My Inner Mystic

reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3

Category Archives: weather

The Wind

The wind is no where and everywhere.
The wind is a mover and a shaker.
 
The wind blows in and blows out. 
The wind moves the rain in and dries the rain out.
 
The wind draws tears from my eyes.

See it.  Hear it.  Feel it.

See it ruffle the leaves on the trees.
See it shake the branches; see them quiver and sway.
See it pick up and toss dried, fallen leaves.
See it stream clouds across the sky; see them roll past, fast.
See it knock over an empty garbage can; see it tumble away.
 
Hear it rustle leaves on the trees.
Hear it whistle through the needles of the pine trees.
Hear it skate over your ears.
Hear it howl and scream.
Hear it slam the door shut.
 
Feel it pass over your skin.
Feel it whip at your hair.
Feel it blow into your eyes, dirt.
Feel it toss into your face, sand.
Feel it try to push you over.
 

The wind is an actor.  The wind acts.  The wind performs actions.  The wind also talks, if you listen.

The wind brushes through blades of grass.
The wind stirs the boughs of the cedar tree.
The wind claps the fan of the palm tree.
 

I wonder if the wind can clear our energy fields of the “dust” and “debris” that gets stuck in our auras?  I like to imagine so.  Sometimes I stand in a strong wind, arms wide open, and let it clear my field.

I let the wind wash over me and around me. 
I let it hold me. 
I let it refresh me.
 
Mt. Ventoux, France

Mt. Ventoux, France

Staying Present in Switzerland

When I was planning my visit to Switzerland, I had visions of cloudless blue skies, wildflowers carpeting the valleys and hillsides, vistas of the Swiss Alps.

I traveled to Switzerland after spending just over one week in warm, sunny, and dry Provence, France, which to me was divine.  I enjoyed a picturesque train ride showcasing the many peaks and green valleys and hillsides of Switzerland.  The closer I got to my destination, the darker and more ominous the skies above.

When I stepped off the cable car in Gimmelwald, the air was warm, but it was overcast and the mountain peaks were obscured.  The friendly Barnaby from England checked me in to Pension Gimmelwald and I remember asking him, “is the weather usually like this?”  He said, “yesterday, we were melting up here.”  I prodded, “do the clouds usually clear?”  I don’t remember his answer or if he had one, but that evening it did clear up, which was very exciting to me.

Gimmelwald – after the clearing

When I went to bed, the skies were clear.  A waxing and almost full moon rose just over the peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.  Sometime around 5:00 am I woke to the sounds of booming thunder and pouring rain.  I slept a few more hours, hoping it might clear.

The weather was ok after breakfast – cloudy, but not ominous; decent enough visibility so I could see across the valley and make out some rugged formations below the cloud ceiling.  I enjoyed a cloudy, yet thankfully rain free, hike from Gimmelwald to Chilchbalm, a dramatic glacier bowl.  The clouds started to stir and at one point, the clouds lifted just enough so I could momentarily begin to make out the peaks above the glacier bowl.  As I headed back, it started to sprinkle.  During lunch the rain set in.  I stayed inside the rest of the day.

As expected, according to the weather forecast from the friendly pension staff, things were still gloomy the next day.  My trusty travel guide writer, Rick Steves, recommended if it were a cloudy day, to head down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley to take in all the waterfalls.  I did just that.  I call this valley the Yosemite of Switzerland.  It is a giant U-shaped valley carved out by a massive glacier during one of the ice ages and a multitude of waterfalls cascade down the valley walls.

Clouds hugged the valley walls, but the scenery was still very majestic.  I was aware that I felt disappointment that the scenery was obscured by the clouds, but I paused and mindfully chose to stay present, to allow my experience to be moment by moment and let got of expectation.

present moment: finding a 4 leaf clover

I felt a sense of gratitude that I had a mindfulness practice that enabled me to be with and embrace what is, to more deeply appreciate the beauty of each moment.  As I made my way down the valley, the clouds grew darker and started to express themselves:  rain.

Later that afternoon the weather shifted:  the clouds broke, the vast blue sky emerged, and the radiant sun dried things out.  Of all my moments in Switzerland, this may have been my hallelujah moment.  I was sitting under cover of the eave of the town church when the sun broke through the clouds.

hallelujah! here comes the light

I bolted out into the light.  As I took in and was warmed by the bright light filling the valley, I could practically hear angels singing “hallelujah” from the heavens.

hallelujah moment – Lauterbrunnen Valley

In a moment of inspiration, I took a cable car up to the west rim of the valley for a gentle hike back to Gimmelwald.  Though still somewhat obstructed by clouds, the views of the mountain peaks across the valley were exciting and energizing.  But…it didn’t last.  About 20 minutes into my 1.5 hour hike, the clouds closed up and drew in and it started to rain.

As I walked with my head down, eyes focused on the path that I strained to make out in the dense clouds, a voice from my past played in my mind, “I’ll never be good enough for you.”  I knew this voice.  I remembered when these words were spoken to me.  This was one of the many incredibly hurtful things said to me by “my person” at the end of our relationship, when he finally, after 10 years, decided to “get real.”  Something about being in less than perfect conditions, on a vacation dreamt up from hope and expectation, brought this memory from the deep recesses of my mind.

After I got back to Seattle and my mind cleared and I transitioned out of travel mode, I was able to take a closer look at this moment and dig deeper into the issue that surfaced:  perfection.  I was triggered by a less than perfect, less than ideal situation which brought up a memory of a time where the words spoken made me feel that anything that is less than perfect is not good enough for me.  I am sensitive to this notion of “perfection” because I have high standards and strive for excellence and have a tendency to influence outcomes instead of letting things emerge.

Even though I had enough presence of mind and spirit to recognize I was in less than ideal weather conditions and instead chose to practice mindfulness, I clearly was not immune to the “imperfections” of wet, gloomy weather and cloudy skies when my heart desired sweeping vistas and hallelujah moments.

I think everyone can identify things in their lives that they want to be perfect:  a new purchase, a dinner prepared for special guests, our hair for a special occasion, the family holiday photo, a party that we host, the restaurant chosen for our birthday dinner, the colors we are painting in our new house, the weather on a special day, our vacation.  Where does our need, or more specifically our propensity, for perfection come from?  Some of it is rooted in a desire for excellence.  This can be a positive thing.  It keeps us striving to do better, to improve, to grow.  Some of our desire for perfection is fed by the idealism created through culture and media.  This can set us up for disappoint.

Much of our compulsion toward perfection comes from a place of inflexibility within us.  We have a tendency to hold on to an ideal or expectation and have an inability or a difficult time letting go and adapting to unforeseen or unimagined circumstances, to unexpected outcomes.  We have a difficult time accepting and feeling contented with things just as they are and this leaves us feeling let down, disappointed, disgruntled.  We see what is not perfect.   We do not feel happy or content with what is.

I pondered this:  Why is it that some people see more perfection and beauty and some people see more imperfection or flaws?  I believe that the lens through which we see and experience the world is shaped by our life experiences, by how light or heavy those experiences.  If we had loving, nurturing parents and a childhood of stability, we probably see our experiences through a brighter lens.  If we had a tumultuous childhood filled with strife and instability, we probably see the world through a darker lens.  Our experiences shape our pattern of thinking.  I believe this “not good enough” mentality is rooted in hard wired negative thoughts patterns which develop during difficult times or unhealthy situations or relationships.  Without the ability or mindfulness it takes to begin to rewire our thought patterns (our neural pathways) and let more light and beauty filter in through our lens, we get stuck seeing imperfection where in fact so much perfection exists.

As one who has lived through heavy and painful experiences and had a very tumultuous childhood, I know how hard it can be to let the light come in, to see the vast beauty and perfection that surrounds us.  How do we do it?  We cultivate.  We get out our gardening tools and plant seeds. We plant gratitude, peace, love.  We nurture new growth.  We begin to see the blossoms of contentment, happiness, joy emerge in our lives and fill our being.  We become less rigid and more flexible.  We soften.  We begin to feel and see the love and beauty that exist all around us and in us all the time.

What is perhaps most illuminating about my hallelujah moment, when I stepped out from under the eave of the church in Switzerland, is that the Universe gave me this very important message:  come out of the darkness and into the light; let the light fill your heart and warm your spirit, allow yourself to feel love, allow yourself to be love and you will see clearly and without obstruction, the infinite beauty that surrounds you in all its perfection.

PRESENT MOMENTS

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Storms

Fog.  Light mist.  Partly sunny.  Partly cloudy.  Sprinkles.  Grey skies.  Showers.  Sun.  Strong winds.  Dark clouds. Rain.  Lightning flash, boom of thunder.  Heavy downpour.  Sun break through the clouds and rain, a rainbow graces the sky.  Clear blue sky.  Bright sunshine.

Weather events.  Storms.  Human emotions.  Emotional storms.

We each exist in an emotional climate all our own.  Each one of us is an island unto ourselves, an island with its own climate and its own weather patterns.  Our emotional climate is affected by our history, our stories, and by stressors and triggers.  Our triggers are connected to our histories, the blue prints of our lives.  Triggers emerge from soreness, pain, emotional wounds, and emotional traumas.  We experience our emotions as storms – this is our emotional weather.

If we see a heart up close, much like we see a canyon wall or the face of a mountain when we are out in the wilderness, we will see how the heart has been formed by years of emotional weathering.  If we have a discerning and knowing eye, we will recognize the topography of the heart – grief, trauma, loss, devastation, abandonment, shattered sense of self, and so on.  If we remain present, we will begin to discover in this emotional landscape of the heart, the traces and remnants of past storms.  Here I do not speak of emotional storms, the shifting clouds or the wind and rain, but of much bigger storms, catastrophic storms, storms that have the power to completely alter an emotional landscape.

I have experienced a storm of this magnitude in my own life.  For me, this storm was the “ka-boom,” the end of the biggest and most important relationship in my life.  The explosion I would liken to a tornado – sudden and instantly devastating, completely uprooting and leveling everything in its path.  The days and weeks and months after the explosion I would liken to a hurricane – forceful winds, heavy, unrelenting rain, crashing and pounding waves.  Though my shattered heart has healed around the ravaged landscape and new life has come to exist out of the devastation, many dynamic topographical features were created by the catastrophic storm.  I continue to discover the altered and dynamic topography of my “new” heart.

Catastrophic, life altering storms are rare.  Emotional storms, however, are part of our every day, week to week existence.  We experience emotional storms as a result of stressors and triggers.  Stressors are the crappy, negative, or unexpected.  Not enough sleep.  A fight with a loved one.  The jerky boss.  An injury.  An unexpected bill in the mail.  Stressors usually do not grow out of our emotional climate.  Triggers on the other hand, do.

Triggers are the remnants of our history, our story.  Triggers emerge from our emotional landscape, the dynamic topography of our hearts.  We see or hear or smell something that brings to the surface a memory of an event or a feeling from the past, happy or sad, and we are triggered.  Something is said in conversation that relates to a sensitive or a sore place in our story, a wound that is still raw, and we are triggered.  We encounter someone from our past, or we see someone that reminds us of a person from our past, and we are triggered.  We feel a storm about to come – the winds start to blow in our hearts, the clouds come together, and precipitation forms in our eyes.  We cry.

Sometimes there is nothing external that triggers us and the trigger is internal.  We are triggered by the stories playing in our minds, not a fact based story of our sad and tragic history, though this certainly could be a trigger, but the stories, the imagined scenarios and alternate realities that are constantly forming in our minds.  These stories are not truth, but an alternate and possibly sad version of the truth that grow out of fear or worry or anxiety or a deep wound or an unresolved hurt or feeling stuck in emotional limbo . . . these stories often take on a darker mood and are clouded and colored by the emotional climate in our hearts.  The stories of our mind have the power to trigger us and when they do, an emotional weather event ensues – tears, crying, sobbing, anger, what have you.  The intensity of the storm depends on how tightly the story takes hold of you, by how much you allow yourself to be in and feel the colored and skewed reality.

I discovered that our stories can trigger us internally one day while I was brushing my teeth.  Memories started to play in my mind.  My memories started to take twists and turns into an alternate reality; imagined conversations and assumptions played out in my head.  I started to feel sad, tears started to form in my eyes, I was a little weepy.  I had a moment of awareness, a mindful moment, and I paused.  To myself I was like, “Wow.  That was interesting.  I just created my own sadness.  I just created my own little storm.”

I became aware that these “self-created” storms grew right out of the emotional climate in my heart.  I started to pay attention to my tendency to create my own storms.  I saw that when I allowed the stories of my mind to carry me away, I could very easily end up in a sad place and experience a little shower, a brief moment of cloudiness and precipitation.  Other times I saw that I experienced a longer period of rain.  Sometimes I even experienced a heavy rain from a much darker cloud.  I had one of these intense storms just the other night.  I was triggered both externally and internally.  Up and out came the well of sadness from my heart, a sadness that drenched the surrounding fields.

So what do I do with this awareness and insight into my own emotional weather?  I pay attention.  I observe.  I investigate.  I start to look at the patterning of my thoughts and the stories that grow of them.  I look at the weather patterns that ensue.  Which stories produce the most sadness? Why do I, again and again, end up in the sad place and experience a storm?  What pattern of thinking continues to take me to that place?  Is there something about the story that allows me to access a feeling?  What purpose does this feeing serve?  Is this feeling enabling me to move forward or is it keeping me stuck in the sad place?

I am aware that these stories travel along the neural pathways of my mind, the hard wiring of my brain.  These neural pathways have deep, deep roots and it takes a lot of effort – persistent, mindful, and intentional effort – to change one’s root system, to form new neural pathways.

Poet Jane Hirshfield made a statement in the documentary, The Buddha.  She said, “a tree lives on its roots; if you change the root, you change the tree.”

At the time, her words spoke to me of our ability to transform our lives and become a new tree, to live a life very different from the one lived before.  Today her words reveal to me that in order to change the patterning of one’s mind, it is vital that one must change the roots.  So if you find me sitting under a tree in Seattle or anywhere my travels may take me, I might very well be attempting to absorb the essence of that tree to enable a new root system to grow in my mind and heart and to create a shift in my emotional landscape.

Clouds shift.  Clouds change.  Clouds grow together and expand.  Clouds release.          Clouds let go.  Clouds dissipate.  Clouds blow away. 

Storms pass.