Only two days left of Summer.
On a leather bistro chair I type, type, type from my laptop. My jet black grand piano sits still against sliding glass doors that lead to the zen garden. Beyond glass an avocado tree splits from the ground in three trunks and reaches towards the sky. An umbrella of branches and leaves creates shade and secludes my sacred spot. I often sit under this tree in meditation and prayer. And attempt to observe everything that arises in a timed meditation session, without offering a conclusion or additional narrative. I've sat in grief, laughter, love, appreciation, heartache, despair, and resentment.
(Yes! I sit under a tree and meditate. How totally cliché of me, I know).
I’ve draped a large piece of red fabric between branches in honor of HIV/AIDS and smile as it dances in the wind. It reminds me to be flexible with my body and the stories I place upon it. On the fence I’ve painted important words from my adventures in Orange County.
Today, from inside, I see three:
(Notice HIV in the word).
And ….. LISTEN.
Autumn’s a time of reflection for me. From where did I travel? Which direction am I headed? What color will I exude next? Two things have significantly changed in the past 361 days (Yes, I’m counting, more on that coming soon).
I’ve found courage to let go of a wounded definition of God and find a connection with a divine presence, artist, and imagination. I like to call her Grace. I extend daily in practice and listen for melodies of intuition. I’m noticing a divine music that's best heard from a place within me that’s still and quiet—even silent.
Five years ago I followed winds of change from a dead-end social work job in Utah. In a basement office, with no windows, I dreamed of more. I wanted to work from my laptop, utilize the online economy, and figure out a way to move my professional practice to a virtual office space. I was ready for a new city and longed for the warmth and strength of the ocean.
Little did I know I’d end up near the City of Angels with a huge crush on DTLA. And that my work and salary would grow from helping other business owners with websites, email marketing, and social media.
I didn't know my initial passion project ‘Bless Your Virus’ would somersault into a headstand called ‘Viral Mindfulness’. Life would hit major crossroads, again, and I’d rear end with death several times, in curious and unexpected fashion. I would relapse on drugs after some years of abstinence. And I would return, with compassion, again and again, to my creativity, art, music, meditation, and mindfulness practice, as a place of refuge.
“To be a good steward of your life requires you to embrace every aspect of your life, inner and outer, pleasant and unpleasant. You do not necessarily need to face them all at once, just whatever arises in any given moment. Give each moment the attention, sincerity, and commitment that it deserves. A failure to do so is more costly than you can ever imagine.
Your life, all of your life, is your path to awakening. By resisting or not dealing with its challenges, you stay asleep to Reality. Pay attention to what life is trying to reveal to you. Say yes to its fierce, ruthless, and loving grace” (Adyashanti, The Way of Liberation).
Mindfulness inspires me to sever a relationship with past and future, and desperately surrender to Grace for strength in order to meet the colors of today. I used to perceive Grace as the uplifting, positive, and heavenly qualities of life. I now trust that Fierce Grace is natural, quite transformational, and also reveals itself in death, failure, missed opportunity, relapse, and resentments.
I used to take pride in being the hammer of willpower to shape my life. I'll do this, you’ll do that, and life is going to happen this way.
Today I surrender to a graceful approach and trust the dance of life. The harvest grows from peace and serenity, and the fruit is magical. I'm grateful for my life today. I study watercolors, perfect classical music, and sing as if I'm praying. I'm working on my first book. And I'm preparing for a concert on Thursday, December 1, 2016.
Welcome to Season Four of Viral Mindfulness. I would love to share a few things I've learned this year. After Frannie was killed in front of me by a coyote in January, and a close mentor and friend killed himself in quiet desperation to escape his pain in July, I feel compelled to share what's working for me.
I’m not promising you perfect clients, more money in your bank account, thousands of subscribers to your email list, or a sure-fire strategy for your online business. Nor am I promising life without pain.
I’m offering personal and professional expertise in mindful living. A wise perspective as big as the sky!
With sustained efforts in mindfulness you’ll discover different shades and colors in life. You'll turn attention towards the soul which thrives as you become friends with the uncomfortable and painful parts. You will learn to trust and dance with the sour parts of life.
“If you believe that your soul knows the geography of your destiny, and that your soul alone has the map of your future. Then you can trust this indirect and oblique side of yourself to take you where you need to go, but more importantly, to take you how you need to go" (John O'Donohue).
It does not matter where you are or even where you’re headed. The wisdom and fun is in the expression of your beautiful colors as you creatively demonstrate “how you need to go” through life today!
I'd love to hear from you in the 'comments' section below.
Next week I'll share a case study from New York City, illustrating 'how we go, not where we go.'
All my love to your mindful week!
A few of my recent favorite things:
Netflix, The Little Prince, Have you watched it?
The animation, music, story, and message are divine!
Adyashanti, The Way of Liberation.
I'm reading it again.
Get your free download
Sunday email updates from Brain Pickings.
An inventory of the meaningful life, by Maria Popova.
Watch full episodes of Super Soul Sunday online.
Only available for the most current two episodes.
The return of Sarah Jessica Parker to HBO.
Divorce premieres Sunday, October 9, 2016.
Elizabeth Gilbert's podcast Magic Lessons.
Season Two is happening now.
Bless Your Virus has a new mission.
And ..... my most recent watercolor. A New York City alley cat named Grace. She stole my heart, and was adopted by the two Harveys, whose wedding I attended in New York City. (More on that next Monday!)