Temple of Athena Ruins – Priene, Turkey

“I forgive myself for being imperfect.

I forgive myself for making mistakes.

I forgive myself for having to learn about life by living it.”

~Rolf Gates

Since the onset of COVID-19 when Rolf Gates started offering free guided mindfulness meditations via facebook, I’ve been practicing with him and his community. (He is the author of two of my favorite books, Meditations from the Mat and Meditations on Intention and Being.) Above are the words that frame the compassion meditation that we do together on Wednesdays. Words that have been very soothing and healing for me.

So many times in my life, after some unskillful behavior that went against my values or that hurt someone, I hung on to feeling bad about myself, replaying the behavior and beating myself up, with time being the only real healer. My hope is that this practice will support me in being kinder and gentler with myself and enable a more graceful response to being human.

home to the present

Coralville, Iowa
by Vicki L. Flaherty

my turbulent mind is tiresome.
my thoughts tedious,
tempting like a train
moving out of the station
into the countryside
and cities and towns of every size.

then, I remember to breathe.
I bring myself home to the present.
without effort the train disappears
and the luring journey ceases.
my suffering gently, rhythmically
comes to an end.

This was my experience mid-way through a meditation program – noticing my mind carrying me to all sorts of places I had no intention of going, and then finding my way to calm spaciousness by bringing myself back into the ground of my body and the movement of my breath.

What every salmon knows

“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:
    1. the way that opening yourself caused you to unfold
    2. the way that being hit squarely changed your life position
    3. 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.