To Value Other’s Dance

“Though we see the same world, we see it through different eyes. Any help we can give you must be different from that you can give yourselves, and perhaps the value of that help may lie in the fact of that difference.”  ~Virginia Woolf, from Three Guineas; A woman’s a response to an educated gentleman who solicits her participation in war-prevention efforts (1938).

 

danzers-8 ~d nelson

danzers-8 ~d nelson

So why has dancing with you
seemed like such an elusive dream
through most of this life
my dearest, accepting dance partner?

danzers-2

While others laughed at both
of my awkward left feet,
You gave them firm support
that we may twirl together,
light & stable.

danzers-3

As my breath gently catches up
to these racing thoughts
& pounding heart,
your solidity calms me.

danzers-4

I’ve heard that opposites attract
but your deep, tender compassion
embracing this misaligned figure
breaks my heart open with happiness.

danzers-7

Why others won’t accept me
for who I am, and hope to be;
why they taunt & bully;
why they shoot semi-automatic
bullets at my fragile body,
I may never understand,
yet, I must forgive.

danzers-9

This is the lesson you
offer me, dear mother:
To transform unknowing
by dancing and smiling
even though faced with peril,
contentedly accepting even this,
while swan songs audibly
play for us all.

postcard to mother earth

postcard to mother earth

We’re Summer Slowly Ripening

Love is a fruit in season at all times,
and within reach of every hand. ~ Mother Teresa

slowly ripen-10

slowly ripening blackberry ~d nelson

That old farmer, oh
& his great-grandmother
hand-picked those heirloom seeds
so that now, right here & now,
the fruits of his/her labor
would nourish you.

slowly ripen peaches

slowly ripen peaches

Amazing seeds enriched by miraculous
gifts of rain, sun, soil & more
along with needed TLC.
In these summer times,
with patience, slowly ripening.

Should good fortune be with them
they will offer their goodness
for the nourishment of others;
whether they be 2, 4, 6, or 8-legged,
as well as winged ones & the earth.

Could it be, that we,
ourselves, are any different
in our ripening, dear ones?
After being nurtured & fertilized
with noble spiritual teachings,
passages in the good book, or books,
meditation, prayers, contemplation
& time with teachers, friends
on retreat or in solitude,
we interconnect to truth, the source, the creator,
the pure land, the kingdom.
Henceforth, skipping off
with hands & hearts happy,
singing along with voices in the sky.
Offering our wholesome goodness
to ourselves or, perhaps, multitudes.

An offering of sweet incense for beautiful continuations
of slowly ripening aspirations
& practices of love in everyday life.
May mastery of your full potential be realized,
abiding with calm acceptance,  with each
moment’s success and/or failure.

fallen fruit ~d nelson

fallen fruit ~d nelson

Which Do You Like?

“S’pose you didn’t have nobody. S’pose you couldn’t go into the bunk house and play rummy ’cause you were black… A guy needs somebody – to be near him… I tell ya a guy gets too lonely an’ he gets sick.” ~John Steinbeck, Of Mice & Men

which do you like? 5 ~d nelson

which do you like? 5 ~d nelson

A distant memory flashed by after
hearing the news last night.
I’m at hospital, sick while a 4th grader & the doctor asks,
“what is your favorite color?”
A feeling of, perhaps, despair added to my weakness,
“I think I don’t have a favorite, sir.”

which do you like? ~d nelson

which do you like? ~d nelson

I slept a lot getting over that bout with dehydration & anemia.
Later I awoke, and upon seeing a picture of Jesus on the wall
talking to children while tending sheep in a lush, grassy meadow,
I told the doctor that my favorite color was green.
Compared with my inner weather & the cloudiness outside
green seemed appealingly calming and alive.

which do you like? 2

which do you like? 2

“Are there colors you don’t like?,” he then asked.
Somehow I remembered playing in the fireplace and my hand getting burned.
“Red makes me afraid”, I said. I guess at that time,
it meant that I didn’t like it.
Looking back, he might have been distracting me from my fatigue & ill-health,
but it was curious when he asked, “so you like green more than red?”

which do you like? 6

which do you like? 6

“I think so, or maybe, I don’t know for sure,” I said.
I thought about the harlequin ice cream my
parched dry throat was craving; white, brown, pink;
vanilla, chocolate & strawberry seemed equally appealing.
“To see orange sunsets, blue skies or grassy fields
is a precious gift. All colors are gifts for our eyes”, he said.

which do you like? 7

which do you like? 7

“Can I learn to like red again, is that possible?”
He looked at me & smiled,
“if you want to like it, you will find its beauty.
All rainbow’s colors, in fact, all things have their purpose & beauty.”

which do you like? 3

which do you like? 3

“Remember to drink water during the day
to get over your dehydration, young man.
Pay attention to what you like & especially
to what you don’t like.
When people or other living things
are disliked
they could die.
And when those dark rains fall
we all bleed the same.”

which do you like? 7

which do you like? 7

Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world. ~Thich Nhat Hanh, from the 5 mindfulness trainings

 

After Old Fuses Blew, Took a Walk

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. ~John Muir

fuse blown-22

Hard to find professional electrical help
living here in a small California town.
But with my aging 30 amp fuse blown
I desperately kept searching until finally
a qualified pair with repair experience returned my call.

fuse blown-19

“Wowza,” said one, “haven’t seen a 1950’s fused circuit breaker panel in ages.
Lucky the house hasn’t burned down yet with that old, frayed un-grounded wiring.
We better do a few tests to isolate the problem before trying to fix anything.”
“When you realize what’s going on inside here you’ll be shocked”, I said.

fuse blown-21-2

“We are gonna go out now for a walk to reflect on your blown fuse.”
“I’m happy to go along and answer any questions that come up.”
While walking I mentioned my life’s overblown ups & downs.
Listening intently, they gently prodded to just keep walking.

“Notice your feet touching the earth, isn’t it amazing”, asked one.
“Breathe in the sky, trees, and any other perceptions”, said the other.
“Can you understand the miracle of being here, right here
on this beautiful path, is nothing more or less than a miracle?”

fuse blown-19-2

Their words were calming, but I burst out, “how can I be all peaceful
with globalization, injustice, starvation & drought?”
“These are sad realities, yet it’s possible to experience real, joyful steps
being in the here & now, even with painful feelings & thoughts all around.”
“Haven’t you heard about the election, do you realize what this could mean?”, said I.
“We haven’t paid it much attention & can’t offer an opinion on that or many other things.”
Really?, I said.

When we calmly returned home the fuse had repaired, somehow, miraculously.
Even the smoky burned marks on the panel & wall were clean.
“This walk really was a miracle I told the workers, how can I ever repay you?”
“Remember to go out walking quietly with us daily,
and bring along several oven-baked biscuits!”

Journey of a Thousand Miles
Begins with a Single Step ~Confucius

Blind Teen Touches Cracked Bell’s Freedom

she feels blind justice ~d nelson

she feels blind justice ~d nelson

How could your classmate find Liberty Bell’s freedom,  blindness notwithstanding, teacher asks.
Students raise their hands after a brief, reflective pause.
“She sees with her heart”, exclaims one student.

“She understands the Founding Father’s intentions”, says another.
“That all men, women, children, animals, plants & minerals
are created equal & have natural rights to exist.”

 

“Justice is to do what is right, so all should
be cared for, fed & have a safe, warm home”, says a shy one in back.

“Many have offered example, putting their lives on the line
in pursuit of justice for all”, states a boy.

“She does not see colors & form, as we do,
which frees her from making a discrimination
between herself & other things.
Not comparing herself to others
frees her from feeling she is better,
worse or the same as others”, replies another.
Teacher nods & smiles to the class’ insights.

blind justice- bell & hall

blind justice- bell & hall

Because you believe in a self, you compare that self with other selves. Out of it come the superiority complex, the inferiority complex, the equality complex. If you touch the truth of non-self in you, you are free. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Death By Peanut Butter

remember running free? ~d nelson

remember running free? ~d nelson

It’s said some stared in disbelief
& others turned away
while a brave few spoke out
from their hearts.

peanut butter jar ~d nelson

peanut butter jar ~d nelson

At one time they’d all
been human beings,
stopping to smell flowers,
moving towards total,
collective awakening.

flower calling out

flower calling out

But slowly the masses consumption,
with all of nature on the menu,
transformed them into mindless rats
racing towards their
just reward awaiting
baited in traps.

creamy illusion

creamy illusion

It tastes so good, he said.
It feels so good, she said.
Creamy, delectable, satisfying
their mind’s need for more comfort
in their increasingly uncomfortable,
polluted, heating-up situation.

trapped

trapped

Fortunately, all species ancestor’s aspiration
for descendant’s resilient survival
blossomed in conscious heart’s & minds
resulting in a change of diet
just before finishing
off the last jar.

scurry towards nature

scurry towards nature

It is exactly because the Buddha was a human being that countless Buddhas are possible ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Ship Building: mindfulness in education network

If you want to build a ship, then don’t drum up men to gather wood, give orders and divide the work. Rather, teach them to yearn for the far and endless sea.   Antoine de Saint-Exupery

bryn mawr mien ~d nelson

bryn mawr mien ~d nelson

The teacher inside bows to you,
teachers, whether  in classrooms, on the web
or elsewhere, for gifting now thriving students
your guidance on mindful living every day.

Below are words from my friend & dharma teacher, Richard Brady about the mindfulness in education network (MIEN). Followed by the talks given during this year’s annual conference in March, which I produced.

brynmawrmien-3

brynmawrmien-3

Ship Building: Although we didn’t appreciate it at the time, when Lyn Fine, Jerry Braza, and I founded the Mindfulness in Education Network in the fall of 2001, we had commenced building a ship.  Thich Nhat Hanh had just offered retreats on the East and West Coast to which he’d extended a special invitation to educators.  During both retreats educators met in interest groups to learn how others were employing mindfulness in their teaching.  This was a rare opportunity.  Mindfulness was not on the cover of national magazines.  Organizations that taught mindfulness to educators did not exist.  Most of the educators knew no other educators who shared their interest in mindfulness.  They wanted to stay in touch after they returned home.

On October 18th a listserv with 78 participants went on line.  MiEN member Nacho Cordova soon offered to create and manage a website.  In 2006 Amy Saltzman, the founder of MiEN’s sister organization, the Association for Mindfulness in Education, invited Irene McHenry, Rob Wall, and me to come west to present at AME’s first conference in San Francisco.  Before we left for home, Amy suggested MiEN offer a similar conference on the East Coast.  After retiring in 2007, I had the time, with support from Irene, Rob, and Amy to organize that first MiEN first conference.  It was held at Sidwell Friends School in February of 2008.  Eight more conferences have followed.

walking meditation brynmawrmien

walking meditation brynmawrmien

MiEN reached out to invite people with many different mindfulness backgrounds, working in many forms of education all over the world, to join our listserv and attend our conferences.  The conferences expanded from a one-day symposium to three-day events with a full-day opening workshop, a keynote talk, the symposium, and a closing day of mindfulness.  With MiEN’s growth came the need for a governance structure.  In 2010 a steering committee was established, and in 2012 MiEN incorporated as a nonprofit with a Board of Directors and bylaws approved by the participants on the listserv.  Today more than 1,600 people participate on MiEN’s listserv.  Thousands have visited MiEN’s listserv, mindfuled.org, many to view the videos of the speakers at our annual conferences.  At the end of 2014 I happily passed on MiEN’s Presidential role to my friend Katie Byrnes.

For its first four years MiEN’s Board, with members in the Pacific Northwest, the Middle Atlantic States, and New England, held its meetings by teleconference.  Last week, on the first day of our conference at Bryn Mawr College, we held our first Board Retreat.  With some of us meeting each other for the first time, our Webmaster and eight of our nine Board members celebrated the opportunity to gather and share our energy and visions for the future.  After lunch, when our ninth Board member joined us via Skype, I had an almost mystical sense that the ship we’d been building for the last fifteen years was under full sail.

Mindfulness: Foundation for Teaching and Learning Ninth Annual Conference
March 4 – 6, 2016 Bryn Mawr College

Keynote Address – A Relational Mindfulness Pedagogy ~ Sam Himelstein

Dynamic Mindfulness for Excellence and Equity in Education ~ Bidyut Bose

Adolescents and Mindfulness: Why it Matters ~ Trish Broderick

Complexities of De-constructing Hierarchical Teaching Spaces in Higher Education ~ Rose Sackey-Milligan

May our descendants grow up in a happy, mindful society
of which they have co-created!:-)