Mind and soul nourishment – after retreat

It’s been almost a week since I’ve detached physically from last weekend’s retreat in Ein Habsor with Ven Rita Riniker. This weekend she’s holding another retreat in the north. My friend called me as she was making the northward journey and I mentally re-visted the energy she’d be re-joining.

After last weekend’s retreat

It’s a gentle process, the disengagement from the task of sitting quietly, looking within. First to show up are the smiles of appreciation to those who joined the activity, to my friends, to my family for driving me to and from the sangha and to myself, for appreciating the importance of such a weekend and showing up.


judih- 2003ish

This week has reinforced that lesson. Showing up is at least half of the work.

No sliding into automatic habits, no ignoring the needs of the inner mind, but showing up. Sitting in meditation. Listening with an open ear to others. Being available to answer those who need me. Being ready to say yes to a new challenge.

The tendency to list all the tasks that I’ve taken upon myself and then feel overwhelmed is an easy thing to do. But this week, I was quite focused on taking it one thing at a time, organizing the steps into manageable items. This created the necessary space for relaxation, much more enjoyment and pleasant anticipation.

Note: The fact that we had changed our clocks over to winter time and that the entire week was characterized by jet lag and inconvenient body clock demands added one more interesting hurdle to the mix.

Another take-away from the retreat

If I’ve had good experiences, and I know that I ultimately enjoy what I’ve chosen to do, then why add anxiety into the mix? A calm mind adds space, adds ease.  With a brief body scan, I can discover the scrunch of my shoulders or the wringing of hands when anxious thoughts pop into the mind. That little bit of attention  often works like a gentle caress, enough to neutralize the physical manifestations, and smooth the mind.

Body, mind, emotions – yes, they’re connected. The stories that take over the mind roll into physical tensions and emotional concerns. Is it difficult to notice a tense neck? Nope! How about a nervous voice? or a wrinkled brow? no and no!

Noticing is a wonderful ally.

This week in school, I was worried. What? I need to prepare so much! I must meet with so many! Yet, I also promised myself to insert fun into my days. (What? yet another promise to keep? Fun?!)

Yet, the to-do lists were completed. And by the week’s end I received a lovely surprise. A student approached me to ask if I could teach a meditation workshop to 9th graders. Right now I’m slated to work with 8th graders – which has turned out to be a poor fit, not many are interested. So, I started the wheels turning towards making this happen. It only needs a Principal’s okay and a slight dollop of creativity and we’ll be on our way!


the inner mind

warms with expansion

and a huge smile


Haiku therapy

yesterday’s haiku as Ahl is mid-journey


beautiful boy
somewhere over Asia
breathes new mountains


today’s haiku as Ahl lands on the runway


mother jumps out of bed
son lands in Sydney
tomorrow’s haiku
a breath of air
yet to be breathed

ahl/mother hug

A visual focus

(I’ve spoken about listening to my surroundings before writing a morning haiku – and that’s how i continue to do it daily, but….)

How about a visual focus?

How about looking at an image and allowing one’s unconscious to focus on that image, interact with that image, sit a while with that image and then relate to what’s perceived to create words?

How about bridging the unconscious with the conscious via an image?

So, i tried.

Here’s the haiku i wrote (probably based on yesterday’s post about ‘cutting the cord‘) and below, the image that i used, found at Haiku Eaters, gotpoetry.com:

i watch from here
as you swim away
tears of goodbye

image from 'mamta' at haiku eaters, gotpoetry.com

Music as haiku

warning: after the intro  I get to the point

The other day an interview with me (!) appeared in the 16th Anniversary Issue of the Cenacle. This marvelous magazine has been promoting exceptional literature, at one time in monthly editions and now in quarterly segments. Raymond Soulard, Jr a favourite poet of mine is the editor and once approached me to include the interviews I do with poets as part of his Radio show, SpiritPlants radio.

A long introduction to the idea of music

The point of the above is this:  I sent out the link of the interview Raymond published in the Cenacle issue and I received some feedback from my family. One such comment came from my brother, the brilliant filmmaker who has devoted his life to discovering interesting sounds and images to include in his vast body of work, (Larry Weinstein, Rhombus Media). This comment took the form of a reference to music by Webern. This piece is musical haiku – focusing the ear and riveting the imagination in pointillism audio scapes.

I suggest this as a tool for focus:

Webern: 5 Pieces for Orchestra, Op 10

Morning Haiku

hummingbird, zohar haggai

It’s been a while now that upon arising, I listen to the sounds outside and within my mind after a night of dreams, and I write a haiku.

Haiku is a short collection of words to describe a moment, a view, an insight of the present moment. It offers the mind a chance to shuck off superfluous noise and to zoom in on detail in as precise a way as possible. It allows the mind a chance to take a shower in understanding and come out with a few syllables that have never before been revealed.  It allows for focus.

Practising this, daily, is a way into more highly attentive participation in my day. I’m more open to seeing my surroundings, and I’m more sensitive to hearing the sounds around me.

I won’t exaggerate and claim I’m more able to deal with people’s anger or to change anyone else’s point of view, but I am more interested in looking into people’s eyes, checking their auras and feeling their personalities. I won’t overdo it by claiming that I’m more successful in any of these pursuits, but I’m more aware of the nuances that I confront as I seek to reclaim that sense of equilibrium that I feel when I’ve written a haiku that represents what I notice.

I use my site Thistles and Marigolds to post my haiku. Or I go to the Haiku Corner of Tricycle. com

one haiku from this morning:



spinach conquers basil

my neighbour’s garden


And so the mysteries of nature while I sleep are described upon my awakening. (and i mean awakening with a small ‘a’)

Morning Haiku. a nice way to begin a fresh day.