“By being well-rested, we are better able to respond to the demands of our lives with intelligence and kindness, resilience and grace.”
Hello again lovely Ones,
I started organizing a library of sensory resources that take effect in twenty minutes of less to include in my new book Two Minutes to Bliss and am really excited to share in advance one of tried and true guided meditations populating the virtual shelves. It is from my favorite mindfulness meditation teacher and psychologist, Tara Brach.
I use her basic guided sensory scans regularly to enter into states of stillness, optimism and peace.
I love how easy it is to use this guided meditation to “cultivate access to relaxed attentiveness and a pathway to ease-filled sleep.” Since many adults and teens and kids in the U.S. don’t get enough sleep it is good to find that studies have shown that mindfulness can make a positive difference.”When we effectively quiet the mind and relax the body, sleep comes naturally.”
I would love to hear how they work for you if You are inclined to share.
“There is no substitute for the intimacy of a handwritten note, no gift as singular as words carefully considered and chosen.”
Have you chosen your Mother’s Day card(s) yet? Think you might want to do something a little more personal to express your feelings?
With Mother’s Day just a few days away I wanted to share this resources from Poet’s.org. Here you can find the right words to say to your mother for Mother’s Day with this selection of meaningful lines you can share in your own personalized, poetic greeting to make this mother’s day a little more meaningful.
In fact,”the impulse to personalize correspondence is evident in the custom to sign letters by hand, even when the rest is typed. Like a fingerprint, handwriting can identify its owner; even mood and intention can be revealed in the bends and crosses of letters, hidden in the slant of cursive.
In her poem “Consider the Hands that Write This Letter,” Aracelis Girmay describes the act of writing: “The left palm pressed flat against the paper, / as it has done before, over my heart, /in peace or reverence / to the sea or some beautiful thing.” My mother who died more than a year of tears ago and was wont to say that “every day was mother’s day” was crushed and more than a little bitter about the one time I didn’t send a card. So please learn from my mistake and send a card, even if it’s late. The time you take now to imprint your love and feelings of appreciation mean more than money can buy.
When we lose something the natural thing is to want to replace it. When your mother dies, no such fix is possible. As much as others can fill in there is just no substitute for the real thing. What I have found since my mom died last March is that locating within myself a good mother who thinks of and treats me like her cherished child is one of the most important ways to address the grief, as well as my health. Developing this way of relating to my needs has freed up my inner child and creativity. This kindness was the look in my mother’s eyes as she nurses a tiny tiny me in the rocking chair. The same chair in which she later sat reading me many books of poetry and prose.
Even though my mother died in 2016, I felt that in many ways I lost her long before that. It was not to Alzheimer’s or Dementia. We were spared that but others dear to me haven’t been and it has made me even more sensitive to those going through this painful situation. So when I read I Lost My Mother At Bloomingdales, the first poem in Kim Dower’s Slice of Moon, my heart ached to the bone…And that ending. I almost didn’t include here because it so sad… But then I realized that the poem does what poems do best. Take something too awful to bear and use it to create Poetry which like Beauty is a kind of communion. A language heard in the heart that uplifts and reminds us, we are not, alone.
Hello again Lovelies,
When I said I had an abundance of good news to share I was in part thinking about our whirlwind trip to interview and film the legendary Diane Diprima. More than a year in the making, it was well worth the wait!
Life being what it is you won’t be surprised to hear that a few days before leaving, right after the burst of get-organized-to-go energy wore off, Hashimoto’s attacked and I found myself almost unable to rise out of bed after 9, even 10 hours of sleep along with headaches, heart palpitations, blurry vision and other ocular and corporeal unpleasantries.
Oh the not-joy of dealing with an auto-immune condition. I am in good company here, at least. Diane has her own share of auto-immune and health issues.
The plan had been to film Diane at the house she shares with her husband and fellow writer, Sheppard . . . but Diane was admitted to a rehabilitation hospital and it wasn’t clear whether we could go ahead. Then the hospital agreed to help us with the logistics, for which we are so thankful. Many more thanks to Diane for having the strength and the will to continue.
In fact, I can’t say enough about how moved and grateful our small team is to have spent such inspiring and intimate time with Diane at such a vulnerable time in her life.
I think we were all a little bit nervous and in awe that we were actually meeting and getting to film this amazing woman who has been described as, “poet, priestess, teacher, unrepentant activist,” and “the foremost female and one of the key figures of the original Beats.”
After more than 2 years of hoping, while Diane took off her hospital gown and put on a becoming green gown Sheppard brought from their nearby home, we waited in the “green room” down the hall with a stack of books we hoped to have signed!
Then time slipped away and the only thing that existed was that small warm room where we were gathered. Listening to Diane talk in between sips of water from a straw and breaks to wipe the corners of her eyes, which are painfully affected by Sjögren syndrome, it was evident that Diane’s keen intelligence, courage and big heart were intact.
This trip to San Francisco was my first since the motor nerve damage effected my ability to walk and stand for periods of time. I was pretty nervous at first, but knowing that I would be able to avoid the stress of a large airport helped. So did the assistance of my cousin, the lovely, multi-talented TV and film writer Kate McKenna, who is newly engaged to long-time college sweetheart, Adam Bricker, cinematographer of the charming All These Small Moments with Molly Ringwald, Adam’s first feature film after several successful years filming the very popular Chef’s Table.
I can hardly wait to see her again and to talk about turning Diane’s Memoirs into a feature film and to thank her for being the best Production assistant and traveling companion I could have hoped. Even and especially when we discovered there was no way I was going to be able to climb the stairs to the poetry room at City Lights.
When we meet, we’ll also talk about turning Diane’s memoirs into a feature film. Yes, it’s true! Finally, Diane’s searingly honest and fascinating look into her life before and after Jack Kerouac, Allan Ginsberg and Timothy Leary, Recollections of My Life as a Woman (2001), which “chronicles a life of adventure and vulnerability, and articulates the stakes she faced as an unwed mother in the 1950s,” is beginning its journey from page to screenplay!
Regarding the steep, narrow staircase I couldn’t climb at City Lights Books . . . .I cried for days once I got home over the disappointment, pouring my heart out to Diane in a text to which she replied,
“I’m sorry you feel so sad. I’m sure it’s because of the contrast between what you (& the rest of us) felt with all of us working together to make something happen that was so terrific and the relative isolation we feel at home. But don’t forget we’ll be working together in just a few weeks to finish up the film and there after there’ll be many get-togethers to deal with the music, plan showing and generally “get the show on the road” or more literally on TV as a miniseries . . . Indeed it seems to me that by creating this one project you’ve provided yourself and any of us who want to come along for the ride with a life-time of stuff to do. I for one have taken a ticket for the whole ride. So see you in a couple of weeks sweetie. Lot of love from me and Shep, Diane.”
I get goosebumps reading it still. So choo choo and woo hoo all aboard!!
Hello Beauties, It has been too long and I have so much to share. I can’t wait to tell you all the good news.Especially about feeling good, Hashimoto’s and my Joovv, a whole body infrared and red light device for … Continue reading
I needed to take some quiet time at the end of last week and over the weekend to grieve for the loss of my mother, and of her most personal jewelry, especially her wedding ring which “went missing,” at some point after her death.
It wasn’t there when we went to her house to collect her photo albums, art works and other personal items, even though my grandmother’s jewelry, which was far more expensive, was left behind.
While I am very grateful to have those pieces, which also hold history, it doesn’t make up for what was taken and what is gone. Those pieces, worth only a fraction of what was left behind, meant more to me than money can buy or replace.
My parents truly loved each other. They started with little more than their smarts, worked hard, lived by the golden rule, had good luck and bad, and stayed together through thick and thin for 57 years until my father’s death in 2012. Together they lived and redefined the American dream, helping many people along the way. My mother’s ring symbolized all that for me.
Grief, I have come to learn has its own terms and doesn’t take No for an answer. At times, it felt as if I were a branch being bent to the point of snapping. At others, I cried like a child and felt lonelier than I thought it was possible to feel and still survive.
(“Life is as beautiful as it is painful. And you can’t have one without the other.”)
Staying present with the feelings and allowing them felt both impossible to do and to not do. Art journaling helped and when I didn’t think I could go on, I found this poem by Hermann Hesse. I hope it speaks to your heart, as it did mine. I am feeling stronger now that the grief is receding, and I am starting to feel like myself again. Next Monday I begin attending a grief support group at Our House, here in Southern California. I’ll let you know how it goes. xoS
Now and Then
Now and then everything feels wrong and desolate,
and sprawling in pain, weak and exhausted,
every effort reverts to grief,
every joy collapses with broken wings
And our longing listens for distant summons,
aching to receive news filled with joy.
But we still miss bliss,
fortunate fates elude from afar.
Now is the time to listen within,
tend our inner garden mindfully
until new flowers, new blessings can blossom.
No, I’m not home in Hawaii. But I am nostalgic, and super excited because Hawaii’s poet laureate, the MIT graduate and modern myth maker, Kealoha Wong, is coming to town!
Kealoha is coming to work with me on a mindfulness and poetry program for the kids at Five Acres, the Los Angeles based 125-year-old foster home and school, in preparation for their fund-raising “Friend Raiser.” I am beyond honored to work with this multi-talented master of modern myth making and am looking forward to getting to know the man behind the performer as well. One of the sweet synchronicities of working together is that Kealoha awarded my daughter a Star Poet’s Prize at the Windward Community College on Oahu in 2007 when she was in 4th grade.
This is the first time in my new role as Creative Director of Engaging the Senses Foundation that I have a chance to use so many of my talents and skills. It is thrilling and fulfilling to put into practice what we stand for and share. I am awed, excited, and ready to work hard and enjoy every minute. Lucky, lucky, me!
Five Acres’ Friend Raiser is now in its 2nd year and is spearheaded by the amazing Matt Lillard. You may know him as the cute blond guy the wife has an affair with in the film The Descendants, which is one of my fav films. More recently, Matt’s been in Twin Peaks and Good Girls. The aim of the poetry and mindfulness program is to give kids a voice, a way to tell their stories and to hear other people’s stories. This builds empathy and understanding of self and others.
Adding sense-based mindfulness to the mix is the icing on the cake. We think of it as giving the kids “super hero powers.” What are these? Well, attention, intention, focus, and acceptance, to name a few. With these, kids can recognize, discern and seek uplifting sources of nourishment for their senses, their selves, and their imaginations. Instead of standing around like extras waiting on the sidelines, they can become fully engaged-directors of their own lives and destiny.
So, get ready to be moved when you hear them own their power and perform their own poems at the star-studded gathering on April 21st, 2018!
Until then, I am very much here in this blue and burned “City of Angels,” in the thick of dealing with the same crazy White House turned nut house as the rest of us. Like you, I am at times overwhelmed by the vitriol and tragedy and risk. Like you, I am learning to dwell in the new uncertainty. It’s not like life was ever a sure thing. It’s just now every single day makes us question our values and direction as a people and a country. There are so many areas of concern, so many competing needs. It feels like there is a rip in our safety net that is continuing to tear. If feels as if the country, possibly the whole world, is in danger.
It can be overwhelming if we let it be, if we believe we have to fix the whole thing, or really any part of it. Because fixing is a daunting, unachievable task. Offering, on the other hand, is a way of changing the focus from trying to fix what’s outside our control to mending the part of the world that is within our reach.
One thing that has become clear lately is that charity and kindness really do begin at home. Gone are the days of running on adrenalin and nerves. To be and to give our best selves and the beauty we love, proper care and feeding of body-mind-soul is required. Sometimes nothing less than a complete focus on this is necessary in order to recharge.
This past year, each of us here at Engaging the Senses Foundation has faced challenges that meant that our health and the quality of our lives depended on paying kind attention to and taking proper care of ourselves. Don’t be confused: this kindness is not weakness. It is a strong discipline of choosing the highest good at any given moment. It is a way of relating to life that allows for magic, poetry, beauty and other good things to easily come into being. Because Mindfulness (kind attention) and Poetry (art) are some of the best tools we can offer for the healing that our world so deeply needs.
To that end, in between preparing for Kealoha’s visit, physical therapy, and dreaming up short sensory based body scans, I have been expressing myself through drawing and art journaling.
I hope you enjoy and share my latest page in progress. I am looking forward to meeting here again in the days and months ahead and sharing this amazing journey in service to Poetry, Truth, Beauty Justice with you.
Hello again Lovely Reader,
Sabrina here from engaging the senses foundation. I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s post and had time to open the treasure chest at the foundation’s website.
I wasn’t planning on posting again till next week but a friend from NYC turned me on to this conversation between the great Nikki Giovanni’s and younger poet, Kwame Alexander and it was too good not to share.
Best of all I thought this excerpt from Pablo Neruda’s poem
“I Explain A Few Things.”
You are going to ask – and where are the lilacs? And the poppy-petalled metaphysics? And the rain repeatedly spattering its words and drilling them full of apertures and birds?
I’ll tell you all the news.
Look at broken Spain.
From every house burning metal flows instead of flowers, from every socket of Spain, Spain emerges and from every dead child a rifle with eyes, and from every crime bullets are born which will one day find the bull’s-eye of your hearts.
And you’ll ask – why doesn’t his poetry speak of dreams and leaves and the great volcanoes of his native land?
Come and see the blood in the streets. Come and see, the blood in the streets. Come and see the blood, in the streets.
You can listen to whole 7 minute audio go to https://www.npr.org/player/embed/578105649/578106368
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Happy 2018!!! Time to Celebrate the Return of the Light, which began on Dec 21st with the winter Solstice and has been building ever since. Yes, much of the country is deep in snow and the temperature outside is cold however deep down we know the worst is over. The best is yet to come. That’s what matters – along with now. No time like the present to Engage and feed your intuition and your senses through appreciating and wishing on the full moon. By paying attention to and Staying in tune with the cycles of the moon we open a gate to our own deeply held hopes, dreams and needs!
Simple practices like this one connect us to ourselves and to the Mystery and this helps to ground and place us in the whirling swirling storms of life.
You can make this practice as simple or sumptuous as you please.
If the latter sounds engaging try writing your wishes on a piece of beautiful paper that you have scented with your favorite essential oil (I love lavender and ylang-ylang).
Be sure to use a pen that feels good in your hand and add some color by using purple, blue or green ink.
Then go outside and spend a few minutes breathing in silence and gazing (keep your eyes soft) at the full moon as you reflect on your wishes and drink in the power and beauty of the silvery moon.
I am a true moon child. (I have three planets in the sign of cancer which is ruled by the moon. And my own moon is in Pisces.) Long before ‘Forestbathing’ became the hot new thing, I was spending cool summer nights under the Santa Fe sky, making heartfelt and fierce wishes on the luminescent crescent each time it appeared new in the dark blue sky. At more than seven thousand feet above the sea the stars feel close enough to touch.
So with the Eclipse behind us and the new moon (getting rounder everyday) shines invitingly in the twilight sky, I am inviting you to try my ‘Two minutes to Bliss’ Engaging in Moonbathing practice so that you can experience for yourself the magic of the Moon and of your own true nature.
Staying in touch with the cycles of nature, as well as my own changing cycles of creativity, energy and emotion is one of the ways I take care of myself. For instance when the Moon is waning or dark, I am reminded that waiting is part of creating. This makes it easier to wait patiently and trust those times when ideas and poems are germinating and haven’t yet taken the shape of words.
With the world as we knew it turning upside down, Gazing at and appreciating the Moon each month is a simple way to stay grounded and in touch with the universe. When the news brings us more and more ungliness, we can balance its effect on our systems through meditative and relfective practices like Moonbathing and gazing.
As long as there is a sky above you and the ability to check your local ephemeris, or farmer’s almanac you have everything you need to begin experiencing moon-magic for yourself.
Practiced with sincerity, Moonbathing is a kind of poetry. A poetry that brings with it a glimpse into the true nature of reality and an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the Mystery and of the Moon. Close but distant, appearing and disappearing, ever-changing, and always the same. A perpetual reminder of “That which Is Always There” whether visible or not..
By choosing to engage your senses in the experience of Moonbathing you take back your power from all those who seek to distract and attract your attention without giving anything back.
Still wondering if moon bathing and or gazing will work for you? It may seem too easy. Where is the pain for your gain? How can gazing at the moon as you stay with (and not try to change or dismiss) the sensations you experience in your body make a difference for the better?
To that I respond by asking you – where your suffering is when you are not aware of or thinking about it?
Want proof? Pay attention to the sensations in your body, especially your stomach, throat and chest when you are hearing or seeing disturbing news, or rerunning disturbing scenarios in your head.
Now practice the opposite. Imagine or replay pleasant and enjoyable scenario’s and sense the way your stomach, heart and throat relax and respond. Ahhh. That’s better.
Who knew it was this simple? The Wise women and men past and present that’s who. So learn your limits and stick to them.
I’ll be thinking of you when the Moon is full and again when the Moon is new. Together we can align our hearts and souls with its cycle of endless surrender and renewal by symbolically offering up to it our worst fears and habits and asking to be supported in creating new patterns of behavior that support our deepest most heart-felt wishes!
These wishes for love,safety,health,happiness,joy,and peace of mind and heart are universal. In wishing on the moon for them, you join your wishes with the wishes of all humanity. Talk about a powerful way to reshape your experience of reality here and now.
Two Minutes to Bliss Engaging in Moonbathing Meditative Practice
When -At or near the full Moon. Within the first 3 days after the new moon is visible.
Where – Anywhere that is safe when the moon is visible. Your back or front yard. A local park. A quiet city or suburban street.
What to wear – I recommend soft comfortable clothes that keep you warm enough and allow you to expose some of your skin. cold shoulder tops are a good choice, as are button down shirts or if it is warm enough shorts or short sleeves. Keep in mind that this bath is symbolic hence without water and with clothes on.
What to do – All you need to do is spend a short time 5 or ten minutes walking, siting or lying down under the moon appreciating its beauty and luxuriating in the percieved sense of its light pale blue light touching your skin.
What to do next – As you walk, sit or lie bring all your attention into your body and become aware of your breathing while continuing to stay aware of the moon. Imagine the light of the moon is purifying you as you continue to breathe gently in and out through your nose. Continuing breathing in and out as you scan your awareness through your whole body. Pay special attention to sensations and feelings especially in your solar plexus area, stomach, and throat, and what messages the moonlight might be revealing inside of you. When you feel complete return your awareness to the present moment reflecting on what you discovered. Maybe even writing it down in a moon-journal you can keep just for this purpose.
Another option – according to an article in Yoga Journal you can “take your moon bathing to the next level by making it an all-night event. If it’s warm enough, take a sleeping bag or blanket and set it up under the canopy of sparkling stars and the glowing full moon. Take time to just bask in the light; you can meditate or pray, but just be sure to let the peace and beauty of the moon soak into your body and soul while you sleep. You’ll wake up refreshed and rejuvenated.”