Thursday, April 24, 2008

Joyful Challenges

Today there is a joyful challenge facing me in the form of a final exam. But let’s not dwell on that. It is snowing here in fair Edmonton. Again. At least the temperature is tolerable - there is something to be said for April! Let’s not dwell on that either.

At meditation last night the person speaking on the topic of meditation at one point said something to effect of: “wordswordswords…and that is happiness,” at which point I tuned back in. “Damn,” I thought, “there was the answer to what happiness is and I missed it because I zoned out!” The same thing happens in course lectures too, when the professor indicates that he or she has just summarized the entire essence of a concept. At which point I always wish they would reiterate what they have just said because those sign posts of “this is important and I have just distilled a concept with great clarity” really help anchor me. While I agree that all of a lecture is important, there is no way to process the entire stream of input so I do well with verbal signposts. I find this same phenomenon in life. As in, something happens, and clearly after it occurs, some realization or clarity happens although it isn’t always clear what the referent is because I have not been paying attention to everything preceding the onset of clarity. They say meditating is useful for increasing this awareness and focus. I hope so. Then, when I have a flash of “this is happiness” it will be possible to know what the “this” refers to and I won’t feel bummed when I miss the “answer” at meditation.

I just spent a fantastic weekend in Victoria with friends and wanted to write on the happiness of friendship but will need more time to do so….now however, I need to turn my attention to my most immediate joyful challenge…

Thursday, April 17, 2008


In the past 9 years I have lived at 12 addresses (not including the more transitory ones of a month or less) in 6 cities in 3 countries on 2 continents. Needless to say, in all this moving, things are lost. But! This past week some things were found!

  • I lost my camera skiing in February. It was found and returned to me this past weekend!
  • There are a number of CDs that I seem to have lost along the way….I found two of them under the seat of my car on Monday!
  • Digital pictures – my old computer crashed (or something) – and I thought all of my pictures were gone. Many are – but some were recovered!

At times, all I see is how disjointed, delineated and fragmented my life is. It’s like looking at a Seurat painting up close and only seeing the individual dots of color and being confused at how a green dot, a red dot, another green dot etc., fit together. And then, stepping back and seeing a woman’s face emerge in a whole scene of leisure. Finding my pictures and some of my music allowed me to see the whole painting of my life. What I see is not so disjointed; the constellation of colored dots actually forms a coherent image of one woman journeying!

Also, I have found myself re-reading my roommate’s book, The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking by Christopher Hansard.

Here is a bit on happiness:

Happiness exists of itself. In the same way that the sun releases warmth for our planet, happiness creates warmth for our lives. Everything is happy. The thought energy of happiness is already formed, we just need to accept it…Happiness is not to be found in the accumulation of material goods or particular events. True happiness comes from the sacred place within us and as we spend time in this place and increase our capacity for skilful thought energy, so we increase our capacity for happiness.

I myself am not versed enough to elaborate too much on skilful thinking but early in the book the author’s teacher tells him this:

“You are what you think. Thought directs all things. People pride themselves on how they think, but really it is thought that moves through people. Our thoughts create our lives, they make us sick, happy or successful. Our thoughts can pollute our planet through the actions we take. Thoughts on their own will gather like clouds in the sky, good thoughts coming together with other good thoughts and unskillful thoughts attracting other unskillful thoughts.”

Some things to think about.

May the day be sweet!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pure Part of the Abyss

I’m back. I was in transition. (But when am I not?)

I may take time to reflect on the last year (it’s been almost that long since I blogged on happiness!) but today I simply want to share some happy things. My aim is to commit to blogging about happiness on Thursdays. And it is Thursday!

Happy Things
• Spring! It’s here! I can tell because the grass is variegated with new growth and the air smells alive.

• Feist. My roommate just lent me her new CD. So good. Feist is Canadian.

• People murmuring during meditation. I went to a meditation session last night. I didn’t understand all of it but at one point after visualizing rays of white, red and blue light and some chanting people started murmuring, with beads, and sounds of OM and AH and another sound…it evoked in me a mixture of awe and surprise. Like the first time I heard the trees creaking against each other on Vancouver Island.

• New ideas. There is the danger of becoming too narrow and developing tunnel vision in graduate school (or in life, I suppose). I am making a conscious effort to stretch myself and develop breadth in my thinking. Broad thinking makes me happy even if, at times, I find it intimidating and overwhelming.

• Laughter. The sound of it – especially from people I love. The feel of it – especially at the corners of my eyes.

• The sunset over the Saskatchewan River. To me this captures the infinite possibilities of my life. Five years ago, a year ago, six months ago, even, I never imagined I would watch ice flow down a river while the sun sank low in the sky over the first city I ever visited (who knew that at 6 weeks old I would be on the same campus where I would later pursue a PhD? Thousands of miles from where I was born and reared!).

Il Postino and Pablo Neruda. Here is an excerpt from Neruda’s Poetry that makes me happy:
I did not know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind,
and something started in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
that fire,
and I wrote the first faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing,
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
and open,
palpitating plantations,
shadow perforated,
with arrows, fire and flowers,
the winding night, the universe.

And I, infinitesimal being,
drunk with the great starry
likeness, image of
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss,
I wheeled with the stars,
my heart broke loose on the wind.

So, there are some happy things for this Thursday - may it be sweet!