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Why Psylence . . .

There's nothing I love more than silence. Maybe it's because I feel the most at home there, or because in silence is the presence of all things. While the absence of sound intensifies the experience of silence, a tranquil mind is true silence, or psylence.

Out beyond the ideas
of wrongdoing and rightdoing
there is a field.
I'll meet you there. 

When the soul
lies down in that grass
the world 
is too full
to talk about.

~ Rumi

Blog: The Psylent Pen

Let the beauty we love, be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

~ Rumi ~

The Wonderful Silence

“Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”

Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

 

November Golfer

A lone golfer swings,
his wool cap and zipped jacket congruent
with the bare oaks and elms.

Walking by this golf course throughout the year,
I often sense the Earth loves it when we play,
there's a deep joyousness
or a tickled pinkness
as if there could be no better use of her surface,
as if it is meant to be a playground.

As if all the carts
careening in crazy patterns
down each fairway
make her day,
never mind the scores.
 

Surprise Pleasure

Two summers ago I helped my mom with her garden, lifting the heavy potting soil bag, fetching trowels, gloves, and weed bags, digging holes...it was okay, I didn't mind helping. Loved being outside, of course.

Last summer, my mom's back and hip being worse, I did a lot more. The usual going for this and that plus half the watering, and trimming. She still spent more hours out there than myself, but I enjoyed watering late in the afternoons, picking off expired blossoms, getting some dirt under my nails.

This summer, because her balance is poor, the garden is essentially under my care, and I have found myself melting into it. When I'm out there alone, following my slowly burgeoning gardening instincts, trimming a bush here, weeding there, fertilizing, watering, pruning....thoughts cease, time drops away,...I am completely calm, content, and present.

I finally get it, why so many people love gardening, because now I do...guess some pleasures just grow on you.   

Close Encounters

everyday
for the past two weeks

as I walk by the tree-lined marshy area
where a frog choir often practices
where grasses, crown vetch, yarrow, and 
other wildflowers flourish

a redwing blackbird swoops down
and circles above me several times
three to four feet above my upturned face

chip....chip....chip it says
everyday

then as I move on it finds a tree limb
or flies to the top of a pole across the road

its territory safe once again

Peeling Paint

Sometimes, when the mind is quiet, a sense of utter perfection arises...

the way the cat's fur curves with its body,
the empty breakfast bowl laced with crumbs,
peeling paint on the porch's outer floorboards,
diving swallows,
young golfers chopping their way down the fairway -
hitting their balls into a fierce breeze
that seems a bit too cool for the eve of June...

It's as if the underlying geometry of the universe always maintains its integrity even as the porch paint peels, and in stillness we are privy to that enduring geometry, even the intelligence behind it.

Just Beyond Stillness

I've been developing a deeper appreciation of contentment,

that barely blissful amalgam of awareness, appreciation, and acceptance gently simmering just beyond stillness

where perfection is known but has nothing to do with circumstance, where peace intersects with the pleasure of being,

where softness back-lights kind eyes, and draws the half-smile.
 

Green Buzz

After letting thoughts fall away,
the resplendent green of the leaves and grasses 
exude love, felt in every cell of the body.   

Not the basic self-love of survival,
or of the tribal fire.

Not the burn of erotic passions, or desire,
and not the love - wonderful  as it might be -
for people, ideas, and things held dear.

There is, in fact, nothing special about it,
all things being equal.

So It Seems

Sometimes it seems that love is an in breath, a drawing in, an acceptance, a holding of all that is, made possible by forgiveness. 

Sometimes it seems that gratitude is an out breath from the creator touching all that is created.

I don't know whether this is true, but sometimes it seems so.

Much As A Gift

When the mind is quiet thoughts may come to you, much as a gift:

This mostly sunny May day
The landscape is halfway to its fullness

Like a young woman with chest bumps
Or a young man with the beginnings of a beard

Burgeoning, but still fresh

Briefly innocent of summer's heat and
July's duskier shades of green

Practical Psylence

Sometimes when out walking, I let my thoughts fall to the Earth and rest there. This gives my overheated neurons and stress hormones a break while I enjoy an intimate connection with everything around me. Emotions settle, perception clears, as my perspective temporarily dissipates in a sense of oneness. When returned to the business of everyday living, I am refreshed—more relaxed and in touch with both head and heart. 

Psylent Reverie

Psylence, or quieting the mind, does not necessarily mean meditative moments of no thought - though those moments are quite blissful.

Psylence can be listening intently to what someone is saying, instead of thinking about how to respond. It could mean choosing to listen without responding at all.

Psylence occurs when our mind is given over to a life-affirming activity (reading, organizing a closet, a science project) and we lose track of time, feel refreshed, energized, sometimes joyful.

Psylence is in those moments we stop worrying about a problem long enough to ask our intuition, God, higher self, the universe, or another human being for assistance.

Psylence is profound when we engage in play.

Psylence prevails when knowledge hits a dead end and we learn to enjoy, or at least appreciate, the mystery. 

Psylence soothes us when we mentally unzip our persona and temporarily step outside the stories that constitute this lifetime. In this stillness is the solace of being.

Psylence is that space in which wisdom and creativity can arise to inform our actions.

A Hawk's Cry

I weave in and out of the trees or
circle about them
creating a snowshoe pattern
much like the loop-de-looping path of a fly

sometimes laughing for no reason
sometimes stopping to exchange being-ness with a tree
sometimes enjoying the shooshing of my shoes
a hawk's cry, the cold air on my face.

I recall the straight lines
that started when we first lined up in school
and progressed down hallways
toward the next grade
toward some kind of eventual work
and then to the next promotion
or insight or relationship or accolade

not that destination and accomplishment are bad
but really…. so many straight lines.

Later, contemplating my meandering path
among the trees and over open spaces
I think it is some of my best work.

Cold and Clear

Today: below-zero cold, about 2 feet of snow cover, clear blue sky. 

Days like this remind me of awareness, intuition, and revelation - because of the space between bare tree branches, and the more visible horizon - because the sun's rays travel un-refracted through the dry, crisp air - and the stark white expanse of snow reflects the full spectrum of sunlight.

A quiet mind is likewise spacious, and intuition is received unbent by memory or mental chatter. Revelation is possible; a still soul can catch and reflect the full spectrum of intelligence, or knowing, that occasionally graces our being. 

Encounter

I was driving on a curvy two-lane road through a wooded area, and came up behind a white pickup. The pickup was traveling about ten mph below the speed limit — I had been going a few mph above it.

I could feel impatience bubbling up inside me. "Let it go…just be in the moment…drive with the flow," I tell myself half-heartedly. Another poky-paced mile went by. "You've got to be kidding me," I mumbled.

Then, the pickup slowed down…slowed down some more…came to a stop. A nervous young buck skittered up the shallow roadside embankment just to the truck's right, ran across the road, and quickly disappeared into the pines.

Beautiful.

We drove on, me in psylence. After another poky half mile, the truck turned off the road.  

 

Honk, Honk

It's been awhile since I last posted. Though enjoying the many simple pleasures of daily life, I have felt world weary and reluctant to add one more voice, even a well intentioned one, to the online conversation.

Yet, here I am once again - with my cat curled on my lap, acting as my mews - tapping away on a keyboard. In silence, there is pleasure and relief in leaving words behind, and then there is the pleasure and release of crafting sentences out of words, attempting to express something soul-edible.

Earlier this morning an enormous flock of geese honked its way overhead, heading back to the local lake that only winter-freezes around its edge, thanks to a nearby heating plant. I smile remembering, because it seems that typing these words comes from the same impetus as their honking.

Late Fall's Gift

A few scarlet and yellow leaves cling to their branches, fluttering embers of fall's cool fire. The countryside has faded to its late autumn brown and tan jacket, and when collared by grey skies it makes plain the tranquility of a quiet mind. As our penchant for color and bright beauty finds rest, the deep peace of fallow time is fathomed. 

Simplicity of Light

On my walks there is often one thing in particular that tugs at my attention. Last Monday, the vibrant green of the golf course's grass was begging to be breathed in. On a couple afternoons, scattered bushes of small white daisies were a particular joy. Saturday. it was the clarity of the October light that caught my eye.

I wanted to put the clear quality of autumn's sunlight into a few juicy poetic words but came up dry - though the words may still come. However, this morning I came across a quote by Henry David Thoreau about autumnal light. He uses the word simplicity, "simplicity of light" - perfect.

"I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere in the autumn, as if the earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints."

 

Brown, Black, and Fuzzy

The past several weeks, while out on my almost daily walk, I have been rescuing fuzzy black and brown striped caterpillars.

I noticed the intrepid crawlers that wandered onto the asphalt road, if they didn't get run over, died from the heat of sun-baked asphalt. So, when spying one micro-stepping across the walking path toward the road I scoop it up and deposit it into the thick of the flora away from the asphalt. Maybe I'm messing with caterpillar destiny, but it makes me feel better.

What it must be like for them! One second they're following internal insect dictates and the next - after a few moments of probable caterpillar confusion - they are back in a sea of soil, rock, and greenery. Poof. "How did I get here?"

It occurred to me that our life altering moments of grace - insights, a nudge, an awareness - might be similar to the caterpillars' moments of transport in my hand. The invisible forces that sometimes intervene in our lives would be just as palpable as I am to the caterpillar, if we had the proper senses to register them. 

Maybe my ferried caterpillars do experience something - an insect version of flow, ascension, presence, or shift - as we sometimes do when grace is upon us. Or, maybe they are, just as I often am, dazed and bewildered; in need of some quiet time.

Beginnings

Someone recently asked me how and when I started practicing mindfulness. It was long before I'd ever heard of it.

My appreciation of a quiet mind began decades ago when first reading The Power of Positive Thinking by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale. The book helped me eliminate what I called my "garbage thoughts," and to choose how I thought about people and situations. In that process, the constant mental noise I was accustomed to diminished, and in the ever widening spaces between my thoughts I discovered the power and tranquility of a quiet mind.

Though Peale's books may be considered outdated - it's been years since I've seen them in print - it was through their message that I first enjoyed psylence.

Not About Me Times Three

Spending time in silence teaches you that thinking is unnecessary, most of the time, and that life goes on when you cease weaving everything that happens into your personal story. Like yesterday - a day of interesting circumstances.

First, a battery operated clock that ran out of juice a week ago started moving again. When the 7 a.m. news came on, the clock read 7 o'clock. I hadn't reset it. But, an hour later the clock had progressed to nearly 9 o'clock. 

Later, leaving Best Buy, I found a twenty dollar bill on the sidewalk. No one else was around. I picked it up and tossed it into the cup holder of my car. On my way to the grocery store I stopped at an intersection where a man held a sign asking for money. I passed the twenty on to him. 

Still later, at home, I noticed my lovely silver coffee scoop with the engraved handle was missing from its usual spot. I'd used it that morning. Looked everywhere, even through the day's garbage. It's still missing, but may eventually turn up.

I am not sharing these events because I think there is anything mystical, or inexplicable about them - although I would prefer that - but because I noticed my mind wanting to make these events about me, about my life story. My human mind wanted them to carry a meaning that would  enrich, or expand my existence.

It is, however, our stories that entangle us. We can experience events without making them about ourself, without assigning them meaning beyond the experience itself. So, I stopped thinking about the three curious events of my day, except to acknowledge they happened.

Even more curious - the three events are part of my yesterday, part of the objective story that is my life on earth, but because they are not in the service of my significance, they seem to exist in my memory with a life of their own.

 

 

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