There are many ways to think of mindfulness, starting with the simple notion of “paying attention”. But “paying attention” to what? This Provision, including several poems, expresses how mindfulness is a matter of paying attention to the heart and soul of life, in the moment, as time goes by. Then and only then can we come to a full appreciation of life’s beauty. Intrigued? Read on to learn more as to how this might work for you.
My health challenges over the past 16 months have made me more mindful not only of what is going on in the outer world but also of what is going on in the inner world. I now watch people, places, and things in an entirely new way. Even though they may be very common and familiar, it is as though I never saw them before. They inspire, guide, and challenge me on the trek of life in entirely new, delightful, and, at times, terrorizing ways.
The opportunity for such recognitions is always available, but before the advent of my seizures I did not always seize the moment. Nice play on words but it’s true. I was too busy, too rushed, too demanding, too distracted, or too impatient to notice what was going on. As a result of not knowing what was going on in the outer world I also had trouble knowing what was going on in the inner world. I thought I knew but I didn’t really know. I was not knowing soul. As a result, in the words of David Wagoner’s poem, I was not found. I was Lost:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Where you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
I have been forced to stand still and, as a result, I have come a little closer to soul through my health challenges. I hope to stand even more still and to grow even closer yet as time goes by. Soul is, after all, our reason for being. It is who we are at our core. It is our true identity. It is our real self, beyond all the busy-busy trappings of life, that whispers to us quietly in the night. I have heard that whisper many times in the past 16+ months, and it speaks to me still. Life goes on, I have stood still – at time I have stood very still – and that is good.
Kathryn Hunt has written and assembled a bold and beautiful collection of new poems in a book titled, Long Way Through Ruin. Two of these poems spoke to me in the context of knowing and of not knowing soul:
DEMETER AND PERSEPHONE IN NORTH AMERICA
Even in spring she is there among the horses,
the pale crocus. Even in rain. She is there
and she is quiet. I saw her standing in the garden,
I saw her standing by the road
down to the store.
Without speaking she reveals herself to me.
Without speaking of roses, or verbena, or the sea.
The earth would drain of color
if she were denied.
There is a sacredness that means to listen.
The thrumming songs of frogs
that sing and fall silent and sing again
at the rim of the pond. Those things unseen
by which we are bound. Faithful,
as the tulip in winter.
And for the girl hauling
her armload of sorrows like sticks for a fire,
this hushed place, this leafy amplitude,
this opening at the edge of the woods
favored by honey bees in summer.
After the news from the doctor
I lay down on the bed and slept.
It seemed the one place to go,
into the world of dreams,
and all through my dreams the wind,
the huge surging breath of the wind
untamed through the trees,
lifting and stirring the leaves until each
scorched leaf, dying a little
at the turning of summer,
tasted the wind as if it were fire,
as if the wind would destroy it.
Even in the silence of the dream
I heard the wind tearing the leaves
from the huge sugar maples,
and this made me serene,
for no reason. And when I awoke
a squall had blown in from the coast,
a salt-drenched rain
fell slant through the trees.
And I lay there remembering
each face I’d ever loved,
untroubled by longing or regret,
the fire burning its way through.
Kathryn Hunt’s words speak to me as much as David Whyte’s. “There is a sacredness that means to listen.” “This hushed place, this leafy amplitude, this opening at the edge of the woods.” “After the news from the doctor I lay down on the bed and slept. It seemed the one place to go, into the world of dreams….” “And when I awoke…I lay there remembering every face I’d ever loved, untroubled by longing or regret, the fire burning its way through.”
Wow. That’s what comes from not knowing soul. We fail to listen. We fail to notice. We fail to remember. We fail to dream. All we see, and all we know, is the fire burning its ways through. It’s easy to live like that. We get too busy, distracted, or pressured to pay attention to the wonder that is all around us until we go into the one place that is left to go: the invaluable world of dreams.
I have been to that place and I keep going back. It is not the same as our everyday lives. It is different. It is wonderful. It is bewildering. It is enlightening. It is close to the soul.
Coaching Inquiries: What brings you close to soul? What keeps you from not knowing soul? How could you pay closer attention to the rhythms of life? What untold mysteries lie waiting for you in the world of dreams? Who has loved you so unconditionally as to be the fire that keeps you yet alive?
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Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Form or Email Bob.
Your comments on Mindfulness really spoke to me. Though I’ve endorsed the concepts of Mindfulness for many years and practiced Mindfulness “as needed”, I’ve only recently been faced with family developments that really gave me no choice but to more actively practice Mindfulness on a daily basis. I’m finding Mindfulness practices to be very helpful – particularly focusing on breathing to “be in the moment.” I look forward to your Mindfulness series!
I love you mucho and I am super happy you’re still able to write and process everything via the written word. You can definitely publish that as a reader reply!
Thank you, Bob, for your Provision on Mindfulness and thank you for being here now.
I’m a little behind in reading my weekly Provisions from you but since I was listening to music this morning I decided that today was a good day to read Provision #839: Music Mends the Mind. Thank you so much for sharing this.
My aim in 2014 is to listen to more music, and I spent some of this morning looking at the Tamburitzans’ website to see when their next performances are so that I can plan to attend. My parents took my family to see several of their performances as children, and it was one of the great thrills of my childhood. I just really connected to the Slavic music, instruments, and dancing. There was a time I wanted to go to Duquesne University in Pittsburgh to be in the Tamburitzan troupe. It all popped into my head this morning as I was listening to the full version of Handel’s Messiah – another of my all-time favorite musical experiences. I was turned on to this treasure one Christmas season in Omaha. Thank you for that gift and for the connection I feel with you.
Your last Provision, Released for Life, made me feel very sad. When you talk about the religion that I think of as Christianity you give many ideas that I think are so horribly incorrect. You talk about there being a life as part of the in-group with goodies or a life as part of the out-group without goodies or glory. Such thoughts are never presented in the Bible nor they part of the belief system of the Christian faith. (Author’s Note: There’s at least a chance we agree completely. There are no out-groups! The Divine Spirit of Life, the same Spirit that filled the person of Jesus, loves us all. Let’s hold onto that truth with faith, hope, and love.)
May you be filled with goodness, peace, joy, and health.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
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