Category: Spiritual Journey

Zooming In and Zooming Out

Zooming In and Zooming Out

A few mornings ago, feeling emotional after waking from another “visitation” dream of my deceased mother, I went outside to see how much frost needed to be removed from my car before I could leave for work. There was a layer of frost, but clinging to the frost were thousands of snowflakes – an unexpected visual delight I hadn’t seen all winter! There was very little time left before I needed to leave, but I took out my photography gear and spent about five minutes reveling in the beauty of the patterns of the snowflakes magnified through my macro lens. It was a world that so easily could go unnoticed. Either you get up too late, after it already has melted away, or you start defrosting or scraping without seeing such tiny details – for instance, stacks of delicate snowflakes as captured in this image:

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Every snowflake in a sprawling blanket of snow, and every drop of water in the ocean, is precious.

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The catch is that you have to train your eyes to see such miniscule wonders. Or perhaps your eyes are opened by grace in a given moment because it was time for you to see. There is a sermon inside every snowflake if you look at it the right way and are receptive to its fascinating secret.

Each year, a tree produces hundreds or thousands of leaves. If you look closely, you will notice that every leaf is imprinted with the pattern of a tree.

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And consider our bodies. Inside our bodies, there are multitudes of cells being generated, living, and dying, just like humans on planet Earth. At a cellular level, dramas unfold through reproductive processes that take place silently and secretly – processes of which we are not conscious. Every single breath is a spectacular event – perhaps like a roller coaster ride or a story of transformation from the perspective of oxygen molecules – but we are largely unaware of the rhythm and process of it as we go about the business of living our lives.

There is so much taking place, so much to be revealed to us if only we look more carefully or employ tools that help us to zoom in and see beyond what we can perceive with the naked eye. And on the opposite end of the spectrum, zooming out provides us with insight about how everything fits together into something larger than itself.

Becoming aware of the universe that exists inside each human body makes me wonder: If we were to zoom way out, are we like infinitesimal cells inside a larger being that we are too small to perceive? And could that entity be but a single cell in something even larger?

These thoughts have been building over the past several days and are blowing my mind this morning! A few days ago, I came across a video (which is absolutely worth three and a half minutes of your time) based on a gargantuan, panoramic photo released by NASA of the Andromeda galaxy. The video portrays impressively our place in the vastness of the cosmos. For me, the timing was perfect.

Prior to seeing the video, I had been revisiting a vision I had a while back of a vast wall covered completely with a sprawling, painted canvas. But the masterpiece painted on the canvas extends far – perhaps infinitely – beyond the boundaries of the wall. Somewhere on the vast wall is a postage stamp sized frame, and if you look inside the frame you can perceive familiar forms – perhaps sky, trees, houses, and figures of people and animals. We humans are the size of pin heads in relation to this postage stamp sized frame, and we take it all in, make what sense we can, and to some degree think we understand the meaning of what we see inside the tiny frame. This miniscule masterpiece (that is a small part of a larger canvas, that in turn is but a small portion of a possibly infinite canvas) represents our perception of our human lives. But what we can perceive – the part that falls within the postage stamp sized area – isn’t as it appears if you zoom out. Doing so, you see that the individual forms inside the frame extend far beyond the frame and are parts of much larger shapes and patterns.

It’s like taking the sensation of standing at the edge of the ocean or on a mountaintop and magnifying it a thousandfold.

We debate and argue about the meaning of the forms we perceive within the confines of the postage stamp sized frame – which is all our conditioned minds can see. We blame and/or venerate others, exalt ourselves for our perceived successes, and/or rebuke ourselves for our perceived shortcomings and failures – thinking or even fearing that we know The Truth.

But how could we possibly know?

From a wider perspective, perhaps events that seem confusing or tragic on a personal level serve a larger, higher purpose in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps they offer us the gifts of awakening and evolving. Perhaps the biochemistry we inherit or the personal losses that throw us off balance and feel so jolting are actually spiritual blessings. Perhaps we need to extend our perception through time and space to understand this and to realize how inherently connected we are to other forms, beyond the extremely limited frame of human perception. Perhaps doing so will help us cultivate serenity, love ourselves more fully, and in turn live more authentically.

How would it change your life to believe – truly believe – that you are not broken or deficient in some way? That who you are at your core is the light of the universe, imprinted with the pattern of the galaxies? That you can access this higher power at any time by focusing on your inner light?

Zoom in, zoom out, shine on.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (susantarameyer.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Sanctuary Between Paradoxes

The Sanctuary Between Paradoxes

It’s been two weeks since my last published post, which must be an all-time record! I’ve actually written quite a bit in the interim but felt most of it was too personal and perhaps wouldn’t resonate meaningfully with others. Basically, I’ve been grappling with the Life is Short; Do What You Love philosophy that has fueled me all year long. It feels like an energy that came on strong after being activated by a brush with death and needs to be worked with so it can be integrated gracefully and for the greater good.

I’ve wished I could put life on hold and retreat to a mountaintop for a few months to figure out how to proceed in the wake of my mother’s passing, when it feels as if the rug has been pulled out from underneath me, and there’s nobody looking out for me in a maternal way. The bottom line is that life is short, and I don’t want to die with my magnum opus still locked inside me. That seems to be one of my greatest fears.

On the flip side of Life is Short; Do What You Love is the paradoxical realization that no external outcome is necessary to complete or “fix” me. There is no job, relationship, project, etc. through which to seek fulfillment because true fulfillment is ultimately an inside job. I’ve learned this from experience. It doesn’t mean that any of those efforts are without value but that they are the icing on the cake of personal and spiritual fulfillment. At my core, I already am whole and complete. (And so are you.) I’ve never felt that so strongly. It’s a matter of returning to that core and being receptive to the guidance that arises.

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Resolution of the paradox creeps in silently as an invitation to enter the inner sanctuary and surrender to the mystery. I have been longing to meditate every day, knowing that when I sit on the cushion in front of my altar, behind my desk, or wherever, I will fill with light, rise above the waves of ordinary life, and engage with the present moment from a place of wholeness rather than deprivation or lack. What great pleasure to feel the warmth of the wood stove, inhale the earthy fragrance of incense, and accept the invitation from spirit to sit alone in a quiet, candlelit room and journey to the center of my being!

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Inevitably, I returned to the realization that while trying to integrate Life is Short; Do What You Love in a way that doesn’t upset the entire apple cart, the key is to love what you do. Love – or at least accept – what is. The full catastrophe of human life. Cultivate inner fulfillment by connecting with the present moment, regardless of external factors. When my pain-body (a term coined by Eckhart Tolle) is activated or I find myself in frantic pursuit mode (for example, burning the midnight oil with intense creativity that inevitably leads to exhaustion) and look outside of myself and the present moment for salvation, I feel like a sun that has forgotten her true identity and strength and wanders around at night trying to steal light from the moon (that, of course, only reflects the sun’s light).

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But the soul is patient. It is beyond time, not threatened by it. When you’re in flight from what is, you make your hell worse because you do the exact opposite of accepting and embracing the present moment, which is a portal to infinite possibilities and personal power. It’s like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, thinking she was so far from home and then learning that the whole time she had the power to return in an instant. You can return – again and again and again – and connect with the light.

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Even in my darkest hours of exhaustion and grief, I have discovered that I am able to experience how much larger I am than my feelings – that I can take one conscious, spacious breath and breathe over the top of them. I can put my hand on wherever I feel the tension in my body (usually the solar plexus area), breathe, and be present to it – and become aware of a much larger part of myself at the core of it all. I am grateful for experiences that provide me with the realization of how much more IMMENSE I am than anything I can feel! Who I AM can hold and support all of that. With awareness, there is no need to indulge in suffering and/or distraction for a moment longer. No need to give in to inertia or to be held hostage by emotions. How liberating is that?

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What’s different for me this time around is that there’s no judgment or shame. It’s all feedback. I can see areas in which I’m resisting the present moment and shutting out blessings. It gives me material to work with. As my spiritual teacher advised during a group retreat two weekends ago, I can acknowledge that, while I might not have done this or that thing right or well, I am a being of light. I’ve recalled this advice numerous times, and it’s quite powerful and empowering. You don’t get sucked into spiritual or emotional quicksand.

Reawakening to the inner light after wandering in darkness (whether in the form of exhaustion, waves of emotion, or any other kind of forgetting) is the most wonderful homecoming. It’s as if you prepared a nourishing, homemade meal then left the house for a short time. When you open the door and enter your home (i.e. the indwelling light) after being away, the comforting aroma welcomes you instantly. Had you stayed home the whole time, you would have grown accustomed to it and perhaps not have been able to smell and appreciate it at all. It’s as if you have to leave and return in order to experience how lovely and nourishing it really is. Strengthening that return reflex is what mindful awareness is all about. There is such joy in returning to the present moment, which is the only moment we truly have –  the bridge between paradoxes.

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The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (susantarameyer.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Astonishing Light

The Astonishing Light

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I am a devotee

Of sunrise, sunset,

Sunlit flowers and leaves,

And love. But why?

Friend, I want to show you

The astonishing light that

Shines in this world

Of shadows

So you will know

You are never alone

And always

In the presence

Of grace.

I want you to look

In my eyes

And see the reflection

Of your inner light

And fall in love

With your

Exalted self. I want

To awaken you

To illuminated moments

When sunbeams penetrate

 Shadow and form

And extend a ramp

To paradise.

—Susan Meyer

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© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (susantarameyer.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

This, Too, Shall Pass

This, Too, Shall Pass

Have you ever had one of those days when you swear you must be wearing a “Kick Me!” sign, and pretty much everything feels like it’s not working? I already know the answer: We all do from time to time. But if we have enough mindfulness and wisdom and our mind is not too afflicted, we realize even on our darkest days that this, too, shall pass. Tomorrow is a new day, and a good night’s sleep can do wonders.

It is now tomorrow, but I will begin with yesterday, when my mom’s absence felt more real than ever. More than anything, I wished I could call her and hear her voice. I have a voicemail from a month and a half before she died saved on my phone for such occasions. It begins with a cheery, “Hi, honey!” and ends with a reassuring, “See you later!” Oh, how I wish. She would have known just what to say – as mothers do – and the reality that I will not hear her voice for the rest of my life weighs heavily when it hits. It is a grief shared with every other family member and with virtually everyone who has lost a mother.

A friend from high school sent me a metal, inscribed stone (pictured below) during the final week of my mom’s life. (The other side reads, “COURAGE”.) It has brought me solace on numerous occasions, including yesterday.

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Normally, I am comforted by the impression that my mom continues to shine her light in my life.

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I sense that she is only a thought away – closer than ever. But at the same time, I don’t want to pull her back to this world by being emotionally needy, if that is possible. I want her spirit to be free and unfettered.

Normally, when it hits me that she’s gone – viscerally in the gut – and I feel sad, the sadness is answered immediately by the thought, “Be grateful for the time we had together.” And then the sadness fades as quickly as it arose, like magic. But yesterday was different, and I missed her terribly. She was my best friend, the first person I would pick up the phone and call to share joys, frustrations, and sorrows. I needed some mothering.

The last time I visited my dad, I found on the refrigerator a quote in my mom’s own handwriting that says it all: “People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” The quote is from Maya Angelou, who died the day after my mom died. (!)

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In my mom’s absence (or perhaps through a new kind of relationship and communication with her?), I’ve noticed the seed of motherly self-love taking root and growing inside me. This seemed to begin soon after I learned she was terminally ill, and it’s a priceless gift, not to be confused with selfishness. The Inner Critic has been remarkably silent, and the Inner Mother has taken over and become my default responder – which makes a world of difference!

So…it has been a crazy week. I was hoping for a more stable, drama-free school year, but after only two weeks back, an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu already has crept in. In the spirit of self-mothering, I woke up yesterday morning with the realization that I am putting too much pressure on myself and that the only sane response is to simplify as much as possible. There are times when all kinds of assistance shows up to help us along. Other times, it withdraws (perhaps due to a lack of clarity or commitment?). I write about times when I feel supported and in the flow, to remember that they happen. I write about times when support seems to wane, to get through and find my footing. It feels like a waning phase at this time – although it can shift in a heartbeat.

This weekend, I planned to embark on a new, three-year, spiritual venture, but the universe threw so many curve balls that I had to cancel (hopefully just postpone) my plans. It feels like there is no space at this time for a new commitment. So, again, the only sane response is to simplify. Therefore, my new weekend plan is to begin Project Sanctuary, which I did not get to over summer vacation. This involves purging mercilessly all the stuff that has outlived its usefulness in order to create space for new possibilities…because LIFE IS TOO SHORT NOT TO! As the leaves begin to change color and fall to the ground, I intend to clear away the clutter and transform our home into a sanctuary. (At the moment, it is anything but.) Get the chi flowing. Come to think of it, what season is more perfect than fall for releasing what no longer serves a purpose? I understand that in between releasing the old and budding the new, there might be a season that feels stagnant. But if that’s the case, it must be honored, for winter is part of the natural cycle and offers unique gifts and opportunities – for example, the cultivation of patience.

Speaking of patience…

As soon as I finished typing the last sentence above, thinking that was the end of this post, I got a message from my friend and fellow photographer, Peter, who was heading out with hopes of photographing the aurora borealis and invited me to come along. We drove to a boat launch on the Great Sacandaga Lake and were disappointed to see that there was substantial cloud cover. He consulted the weather radar, and it looked like the clouds would blow over soon – so we waited. Eventually, I began to balance rocks. The waves lapping against the shore reminded me of the ocean as the moon floated higher in the sky (which actually makes nighttime photography more challenging). I recalled how my mom would laugh when I told her Peter and I went out for a nighttime photography shoot. I never understood what she found so hilarious, but I knew that if I could tell her about waiting for the northern lights along the Sacandaga, it would tickle her funny bone all over again. I felt her laughter in the moonlight, and that made me smile. After about an hour and a half of waiting, we decided that the clouds probably were only over the lake and not about to dissipate, so we left. Although we didn’t glimpse the colorful, shimmering ribbons of the aurora borealis, my mood had shifted, and that alone was worth the trip.

Not ready to give up after we made our way to clearer sky, we took a lengthy detour in search of a north facing field or body of water that would permit a view of the northern lights. The detour didn’t yield the results we hoped for, and by the time I got back home, it was hours later than I’d intended to be awake. But at least we could say we gave it our best shot – for I’ve never seen the aurora borealis and have a very strong urge to witness it in this lifetime!

At 6:14 this morning – with less than four hours of sleep – I heard a ping! sound (like when I receive a message on my phone) that prompted me to open my eyes and look out the bedroom window to the sky over the river. The sunrise was colorful, textured, and dazzling, and I jumped out of bed to photograph it, knowing the colors would only be at peak for a few minutes before fading. Then I went back to sleep.

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After such a challenging day and a night of waiting for the right conditions and searching for something that was not to be found, that ping! was a hopeful sign that the universe continues to assist and support me – for I can’t explain where it came from. (There were no other people or devices in the house.) I just heard it inside my head and opened my eyes at precisely the right time to catch the extraordinary colors and light, not of the aurora borealis, but of a new day dawning.

Yesterday’s gone. Today, I shall simplify.

The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (susantarameyer.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Finding Beauty at Omega

Finding Beauty at Omega

I just returned from a truly nourishing and inspiring Mindfulness in Education conference at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, thanks to a full scholarship funded by the 1440 Foundation. I will write about the conference itself in one or more separate posts. But for now, I want to share the beauty of the campus – for it, too, was inspiring.

Omega Institute for Holistic Studies is a non-profit educational retreat center located on 200 hilly acres in the Hudson Valley. Inspired by Sufi teacher, Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, it was founded in 1977 and is devoted to “awakening the best in the human spirit” through workshops, conferences, retreats, and online learning. A stream runs through the center of campus, and there are around 100 buildings, including a main hall, dining hall, cafe, bookstore, sanctuary, wellness center, yoga and movement spaces, cabin-like accommodations, and the Ram Dass Library (shaped like a lotus blossom). The use of cell phones is strongly discouraged in public areas, and I only noticed one person talking on a phone during my three days there.

The Sanctuary was my favorite area – my anchor – to which I returned repeatedly. Here is the entrance.

There is a tiny waterfall about halfway up the the winding stairs that lead to the Sanctuary. The waterfall is surrounded by space that invites creativity. Here are two arrangements that greeted me.

They set my own creative gears in motion.

There also was a basket of colorful, glittery word rocks – an invitation to play!

And play, I did! Although the mosquitoes made it very challenging to balance rocks, I did the best I could.

Here is one very simple balance that remained intact a full day later, despite a morning of torrential downpours. It’s the one that didn’t topple even though the acorn fell from its little perch (perhaps to be closer to the oak leaf?), and the “evolve” rock shifted off center.

Spirit-infused art is all over the place, including some tucked away surprises and others that are impossible to miss. Outside the Sanctuary is a large bell with a mandala composed of moss and other natural objects at the bottom of the stand.

It reminded me of the natural materials (“provocations”) teachers in Reggio Emilia schools put out for their students’ inquiry and exploration.

There are many calming Buddha statues around campus, including this lovely stone planter at the entrance to the garden (with a twin on the other side of the path).

One that’s easier to miss is located amidst pine trees in a small meditation garden at the center of the dorm area where I stayed. I love the interplay of spirit, art, and nature.

Here’s another one that’s tucked away near the heart of campus.

Arrangements such as these remind me to take a deep breath and return to my center. They invite peace and calm.

I was delighted to discover the classical style labyrinth located directly at the center of campus.

Perhaps my favorite image of all was what I found at the center of the labyrinth. It is customary to walk a labyrinth with some sort of purpose in mind. A person often will carry a small object to leave at the center, symbolic of letting go or some kind of intention. I found this collection of offerings fascinating.

Here’s a closer view (that doesn’t show the red lighter resting behind the coffee cup):

Looking at the offerings brought home the realization that nobody is ever alone in his or her suffering. We’re all in this game of life together.

Inspired by the spirit- and nature-infused art at Omega, I returned home enthusiastic about creating calming, centering spaces around our house. By the end of summer, I intend to transform our cluttered little home into a sanctuary. It is my August project. The truth is: We already have all the elements for creating such spaces. It’s a matter of utilizing them – and remembering to notice them in the first place! There’s nothing further to obtain. We just need to notice and enter into the space.

My husband and I have noted that our yard seems to read our minds and give us what we desire. This morning, I went outside to look at the morning glories that are popping up around the yard and found this:

It looked to me like a perfect frame for a mandala – so I ran with that idea!

Pausing for an art break, I realized that most of the items on my to-do list ultimately weren’t that important in the first place. I was putting too much pressure on myself to get things done! That’s part of the beauty of the creative process for me. It pushes a reset button and helps me to simplify my life.

I love being in places that inspire creativity!

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited.
Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (susantarameyer.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Blueprints and Dragonflies

Blueprints and Dragonflies

I’m a little more than halfway through the book, Testimony of Light by Helen Greaves, which was recommended to me recently as an excellent text in the “near-death” genre. It is an authenticated account from the 1960s of two nuns who communicated telepathically while they were alive and continued to do so after one of them passed on. It resonates with the other books I’ve read in the genre, and I have been working my way through it by reading small chunks and allowing the ideas to settle in my mind when I’m kayaking or sleeping.

Sometimes I’m out on the water immersed in thought or some kind of pursuit (which often involves an elusive heron). Then I catch myself and am amused by the attempts of my little mind to make sense of the Big Picture – for I sense that the truth of our existence is beyond human comprehension. Our sensory organs and conditioned minds can only handle so much Light.

Today I set out looking for herons but fell in love with a small turtle basking in the sun. Then I returned to my pursuit of herons but dropped that agenda after a short time when I realized the “heron paparazzi” state of mind prevented me from entering stillness. Sometimes it’s grace that brings us back into presence (for instance, coming upon a turtle basking in the sun), and sometimes it’s awareness of mental activity (much like realizing within a dream that we are dreaming).

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Then I rested in stillness, knowing there was nothing more important at that time than floating and filling with bliss. I wanted to stay there all day!

 

While floating, an idea from Testimony of Light entered my awareness regarding the existence of a Divine Blueprint for the work we set out to accomplish in our lifetime – and how it compares with the actual map of our human life when all is said and done. Every cell of my being seems to vibrate with a burning desire to attune to and follow my Divine Blueprint. I want to get down to business and do the work I intended to do. I’ve never felt it so strongly! Since returning from my recent retreat, the energy has been incredible! It’s blown open the door of my self-imposed prison and called, “Follow me!” And I am.

Still, I can’t help but wonder how far off course I’ve strayed by allowing myself to be driven by fear or a desire to please others. That method of traveling seems like taking a detour. Taking the long way home is not a failure. Nor is getting lost. There are times in life when we feel lost, especially when familiar markers are removed from the landscape of our journey. But what’s wonderful about realizing you’re lost is that you make an effort to dust off the map and find your way. Such times are opportunities to get back on course! Intuition is a useful navigational tool for realizing you’re lost and finding your way. It is my compass.

But perhaps in the grand scheme, the journey is more like a labyrinth with one winding path to the center. During times when we are driven by fear or other distractions, perhaps we just slow down and progress along the path in our own rhythm. Perhaps, despite periods of inertia, we’re never truly lost.

How interesting that when I entertained this thought, a dog came to the water’s edge and started barking at me. It reminded me of a story of a dog traveling to a particular town:

His journey was a very long one, taking two or three days as a rule, and yet he arrived before sunset of the same day. The dogs of that town were all surprised to see him so soon.

“Yes, it was a very long journey,” the dog said, “but I attribute my speed to the kindness and help of my fellow dogs. Since I left home, whenever I felt tired and tried to stop a moment to rest, four or five would run up and bark at me and want to bite me. So I had to run on without staying to rest in that place, or to search for food. And so it went on at every place I came to, until in the end I have arrived here at my destination.”

Citation: Khan, Hazrat Inayat (1991). Tales. New Lebanon, NY: Omega Publications.

As far as others are concerned, I can’t even begin to judge another human being’s path through life! It’s hard enough to discern and navigate my own!

There were so many dragonflies darting around on glistening, iridescent wings as I contemplated Divine Blueprints. So much life energy all around!

At one point, I experienced a moment of clarity from which a question – no, perhaps it was more like a prayer – bloomed like a lotus in my heart. And in that instant, a dragonfly landed on my arm for the first time all day. We remained completely still for quite some time regarding each other (or so it seemed), and I felt myself being drawn into dragonfly energy, as if it were the answer to my prayer, pollinating the lotus in my heart.

 

Then I felt it was time to paddle back home and engage with my to-do list. I focused on the sounds around me – a form of mindfulness meditation – and followed the sound back home.

But this wonderful energy remains, and I follow my intuition from one “yes” to another. It is an amazing feeling – this movement that has broken the spell of inertia.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.susantarameyer.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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