On Art and Culture January 30, 2011

Saturday 29 September  2011 Podere Conti, Pontremoli/Dobbiana/Lunigiana…Italy

Saturday night and wind is picking up again as it did last week, only this time the gusts are benign.  The monks left this morning in two shifts, one at five and the other just before noon.  On this silent evening I can hear their chants in the breeze, the colors of the Tibetan flags they have tied in the trees pollinating the land with their blessed infusion, and if I close my eyes, I can see the wisp of deep red fabric sailing against a sea of cobblestone, the indelible image of two worlds joining hands in prayer.

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I am soulful for my new friends, global voyagers who have moved on to bring their wisdom to another set of lives, lands, and loves, while ours are forever changed in their swirling wake.  Last night was the final feast, a celebration and an embrace.  Unfortunately, I was finally able to be “in the moment” completely, to apply the new principles I have learned from dear Chodrak and the others, and stir my whole self into the puree that is humankind.  And today I stand slightly empty, for the moment I became fully present, it was time for them to be on their way.  Perhaps this is where the lessons lie, in the aftereffects of such an event, or in any event, as the wisdom this week was: “Be in the moment and intellectualize later.”  And here I am intellectualizing, and having regrets for not having let go sooner, not having assimilated, or integrated until the very end when the culmination of the week’s adventure was under way.  My disconnection is one of habit, the sidelines hosting part of my spirit while my body and desire are present.  One thing I know is that the regret I am feeling is a part of the greater Wisdom as well, for it is instructive and supportive of the week’s guidance for me.

There has been, and will continue to be, a generous helping of mindfulness opportunity.  My mind has become a play land to explore my own thoughts and emotions, and just be with them without assessment.  It has been recommended that I drink a cup of hot water first thing in the morning, to support the organs attached to the meridians in areas I have suffered chronic pain: neck, shoulders, back.  For a morning coffee addict, this is torture.  The flavorless, caffeine-absent cup of nothing was sure to become a dreaded event, like many natural remedies compared to the tasty trappings of a good latte and delicious cream-filled coronetto.  But I have the practice of looking at my thoughts now, and making the choice on how, or if, to react.  Or to just be in the moment with the steaming cup of medicine for my beloved organs that want so badly to do good for me.  Hence, the cup is transformed from one of nothing into a cup of vital nectar, an offering to my body, and the very least I can do before another day of asking it to support me on all my endeavors.  This is how Mindfulness works.  It allows for the pause between thoughts, the ones we have shaping our life while we bumble about, on auto-pilot, bumping into arguments, taking offense, not liking what would be good for us, and numbing ourselves from the pain with the use of food, substances, or just wiping our negativity onto someone else.  If only these principles could be taught to the masses, the ones plagued with diseases of the mind, the diet, or the blindly-led followers full of fury for the way things SEEM (not ARE.)  In each situation lies an opportunity to end suffering from inside the mind and free the soul.  And “in very small ways” is where to begin.

Thursday was a big invitation when I awakened with what appeared to be a morning of karmic integration with the animals on the farm, stepping first in a shit lolly left by Lula on my bedroom rug in the night, and encountering a pee pee puddle on the bathroom tile left by Lucky.  Before retrieving the antibacterial spray from the main house and having a fastidious go at the two spots, I decided to breathe in some of the morning air on my veranda.  It was at that time that a mark on the terra cotta tile outside caught my attention.  Without my eyeglasses and squinting in dawn’s frugal shard of light, I reached for my headlamp and knelt down for a closer look.  There on my doorstep was a pulverized mouse, without a head, innards unraveled like a spool of discarded wool, and feet chewed to a near-paste.  A stream of blood ran outward toward the railing, punctuating the appalling sight with body secretion that made the whole thing quite traumatic with my nose a mere six inches from the gory crime scene.

According to Mindfulness practice, I had three choices.  React adversely.  React joyfully.  Or watch the scene as though I were watching a film and not actually being inside the film.  A natural student, I took Option Three, and approached the most violently shredded piece of one-living flesh as an observer without opinion, trying to focus on my thoughts as I did in the lessons given by Lama Chodrak this week.  Before I realized what had happened, the carcass and explosion of guts were gone and the area disinfected.  Without Mindfulness, I might have attached to the perceived reality of just how disgusting my morning task was, and assumed a manipulative state in an attempt to hand the job off to someone else!  In fact, I can safely say I have been operating in that space for ages, and now lessons have opened a door to detachment, and therefore, forward movement.  Without decisions made based on emotional perceptions, so much more can be seen clearly and therefore addressed and accomplished.

Earlier today I was faced with a challenge-choice, when I was reading Facebook and saw that my ex-husband bought a new car.  Just the sight of his posting brought up an automated twinge of anxiety-jealousy-not-really-sure-what-it-is.  But in looking at my emotions that are caused by my thoughts, I was able to be in the moment, the present, and actually laugh at myself for such petty nonsense.  If only we could all laugh at our pettiness and thus usher it away with compassion.  Silly trappings of the mind have caused deep and subtle suffering, and needlessly so.

Although the monks have moved on to their next mission, they have left the farm swirling in gusts of possibility.  Last night I played table soccer with the boys and then moved on to the Wii game where I received an avatar of my likeness with which to become a regular player.  I wanted so badly to be in my solitude, to write and think about “grown-up things,” but the children gave me a chance to be “in the moment” with them, for that is where children exist always.  And so I played.  I even heard myself scream at one point.  And so I have begun a quest into being.  After all, I asked for it earlier on this journey, and the Buddhists’ visit has opened it all up for me.



My name is Lauren Berley and I am a Certified Professional Coach. I am also a working contemporary artist. Film maker. Photojournalist. Writer. Small-scale farmer/farm stand artisan. And your kindred partner on the Gifted & Creative journey. I help Gifted and Creative people unblock pathways to creating their most meaningful lives. And my artwork expresses the sensations and yearnings from deep within my little seed of Spirit.

Comments 2

    • Lauren Berley says on January 30, 2011

      We did. Teaching and offering blessings to the property, the children, the harvest, and all of Italy. he monks did both puja and teaching, as well as some healing. TIt was a wonderful experience and I have just returned from a day in the disco/yoga/puja room with the children, playing instruments and resetting the puja to remain an ongoing sacred space. The children played the instruments to some of my spiritual music and we had an amazing time jamming and being mindful of sound around us. Children are amazingly responsive to sound. I believe the monks’ presence will leave a lingering spell on all of us, for we have had a day of reverence and gratitude, all of us.

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