my “Thriving Creative” persona. Her living space was spacious and uncluttered, and it felt good to be there. I knew instantly that I needed to let go of a lot of stuff, beginning with several crates of teaching books that were taking up space in the living room. Instead of just knowing I need to get rid of stuff (and I’ve known for a long time), this time I had the energy and motivation to actually do it. I researched best methods of selling books and then followed through – and sold virtually all the books within 24 hours! At the same time, I cleared some space and made some money! So I’m working on letting go of both personal possessions and outdated beliefs and attitudes about money and am discovering that letting go of old stuff opens me up to a new flow of energy. Right now it might look barren and unimpressive, but I’m making preparations for future action and growth! Getting rid of books is only the beginning.

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Soon, the deciduous trees in the Northeast will let go of all their leaves. We may feel downhearted when the brilliantly colored landscape fades to brown and gray, and the bare trees herald another long winter. But the greater cycle is about needing to shed what’s no longer useful to prepare for future growth. Trees will grow new leaves in the spring following a period of rest and reflection. We need to keep the greater cycle in mind and realize that we can’t lose anything that is integral to our wholeness. Anything that can be lost isn’t essential at this time or is part of a larger cycle that we might not even be aware of. There’s a universal rhythm we are part of, and what you think will kill you (i.e. letting go of what used to nourish you) is just part of the broader cycle of letting go, resting, being reborn or rejuvenated, and growing. So relax. It’s all good.

We have everything we need for this human journey inside of us, including the capacity to manufacture the strength and qualities we need when we need them. Just as a tree doesn’t die when it sheds its leaves, we are more resilient than we may believe ourselves to be. Every now and then, it’s beneficial to take inventory of our lives and let go of what no longer serves our highest purpose or surrender to the losses that life imposes on us. What looks like a mighty wind stealing the leaves from a tree is part of a greater process in which loss serves a purpose. Fall is a perfect time to follow nature’s lead and ask: What am I being called to let go of in my life? What can I let go of that is no longer necessary or useful? What losses am I being called to surrender to?

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A couple weeks ago, I rode a storm all the way home from the grocery store. As I pulled in the driveway, a powerful gust of wind brought down a flurry of leaves from trees lining the back yard. Sometimes it’s a gentle process –a few leaves coming down over the course of weeks, twirling their way down. Other times, a strong gust comes along (in the form of either great motivation or external circumstances acting upon us) and removes everything we need to let go of.  This great gust might throw us off balance and not be as pleasant as the gentle wind. It might even feel overwhelming! But either way, there are times when life calls or forces us to let go. That’s one of autumn’s greatest gifts. We can come to know both the gentle and gale force winds as grace operating in our lives and serving a greater cycle – which we may or may not yet be able to identify or understand.

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© 2015 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. To use any or all of this blog post, include this exactly: Susan Meyer (SusanTaraMeyer.com) is a photographer, writer, clutter coach, feng shui consultant, and mindfulness mentor whose work is infused with a deep interest in the nature of mind and appreciation of the natural world. She lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York. 

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