Mark Nepo, in I Awake chapter of The One Life We’re Given
“The point is not to deify the events that break us down or open. But to lift up the mysterious fact that what we think we want, what we think we strive for, is often not the goal at all – just what we hold on to in order to discover what is truly calling us. Often, when we think we’re building one thing, we’re building another, or we’re the ones being built. When we think we’re giving one thing, we’re often giving another, or we’re the ones being given to. When we think we’re enduring one thing, we’re often being undone by life into the birth of a gift we’ve been carrying for just this opening. The point is, we’re challenged to follow our heart beyond our intentions in order to find our quiet destiny, the way a tulip or peony follows its urge to break ground, hardly imagining its life in blossom.”
This really spoke to me, as do so many of Mark Nepo’s words. I remember, when I was working at IBM supporting leaders in being their best, how I would have these moments when I could see and sense that what I thought I was up to was not really the point at all, that there was something deeper happening, something richer being created. Once I was leading a resilience initiative, facilitating learning circles with small groups of executives and exploring ways to support ourselves and others in self-care. On the surface the work looked like education, however, at a deeper level it was about our being relationship and our connection and what was possible because of it.
This poem came to me as I read Mark Nepo’s inspirational reading, the Ocean of Spirit, with this inspiring quote:
“Everywhere we are given examples of how the life giving elements move through us and bring us to life…Consider how the tree has no control over the movement of the wind…like the tree, we as human beings have no control over the movement of grace.” ~Mark Nepo
This lovely meditation by Mark Nepo accompanies the reading:
Watch the wind move through a familiar tree.
Watch until the wind has left, and notice how even when still the branches sway slightly.
Notice how even what seems like a still air is just a subtle wind.
Meditate on how similar the life of spirit is as it moves through us.
Feel the force of life like a subtle wind move through you as you breathe.
“The salmon offer us a way to face truth without shutting down. They show us how leaning into our experience, though we don’t like the hit, moves us on. Time and again, though we’d rather turn away, it is the impact of being revealed, through our willingness to be vulnerable, that enables us to experience both mystery and grace.”
From The Art of Facing Things in The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo
Mark Neop describes how salmon turn their underside – from center to tail – into the powerful current of the water coming at them, how the force hits them squarely and the impact launches them further up the waterfall. They do this over and over again, moving upstream. By leaning into what they face, they move further along their journey.
He left me wondering, what might be possible if we are brave enough to turn our soft bellies of vulnerability toward what was coming at us?
Each of Mr. Nepo’s daily inspirational readings includes a meditation that I wanted to offer you today.
Sit quietly and meditate on the last time you opened yourself to the life coming at you.
In recalling this, try to focus on three things:
the way that opening yourself caused you to unfold
the way that being hit squarely changed your life position
where leaping like a salmon landed you
Breath steadily, and invite the lessons of opening, being changed, and landing into your heart.
Breathe slowly, and realize that you are in this process now.
Relax and turn the belly of your heart toward the day.