Homecoming

Divine Mother And the Great Mother said:

Come and give me all that you are.
I am not afraid of your strength and darkness,
of your fear and pain.
Give me your tears.
They will be my rushing rivers and roaring oceans.
Give me your rage.
It will erupt into my molten volcanoes and rolling thunder.
Give me your tired spirit.
I will lay it to rest in my soft meadows.
Give me your hopes and dreams.
I will plant a field of sunflowers and arch rainbows in the sky.
You are not too much for me.
My arms and heart welcome your true fullness.
There is room in my world for all of you,
all that you are.
I will cradle you in the boughs of my ancient redwoods
and the valleys of my gentle rolling hills.
My soft winds will sing you lullabies
and soothe your burdened heart.
Release your deep pain.
You are not alone and you have never been alone.
~ Linda Reuther

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The Meaning Of Time

Paul Kalanithi savors moments with his daughter, Cady.

Paul Kalanithi with his daughter Cady.


The clock unrelentingly tells us the time. But what does it really mean? Time can have different meanings based on our situation. A neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi explains:

In residency, there’s a saying: The days are long, but the years are short. In neurosurgical training, the day usually began a little before 6 a.m., and lasted until the operating was done, which depended, in part, on how quick you were in the OR.

A resident’s surgical skill is judged by his technique and his speed. You can’t be sloppy and you can’t be slow. From your first wound closure onward, spend too much time being precise and the scrub tech will announce, “Looks like we’ve got a plastic surgeon on our hands!” Or say: “I get your strategy — by the time you finish sewing the top half of the wound, the bottom will have healed on its own. Half the work — smart!” A chief resident will advise a junior: “Learn to be fast now — you can learn to be good later.” Everyone’s eyes are always on the clock. For the patient’s sake: How long has the patient been under anesthesia? During long procedures, nerves can get damaged; muscles can break down, even causing kidney failure. For everyone else’s sake: What time are we getting out of here tonight?

There are two strategies to cutting the time short, like the tortoise and the hare. The hare moves as fast as possible, hands a blur, instruments clattering, falling to the floor; the skin slips open like a curtain, the skull flap is on the tray before the bone dust settles. But the opening might need to be expanded a centimeter here or there because it’s not optimally placed. The tortoise proceeds deliberately, with no wasted movements, measuring twice, cutting once. No step of the operation needs revisiting; everything proceeds in orderly fashion. If the hare makes too many minor missteps and has to keep adjusting, the tortoise wins. If the tortoise spends too much time planning each step, the hare wins.

The funny thing about time in the OR, whether you frenetically race or steadily proceed, is that you have no sense of it passing. If boredom is, as Heidegger argued, the awareness of time passing, this is the opposite: The intense focus makes the arms of the clock seem arbitrarily placed. Two hours can feel like a minute. Once the final stitch is placed and the wound is dressed, normal time suddenly restarts. You can almost hear an audible whoosh. Then you start wondering: How long till the patient wakes up? How long till the next case gets started? How many patients do I need to see before then? What time will I get home tonight?

It’s not until the last case finishes that you feel the length of the day, the drag in your step. Those last few administrative tasks before leaving the hospital, however far post-meridian you stood, felt like anvils. Could they wait till tomorrow? No. A sigh, and Earth continued to rotate back toward the sun.

But time gets a completely new meaning when Paul is diagnosed with a terminal illness and is fighting its ravages:

I emerged from the hospital weakened, with thin limbs and thinned hair. Now unable to work, I was left at home to convalesce. Getting up from a chair or lifting a glass of water took concentration and effort. If time dilates when one moves at high speeds, does it contract when one moves barely at all? It must: The day shortened considerably. A full day’s activity might be a medical appointment, or a visit from a friend. The rest of the time was rest.

With little to distinguish one day from the next, time began to feel static. In English, we use the word time in different ways, “the time is 2:45” versus “I’m going through a tough time.” Time began to feel less like the ticking clock, and more like the state of being. Languor settled in. Focused in the OR, the position of the clock’s hands might seem arbitrary, but never meaningless. Now the time of day meant nothing, the day of the week scarcely more so.

And then time shows a new side of itself when Paul is with his newborn daughter:

Yet there is dynamism in our house. Our daughter was born days after I was released from the hospital. Week to week, she blossoms: a first grasp, a first smile, a first laugh. Her pediatrician regularly records her growth on charts, tick marks of her progress over time. A brightening newness surrounds her. As she sits in my lap smiling, enthralled by my tuneless singing, incandescence lights the room.

Time once again transforms itself when Paul finds himself in his final days:

Time for me is double-edged: Every day brings me further from the low of my last cancer relapse, but every day also brings me closer to the next cancer recurrence — and eventually, death. Perhaps later than I think, but certainly sooner than I desire. There are, I imagine, two responses to that realization. The most obvious might be an impulse to frantic activity: to “live life to its fullest,” to travel, to dine, to achieve a host of neglected ambitions. Part of the cruelty of cancer, though, is not only that it limits your time, it also limits your energy, vastly reducing the amount you can squeeze into a day. It is a tired hare who now races. But even if I had the energy, I prefer a more tortoise like approach. I plod, I ponder, some days I simply persist.

Everyone succumbs to finitude. I suspect I am not the only one who reaches this pluperfect state. Most ambitions are either achieved or abandoned; either way, they belong to the past. The future, instead of the ladder toward the goals of life, flattens out into a perpetual present. Money, status, all the vanities the preacher of Ecclesiastes described, hold so little interest: a chasing after wind, indeed.

Paul Kalanithi passed away March 9th 2015. His essay “Before I Go” was published in “Standford Medicine” and we have provided excerpts above.

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I Write Poems To Figure Things Out!

It is rare for a talk filled with poetry to get millions of hits. It is rarer still for any talk to get two standing ovations. But Sarah Kay achieves this in an outstanding talk filled with outstanding spoken word poetry.

In this talk Sarah charts her journey into spoken word poetry and explains to us the power of the medium. We understand how spoken word poetry can help connect by witnessing her incredible performance. Are you ready to take on this awesome medium called spoken word poetry?

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The Light Of God Surrounds Us

The Light Of God


The light of God surrounds us;
The love of God enfolds us;
The power of God protects us;
The presence of God watches over us.
Wherever we are, God is.
And all is well.

Credit: Unity Church – closing prayer for protection

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Three Awesome Yoga Insights

Yoga Insights

Yoga can be puzzling. Even for seasoned practitioners its impact seem mysterious. These three insights will help:

1. Yoga can be everywhere – Laughter yoga? Nature yoga? What’s with this phenomenon of associating “yoga” with common everyday things? The answer lies in understanding that at the root of yoga there is a process. This is the process of reducing or sidestepping the ego. So everything can be done either in a yogic way or a non-yogic way. If your laughter is meant to hurt somebody then it is merely an instrument of your ego. This is non-yogic laughter. But if on the other hand your laughter is a pure expression of joy then it side steps the ego and it is yoga. We can say that it is “laughter yoga”.

So here is this insight in a nutshell: If an activity does not hurt anybody and the ego is sidestepped or reduced then the activity can be considered as Yoga.

So you can walk in a park or a forest and call it “nature yoga”. You can spend time knitting and call it “knitting yoga”. On the same lines you can have “cooking yoga”, “driving yoga”, “work yoga”, “hobby yoga”, and so on.

2. It all adds up – Here is the good news: nothing goes waste when it comes to yoga. It is as if somebody who is lost in the dark finds her way. Now every step is a step in the right direction, no matter how small the step is. Yoga creates an upward spiral where every activity that is Yoga helps us do other activities in a more yogic way. Instead of a push towards yoga, we now find that there is a pull. Yoga becomes more natural to who we are.

3. You can start anywhere – Rather than being boxed in, wondering where to start, you can just jump in from wherever you are at this moment. The right moment for yoga is now! You do not have to wait to be kind, to be generous, or to wish everybody well. Every small act adds up. Soon the journey accelerates and what was formerly forced and deliberate becomes natural. The yoga of postures is also a great starting spot. And if we allow its effects to spread into the rest of our life, we then find that most of our activities can be done in a yogic way. And this in turn flows back into the yoga on the mat and makes it easier and calmer. We enter into a positive feedback loop that lifts our life and transforms it. Our life is soon filled with light and love.

Why wait? With these insights in hand let us straight jump in and start practicing yoga in everything we do!

Related::
How Does Yoga Work?
Eight Ways To Make The Most Of Your Yoga Practice
Six Things Not Yoga
Six Surprising Facts About Your Ego

Credits: This has been written by Raj Shah and edited by Ketna Shah.

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