Journal

Seeing Daffodils in a New Way

Seeing Daffodils in a New Way

I love to walk the labyrinth at the park when the daffodils are in bloom all around it. I’ve been photographing them for so many years, and I especially enjoy photographing them backlit, like stained glass. However, it wasn’t the right time of day for that yesterday morning, and rain was in the forecast for the rest of the day.

I brought my camera to the labyrinth, wondering how I might see the daffodils a little differently than I have in the past. Was it possible?

It always is.

I was impressed by how the yellow tips transform into fully bloomed flowers. The tips grow and swell and become a slender, papery package containing all the parts. Eventually the petals open like fingers releasing from a fist (except there are six instead of five), exposing the ruffled corona and stigma at the center. All parts are yellow – though I am especially fond of the visual contrast of white-petaled variety.

Looking deeply at this daffodil two days after experiencing the solar eclipse, the corona draws my attention. The sun in a daffodil, with the petals as rays extending outward!

I also marvel at how life packages the flower so compactly before it blooms. You look at the papery package and wouldn’t imagine such a large, ruffled flower emerging from it. Astounding!

Tax time this year seemed to deliver some undesired news that had me wondering how I’d be able to make things work. But it was more of a fleeting thought, and then I reminded myself of the experiment I’m doing this year: Treat everything as good news.

How am I going to make it work? That’s not the question – it’s just a distraction. The real question is: How can I allow myself to harmonize with the flow of life and trust it? Resist nothing. Trust that just as this daffodil grows and transforms so intelligently into full bloom, so am I. (And so are you.)

It turned out that the undesired outcome did not come to fruition. But it was good practice. 

Too much thinking and worrying only gets in the way. Notice thinking is happening, and let the thought-clouds go. The energetic awareness beneath thought holds every answer we seek, everything we want to know. Just as the moon blocked the light of the sun during this week’s eclipse, too much thinking gets in the way of us accessing our deeper knowing.

It’s all there within us, like the parts of flowers before they bloom. And then one day, there’s this perfect flower…attracting pollinators and being part of this wondrous, interconnected dance of life.

That’s the consciousness I want to live in alignment with. Surrender the fear, the self-doubt, the busy mind – for there is an intelligence far greater than thought available to us.


© 2024 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. 

The Solar Eclipse: Experiencing Totally vs. Totality

The Solar Eclipse: Experiencing Totally vs. Totality

If nature is a mirror or teacher, what is tomorrow’s solar eclipse showing or teaching us?

That is the question I built a recent Solar Eclipse Meditation program around. 

Perhaps you already have a sense. Perhaps you haven’t given it a thought. Perhaps you’ll understand when it’s happening. Or perhaps sometime afterwards.

Maybe the eclipse will help you to tap into a sense of awe and wonder.

Or connection with everyone else experiencing the celestial phenomenon at the same time and throughout human history.  

Or the contrast between darkness and light, and the value of both.

Or hope and resilience because the light always returns, even in times of darkness and uncertainty.

Perhaps you’ll gain awareness of what blocks the light – what gets in the way of you receiving the light that is available to you or blocks your access. It might be fear, habits, energy patterns, beliefs, routines/schedule, relationships, codependent patterns, substances, some kind of self-abandonment, etc. 

What blocks you from manifesting what you deeply yearn for? What do you deeply yearn for? How do you want to feel? What does the sun represent, and what blocks its expression or manifestation in your life? 

During a solar eclipse, we wear special glasses that allow us to see what we’re not normally able to see. Perhaps you’ll get some kind of clarity about a situation, person, or topic you’re not seeing clearly, that will propel you to let go or relate to it/them differently. 

There’s also the idea of being in alignment – with your source, what matters most, your deepest wisdom, highest self, etc. You might notice how it feels when where you are standing on planet Earth is in alignment with the moon and sun. Really take in how it feels in those fleeting moments so you can access it again and practice the feeling of alignment. You could even visualize it happening if you aren’t able to experience the actual eclipse visually like that, and feel the sensation of inner alignment.

Eclipse energy can be very intense and chaotic. You may feel extra sensitive to the emotions arising in and/or around you. Perhaps you will resonate with certain practices and/or meditations that ground and calm your own energy despite whatever kind of energy is activated in the environment. 

These were some of the themes I offered. However, another theme arose during the course of the program that wasn’t in my notes: the fear of missing out (FOMO).

I live just outside of the path of totality. So close, and yet so far, given the warnings we’ve heard about traffic gridlocks and such. I’ve heard there’s a big difference between 99% and 100% totality and that many who’ve experienced 100% totality describe it as life-changing. Part of me yearns to experience that “once in a lifetime” event and has been brainstorming ways to get into that narrow path.

However, through mindful awareness, we can recognize that we are caught up in hype and FOMO. And then we can tune in and sense energetically, in our body and being, what feels right regardless of what others are doing or encouraging us to do. We can allow the hype to be just another cloud drifting through the mind that we can let go of.

What if we simply stay where we are? Perhaps we will be more fully present and relaxed, rather than stressed out from dealing with traffic congestion and anxiety about crazy drivers or where to park or pull over, or not arriving at our intended destination in time. Perhaps we can attune more to the energy and subtle changes and experience all of that totally instead of experiencing totality.

What if that is enough?

One participant in the program described experiencing the partial eclipse of 2017 at Cape Cod on a family vacation. The eclipse happened to take place during their vacation. It wasn’t the main event of the day. They didn’t schedule their vacation around it. It was simply part of a wonderful day at the beach. And whatever portion of the sun was blocked that day by the moon was enough. It was exciting – something memorable that you don’t see often. After it was done, her family continued to enjoy their beach day.

I recall working at the Saratoga Springs Public Library that summer day in 2017. We all took turns going up to the roof of the building and looking at the changing shadows on a piece of paper and taking turns looking through the one pair of glasses we passed around. It was really cool to be up on the roof and to experience the changing light and shadows, but what I remember most is the eerie light and the connection I felt with my fellow employees. 

After the solar eclipse program the other day, I stopped brainstorming and decided once and for all that 98-99% totality is good enough. We have a spot close to home in mind in case of clear sky, and an even closer spot if there are clouds, or if we encounter heavy traffic.

An alternative to FOMO – whether related to viewing a rare eclipse or anything else – is JOMO – joy of missing out. If we surrender to conditions being as they are, and to being where we are and as we are, we can discover there is much to notice and appreciate without complicating our lives. We can open ourselves to the path of least resistance instead of the path of totality.

We might take in how the unusual, changing light touches our familiar landscape, or the behavior of animals around us. Or do a guided or unguided meditation to connect with the energy, or enjoy the company of those with whom we’re experiencing the eclipse.

So another eclipse-inspired reflection is: How am I making things more complicated than they need to be? How can I ease into a sense of enoughness and find the path of least resistance? This can be an inquiry you carry with you long after the actual eclipse is over – as any of the inquiries I’ve offered can be.

As a photographer, there’s also the lure to photograph the event, instead of experiencing it fully. This, too, can be a conscious choice. Instead of being on photographer autopilot, we can sense into what feels most right in the moment regarding where and how to put our attention. I’ll be prepared with my gear and research but will sense into what feels most right in the moment and be open to the possibility of not taking any pictures at all. This is another opportunity for FOMO to be a mindfulness bell! Also, the sun isn’t the only subject to focus on. We might take in the unusual light falling on the landscape or the faces of those around us – with or without a camera.

Even the best eclipse plans can be foiled by cloud cover. For the past few days, it was looking like clear, blue sky for Monday afternoon. However, now my weather apps show clouds in the forecast. The weather is out of our control. But however it pans out, we can tune into the potent energy of the celestial alignment and the strange darkness during the day, and reflect on what the eclipse signifies for us. 

Surely, experiencing a total solar eclipse would be magnificent if weather conditions and geography permit. However, there are so many other powerful ways to view it, outside of the path of totality and visual impressions.


© 2024 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. 

Apricity

Apricity

One of the benefits of mindfulness practice is that we can become aware of how we relate to whatever experiences or emotions arise and interact with them in a way that offers greater freedom and clear-seeing. This applies to the full spectrum of what we experience and feel as human beings.

When I teach mindfulness meditation, it seems like I emphasize applying the skills and tools to the more challenging stuff – unpleasant emotions – in the interest of easing suffering. In last week’s sessions, for example, I focused on mindfulness of shame and humility and how mindfulness offers immunity against what Eckhart Tolle calls the “mental viruses” of our times. Awareness is the first step of freedom.  

However, the unpleasant end of the spectrum is only part of the picture. We can strengthen our capacity to be with what is pleasant, too. To slow down and become still enough to really take in a pleasurable moment. Doing this helps our brain build new neural pathways and balance its hardwired, inherited negativity bias that scans for and overfocuses on danger – whether actual or perceived.

I recently learned of an obsolete, Old English word, apricity, defined as: the warmth of the sun in winter. It instantly became my new favorite word, right up there with neuroplasticity and inspiration.

I’m a great fan of apricity. In fact, I’m enjoying it even as I write this. My standing desk on wheels is positioned right in front of a sunny window, and the sunlight coming through the window is bathing me in warmth. It feels amazing!

Whenever there is sunlight (which hasn’t been often lately), I roll my desk to a sunny window and follow the sun from window to window throughout the day. This is one of my favorite winter delights, and how lovely to finally have a word for it! Why that wonderful word became obsolete is beyond me.

I have a health condition for which I’ve been instructed to apply a warm compress to my eyelids daily. When I let that treatment regimen lapse, I inevitably become aware of its value – when my eyelid becomes inflamed again. It’s just like when your meditation, yoga, exercise, etc. practice lapses, and the absence and contrast make you aware of its benefits. You realize that you feel better when it’s part of your life than when it’s not.

The warm compress treatment is simple enough but feels tedious. The most challenging part is making time for it. The other day, I heated the water and prepared the compress. When I was all set, I saw that my son was on the couch, where I had intended to lie down and do the treatment. So I went on the sunporch and noticed how wonderfully warm the sun felt coming in through the windows. Seemed like a perfect spot to plop down.

I had intended to make time to meditate before doing a live Zoom mindfulness session that day, but the warm compress therapy would cut into that time. And then it occurred to me that I could fit in meditation by incorporating it into the eye treatment and focusing on apricity and warmth in general. Warmth of the compress on my face and apricity on my skin as I lay on my meditation cushion – just like a cat, as my son pointed out.

The practice was simple: When the mind wanders off to thoughts of past or future, or even to thoughts about present conditions, acknowledge the wandering, and guide awareness back to the sensations of warmth. In other words, warmth was my meditation anchor, my home base.

It transformed a somewhat tedious health routine into a meditation practice that was a true joy.

Although the sun is shining brightly today, this rarely has been the case in recent weeks. As my recently completed yearlong river sunrise photography project confirmed, January and February are the months when we in the Northeast tend to see the least sunlight. But eventually the overcast days pass, and the sun comes back out – like today. After a long string of dreary weather days, we appreciate the sunshine and blue sky even more. 

And when the sun isn’t out? We can practice generating our own sunshine. Perhaps go on a treasure hunt, indoors or outdoors, for what gladdens the heart. Kindle gratefulness.

For example, earlier this week when the sky was overcast, I was delighted to rest my eyes on the orchids on my meditation altar and the 11 tiny buds (yes, I counted them) that will blossom in the spring. And my beloved jade plant and the numerous smaller jades I’ve been propagating. The sound of the water fountain in the corner of the room. The plants on the window shelves I created last year that always gladden my heart.

In the absence of apricity, I made a cup of fragrant, herbal tea. I held my mandala mug (my current favorite) in my hands and felt the warmth of the tea – even held the mug to my body to warm more of me. Again, the sensations of warmth were my meditation anchor. When I drank the sun-ripened tea, I consumed sunlight and joy.

So if you need one, consider this your permission slip to switch up your meditation practice and experiment and play with an anchor that generates warmth and joy!


© 2024 Susan Meyer. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this post or excerpts of it as long as you give proper credit to Susan Meyer and SusanTaraMeyer.com. Susan Meyer is a photographer, writer, and spiritual teacher who lives on the Hudson River in Upstate New York.

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