Intuition and Finding Your Inner Penguin

penguins-429128_1920The Emperor Penguins of Antarctica group up in the thousands during the breeding season.  Once their chicks are juveniles, the adult penguins depart for open water to feed and bring home nutrition.  They have this knack, when they’ve returned from their foraging expeditions, of locating their young among a throng of look-alikes, solely by recognizing their chick’s call in a cacophony of penguin noise.  Parent penguins have a knack for listening.

As I’ve aged and my other physical faculties are weakening, my inner voice- my intuition is growing much stronger.  Like the parent penguins, I’ve learned to recognize it from the din of voices that surround me in my external and internal worlds.

It’s a skill anyone can develop but in our left-brained, modern culture, it’s not valued nor spoken about much.  It requires quiet, stillness, and patience.  Intuition is an inner voice easily drowned out by messages we receive on a daily basis- live your life like this, look like this, buy this, buy that, your intuitive messages often running counter to them.

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Someday and the Power of Now

vintage-1135015_1920I was taking an evening beach walk last week when my two friends, a couple, each pulled out a pair of Zeiss binoculars to look at a bird.  “Wow,” I remarked, “Someday I am going to get myself a decent pair of binoculars” as I inspected one of the pairs.  Then I stopped and said to myself, “What the hell am I waiting for?”

About 30 years ago on a hike, I had difficulty identifying a bird that my companion easily did.  She said “take a look through these” and she handed me an expensive pair of Leica binoculars.  There was the bird with its colors and features crisp and crystal clear.  I was astounded at the difference between her glasses and my inexpensive pair at the same resolution.  “Someday,” I said to myself.

Those excuses…too expensive, too extravagant, too precious, not practical.  What bunk. I’m in my mid-sixties. Practicality can only work so long as an excuse. Really, sometimes it’s good to reexamine your longings, take them seriously, then take action.downy-woodpecker-68673_1280

I got home, did some research and ordered a fabulous pair of high-quality binoculars with all the features I could ever want.  They came yesterday.  I love them.  This morning in bed I watched a Downy Woodpecker at the feeder with my new binoculars. The colors and features of the bird were crisp and crystal clear.

Someday

The somedays roll past

Like tumbleweeds on a desert highway

Piling up on fences

The calendar pages turn

“Someday I will…”

I declare longingly to myself

Until I realize there are a limited amount of pages left to turn

I stop and grab a tumbleweed

Before it rolls by me

And declare that someday

Is indeed today

Now

Right now.

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Photo courtesy Jez Arnold

 

 

 

Why I Meditate

606-to-507-028For many, the word meditation conjures up images of Buddha- like figures sitting in lotus position, hands in prayer, dressed in monkish robes or yoga gear & chanting Om in long breaths. Find me in meditation & you would see a disheveled middle-aged woman propped up in bed first thing in the morning, legs stretched out under the covers, hands upturned in her lap, eyes closed & silently breathing.  It’s an unglamorous but serene picture.  This is how I prefer to start my day.

Meditation has been a part of my life off & on for over 20 years. I turned to it, as many do, during a period of great upheaval in my life. The liberal minded church I was attending at the time offered a free class.  It was a simple procedure.  Close your eyes, scan your body for tension, & then breathe observing your thoughts without judgement.  The teacher suggested picking a 2 syllable word, known to some as a mantra, to focus on while breathing.  This could be something like “om-sa”, “breathe in-breathe out”, “I am” or something that holds meaning to you.  You can visulaize a peaceful scene. That was it.  No need for a guru, a specially assigned mantra, or shelling out lots of money.  The deal breaker for me was the suggested 20 minutes twice a day.

I did start on that schedule & then could not stick with it.  Rather than throw out the entire practice this is what my practice looks like now- 12 minutes before I start my day.  It really helps for me to throw in a late afternoon practice before dinner but that is usually the exception than the rule.  Sometimes all I can muster is observing my breath 5 to 10 times during my day.  It all helps.

This is what I’ve gained from meditation- focus, grounding, & insight.  Previously I had the mistaken notion that meditation was about controlling my thoughts. I was wrong. It’s about observing the mind & body without judgement. If you find your mind wandering, just come back to the breath & note what you were thinking about.  This will happen over & over.  Eventually you will gain an awareness of your thought patterns throughout your day & a habit of self- correction.

One of my first realizations was that my default body position is with my shoulders scrunched up to my ears.  That may not sound like much, but relaxing my shoulders has helped relieved me of back & shoulder pain. Then, being a creative soul, my thoughts tend to be all over the map often wrapping themselves in a tight knot than constructive recognizable paths.  Now I am more able to develop ideas in a more constructive way. I can think in a more positive manner. It’s a defragging for the brain, a reboot for the thoughts.

Meditation is the ultimate reality check.  Slow down, stop, and go inward.  If you think you don’t have the time, all the more reason to start.  You will not regret it.