Following the Patterns

... noticing a pattern ...

I'm in conversations with two different friends around topics of living with an open heart and letting go...I couldn't help but laugh when I felt these two lines together... they seem to sum up so much.
Open - close - open - close...

Fuck it. Compassion. Fuck it. Compassion.
Which turns me to a line from Bob Thurman that I like:
"The key to compassion is that it is more fun. Generosity is more fun, that's the key."
Since generosity is more fun, it's no wonder that this song Whoever You Are by Geggy Tah is tickling me with delight lately! Enjoy (it's the third song). Here are the lyrics that tickle me:
All I wanna do is to thank you
even though I don't know who you are
You let me change lanes
while I was driving in my car. . .

Whoever you are
I wanna thank you who...
It's the simple things that can make such a difference.
posted by ashley


Online Meditation

Please consider joining us for another online meditation tomorrow, Friday, June 29th at 9:00 am Pacific Time in the Santuary at Wings. You can visit last week's meditation by going here.

After a phone conversation with Amy today (who plans to be present for the meditation tomorrow) I find myself lightly holding a theme of inquiry for tomorrow's meditation. I am resting with the word, energy, feeling, practice of receiving. We'll see what emerges tomorrow in our shared space. Hopefully you'll be there to experience it yourself!!

Update: You can experience the meditation here... and if you feel called to continue it, post away!


posted by ashley


Living With an Open Heart

I’m procrastinating. I’m scared. One more bite of toast. One more reason why I’m not comfortable at this table… one more excuse to keep me from going into what is present in me in this moment.

Today I must write. Trails of life-lived and life-living are insisting to be formed into words, to be woven into some form of expression. This morning I’m driving to a coffee shop to honor this call, experiencing the fullness of feeling inside of me… listening.

I hear an NPR clip on the radio about Iraq… and how it has become such a rarity there and a noted blessing for someone to die of natural causes… for people to have the luxury of saying good bye before a loved one passes. The tears ever-presently close to the surface swell in my eyes. Feeling and thinking tossling under the covers… emotions? grief? fortune? blessings? the world? suffering? why? what to do?

. . . love . . .

I always return to love. My car feels like it’s filled with inhabitants… so much inside this little space… feeling… driving… a truck parked along the road turns on, the tail lights catching my eye… a bumper sticker of the word LOVE on the window. The ‘O’ is a grenade. I shudder… and wonder… feel the silent tossling under the covers, the whirlpool of thinking-feeling-stimulation that has no form but inhabits huge amounts of space.

In this coffee shop now, I hold back the tears while simultaneously sort of forcing them forth. Marveling.

Yesterday I rambled through the arboretum with a dear companion, an old friend and a new friend, the same person. My heart raw and vulnerable, wide open and actively reaching for protection and comfort. The trees provided support, a mothering presence.

When we stopped in an area where the trees were scarce, more scattered, I felt my heart throbbing, yearning, wanting. It was like a fresh wound exposed to the elements, the wind blowing on the tender opening… I moved closer to the trees, closer to the warmth and support, the knowing forces of thriving existence… grounded, rooted, connected. I found a center where I could rest… and be… open to what is happening in this moment…showing up for this opportunity to be alive… as it is… as I am… as we are... right now.

Chris wrote recently about
“a fierce commitment to defending the territory of the open heart and a fierce commitment to training in the practice of wielding love, for communities, people, ideals, possibilities and whatever else.”
I found myself wanting to hear Christy teach from a 5-element perspective about the paricardium, the heart protector… and how it might relate to protecting and defending the heart while also inviting love into heart-space… that essence of heart that is bigger than our individual hearts. This brings to mind past writing on this topic by me and Christy.

It’s hard work living with an open heart! (my heart wells, tears swell writing that) And I rebel against the phrase ‘hard work.’ It is a deep practice, one which requires a huge amount of conscious effort and attention.

As we grow and develop, we experience life. In honor of living, we develop means of surviving. Few of us unfold in an enlightened bubble where the environment we encounter perfectly meets our needs and mirrors our essence. We are brilliant at adapting to what we experience, shaping our being and becoming to accommodate those unmet needs, organizing and re-organizing our interior worlds in creative and life-preserving formations. We are witty in the ways in which we latch onto the images we see in mirrors held up to us, whether they match our essence or not, we can cling fiercely to the labels, perceptions, conceptions… descriptions of who we’re seen to be, who we see ourselves to be… and scripts which we internalize as who we believe we are… stories which help us feel solid and grounded, inhabited by an identity that we can rest in… believe in… survive as.

Tears return again as I rest in feeling, listening for the shape of words to emerge. The theme… vulnerability. Living with an open heart is a practice of returning again and again to a vulnerable state… confronting the edges of survival that have served so reverently… and must now be softened… eased open into a fuller experience of what is happening now.

Listening to and being guided by heart’s resonance, foundations crumble, certainty and knowing break down, new feelings and sensations pierce experiences, change scraping the walls of habit, uncertainty paralyzing open static responses. Revealed, exposed, broken open and vulnerable… shaky? uncertain? scared? worried? calm? aligned? connected? fierce?

So Chris asks: “What is dangerous to the territory of the open heart?”

I notice how dangerously vulnerable an open heart is without awareness and discernment...and perhaps without clarity. Revealed to the elements, unprotected and ignorant to what-is, the defenseless heart is available to connect with anything. This is dangerous.

As I try to articulate this danger, I return to the word LOVE with the O as a grenade. We can connect with an essential experience (love) that contains a grenade, that shares its love through violence and destruction. We also can shape our experiencing to connect with love that contains a circle, a renewing cycle honoring death and rebirth, an evolving returning, an embrace of essence. In this moment my experience is that awareness, clarity, discernment and connection with loving essence empowers the open heart. (These words still feel weak in articulating... but perhaps tickle open the essence around which I'm trying to speak. Please feel free to inquire about or grow this thought further.)

Thomas stands in emotion sharing on this topic,
“I feel such sadness and rage at how fucking hard this all is. And then I feel the beauty of all these radiant souls working in the mystery as agents of change and discover a profound longing to live into the honesty and compassion of a wide open heart.”
I think that taking a stand to live into the honesty and compassion of a wide open heart means accepting the reality that symbolic grenades are always nearby… change is hard… love hurts… and with discernment and clarity, honesty and acceptance, we can align with beauty, we can listen to the wisdom of our hearts, we can follow guidance, resting in and being directed by the fierce power of love... not a violent love, an embracing love.

The day will come when, after harnessing space, the winds, the tides, and gravitation,
we shall harness for God the energies of love. And on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, we shall have discovered fire.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Fire picture and mandala from Thomas Arthur, Trees from Nat Lockwood

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posted by ashley


I Give Thanks

Here's a sweet video... thanks, Sheri for the link.

posted by ashley


Harmony at the Heart

The harvest from the Art of Hosting on Art of Hosting shared a wonderful new tarot map. I am finding much value exploring these questions with an Osho Zen deck.

The five questions:
  • What is currently at the heart (of things)?
  • What is visible and manifest?
  • What is invisible and in our shadow?
  • What is needing to be let go?
  • What is emerging?
  • ... and then one piece of overall advice
In a reading yesterday I pulled this gorgeous card, Harmony, for what is at the heart of my unfolding.

"The experience of resting in the heart in meditation is not something that can be grasped or forced. It comes naturally, as we grow more and more in tune with the rhythms of our own inner silences. The figure on this card reflects the sweetness and delicacy of this experience. The dolphins that emerge from the heart and make an arc towards the third eye reflect the playfulness and intelligence that comes when we are able to connect with the heart and move into the world from there.

Let yourself be softer and more receptive now, because an inexpressible joy is waiting for you just around the corner. Nobody else can point it out to you, and when you find it you won't be able to find the words to express it to others. But it's there, deep within your heart, ripe and ready to be discovered.

Listen to your heart, move according to your heart, whatsoever the stake:
A condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything..."

posted by ashley


Online Meditation

Dear easily amazed,


You're invited to participate in an online meditation on Friday, June 22nd at 9:00 a.m. Pacific Time. Together we will spend an hour in reflective and expressive meditation, connecting with kindred easily amazed souls. The idea is that this will be a regular occasion, gathering in the Sanctuary on Fridays at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time beginning on June 22 and continuing as long as individuals have passion, energy and availability to show up and connect with one another, sharing sacred online space. You can experience past meditations from March 2006 and October 2005.

How to Participate
Login to the Easily Amazed forum any time during that hour (if you need help logging in, email me at openingspace@gmail.com ). Enter the sanctuary and you will find a thread titled Meditation Through Relation. Enjoy a nourishing breath and allow yourself to sink into the flow of your moment. As words or images arise, press 'postreply' and share them with those who are present. You may offer thoughts, sensations, feelings, observations, inquiries, reflections.....

Every minute or so you can press the REFRESH button on your web browser, regenerating the screen to see and receive what other participants have offered.

Please consider joining in on these often inspiring and nourishing events.

With love,


posted by ashley


Arrivals Gate & Public Affection

I went to the airport yesterday to pick up a friend. I got there early so I waited in the cell phone waiting parking lot. It was a sunny day... good for sitting still and reading my book. But I miss the old days and the choice to wait at the gate... to watch as dear ones step off of a plane, through the gate, and into what awaits them on this side of the journey... eyes scanning the crowd, looking for their loved ones, the ones they are slightly afraid to see, the longing that someone they know will be there waiting. And the embraces and unions... so passionately expressed... emotions so close to the surface... so public.

Things are often (obviously not always) more reserved further away from the plane... time to go to the bathroom, anticipate the meeting, walk, gather yourself... etc.

Can you still meet someone directly at the gate in other countries?

Ani DiFranco sings of the beauty of the (old) Arrivals Gate:
gonna go out
to the arrivals gate at the airport
and sit there all day
watch people reuniting

public affection so exciting
it even makes airports ok
watching children run
with their arms outstretched
just to throw those arms
around their grandpa's neck
watching lovers plant kisses
old men to their misses
at their arrivals gate

watching a mother
with a mother's smile
don't tell me to move
i just wanna sit here for a while
i have determined
it's a sure cure for cancer
watching excitement turn family dogs
into dancers
at the arrivals gate

i got me a white bread sandwich
with some shredded lettuce
and i got me a ringside view
for my quaint little fetish

i just wanna drain my pink little heart
of all its malice
and kick back for the afternoon
in this fluorescent palace

everybody's in a hurry
here in purgatory
except for me
i'm where i need to be

at the arrivals gate
posted by ashley


Coming home

I asked Jan what "coming home" means to him. His response sweeps me awake:
coming home is that tender hug in stillness. it's the feeling of tranquility after shed tears and accepting what is. It's the boundless freedom of realizing all is connected and you and I are not seperate. It's the orgasmic bliss of realizing unity while love making and finding god in the others eyes.. coming home is connecting with you.

coming home is when i realize that i'm at home allready.
posted by ashley


Shadows and Swords

Being with

A month ago I was invited into a dance of awareness. I was invited to live with greater integrity. I recognized in my interactions with myself and others that there was an inherent boundary I was not respecting. A gate I was ignoring, walking through without honoring its sacred presence. I was acting irresponsibly.

Synchronicities and teachings unfold as Chris and friends share around Going to War at the Art of Hosting on Art of Hosting. Here's my story.

In a spontaneous moment of combined knowing-need for respite and solitude along with a longing-desire for escape, I took a one night trip to the ocean! It was a therapeutic offering of time and space to deepen into my experience of being alive. Some potent new awarenesses emerged. I'll share a story about one of them... a recognition of two precious parts of myself.

From my journal:
There is a part of me that interacts Powerfully with others by holding space for What-is to truly be present. There is another part of me that is naïve to the power that way of being holds… and thus doesn't always skillfully use timing or discernment. How do I come to better know these parts? Can you name them?
One part emerged immediately. I know her well. She appears readily at the surface of my expression, a light and free, playful self. The other part of my self was not as ready to be named. I allowed myself to rest in being, journeying on the land and in my soul.. and in the beauty and power of the ocean, I was able to name this other part of myself. Let me introduce you to them (again from my journal):
The innocent beginner – I’ll try anything. Why not. The best way to be an innocent beginner is to just put yourself out there. Just go for it and see what happens. I’m great at getting experiments started or inviting you into new experiences. I take the edge off of things because I give you permission to just be a beginner… be open and see what happens. I’m innocent because I really don’t know better. I’m just beginning to step my foot into this pool.

The woman who wields a sword - I notice how I have this sword. There is some body-knowing and memory of how I move, center and balance myself when holding a sword. This sword cuts through experience. The edge is fierce. Piercing the surface with awareness. It can be harsh and crisp. Awareness is often not gentle. Sometimes it’s seems so nice, helping to shave away the excess fluff that is in the way. Inviting clarity. Inviting precision. And other times it touches lived life that resists being touched… that wants to continue living as is and not to be poked and prodded, pierced with a sword of awareness.
Now that I know these two selves, I've been trying to notice when they emerge, especially the one who wields a sword. There is a quality that I feel in my body, a lightening of form, an expansive sense, a sharpening of presence. I am slowly starting to recognize this as her emerging. When I become aware of this I am making extra effort to listen intently to guidance of how to respond. Recognizing that in my being right now I wield a weapon and I must proceed with caution and clarity. I assume a stature of poise, balance, precision and awareness... when I remember... when I am aware.

The Synchroncity: At the Art of Hosting, "Anita Paalvast, a very powerful aikidoka, drew her katana and walked the circle, lowering the blade in front of each of us and challenging us to identify our fear and the shadow that is in our midst" (Corrigan). I plan to write more about Chris' post and Thomas' response and how I want to hear Christy say something on the topic! In the meantime, to stay with this story, it was Helen's comment that illuminated more to me about this new responsibility I've been invited to consciously respect.

She says:
Another shadow challenge that can derail our work in the world is our own passion.

We need to know how to remain in perfect poise and dignity, never to push our adversary or interlocutor into a place they cannot go unless we are prepared and awake enough to go with them to guard their back.
I have not always respected this. I recognize how dangerous my own passions can be and the shadow sides of longings that emerge from them. And how often have I drawn my sword and then walked away, abandoning the other? Chris wrote about the shadows of greed, failure and dishonesty. How often have I drawn my sword out of greed or fear of failure? Was I ever dishonest with my sword?

In my heart right now, I feel and offer deep apologies to those whom I have disrespected and possibly even harmed with my unconsciousness and lazy use of the sword. I am sorry for the inappropriate times that I have drawn my sword, cut into awareness and imposed a force upon you that caused harm to your system... your emotional, spiritual, cognitive or physical system. Please forgive me for mistakes from my past... and in my future. I welcome support from my companions to hold me more accountable as I learn to embrace this side of myself and be more responsible with this power. Thank you... and with love...

Photos from Helen and Tom

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posted by ashley


Age Appropriate Skills for Children

Here's a little article that I wrote for my school's Alumi Newsletter.

Did you know that your five year old is capable of taking out the garbage or sweeping the floor, your seven year old can help change the sheets on the bed or put dishes in the dishwasher, your twelve year old can cook meals for the family or do his own laundry, and your teenager can purchase her own clothes with a budgeted clothing allowance or do heavier yard work.

Many children are denied the opportunity to contribute to their families and communities in such valuable ways. They aren’t given a chance to learn essential skills for caring for themselves and others. Well-intentioned adults do things for children that they are capable of doing for themselves. As a result, the children learn to under-function, displaying trained helplessness and learned incompetence.

In a parenting group we explored age appropriate skills that kids are capable of doing for themselves. Many parents felt the a-ha that their child was capable of taking on some new responsibilities at home. Addressing this change with their child also gave them an opportunity to apologize to their child and admit that they had made a mistake. Children love to hear when adults make mistakes. In addition, modeling making mistakes is a powerful way to help address a child’s perfectionistic tendencies.

Below is one parent’s account of how she surprised her son with an apology and gave him an opportunity to feel empowered and begin taking control of one aspect of his life.

“I had still been picking out clothes for my 8-year-old son every morning. I had tried over the last few years to get him to pick his own clothes (“just pick something – what’s the big deal – it’s just a shirt and pants – your little sister has been picking her own clothes since she was 3…”) but he always acted like it was an overwhelming task and he had no idea what to pick. It made the morning go more smoothly if I just pulled out the clothes for him. After a few parenting classes, I told him that I had learned how much kids can do at different ages. Then I told him that I owed him an apology. He straightened up, taken aback, looking very happily interested in this unusual conversation. I told him that I knew that he was capable of picking out his own clothes and had been for many years, but that I had not been giving him the chance to do this for himself, and that this wasn’t fair to him. He looked honored. The first day after this little talk, I came by and asked him if he had an idea of what he might pick to wear that day. He told me what he was thinking and I said that it sounded like a good choice. Since then, he’s just shown up at breakfast, dressed, without any fuss.”

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posted by ashley


A Thread in the Communion Tapestry

"To paint is easy, to write poetry is easy, but to create a communion with the energy of another, a dancing communion, is the greatest and most difficult art to learn."
~unknown author, Kara shared it with me.

Below are thoughts and reflections all relating to this topic of communion. I've woven them together along one pathway though I sense there is a greater whole that they speak to which has yet to reveal itself to me. If anything is sparked in you, please do share, I'd love to hear.

Life is happening all around
in every moment
here and now

Energy of Other
swirling about

Sparks of holiness
Available for connection

Lights of grace
dancing in relation

What is communion?

Meredith writes:
When we move in close, and not shy from intimacy, if we were to approach an elderly woman lying on the ground wailing at the gate in the airport, will we know what to do? We are always uncertain, facing the unknown with another. Sometimes it can feel too vivid, too real and not predictable or within our control or comfort zone. And yet, the sensitive amongst us will feel another’s pain, and weep inside with them. We want to connect, to overcome boundaries that may have us protect ourselves form pain and risk, our own or that of another. In our exchanges we can feel our own aliveness, our energy almost tangibly. This is communion.
Actively feeling our own aliveness… experiencing the aliveness of others… interacting with the aliveness of existence… tangibly relating with visible and invisible energy that inspires expanding spheres of life awake.

What is this powerfully flowing current of life? How does it function?

Teresa shares Tenneson’s words, a thread in this inquiry:
Quantum particles (hearts, people…) once in contact (love, embrace, learning…) retain a connection (energetic link, stream of light…) even when separated, so that the actions of one will always influence the other.
In dancing communion we recognize that we are always in connection. The visible threads of relation may vary, even disappear, but the sparks of holiness continue to thrive within one another, always influencing the other. What might unfold in ourselves, our communities, our world as we (who are we? are you an active part of this we?) continue to deepen our practice of conscious communion? What happens if we surrender to its truth and its mystery?

Christy ponders how this energy plays out in groups:
I wonder if, as the "magic of the middle" lives through groups bonded by love and intention, that the group as a whole somehow maintains a steady incubating attention even as individual members lose focus now and then?
And Chris reflects (I recommend reading his whole post, it inspires me greatly) on what he is experiencing and learning right now in Belgium about gathering in circle, often a form through which communion emerges, and how it can serve passion into action:
The gift of the circle is that it somehow invites a much bigger sense of ourselves which, if worked with skillfully, can result in an event later that has a deep and powerful harmonic, a bass note of possibility that is indeed the group’s highest and unspoken aspiration for it’s own work, that transcends what is even known to be possible.

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posted by ashley


Shi Shi

Another trip to the coast.


posted by ashley

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