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VALERIEMAHA's Recent Blog Entries

The Mystery

Friday, December 04, 2009

Sorry to all those practical souls out there that think this is a weight-loss site. Pardon me, but to this little tropical rainbow-hues-scaled Piscean fishie swimming around in the cosmic ocean-of-delight, this *place* is more about healing the soul IN ORDER TO get the *temple* in order. (Really mixing the metaphors here, pero no importa.)

And so, I share offerings -- like the amazing revelations of Denise Levertov -- for me and all you other soul wanderers out there with me in the mists. 'Cause all begins...and it all ends...with the Mystery.

Dear Elaine, PeacefulOne, this is dedicated to you this morning:

Primary Wonder

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; cap and bells.
And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng's clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Source,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.

-- Denise Levertov, Selected Poems
Biographical information:

Om Shanthi, Shanthi, Shanthi!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STRAWBERRY*MOON 12/4/2009 1:22PM

    Thank you, Maha.

Over the years, Robert has had a major influence on me learning not to try to figure out the universe--even my little part of it. He asks me what would happen if I just accepted it all--good and bad--without intellectualizing, and each day I get closer and closer to letting this marvelous mystery simply be--around me and in me.

Peace and blessings,


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LAPORTE2006 12/4/2009 12:32PM

    The mystery is our magic. we live with it daily but sometimes lose sight. thanks for the reminder. hugs and positive vibes. Pam

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PEACEFULONE 12/4/2009 12:24PM

    Dearest Maha, Thank you so much for bringing my focus back to the Mystery! This blog brought tears to my eyes and balm to my heart! You are a truly remarkable soul and I am so blessed to have you in my universe. There are no words to thank you enough for all the help you have been today and many, many days in the past. I bow to your spirit. In peace and love, Elaine
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PEDAL-PUSHER 12/4/2009 12:04PM

    It DOES start with the sou. I think we need to love our own inner self before we can truely move forward and love others or receive love from others.

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FRACTALMYTH 12/4/2009 11:57AM

    Mind and body - it is all one, inseparable being. Thanks for sharing!!!

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CARLI_MAE 12/4/2009 10:46AM

    Boy you are such a fish! Better watch out you don't grow fins and a tail ... hahaha ... wouldn't it be something if I started appearing to you as the 2 of me? emoticon Ma, non importa -- ti voglio bene nondimeno!

As you see I am in my silly place and the temp filling where the dentist wanted to do a root canal is distracting me from the mystery. (I told him no root canal ... either the patch works or the tooth gets pulled).

Azimat says everbody's talking about me again ... ora, che a gía fatto?

Ciao, cara bellisima pesche :=)
Mille bacci

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NORLANA 12/4/2009 9:17AM

    "And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me"

love you!

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LISANANCY 12/4/2009 8:25AM

    Oh, how I agree. I am learning that I need to heal myself first. I didn't know this was the turn my life would take when I first started Spark. I guess I should just sit back and enjoy the ride. You are a beautiful soul. emoticon

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BECOMINGONE 12/4/2009 8:22AM

    Living in the mystery ... that's where weight loss starts. No amount of willpower can substitute over the long haul. We can lose pounds by willpower but not maintain the loss without the mystery. :-)



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Meditation anyone???

Thursday, December 03, 2009

I made a pact with myself during the Soul Writing Retreat to return to a daily meditation practice, aware as I am of the myriad benefits. Friends Michelle (StrawberryMoon) and Gail (DragonFly) have also been encouraging each other in an informal *meditation practice challenge* for daily consistency. The discipline required for such an undertaking girds us for all of the other requirements of conscious self-care. With the Thought for the Day this morning, Sri Easwaran spoke deeply to me about the efficacy of these efforts. Perhaps his words will ring true for you as well.

Meditation anyone?

Most people live, whether physically, intellectually or morally, in a very restricted circle of their potential being. They make use of a very small portion of their possible consciousness, and of their soul's resources in general, much like a man who, out of his whole bodily organism, should get into a habit of using and moving only his little finger.
-- William James

We think we are very limited creatures, very small, good for maybe only fifteen minutes of love or patience before we have to crack. Instead of identifying with our deepest Self, we are identifying with some biochemical-mental organism.

But when you calm the mind in meditation every morning, you will see how far you can stretch your patience and your love during the day. You will see for yourself how comfortable you feel with everybody, how secure you feel wherever you go. You will find that you have a quiet sense of being equal to difficult situations.

These discoveries give a hint of the heights to which a human being can rise. Once we see this for ourselves, we will catch the exhilaration of the mystics when they say that because the Source is our real Self, there is no limit to our capacities.
-- Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUCHAHOOT 12/9/2009 9:34AM

    Mornin' Maha,
This is great. I was a regular for a long time & remember how much more smoothly my days went. I've been telling myslef it's time to begin again. I"m also trying to encourage my sister to begin. I'll pass this along to her. Thank you!

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HOKU-ALOHI 12/3/2009 8:23PM

  Thank you Maha for this beautiful blog. The minute I started to read, I felt an inner shift in my being as it breathed in a deep breath of renewal. Thank you for bringing me back to full consciousness to reconnect through meditation.
~ Maya ~

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DOKEYOKEY 12/3/2009 8:01PM

    How fortuitous! I was inspired by Strawberry Moon (Michelle) noting that she was on a streak of 9 days of meditation and have decided that I am going to commit to a daily practice, too. Thanks for posting!

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CORPUSANNIE 12/3/2009 7:06PM

    emoticon It always seems your love goes farther when you remember to
meditate each day emoticon

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VALERIEMAHA 12/3/2009 4:11PM

    Easy meditation practice idea:

Sit with your spine straight (not leaning against a chair) and your feet flat on the floor, not crossed. If you're sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position elevate your butt with a pillow so it's nicely raised and your knees rest on the floor. You can cup your hands inside one another or rest your palms on your knees.

Softly close you eyes and focus on your breathing. Don't change your breathing in any way; just notice it. As you breathe in say to yourself "in," as you breathe out say "out." Each time your mind wanders, simply bring it back to the breath and continue focusing on the "in" and the "out." Nothing more. Nothing less. Just that much.

Start with 5 min. for a week, then go to 10 min. After a month at 10 min., you can increase it to 20 min. That's it!

It's about quieting and coming to have more control of the *monkey* mind! Consistency is important for progress, and sitting at the same time each day helps to establish a habit.

Comment edited on: 12/3/2009 6:46:07 PM

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JUS911 12/3/2009 3:24PM

    Good post! I have always had trouble meditating, but I really want to keep trying. I hope that with time and consistent practice it will come easier to me. Everything you say about the affects of meditation in your post is so true, which gives me even more motivation to keep practicing.

Good luck and thanks for the posting!

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YOGINIWRITER 12/3/2009 2:31PM

    Beautiful. I was dragging along this morning--avoiding my practice. This post inspired me to get with it. Meditation has been an oasis for the past few months. But, this past week feels like I am carrying bricks in my pockets. Once I am sitting I am at home--but getting myself to sit is an up hill climb. I am hoping this shifts soon. I know its part of the practice--sitting no matter the emotions attached--but I am missing the motivation. Thank you for passing some around.

Comment edited on: 12/3/2009 2:32:43 PM

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LYNNANN43 12/3/2009 2:19PM

    Thanks Maha!

I'm going to start doing some yoga in the morning again & then some meditation afterwards:D

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NORLANA 12/3/2009 1:51PM

    I'm with Tee! Can you show us the way (as usual) LOL

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STRAWBERRY*MOON 12/3/2009 12:55PM

    Thanks for the reinforcement, Maha. Such gems of meaning. Wasn't it Thich Nhat Hanh who said words to the effect that he had a busy day before him so he must meditate twice as long?

Happy sitting, everyone!

Comment edited on: 12/3/2009 12:56:39 PM

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SARANGEREL 12/3/2009 11:14AM

    Thank you for posting this! I have been reminding myself for a while that I need to get back into regular meditation. I wish you well in your journey!

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BECOMINGONE 12/3/2009 7:16AM

    Count me in!

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TEE803 12/3/2009 7:12AM

    Thanks Maha! Once again, very insightful...This may sound dumb, but I never learned to meditate. My mind is always all over the place! I know a lot of people in recovery meditate. Maybe it's time I did some googling and jump on the meditation wagon! I would LOVE to be zen throughout my day!


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St. Francis and the Sow

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"Everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing...."

My buddies know I'm in the midst of a finals week SparkFast. Notice how I "fast" -- a little munch here, a taste there. (Yep, D for Discipline is my middle name, lol.)

It''s just that this poem is so damned beautiful and poignant. And I had a particularly brutal encounter with my housemate this morning...and then I came to my computer, and in opening today's poetry offering, it smashed right into my soul and begged to be shared with my community, my tribe here.

"Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness...." And it is, today's love offering to all of you...and to me:

St. Francis and the Sow

The bud
stands for all things,
even those things that don't flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as St. Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of
the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking
and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

~ Galway Kinnell ~

(Mortal Acts, Mortal Words)

Galway Kinnell (born February 1, 1927 in Providence, Rhode Island) is one of the most influential American poets of the latter half of the 20th century. An admitted follower of Walt Whitman, Kinnell rejects the idea of seeking fulfillment by escaping into the imaginary world. His best-loved and most anthologized poems, such as "St. Francis and the Sow" and "After Making Love We Hear Footsteps," stand as testaments to the significant possibilities for transcendent realization that can be induced by meticulous excavation of the physical universe.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

NEWMOMOVER40 12/3/2009 2:17AM

    I love Galway Kinnel's poetry. Thank you so much for sharing this one. Tingly!
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HOKU-ALOHI 12/3/2009 1:00AM

Leia tus palabras
Yo sonriendo
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Por abrazos que me da
Yo durmiendo
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Llegado noche
Despues el amanecer
Yo despertando
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CARLI_MAE 12/3/2009 12:18AM

    Today must be one of those days for "encounters" ... mine was one of the WTF? realm of the absurd, but it came after I'd already seen and long forgotten about this panhala offering. All I can think regarding the fortunately brief thing was ... "oh, just another one of life's tragedies calling me for no other apparent reason but to tempt me into his own state of hostility & I'm having none of it today." No doubt he went looking for someone else on whom to unload.

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FRACTALMYTH 12/2/2009 10:46PM

    OHH Yes. Thank you for reminding me of that one. It's beautiful! Years ago it inspired me to write a response...

Brother Tree Frog ~
no saintly caress needed
to remind you of your innate glory.
Clad in emerald splendour
you squat in plump contentment,
a closer relationship with
Sister Mosquito.

(http://fracta - second poem down = 'Treefrog' for the photo that goes with it.)

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STRAWBERRY*MOON 12/2/2009 12:06PM

    Wise words, indeed. I know I frequently have to re-learn that with which I thought I was finished, but in revisiting a subject I find my experience changes, because I have changed--and so this old/new lesson enriches my life in a fresh way. How wonderful it is that, if I'm lucky and open, I will learning and changing for the rest of my life. After that, who knows! :-)

Hope your day improves!

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RAYLINSTEPHENS 12/2/2009 11:59AM

    emoticon thanks!

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SLASALLE 12/2/2009 11:28AM

    Ah Maha, my friend. I hope your day changes paths ... make it so. Again, thanks for sharing such lovely poetry!!

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DOKEYOKEY 12/2/2009 10:36AM

    How lovely -- and how sad that we should need re-teaching. But perhaps there is some beauty in that -- we are always being called to remember what is good and wonderful.


P.S. I must brag a little bit that Mr. Kinnell lives up the road from me a ways -- and that he was our state poet in Vermont from 1989 to 1993. Thank you for calling my attention to him in a more real way!

P.P.S. I hope that the house-mate situation eases.

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BECOMINGONE 12/2/2009 9:10AM

    A wonderful poem.

I'm home today studying for a test that I have to take before midnight tonight but if you would like to stop by for a few minutes ... I'll be here ...

St. Francis apologized to his body for mistreating it as he lay dying. Don't remember his exact words but it was moving ... so much to learn from the saint.

Thinking about you ...


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NORLANA 12/2/2009 9:10AM

    And we are thankful that you took the time out of your studying to post this ... very poignant, indeed. I hope your day gets better :)

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FRANCESCANAZ 12/2/2009 9:05AM

    Thanks again mi amiga for sharing this beautiful piece of writing. Can you also post "After Making Love we Hear Footsteps" ?? Would love to read that as well. Have a great diciembre. emoticon

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LISANANCY 12/2/2009 8:40AM

    How do you always find something to touch our hearts? Oh, yes, I know, it's your own gentle heart. Thank you for helping me to stay grounded in love. emoticon

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Blame...and the mystery

Friday, November 27, 2009

I'm reading Sharon Salzberg's wonderful book, LOVINGKINDNESS: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. It's not my first time either. It's chock-full of useful, everyday wisdom. And today, I'm reading JUST what I needed to hear in order to build a day of presence and mindfulness and purpose, from the chapter, The Gift of Equanimity:

"When the monks approached the Buddha and described (a series of circumstances), the Buddha wisely replied: 'There is always blame in this world. If you say too much, some people will blame you. If you say a little bit, some people will blame you. If you say nothing at all, some people will blame you.'

"This is the very nature of life. No one in this world experiences only pleasure and no pain, and no one experiences only gain and no loss. When we open to these truths, we discover that there is no need to hold on or to push away. Rather than trying to control what can never be controlled, we can find a sense of security in being able to meet what is actually happening. This is allowing for the mystery of things: not judging but rather cultivating a balance of mind that can receive what is happening, whatever it is. This acceptance is the source of our safety and confidence.

"When we feel unhappiness or pain, it is not a sign that things have gone terribly wrong or that we have done something wrong by not being able to control the circumstances. Pain and pleasure are constantly coming and going, and yet we can be happy. When we allow for the mystery, sometimes we discover that right in the heart of a very difficult time, right in the midst of a painful situation, there is freedom. In those moments when we realize how much we cannot control, we can learn to let go.

"As we begin to understand this we move from a mode of struggling to control what comes into our lives into a mode of simply wishing to truly connect with what is. This is a radical shift in worldview....When we become willing to experience everything, the confidence and certainty we once sought by denying change we can find by embracing it. We learn to relate to life fully, including the insecurity."

I used to have a sign with 12" letters above my fireplace in San Francisco:


I think I will post that reminder (smaller this time) somewhere for easy and frequent viewing. Not even self-blame. Especially not self-blame.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RAYLINSTEPHENS 11/30/2009 2:23PM

    great blog!

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AZIMAT 11/30/2009 10:20AM

    Lovely as always my friend. Thanks.

And thanks for the little pic on the top. My husband an I actually meditated with the Dalai Lama under the Bodhi tree in Bodgaya, of course with many more folks than in your pic. It reminded me of that sweet experience

Comment edited on: 11/30/2009 10:21:32 AM

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BABYFACE26 11/29/2009 9:12PM

    Perfect wisdom. No Blame. And no judgement. For me, that refers to judging myself most of all.

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PEACEFULONE 11/29/2009 7:48PM

    Ahh, more food for thought. You do it so well! Thank you for sharing and being such a light in the world. Peace and love, Elaine

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HOKU-ALOHI 11/28/2009 8:59AM

  Mahalo nui loa Maha for the reminder to be kind to myself. When something happens, I do not blame others; now I must remember each day not to blame myself. My DH is awesome at this...when something happens his attitude is so positive. If something has broken, he just fixes it...there is no blame. That is a great creed Maha - When Life happens, Blame does not exist.

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MAZZYR 11/28/2009 8:32AM

    Oh Maha, I'm a fan of Sharon Salzberg. Thank you for sharing the wisdom of her words.

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LIVNFITNHAPPY 11/28/2009 7:52AM

    Thank you for sharing Valerie!
I, too, have a reminder to myself posted on the refrigerator and at my desk. I simply wrote, "No Blame, only Understanding."
It has helped redirect the tendency in myself to resist change
by wanting to blame someone or something for unwanted results
and led me toward acceptance. It is possible to find gems in the
most painful of circumstances! :) Janet

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LYNNANN43 11/27/2009 4:56PM

    the Buddha wisely replied: 'There is always blame in this world. If you say too much, some people will blame you. If you say a little bit, some people will blame you. If you say nothing at all, some people will blame you.'

If this isn't the truth, I don't know what is!

Thanks for sharing again, MAHA!

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NORLANA 11/27/2009 3:59PM

    I've decided to let go and let the Universe drive ...

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VALERIEMAHA 11/27/2009 3:42PM


You're SO on target that it's a SIN! LOL It's exactly what I am living with day-to-day in this environment.

Thank you for that further elucidation my friend.

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CARLI_MAE 11/27/2009 3:31PM

    "When we open to these truths, we discover that there is no need to hold on or to push away. Rather than trying to control what can never be controlled, we can find a sense of security in being able to meet what is actually happening."

LOL ... when I first read this, I thought "oh yeah, easy enough to say" thinking about my growing habit of avoiding ('pushing away?') those people I have come to experience as always negative, always blaming, never happy. Then I remembered the wise adage (paraphrased) ... go not into the desert in the hopes of finding God, lest you find yourselves surrounded by demons instead...

Which led me to re-think my interpretation of advice such as this. There is a difference between trying to control/pushing away and merely walking away and letting it/them go. I figure that by doing that, I am relinquishing control and the tendency to "battle them," leaving it between them and the universe/spirit to find their own path to sanity, compassion, acceptance, and real love. At the same time I am accepting my own limits regarding who and what I am capable of touching, changing, bringing into harmony, and leaving it to Spirit to work it out. It isn't the occasional or even daily encounter, whether on the street, in the workplace, etc., that is so much of a challenge as it is the persistent, "same thing all the time" types.

What thinks ye? Huh? Am I just splitting hairs, or can you dig it?

Hopelessly Cerebral Carli

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GOODHEALTH4EVER 11/27/2009 3:13PM


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ABURRIS1 11/27/2009 12:57PM

    Dear Maha,
After many months away, I am most welcomed by this gentle reminder. Thank you for the exquisite timing.

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Feliz Dia de Accion de Gracias

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Dear friends,

I'm so deeply touched and grateful for the reaching out and loving thoughts from all my beautiful SparkFriends. I'm sure we can all figure out that I'm wishing you Happy Thanksgiving in Spanish!

It's a beautiful day here in central Arkansas. I began the morning with meditation and pranayama. I ate a healthy breakfast.

Four friends have invited me to share the day; I hope to make it by two. I never went to that "woe-is-me place" around spending this day solo, and look what happened!

My life is indeed full...I have myriad blessings...and my life isn't over yet!

I subscribe to silly, joyful "Notes from the Universe" and today *the Universe* said:
Mahalakshmi, I love this job! You know...writing you every day.

Do you know how I got it? No, besides being the Universe and getting whatever I want. Yes! I just started doing it.

And that's all anything takes.

The Universe
P.S. Of course it'll feel funny at first, Mahalakshmi, might even look funny, but how badly do you want what you want?

Such a sweet reminder, eh. It all starts with a thought...and then just "doing it." How badly do I want what I want? Practice makes perfect!


I have been trying to read
the script cut in these hills—
a language carved in the shimmer of stubble
and the solid lines of soil, spoken
in the thud of apples falling
and the rasp of corn stalks finally bare.

The pheasants shout it with a rusty creak
as they gather in the fallen grain,
the blackbirds sing it
over their shoulders in parting,
and gold leaf illuminates the manuscript
where it is written in the trees.

Transcribed onto my human tongue
I believe it might sound like a lullaby,
or the simplest grace at table.
Across the gathering stillness
simply this: "For all that we have received,
dear God, make us truly grateful."

~ Lynn Ungar ~
(Blessing the Bread)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRANCESCANAZ 11/28/2009 9:32AM

    Gracias amiga. Me gusta mucho. Sigue tu camino adelante!

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GBOOMER 11/27/2009 4:19PM

    What I wrote was "Happy Thanksgiving" in Chinese. But apparently Spark People isn't set up to handle Asian text encoding. I wasn't cursing! haha.


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GBOOMER 11/27/2009 1:45PM

    Maha, 祝你感恩

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COLIBRI930 11/27/2009 12:03PM

    Un blog muy bonito! I hope you have a great Friday! I also subscribe to Panhala for their poems. They are great, and very earth centered.

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MAZZYR 11/27/2009 7:11AM

    Beautiful words, beautiful Maha.

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NORLANA 11/26/2009 8:14PM

    Thank you for all your guidance and encouragement. You are among my gratitudes today ... :)

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HOKU-ALOHI 11/26/2009 5:31PM

  Gracias Maha por tus palabras. Me gusta tus blogs porque siempre me siento las palabras en mi alma y en mi corazon tambien. Espero que tenga un buen dia de accion de gracias porque eres una amiga y una maestra tambien. Abrazos con Aloha ~ Maya

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BABYFACE26 11/26/2009 2:10PM

    Wow, girl. Your essay is beautiful. And I surely can relate to the - not feeling "woe is me" over spending the day alone. I AM alone today, and have been for most Thanksgivings in the past, but I would not be surprised, if next year, that changed! And, I did get one invite to my friend's house in Santa Clara, which is just too much of a schlep today, after I've visited the one kitty I'm feeding today...AND I'll be going to a Cuddle party on Sunday, same place, same I don't feel badly about it. The good part is, less temptation (food wise) neighbor is cooking and has promised me a taste of the vittles, so I won't be deprived, for sure! LOVE this blog.
Blessings to you, Maha.

Oh yeah, and I get those messages from the Universe, too. ..for the past 8 mos. or so...this one is a goodie!

Comment edited on: 11/26/2009 2:11:00 PM

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SIMMSCINDY 11/26/2009 1:27PM

    This was very nice. I am glad to find so many people such as yourself, knowledgable in yoga and it's practice. I am learning from "OSHO" a book that I have been reading.

Your words were so eloquent that I felt so much calmer reading them. Thank You

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DANCINGPENGUIN 11/26/2009 1:09PM

    Wow -- I love your note from the universe today! I could apply that. How did I go from being someone who hates running to a runner? I just started doing it*. How will I get the job I want? I have started doing it. tee hee.

(I used to subscribe to that years and years ago. Might have to start again!).

*So far I'm in the "still learning" stage, so more precisely I'm a run/walker.
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EOSTAR_45 11/26/2009 11:48AM

    Today's message from the "Universe" was a nice reminder. Just start.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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LAPORTE2006 11/26/2009 11:12AM

    Beautiful. The picture says so much as does the poem. Happy Thanksgiving.

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