Misu No Kokoro

Mirror

 

Curving gracefully

leaves dipping softly through light and

water reflecting trees sighing gently

swans gliding mutely like quiet thoughts

in mountains resting silent and still

sun setting low, soundless

and peaceful stones standing lone and waiting

dark gathering in

~mirror~

in gathering dark

waiting and lone standing stones peaceful and

soundless, low setting sun

still and silent resting mountains in

thoughts quiet like mutely gliding swans

gently sighing trees reflecting water

and light through softly dipping leaves

gracefully curving

 

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Misu No Kokoro. I came across the term recently in a book about working with horses. A Japanese expression which means “a mind still like water”, it is an idea with several shades of meaning, and one that I find very helpful. It conveys the notion of a mind that is calm. When water is still, it reflects its surroundings with clarity. When water is disturbed, that picture is distorted and changed. You no longer see things as they are. A quiet mind enables us to more clearly see and understand; a mind that is too busy or unsettled will keep us from that kind of clarity and insight. But there is more to the image. Water always responds to any disturbance in perfect proportion to the disturbance itself. A gentle breeze causes soft ripples across the surface. A strong wind will result in bigger waves. Our minds often react to the winds of circumstance or emotion in ways that may not reflect this kind of proportion. Sometimes we overreact, sometimes we do not react strongly enough. A mind like water is ready to respond appropriately to whatever it encounters. Water also moves; it is not passive. There is a rhythm of movement and stillness. My mind can tend towards disengagement or restlessness. And then, water is formless. It can adapt to any new course or shape. Our minds need to be flexible, able to shift with the changes life brings.

I live a life that is fractured. I wear many hats. I seldom have a day that is focused on just one or two things. It’s hard to gather my thoughts into any coherent pattern. But I do want to cultivate quietness of mind. Equanimity is one of my favourite words. It speaks to me of the ability to remain anchored amidst the constant movement inherent in life. I long to be able to immerse myself in the complexity and messiness of existence while remaining grounded and able to respond with insight and understanding. More and more I recognise my need for silence and solitude. This morning I sat in my garden and spent time meditating on the love of God and the gifts He has given. I found myself challenged not only by my own wandering thoughts, but also by the noise of the neighbourhood. Dogs barking, weedeaters buzzing, builders hammering across the street, the distant hum of traffic. Quiet is not easy to find, but it is important to seek it out. I sense that without it I will not be able to make decisions or navigate this particular season of life with any kind of real wisdom. Our world pulses with a constant stream of information; it’s bewildering. It’s so important to be intentional and determined about creating spaces that are not filled with some kind of agenda.

I wrote the palindrome at the start of this blog as I was thinking about the idea of “a mind still like water”. It took discipline and effort to craft the words and make it work. But it was soothing too. It gave me a focus, a balance point in the middle of an otherwise chaotic day. I felt so much better afterwards; it settled the churning of my mind and heart. It was time well spent.

This is How I Sometimes Feel

green point park 009

Scattered:

Thoughts swirling, turning and twisting
leaving silvery trails, curling back on themselves
a silent choir of competing voices
shouting always shouting

leaving silvery trails, curling back on themselves
a conversation with the tasks devouring the hours
shouting always shouting
demanding: run, do more, it’s not enough

a conversation with the tasks devouring the hours
a whirling maze with walls that shift and spin
demanding: run, do more, it’s not enough
a trail of circles twirling, curving

a whirling maze with walls that shift and spin
a weary hurried dash around the track again
a trail of circles twirling, curving
a meditation frantic and adrift

a weary hurried dash around the track again
a silent choir of competing voices
a meditation frantic and adrift
thoughts swirling, turning and twisting

Even More Words

It is a curious thing,

the way words come knocking at your door

like the cat curled on the couch

that came through the window and stayed

and made you feel like home

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This morning I went to the writer’s group I belong to. We meet on the first Wednesday of every month and talk about writing, share ideas and opportunities, and read our pieces to each other. It is a chance to encourage and motivate one another, and offer perspectives on the work, helping us to sharpen and grow our skills. It is a morning I look forward to all month, but today I didn’t feel like going. I have been battling with my writing: with finding time to do it, with trying to get answers from editors, and with the words themselves. Especially with the words. They have not come easily these last few weeks. I always find the process of writing challenging; it’s hard work. This blog takes time to craft, and I often find myself struggling to find the right words to fill the page. I am working on a couple of books and some poetry. My head is full of ideas for more. I am painfully aware of the gap between my imagination and the slow trickle of letters that finds its way into the word documents on my computer.

This morning I showed up at the group because I believe in loyalty and commitment and in being there when you say you will. I’m so glad I did. I sat and listened as the women read: pieces of novels, fragments of poetry. Every time I am stunned by how good their writing is. The beauty of the words settled my heart and reminded me again of why I love to do this. I remembered how full of magic and power words really are, and how much fun it is to play with them. I came home feeling refreshed and eager to work, and full of thanks for this group.

I was reminded too of my need to be part of communities that nurture me in what I do. I get tired even in the pursuit of things I love. Discouragement can so easily set in. But when I take time to be with others who love the same things, and to share in the journey together, I feel renewed and ready to keep going. I realise that my challenges are not unique and that I can be an encouragement to others. Sometimes engaging in this way, over things that matter deeply to me, is hard. I can feel resistance to the vulnerability that comes with involving others in the process. I am learning that this vulnerability is necessary if I am to grow and develop my skills and capacities.