Posts Tagged ‘death’

Final entries leading up to and after Sali’s passing

March 1, 2017

Here are 4 entries—two leading up to Sali’s passing; a poem describing it, written 7 weeks later from India, 5 days after having spread her ashes in the holy Narmada River; and one poem composed a few days ago in remembrance of Sali, and the gift of love we shared together.

Ahead of the Game
Friday, September 23, 2016

You’ve been practicing for your next journey. With the dementia and a possible stroke that rendered you almost speechless, how can you communicate, except with inaudible sounds, and even those you no longer bother to form or utter.

But you can still smile and giggle, communicating great joy like the angels, with pure feeling and silence, where words are no longer needed or used.

You’ve been practicing for your upcoming journey. You’re way ahead of the game.

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Not the End Game
Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The nurse called this afternoon to tell me you seemed to stop swallowing. You haven’t been able to eat or drink. The Hospice nurse who knows you started putting things into action to get you back on Hospice care. Will know by tomorrow morning after their evaluation and direction from your doctor.

So it looks like this is it. No more rehearsals. You’re going for the final homerun sliding into heaven. I think we’re better prepared now, having read The Grace in Dying. We have a better understanding and appreciation for the end game, which, as it turns out, will not be the end.

To be continued…..

(Sali would soon pass, on Saturday night, 11:17 pm CT, Oct 1, 2016, first day of the Nine Days of Mother Divine. Her glorious Memorial Service and blissful Vedic Cremation Ceremony took place on the 5th day, Wed, Oct 5, 2016. See Celebrating the glorious life of Sally M Peden.)

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Five days after spreading Sali’s ashes from a boat on the Narmada River in India during a most auspicious day, I started to write about our final moments together back in Fairfield when she passed, around 7 weeks earlier, during the first night of the Nine Days of Mother Divine, Navratri. The answer to a question of what had happened came in one word during an evening meditation at the Brahmasthan. It became the title and last line of this poem.

UNDIFFERENTIATED
The Peace that Passeth Understanding

The final feeling
Between us was a Great Peace
Deep within the Heart

All that remained was Silence
After you took your last breath

Where was that Peace coming from
In your heart, mine, or ours
Beyond my comprehension

UNDIFFERENTIATED

©Ken Chawkin
Nov 19, 2016
Bijouri Campus
Brahmasthan of India

Contained within An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times. Included are some of the inspiring tributes to Sali we shared during her Memorial Service and Vedic Cremation Ceremony on that very special send-off.

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The Rare Gift of Love
A Tanka in Remembrance of Sali

Your heart opened up
Time and illness tempered you
Then, the Surrender

What we shared was glorious
A Gift from God and Guru

©Ken Chawkin
February 27, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa

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Addition on March 22, 2017

On March 12th, I wrote a new poem for Sali, Haiku for Her. Five years earlier, on the same day, I had written the two-tanka poem, Sali’s Shakti.

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An early attempt at some kind of closure with a poem on Sali’s passing and auspicious times

December 28, 2016

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Sally Monroe Peden

Sally Peden, May 26, 1947 – October 1, 2016

Sally M. Peden, May 26, 1947 – October 1, 2016

This photo of Sali was taken in the summer of 1992, about a year before we would meet. She arrived to register us for a large advanced meditation course in Washington, DC. When Sali came up to me to ask my name and check it on her list, two thoughts immediately entered my mind: Too bad I just got married (again); Too bad she’s on Mother Divine (a course for single women). Our lives would drastically change—my second marriage would end and I would eventually return to Canada, later leave to join Purusha (a course for single men) and travel the world; she would leave her way of life and end up at MUM in Fairfield, Iowa working for John Hagelin’s ISTPP and the NLP. We would meet there 10 years later in the fall of 2003, as if for the first time. A beautiful friendship would grow and transform our lives, a story worth writing one day.

Sally M. Peden, passed peacefully and gracefully on Saturday, October 1, 2016, 11:17pm, during the evening of the first day of the Nine Days of Mother Divine, the start of a new moon. Her Memorial Service and Vedic Cremation Ceremony were held on Wednesday, October 5, 2016, at the Behner Funeral Home in Fairfield, Iowa, USA.

Sali had devoted her life in personal service to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi since 1971. She traveled the world with him as a personal assistant and lived for many years at the International Capital for the Transcendental Meditation movement in Seelisberg, Switzerland working on many important projects. Sali was very humble, the sign of a great soul. She accomplished untold tasks for Maharishi, which pleased him, but never felt the need to draw attention to herself, just pure dynamic devoted service.

Many emails from around the world poured in praising Sali. I’ll reference a few here.

Sheila Chalmers had worked closely with Sali at International on several projects. In her tribute to Sali, which was read aloud, Sheila described Sali’s brilliant mind, amazingly focussed work ethic, and how much she learned from her.

Emily Levin, a close friend of Sali’s, sent this wonderful tribute to Sali, which was also read aloud. Maharishi had paired them up early on, and Emily shines a glorious light on Sali and their fun-filled friendship.

Some other people who used to work with Sali spoke at her Memorial Service. Alarik Arenander, a neuroscientist from the early days of Maharishi Eureopean Research University in Seelisberg, described an incident when they were recording an EEG of a meditating subject. Maharishi happened to enter the lab with an important guest. The scientists showed Maharishi the EEG brainwaves being printed out from the moving ink pens. Maharishi asked, “What is that?” Researchers again explained the brainwaves. After asking several times, since the researchers were not ‘getting it,’ Maharishi pulled apart the long ream of neatly folded EEG paper emphatically pointing to the long non-fluctuating line at the bottom below the EEG. The researchers had an ‘aha’ moment when they examined the breath rate signal, which indicated extended periods of no breathing. They had been looking to find a marker for transcending in meditation and there it was, right in front of them, unnoticed, until Maharishi pointed it out. Sali was meditating in the next room, and it was her clear orderly mind and refined nervous system that brought out the understanding of breath suspension during Transcendental Meditation as an indicator of transcendence! That, along with the orderliness of coherent brain functioning producing relaxed alpha waves. The rest is history!

Gerry Geer, an MUM faculty member and ISTPP director of publications, described her extraordinary personality and some of the amazing things she had accomplished early on in her career. Gerry first met Sali around 1970 when he dropped into the Cambridge TM Center to find out what it was all about. She inspired him to learn TM and to become a teacher. Decades later they would work together at the ISTPP. Read Gerry Geer’s tribute to Sali. In it he mentions a very special incident he witnessed between her and Maharishi. It speaks volumes!

Valerie Gangas, a friend and author, posted a personal reaction to that very special day celebrating Sali, and our relationship, on her blog: Life in Love with You. It was a powerful revelation for her! I am so thankful she wrote it. Also definitely worth reading!

October 1, 2017: I am updating this section a year later on the anniversary of Sali’s passing. I had asked a few of Sali’s other friends who had spoken at her Memorial service to send me what they had said or remembered about Sali.

David Orme-Johnson, TM researcher, artist, and retired MUM Professor Emeritus, wrote: “What I said about Sali was that when I arrived at Seelisberg for the first time in 1973, Sally was the number one organizer around Maharishi. Her mind was crystal clear and she radiated bliss and being.”

David’s wife Rhoda, also a founding faculty member at MIU/MUM, recalled her trip with Sali and Rindi to Jyotir Math. They were in a taxi driving up the ever-winding road. To keep from becoming ill from the constant turns, they sang Broadway tunes. Rhoda was amazed that they knew the words and music to all the songs. David recalled that Rindi was on a path to becoming a musician and singer before she found Maharishi and the TM movement. She worked closely with Sali around Maharishi, and later became one of the leaders of the Mother Divine Program.

Kate Ross sent me a description of what she had said about Sali last year. She was Kate Isen when they knew each other, starting in 1968. They shared a close friendship during those days in Cambridge, Mass, and Sali had rented a room in her house. Kate sent me a beautiful description about Sali’s accomplishments and humanity. When Sali returned from her TM Teacher Training Course (TTC) the change was even more dramatic. Kate didn’t think Sali could look even more beautiful, inside and out, but she did. It inspired her to go off to TTC. Later, when Kate joined International Staff in Seelisberg, Switzerland, there was Sali, “working as a dedicated close assistant to Maharishi. She was tremendously efficient and had powerful organizing skills, but in spite of being enormously busy with the greatest of responsibilities, she never lost the human touch to watch over people and do what was right. She was the brightest light, and an inspiration to all who knew her, and personally speaking, I feel so blessed to have been connected to her. We were and always will be spiritual sisters.” Read the rest of Kate’s inspiring speech about Sali.

A few days later, Rannie Boes sent me what she had said at Sali’s Memorial service. She recalled how they first met in Denmark, Rannie’s homeland, in 1973. “She came to Copenhagen with Maharishi’s group when we had organized a big symposium on TM.” Decades later, they worked at MUM in the same departments. Rannie recounts a sweet story of what Sali had said about their relationship during one of her visits to see her at Parkview Care Center. Read At Sali’s Memorial by Rannie Boes.

Dying, Dharma and Devotion

In the weeks leading up to Sali’s transition, I was reading two books to her. The first was an enlightened description of the nearing death experience, clearly delineated by Kathleen Dowling Singh in her reassuring book, The Grace in Dying: How We Are Transformed Spiritually as We Die. I believe this book prepared us for what was to come, to both let go and allow it to happen naturally.

Sali would soon be put back on Hospice for added care, and moved to a private room, which gave us the needed privacy for such an intimate experience. She would pass within a few days, at an auspicious time in the Vedic calendar.

The second book was The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki’s Ancient Epic–Complete and Comprehensive, written by Linda Egenes, a friend, and Kumuda Reddy. It is an inspiring story as relevant today as it has been throughout the ages, of dharma, duty, triumphing over evil; enlightened leadership; and an ideal love between an evolved man and woman. Listening to that story kept our attention focused on something spiritually elevating during her final days.

I got as far as the end of Chapter 36, where Hanuman, after finding Sita, consoles and reassures her that Rama is preparing an army to free her from her abductor, Ravana, king of the rakshasas. This comes as a great relief to Sita who was at her lowest with no hope in sight.

For the previous two days and nights, Sali’s breathing pattern consisted of short quick breaths, in and out. It was at this point in the story that her breathing began to change. It became softer, slower, and then, stopped. I waited for another, very feeble attempt, then put one hand over her heart and the other on her head. Not finding any sign of life in the body, these words came into my mind: “It’s done. The karma is over.” With a sense of relief and finality, I said: “Peace, Peace, Shanti, Shanti,” and lovingly kissed her forehead, our last goodbye. I felt a profound peacefulness deep within me, which I could not fully comprehend. The answer would come later, in a word, while meditating in India, where I wrote this poem.

UNDIFFERENTIATED
The Peace that Passeth Understanding

The final feeling
Between us was a Great Peace
Deep within the Heart

All that remained was Silence
After you took your last breath

Where was that Peace coming from
In your heart, mine, or ours
Beyond my comprehension

UNDIFFERENTIATED

As promised, I did continue reading the rest of The Ramayana to Sali, wherever she might be, that evening and the following morning, finishing it at the funeral home, after they had picked up her body and brought it there. Her memorial and cremation would take place a few days later, still within the auspicious Nine Days.

Narmada River, Brahmasthan, Atirudrabhishek

At the luncheon in Revelations following Sali’s cremation, one of our friends, Sheila Ross, suggested I take the cremains to the holy Narmada River, where some of Maharishi’s ashes had been placed. She said it was also close to the Brahmasthan, geographic center of India, where meditation courses were being held, and thousands of Maharishi Vedic Pandits were reciting Atirudrabhishek, an ancient Vedic performance to create world peace.

At the invitation of my family, I did go to India, a little over a month after Sali’s cremation, to spread her ashes from a boat at that location near the Gwari Ghat. It turned out to be during a most auspicious time—a celebration of the holy day of Kartika Poornimah, November 14, 2016, also known as Devi Dipavali, the Festival of Lights of the Gods—one of the most spiritually significant days in the Vedic calendar, during the biggest full moon in 70 years, the supermoon! Truly befitting someone of Sali’s spiritual merit.

Staying at the Brahmasthan afterwards for three weeks was healing for me. It was a powerful and blissful experience visiting the Maharishi Vedic Pandits in their large meditation hall, listening to them perform their Vedic recitations! You can sample some of them in these eCards, enhanced with audios, videos and slideshows.

To get an example of Sali’s sweetness and our special relationship, see this previous post from December 8, 2016—Capturing an authentic moment in writing—about Being with Sali on August 1, 2012, during another full moon.

I am so thankful for the support of our families, the Slusers, Kaplans, Mitchells, and Petch Peden and Robert Harper, and for many of our friends who helped handle so many details, especially Kate Ross and Jennifer Hamilton! I also appreciate acupuncturist Sarah Brooks, the staff at Parkview Care Center and Hospice Compassus for their tireless care of Sali, and sometimes me.

Recently Added

Celebrating the Glorious Life of Sally M Peden; Final entries leading up to and after Sali’s passing; and this new poem, Haiku for Her. Added, June 30, 2017, 9 months after Sali’s passing: For Us—a tanka honoring Sali and what we shared. Added Sept 1, 2017: ‘In Our Loving Eyes’ a poem by @kenchawkin remembering a special love with Sally Peden. Added October 1, 2017, A tanka remembering Sali and her gift to me on the one-year anniversary of her passing. Added October 15, 2017, Still Sali Haiku—the persistence of love over grief. Added November 12, 2017: 1st anniversary of my India trip to spread Sali’s ashes on the Narmada River, visit Bijouri campus and Maharishi Vedic Pandits at the Brahmasthan.

 

 

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Enlightenment Is Sexy, a memoir by Valerie Gangas, is out today, and it’s not just for women!

July 14, 2015

EIS Book CoverA first book from Valerie Gangas, ENLIGHTENMENT IS SEXY: Every Woman’s Guide To A Magical Life, is out today, and it’s not just for women!

Valerie is a great writer. She’s colorful, direct, and pulls no punches. Her effervescent personality shines through the amazing stories she shares with her readers, awakening them to their own inherent greatness.

The book is divided into short easy-to-read chapters packed with practical insightful wisdom. It’s also an inspirational testimony to the transformational power of TM, and I am enjoying reading every word of it!

Valerie sent us this intro to her story.

Awakening to Me

In 2011, I woke up and realized everything I thought I knew was wrong.

~ Valerie Gangas

For as long as I can remember, I have been running. Waking up in the morning and running to the gym. Running to the hospital to support my mother, who battled cancer for 13 years. Running to my job, managing an extremely busy Chicago restaurant/bar. Running from boyfriend to boyfriend. Running from one social event to another. Running to deal with the pressures modern women face to be perfect, to get the job done right, to be a caretaker, to look good—let’s face it: to be Wonder Woman.

Then one day, I was forced to stop running.

In late 2010, the restaurant I’d managed for 15 years was sold . . . but it turned out to be a weird sort of blessing, in that I got to spend day and night with my beautiful mother who, by Thanksgiving that year only had a couple of months left on the planet.

All of this time, I had been on a steady diet of double espressos, bottles of Cabernet and late nights eating steaks, cooked rare. (Did I mention I don’t eat meat?)

I was losing my mind as I watched her slowly slip away. I’d had a bad case of insomnia for years, my depression was deepening, and the distractions I’d held up like masks were no longer working well . . . make that, at all.

My mom passed away on January 25, 2011. And my world went black.

After she died, I felt like I’d died right along with her. I was out of a job, suicidal and completely unhealthy. My “diet”—mainly fueled by booze and caffeine—had caught up with me. I was the thinnest I’d been since high school, and my nerves were on fire. And it was like Groundhog’s Day—every night was the same scene. Go to bed, wake up at 3 a.m., stare at the ceiling, my thoughts reeling, feeling like complete crap, until I had to get up a couple hours later. Then my “day cycle” would start again. Down some caffeine, make myself workout (I had to fit in my cocktail dresses, duh!) and then never stop throughout the workday, ‘til I collapsed later that night.

Reflecting back, thoughts of suicide regularly arose in my mind. I didn’t feel like I could go on without my mom, who’d been my best friend. Clearly, I was a broken woman. Yes, I had been seeing a therapist and was trying to get my head above water. But nothing seemed to be working. My suicidal thoughts were getting stronger and stronger. I had gone so far as to ask my aunt and uncle to take my dog (I couldn’t bear messing up her little life), and I didn’t get a new car when my lease was up . . . because people who are going to kill themselves don’t need a car. I also wrote out my will.

Yep, I was gearing up to end my life.

One particularly horrible day I was on my knees in the shower, when I just collapsed and screamed out, “God, Mom, anyone, please help me kill myself or please save me!” In that moment, I completely surrendered. I was nothing. I was no one. And I completely gave myself and my fate over to God.

A week later, a friend suggested I learn Transcendental Meditation (TM). My only hope, at the time, was that I would be able to get some sleep. I hadn’t read anything about meditation, hadn’t thought about it or even wondered about it. But I was in such a dark place, one morning I made the call.

Within days, I borrowed that same friend’s car and drove to a Transcendental Meditation center in Chicago. The home which doubled as a TM center had a feeling of calm I couldn’t quite put my finger on—the air seemed lighter, somehow, and the view was all lake. Even upon entering the center’s lobby, I felt a bit calmer. Huh, I thought, these people who work here are super different. They were so chilled and completely filled with love . . . it was immediately clear to me they were there to help me. My next thought was, I’m here, so I might as well learn how to do this.

I sat down with my teacher and after a short, but beautiful ceremony, I was given my “mantra”—a sound she said my awareness would naturally follow, as it subsided into the depths of silence in my mind. When we both closed our eyes, I easily and effortlessly said the mantra to myself less than five times . . . and just like that, I was gone. I dove into a part of my body and mind I never knew existed—boundless, limitless and totally awesome. Yes-sir, something major had just happened . . . but soon I was discovering I’d only glimpsed the tip of the iceberg.

Driving home down Lake Shore Drive, I immediately began noticing how the world seemed so much different to me than it had on my way to the center. The colors all around me were more vivid, the sounds of the birds felt like sweet music to my ears, I seemed to be connected to all of the trees I saw . . . and above all, I felt happy. But, my mind called out to me, Is this really happening?! Do I really feel happy? How? Why? What the hell?

Fortunately, the essence of that experience stuck and stayed, and I came to find it was in fact “real”—that in twenty minutes, my whole life had changed. I woke up and realized everything I thought I knew was wrong. My life was no longer defined by outer circumstances. I was having a direct experience of what I have come to know as my true Self.

I cannot explain what followed . . . you know, the why of it. Within weeks of learning to meditate, I was standing in front of Oprah Winfrey, explaining how her newfound TM practice was going to make her limitless and boundless. Now, one would think standing in front of one of the most powerful women in the world would cause some serious butterflies in the stomach. But this wasn’t my experience. In that moment, when I stood at the front of the room and described my journey to her, I could only “see” her. The fame and the power didn’t exist. I was only concerned with helping the beautiful human in front of me the only way I knew how . . . with honesty, passion and a dash of humor.

I walked out of Harpo Studios that Friday morning and knew I was about to head down a very different life path. My soul and heart were breaking open and I was watching the right words leave my lips before my mind could even think them. I felt the power of the whole universe in my little body. That day, I decided to give everything I had to try to bring peace and goodness to the world. To do my part.

It has actually taken me the past few years to really understand this new way of living: that is, from the inside out. I felt compelled to write in my journal every night. I mean, the realizations I was having were just too profound not to write them down. I turned what I wrote about into a manuscript . . . and today I am proud to say I have just published my first book, Enlightenment Is Sexy: Every Woman’s Guide To A Magical Life. I’ve also started a brand I love and have continued to speak about consciousness, happiness, freedom, and above all, Transcendental Meditation.

Learning to meditate saved my life . . . but it also gave me more than I could have ever dreamt of: awakening to the real me.

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George Foster of Foster Covers, with help from wife Mary, designed the colorful cover! Order the book today at http://amzn.com/0996350209. Nice comments on Amazon.

Related: Read an interview with Valerie Gangas at TM Home, and this poem I wrote for her: Scheherazade Incarnate. TM Home also posted this today: Valerie Gangas reveals her top 5 reasons to learn Transcendental Meditation. And Val posted and sent this out. Transcendental Meditation for Women also posted Awakening to Me.

Valerie Gangas Shows Why Enlightenment Is Sexy on Writers’ Voices.

Winding up the year with inspiration from Hafiz

December 29, 2014

We are coming to the end of the year 2014. It seemed like a rough one for many, personally, and collectively for the world. I’ve finished reading A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations, translated by Daniel Ladinsky. There is usually one poem a day per page. It was a gift from friend and author Steven Verney. Here are 3 poems towards the end of the book, end of the year, that talk about endings, and, in a way, new beginnings. May they inspire you as we transition into the new year, and for some, into a new life in 2015.

A Prayer I Sometimes Say

It is the Beloved who is revealed in every
face, sought in every sign,

gazed upon by every eye, worshipped in
every object that is adored, pursued in the
visible and in the unseen.

Not a single one of His creatures, not a
single one, my dears, will

fail to someday find the divine Source
in all of its primordial and glorious nature.

And be forever united with the Infinite,
because that—God—is really you.

Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, look what your
words have become—the restoration of
Truth, the regeneration of Life itself.

December 23, page 391

* * * * *

The Tender Mouth Of The Earth

What will the burial of my body be? The
pouring of a sacred cup of wine into the earth’s

tender mouth and making my dear sweet lover
laugh one more time.

What is the passing of a body? The glorious
lifting of the spirit into the sacred arms of the

Sky, and making existence smile, one more, one
more time.

December 28, page 396

* * * * *

A River Understands

I used to know my name. Now I don’t. I
think a river understands me.

For what does it call itself in that blessed
moment when it starts emptying into the
Infinite Luminous Sea,

and opening every aspect of self wider than
it ever thought possible?

Each drop of itself now running to embrace
and unite with a million new friends.

And you were there, in my union with All,
everyone who will ever see this page.

December 29, page 397

* * * * *

One poem about a river is beautifully told by William Stafford in his poem, Ask Me, where he looks to the stillness in the river to inform him, and the person asking him about his life, and, in a way, the creative process in the moment. Another poem of his, Something That Happens Right Now, also leaves you with a similar unbounded feeling as this last Hafiz poem does.

See other inspiring poems by Hafiz, translated by Ladinsky, posted here.

Remembering 9–11, The Merciful Nature of Time

September 11, 2014

Remembering 9–11

When it comes to dealing with adversity, accepting it is not always easy, especially when it involves a devastating sudden loss, like what happened on 9-11, (September 11, 2001), 13 years ago today. Many had to accept it, live with it, and over time, hopefully distance themselves from the painful memories of the loss of their loved ones.

Same thing if it’s an ongoing situation, where you see someone you love disappearing before your eyes due to some incurable disease. Maybe it’s not as devastating. I don’t know. Grief is grief; it’s not easy. But our perspective could change over time. And that can be the merciful nature of time. Here is a haiku about it.

The Merciful Nature of Time

Time is kind to us
It lets us get used to change
Then we can move on

© Ken Chawkin
September 11, 2014

Does Time Heal All Wounds?

They say, Time heals all wounds. But does it? Not according to , a counselor who specializes in end-of-life and bereavement matters. He says it’s what you do with the time that heals. Read his article published  in Psychology Today’s The Journey Ahead.

The David Lynch Foundation

One organization helping people deal with adversity and various forms of traumatic stress and grief is the David Lynch Foundation. Visit their website and see how they are Healing Traumatic Stress and Raising Performance in At-Risk Populations http://davidlynchfoundation.org. See DLF executive director Bob Roth speak at Google Zeitgeist 2014.

 

Emily Dickinson succinctly describes the eternal nature of Love in this short but powerful poem

August 26, 2014

Love—is anterior to Life—
Posterior—to Death—
Initial of Creation, and
The Exponent of Breath—

This description of Love reminds me of the nature of the Self described in chapter two of the Gita: It is eternal. It was never born, nor will it ever die. It cannot be destroyed when the body is destroyed.

When it comes to mystical conception and creative inspiration, Love is expressed in a beautiful poem by New York poet laureate Marie Howe. Listen to her read Annunciation to Krista Tippett On Being.

For another Vedic perspective from America’s greatest poet, see Emily Dickinson’s Solitude, where she describes the self-referral process of the self integrating with the Self, finite infinity.

Read how Emily Dickinson wanted her poems to look on the page, described in Rebecca Mead’s Back of the Envelope in The New Yorker: Poesy Dept. | January 27, 2014 Issue.

Here is another cosmic love poem by another one of America’s greatest poets: i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings.

See A Blessing of Solitude by John O’Donohue, from Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom, which profoundly complements Derek Walcott’s poem Love After Love.

Mary Oliver’s Summer Day is filled with wonder

June 23, 2014

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean–
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down,
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

~ Mary Oliver ~

(New and Selected Poems, Volume I)

Related: Mary Oliver’s poem, Praying, is a lesson on attention, receptivity, listening and writing.

Other poems: The Journey by Mary Oliver | Wild Geese by Mary Oliver, photo by Ken West | Varanasi by Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings.

On Old Congress Run Road, a hauntingly beautiful poem by Susan F. Glassmeyer

August 20, 2013

ON OLD CONGRESS RUN ROAD

Susan F. Glassmeyer

A lost Lab running inside her own black shadow,
sideswiped by a car going north on the pike,
then struck by a driver heading south.

I’m an accidental witness on this no-moon night,
busy with my own troubles, like anyone else.
I don’t want to hear the dog’s pinched howl
or her fitful whimpering after she drops
like fallen cargo in the middle of the road.

I want to turn away, but a pressing thought
pulls me over—Don’t be afraid of the suffering.
So I give up, sit down in the street, stopping traffic.
Wrap myself around the furry clock of the dog’s life
as if to stop the stream pouring out of her head.

Not dead, but dying, I tell the onlookers.
I say, Touch her. I say, Don’t be afraid.
A few hands join mine as we follow the rise
and fall of the animal body, the warm belly growing
cooler with each exhalation. Pain appears to be lifting.

Now, under the village lamplight, a stunning
pink foam, almost iridescent, spilling
from dog lungs to dog mouth. Spilling a still life
of wet roses on the dark pavement: blood petals
on our hands, wrists, boots and ankles.

In a slow (call it reverential) movement, Bailey
(her collar says Bailey) arches her spine in an asana
of surrender. Musically sighs. Now dies.

from Rattle #37, Summer 2012

This reminds me of William Stafford’s poem, Traveling through the Dark, but Susan F. Glassmeyer’s poem takes the reader into the fearless heart of compassion. Profoundly beautiful!

Also see I Tell You, a poem by Susan F. Glassmeyer, from The Incomplete Litany of Untold Stories

Read more of her poems in Sixfold Journal’s Poetry Winter 2015.

Meditation could slash the risk of heart attack and stroke (and make you less angry) — Daily Mail

November 13, 2012

Meditation could slash the risk of heart attack and stroke (and make you less angry)

  • Twice daily mantra meditation, where a sound is made repeatedly, may also reduce blood pressure

By Anna Hodgekiss

PUBLISHED: 15:03 EST, 13 November 2012 | UPDATED: 15:03 EST, 13 November 2012

Twice daily mantra meditation, which involves making a sound repeatedly, lowers death rates from heart attack and strokes

Meditation helps reduce the risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke, according to a new study.

Researchers found that Transcendental Meditation, made popular by the Beatles during the flower power era of the 1960s, could cut heart attack rates by half.

This type of meditation, which involves making a sound repeatedly, lowers death rates from heart attack and strokes.

In the new study, researchers found that people with heart disease who practised transcendental meditation for 20 minutes twice a day were 48 per cent less likely to have a heart attack, stroke or die from all causes compared with those who attended a health education class over more than five years.

Those practicing meditation also lowered their blood pressure and reported less stress and anger.

And the more regularly patients meditated, the greater their survival, said researchers who conducted the study at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Lead researcher Dr Robert Schneider, director of the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention in Iowa, said: ‘We hypothesised that reducing stress by managing the mind-body connection would help improve rates of this epidemic disease.

‘It appears that transcendental meditation is a technique that turns on the body’s own pharmacy – to repair and maintain itself.’

For the study, researchers randomly assigned 201 people – with an average age of 59 – to participate in a transcendental meditation stress-reducing programme or a health education class about lifestyle modification for diet and exercise.

Transcendental Meditation was made popular by the Beatles during the flower power era of the 1960s

The average BMI of the people involved was 32 – classed as obese.

Both groups showed beneficial changes in exercise and alcohol consumption, and the meditation group showed a trend towards reduced smoking.

Although there were no significant differences between the groups in weight, exercise or diet, regular meditation was correlated with reduced death, heart attack and stroke.

Dr Schneider added: ‘Transcendental meditation may reduce heart disease risks for both healthy people and those with diagnosed heart conditions.

‘The research on transcendental meditation and cardiovascular disease is established well enough that doctors may safely and routinely prescribe stress reduction for their patients with this easy to implement, standardised and practical programme.’

The findings were published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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More news coverage: Transcendental Meditation May Lower Heart Risk: WebMD Heart Disease Health Center and Transcendental Meditation may reduce death, heart attack and stroke in heart patients—AHA and Science Codex: Meditation may reduce death, heart attack and stroke in heart patients

The Daily Mail does not explain Transcendental Meditation properly. We do not repeatedly make a sound. It is a silent mental practice of experiencing the thought process at more refined levels until the mind transcends thought and arrives at an inner state of restful alertness. This natural level of deep rest releases stress and allows the body to repair itself resulting in improved health.


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