From the category archives:

longer meditations

with each breath

by kye on May 3, 2010

The feelings of those who are caregivers to the dying can be challenging.  It’s important to have ways of working with these feelings and moving beyond them, rather than ignoring them.  When the feelings are dealt with, it liberates energy for coping with the situation, and evens out the ups and downs of daily life.

Here is an example of how it can look when I’m working, myself, with the feelings brought up in caring for my mother:

The last few weeks, sometimes I’ve been waking up breathing oddly.

I had thought maybe it had to do with limits that have been strained.  I cut back some, and the last several days my breathing had been fine when I woke.

Then this morning, there it was again.  So, I lay quietly in bed and began to explore it, curious.

It began to feel like some kind of fear.  I stayed inside the precise outlines of this funny-breath fear  …not swallowed up by it, but instead, experiencing it while also knowing that I am more than this sensation and this emotion.

It was what was here right now.  I also noticed more:  a sunny day with bright light pouring through the window; the sounds of traffic and birds; the feeling of lying in bed.  All this (and more) was my experience at that moment.

I began to notice that the exact way my breath was not releasing was not only an afraidness but was also a holding back of tears… the tears I had held back each time I went to see my mother, so that I wouldn’t distress her.   My body was faithfully holding those tears for me.

I let them flow as they wanted to.  My caring began to wake up and circle itself instinctively around my own back, comforting the teary one.  And now the curiosity became a tender ‘what’s wrong?’

In the presence of that tender attention my tearful funny-breathing fearful one could begin to open up about the fear.

…Oh!  It’s about my mother’s breathing!  She is having a tiny bit more trouble with her breathing now, and when she coughs her face looks pained.  I hadn’t realized how horrified I’ve been, watching her slowly losing her lung capacity.

I notice how afraid I am of suffocation, drowning, strangulation.  This fear is something I’ve carried with me going all the way back to birth and a cord-wrapped neck.   I’ve been laying this old primal fear on top of what’s happening with her.

My tenderness for the one who’s been carrying this, grows.

And now I remember what I actually saw yesterday.   She was asleep almost the whole time I was with her.  Except for when she coughed, her face looked very much at ease.

She never looked distressed.  I was still carrying the distress of a few weeks ago, mixed with my own primal fear.  But she was peaceful.  This teary one who was afraid for her, who had been on watch through the night with her… this one could rest from that particular labor.

My lungs opened, and I took a deep breath.

Right now I am breathing, I can breathe… and so can she.  What a shame it would have been to miss experiencing these precious breaths.


on knowing (and not knowing) our path

by kye on April 16, 2010

some thoughts about chapter 1 of the Tao Te Ching

So what is tao anyway?

Well… we both can and can’t say what it is.  Because among other things, tao is where we are, who we are, and where we’re going.

It’s about our path. And at the same time as we know that path…
we also don’t know it.

As soon as we think we’ve got it down,
we haven’t.

When we think we’ve got it down, it’s a sign that it’s time to step away from that story about our lives which our desires have laid out 123, and feel the whole big unknowable unnamable vastness that refuses to be contained in any story.

Because if we get attached to ‘the’ story of our path, we’ll end up losing our way. That story isn’t the path, and life will show us that fact very soon.

But on the other hand, if all we do is just contemplate the vast wondrous unknowability of life, then we aren’t going anywhere.  And that doesn’t work so well, either.

But if the story doesn’t work, and not having a story doesn’t work either, how do we know where to go?

By paying attention to our desire before the story.
Not the ‘hooked’ kind of desire, not the ‘I want a piece of chocolate’ kind…
but the deep deep quiet yearning towards…

…something that is more than the words we can say about it.

…something that’s right here, if we make the turn towards it, slow down, listen… feel…

…and then move. –A little, questing, experimental-but-certain move that fits this moment, and this creature which we are…

…a creature that is just what it is, in a world that is also just what it is, at this and no other moment.

I’m a creature before any names for me, capable of experiencing the world before any names for it.  In that before-ness, I’m free.

But also, I’m: kye-who-lives-at-the-corner-of-broadway-and-edgewood.  Because without a name and address, how will I get my mail?


we’re going on a bear hunt!

April 16, 2010

Charley Forness and I have decided to take a journey together along a very interesting path: the path of Tao. Charley decided last Sunday to start reading the Tao Te Ching one chapter a week, and to post his reflections on his blog.  I read his first post and promptly said ‘can I come too?’  –Because I’d long thought […]

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being Persephone

March 18, 2010

Nearly six months ago I descended into one of life’s winter seasons.  My mother and sister had already been very fragile for several years.  Then last autumn, my sister’s husband had a heart attack and became mostly disabled too. My mother lives in the same city I do, but my sister lives a thousand miles […]

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it’s not just the note, it’s the beat

September 21, 2009

On my walk just now, I was stopped in my tracks by a bush densely covered with creamy blossoms, barely tinted rosy-gold.  They were shaped something like trumpet flowers but more blunt.  The leaves were a very light sage green. I wondered, ‘is this a member of the sage family?’  I rubbed a leaf, smelled […]

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raison d’etre

September 6, 2009

I turned fifty a couple of months ago. I feel younger than I have since I was a teenager, if by ‘feeling younger’ one means the feeling of one’s own vitality running high. But I don’t feel young. I’ve done too much; learned too much; lost too much. My father’s dead, my mother’s dying and […]

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