Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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A Year of Mindfulness: Impatience

This week’s mindfulness practice is indeed timely now that we are in the throes of the holiday season. This week, we are asked to be mindful of impatience.

Impatience is a common experience in our lives. When we sit in traffic, we wait impatiently for it to start moving. When we wait in line at the store, we tell ourselves that we got into the wrong line.

Impatience takes different forms. For some it appears as finger tapping on the table. Or maybe it appears as loud, heavy sighs. For others it may be verbal as a slew of words or phrases are stated under their breath. In myself, I notice I get a little agitated. I may look at my watch or the clock. My stomach sometimes feels knotted.

How does impatience appear for you?

We learn to be impatient. It can come from our parents who may have shown their impatience with us or others. It can come as we sit in class with a teacher that we find boring. People who are impatient may interrupt another person as they speak, finishing that person’s statement because they can’t wait for that person to finish.

Impatience is our mind’s way of moving things into the future. Of trying to make things go faster.

In Buddhism, impatience is one of the three “poisons.” (The other two are clinging and delusion.) Together, the three “poisons” contribute to suffering, making us mentally & physically ill.

Impatience is a form of aversion. It represents our desire to get rid of something. Impatience is also a form of anger. And hidden under anger is fear.

When you feel the pull of impatience, ask yourself “Why am I in a rush to get X over with?” If your answer is to “get onto the next thing,” ask yourself then what? Are you simply rushing through tasks and, perhaps, rushing through life?

Ask if there is fear underlying the impatience. If so, what is that fear? Fear of not having enough time?

This week, become mindful of impatience. Notice the feelings that arise during moments of impatience. When those feelings arise, take a deep breath and bring your awareness to the present moment.

Reflection: Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success. -Brian Adams


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A Year of Mindfulness: The Tongue

The tongue (n): a fleshy, movable, muscular process on the floor of the mouths of most vertebrates that bears sensory end organs and small glands and functions especially in taking and swallowing food, and in humans, as a speech organ.

This week’s mindfulness practice is rather curious. This week, we are asked to become aware of our tongues. Yep, to become aware of our tongues.

It’s okay. I scratched my head too when I read this practice.

Consider the definition I shared at the top of this post. “A fleshy movable muscular process.” Now how often to you think about your tongue in that way?

But isn’t that what our tongue really is? A muscle that moves around in our mouths. It helps us to move food around in our mouth. It helps us to form letters and produce words and sounds.

The tongue is also a sensory organ detecting the flavors and temperature of food.

So try this. When you’re eating, see if you can stop your tongue from moving. Now try to keep eating without moving your tongue.

What happens? How does it feel?

Awareness of your tongue is a great example of the power of mindfulness. Focusing a quiet mind on anything opens up and reveals a new universe that was always there but somehow hidden. There is your tongue, hidden right under your nose, carrying out many tasks.

You may notice that your tongue operates better when it is left alone. This mindfulness practice reminds us that things often function better when we get out of the way and try not to control them.

For the most part, our tongue functions on its own without us paying much attention to it, unless we hurt it. This serves as an example of the many ways we are supported and cared for in life that we do not notice or appreciate.

This week, become aware of your tongue and the many blessings in your life.

Reflection: The tongue has its own wisdom. Like most things, it operates better when we don’t try to control it. -Dr. Jan Chozen Bays


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A Year of Mindfulness-Desire

Can you believe we’re half-way through the year and almost half-way through our mindfulness practices? To be honest I don’t think I would’ve realized we’d come this far had I not looked at the calendar and then at the chapter number in Dr. Bay’s book, How to Train a Wild Elephant. Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re doing great!

How did your practice go last week? Were you mindful during at least one meal or snack to take one bite at a time? How did it feel to eat slowly and mindfully? I know it’s a hard habit to break, especially if you’re doing something else while eating…like watching TV (ahem, me) or reading or talking to friends.

Sometimes practicing mindfulness reminds me of having two characters (little Buddhas?) sitting on either shoulder. One will remind me to engage in my practice. The other will tell me to just keep doing what I’m doing. Usually the tiny mindfulness Buddha wins.

This Week’s Practice: Become Aware of Endless Desire

This week’s practice is to become mindful of the arising of desire. Now, now, this isn’t what you think. Yes, I thought it too when I first read the title. Desire = sex, love, food, pleasure. Certainly that form of desire is part of what we’re aware of. But this practice is about more than shall we say carnal desire. Consider this example:

Your alarm goes off in the morning. What might be the first thing you wish you could do? You might wish or desire more time to sleep.

You walk into your kitchen. What do you do you desire, tea or coffee or a cinnamon bun?

Get it?

Now, there is nothing wrong with desire. Desire keeps us alive. If you didn’t desire food or drink, you’d starve and die. Yet where desire can get the better of us is when we cling to its pleasure. So, if you desire ice cream and you eat the ice cream and then tell yourself it was so good you deserve another serving, then desire starts to control you and direct your behavior.

Becoming aware of desire helps us to make conscious decisions about whether following that desire is wholesome or not. Desire can be pleasurable. Satisfying your desire can also be disappointing. It is the disappointment that causes us to always look for the next great thing. You see what kind of circle we get ourselves into. It is this restlessness that causes suffering and dissatisfaction.

This week, become aware of desire. Observe your response to desire. Does it control you? Can you simply let it go?

Reflection: Manifest plainness, Embrace simplicity, Reduce selfishness, Have few desires. -Lao-tzu


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I Don’t Have All The Answers

Life has an uncanny way of tossing challenges at us. Sometimes they show up once in a while. At other times they come at us one right after the other. The challenges I’ve faced in recent months felt like they came one after the other: health problems; a sick kitty, home damage during a long, hard winter, relocating my studio several times, surgery, preparing for repairs and painting, and then delayed repairs due to contractor schedules.

As they say “When it rains, it pours.”

Once the haze of frustration lifts and the pissing and moaning ends, I try to reflect on each challenge and understand why the particular situation happened. To be honest, I don’t always find an answer. I don’t know if there is supposed to be one.  Sometimes I don’t realize why things happened until well after the challenge has passed.

More often than not, the challenge arises from something beyond my control. And that lack of control over the situation makes it even harder.

One of the hardest things to do as a human is to give up control and to put the situation in another person’s hands, whether that be another human, or Spirit, or Universe, or Source.

For me, one of the other difficulties that I face in these situations is acceptance of the unknown. That is, not knowing why the challenge has appeared and being comfortable with that. I’m sure this is related to the control issue and our natural tendency to seek answers to situations that challenge us.

But do we always have to understand the “why?”

Dealing with challenges is a little easier as I get older. The phrase “There are things we can control and things we can’t” has become a familiar mantra.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I’m not sure it would be very good if I did. What would be the point of living if we knew all the answers anyways?


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Art as Therapy

I’ve been dealing with some health issues this month. Nothing terribly serious but just a constant annoyance. A visit to the doctor tomorrow may provide some answers.

But in dealing with this health issue, I have, several times, felt like I’ve lost control over my body. Your mind can take you to dark places if you let it. At other times, I’ve felt like I’ve had the upper hand.

This morning, as I sat in meditation, I had this brilliant idea to draw how I’m feeling. To sketch my mood, hopefully each day, as I resolve this situation. They say art can be therapeutic and bring healing. I know I’m most happy when I make my art. Maybe creating a daily drawing will help out in other ways too.

Here is the result of putting pencil to paper this morning.

Yep, I’m sticking my tongue out at this annoying little issue. Go Away.

Today I discovered the Hippy Urban Girl blog and her December Views project. I love the idea of taking a snapshot of your day and using that to describe your mood or what you’re doing or whatever is going on around you. I signed up for the project as an additional way to deal with my current situation. Best part is there are no rules!

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