The sacredness of everyday life
Quietly I sit before dawn, before anything needs to be done, before birds sing, before bustle begins. In that silent stillness, I soften and surrender to the Great Respiration. I can feel life pulsing within me.
Rising from the cushion -- stillness begets movement -- gently I open the joints, revitalize muscles and sinews, and invigorate my skin with vigorous rubbing (chi bathing). The daily routine of self-healing feels wholesome.
Morning practice comes to a close. I renew my commitment to self-cultivation, shake off laziness and doubt, and express sincere gratitude to my teachers for giving me back to myself.
On to the kitchen; the sound of boiling water, the smell of porridge, steamed vegetables and kim chee.
Swirls of steam rise from a pot of freshly brewed oolong tea. I fill my favorite cup with green ambrosia. Ahh, the smell! For a moment, I am transported to the misty mountains of Taiwan.
It's time to begin the day's work: writing, teaching, seeing students for sessions of healing and guidance on the path of awakening. Doing what I love, the hours fly by.
It's an hour before sunset. I pry my hands from the keyboard and head outside. I walk up into the nearby hills to commune with Heaven and Earth, to practice moving with nature once more. I climb up into an old oak tree and sit in its branches. Peering off into the distance, I ponder questions that have no answers. A woodpecker beats her rhythm against an adjacent tree. I watch the sun dip behind the mountain; a reminder of time's passing. I miss my mother, her wise words, her smile. I think of my own mortality, about the moment I, too, will pass beyond the dark mountain.
It's getting late. I can feel Revital wondering where I am. Was I supposed to cook dinner tonight?
Back home, family converges around the table. A bowl of hot soup, stories of our day, sharing "highs and lows." Laughter and tears tell their own version of the ups and downs of each of our lives.
Dishes. There are always more dishes. Whoever cooked the meal gets off free; that's our house rule. It's my teenage daughter's turn tonight. We squabble over the fairness of it. "Life's not fair", I bark. "For as long as you eat food, there will be dishes", my parental lecture spouts on. Sigh. Eye-roll. "What. Ever.", she retorts.
A moment later, Miley Cyrus appears in my kitchen at full volume (or is it another tongue wagging pop star?). Music makes the chores more fun. Before long, we'realldancing. "Mom, not like thaaaat!" It seems the inevitable act of parents unabashedly embarrassing teens is as proverbial as dishes after dinner.
The evening settles in and a conversation with Dogen, Zhuangzi, Ashtavakra, and Laozi gets rolling. Longchenpa chimes in. We meet in the space between pages, in the gap between thoughts. In the sagely presence of these old masters, I feel humbled and inspired.
Bucket bathing: First, hot water, then cold. Vigorous drying with a rough towel. My skin turns pink and tingles (activation of wei chi / vyana vayu). Warm all over. It's time for bed.
I snuggle in to my beloved; two spoons in night's drawer. I reflect on the day. I feel gratitude for all that I have. Falling asleep, all cares dissolve. Myriad dreams paint a rainbow spectrum. In the dreamless space, there is no self at all. Gone. Utterly gone, every last trace of "I." Until morning once again ignites the dream of being awake. Amazing! This no-self-no-form appears to emerge from emptiness.
A new day stretches its limbs. The ever-running stream of freshness carries on.
To fully participate in Life's procession, to offer something of value back to humanity, to see if I can indeed reach my true potential today; these are my heart's deepest ambitions, the very things that pull me from the comfort of my warm safe bed to meet the great unknown on this brave new day. Or is it, perhaps, the bladder's urgent need that moves me from slumber? That is certainly real.
Either way, it's a glorious morning. It's a Radiant Awakening.