Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Goose Medicine: Navigating Turbulence with Grace

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"Stand through life as firm as a rock in the sea,
undisturbed and unmoved by its ever-rising waves."
-Hazrat Inayat Khan


Today I find myself reflecting on a goose I observed recently on the river. 

In general, boats seem to be traveling faster this year than they have in the past. I'm not certain that's actually the case, but it has been my perception. Some of them leave behind significant wakes that crash their way to shore. Some days, I'm fine with that and paddle into the turbulence with peace or a sense of adventure. Other days, I am more easily annoyed by the "rude" boaters who do not slow down for courtesy's sake when passing kayakers.

I realize I cannot control the speed of the boats, only my reaction to them and the skill with which I navigate rough waters.  

One afternoon, I was returning to our dock when a motorboat came zipping along, creating some turbulence in the water. Although I had gotten into a very peaceful state of mind on the water, I became aware of a wave of irritation arising in me. 

After navigating the turbulence, I watched the waves crash into the shore up ahead and observed a single adult goose floating peacefully on the water. Although the turbulence was approaching the goose, the goose stayed completely calm and unruffled and floated effortlessly up and over the waves in stillness, as if not phased by it in the least. It didn't fly away, stretch out its wings, or squawk. I watched that goose float calmly and gracefully up and over each wave and continued to watch it after the water became calm once again. 

Tail end of the turbulence from the motorboat's wake



The goose circled around the dock, where I was sitting at this point, and then continued up the river. I watched it for as long as I could, drinking in the centered stillness of goose energy, and allowing the image to burn into my memory so I may call upon it to help me navigate the rough waters of life with so much grace. 


I appreciate and am inspired by how so many animals seem to know instinctively not to waste their energy on what is ultimately small stuff!

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© Susan Meyer and River Bliss, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss (www.riverblissed.blogspot.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Angel Clouds and Synchronicity

A couple days ago, I came across a picture of an angel-shaped cloud above a prayer vigil taking place in Aurora, Colorado following the Dark Knight massacre:


This reminded me of an angelic cloud formation I noticed in the sky two months ago.


That evening, I was floating on the river around sunset thinking about a challenging personal situation and feeling good about how I was able to be a vehicle of love. The sky was very beautiful, and I felt an incredible sense of peace. 

A week earlier, I had a vivid dream that began with the most beautiful sky I had ever seen, with very tiny, angel-shaped clouds moving in a circle. The sky above the river that evening reminded me of the sky in my dream, except for the tiny angel clouds. Shortly after making that association, I noticed a white mist moving rapidly through the other clouds, and then the angelic cloud formation appeared large in the sky in front of me.


My jaw dropped open and must have stayed that way for a couple minutes. I was in awe, gazing at this angel cloud in all its glory. I had never experienced anything like it before. It was numinous.

When I came back inside the house, I felt compelled to take out my 18-year-old deck of Universal Cards. This is a set of 88 cards, all of which contain a word except for five cards that contain the image of an angel. Wouldn't you know, the card I drew was one of the angel cards?


As if that weren't enough, while I was staring at the card, I heard the sound coming from my computer that lets me know I received an e-mail. The subject line was "Meet the 6 Bras Our Angels Can't Live Without."

Apparently the universe has a sense of humor.

The next day, I dropped my son off at his friend's house, and on the way home I was thinking about the angel cloud. Then I turned on the radio in the middle of Pink Floyd's song, "Learn to Fly," which I've probably heard only once or twice in the past 20 years. The line sung within seconds was, "Can't keep my eyes from the circling skies..." (which reminded me of the dream of the tiny angel clouds circling).

I laughed the rest of the way home.

I love synchronicity. When a series of seemingly related events like this occurs, it feels like I am following a trail of breadcrumbs - not knowing where it is leading but feeling certain that I am on the right path. I write about it so I can remember - because in time the details fade away.

Just had to share this story and my angel cloud picture with you since it's been on my mind the past couple days.

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© Susan Meyer and River Bliss, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss (www.riverblissed.blogspot.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. 

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bloom Where You Are Planted

I have lived with my family on the Upper Hudson River for the past four years and love to take my kayak on the river as often as possible when weather permits. Sometimes I paddle for exercise or to release stress. Other times, I paddle to any of numerous quiet spots and just float, embracing the peace and stillness of the moment and feeling interconnected with all the life that surrounds me. The river is my sanctuary, teacher, therapist, and friend. 


It is also a hazardous waste site. 

For about three decades up until 1977, an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs were discharged into the river several miles upriver from our home in what was, at the time, common industry practice. Designated a Superfund site, the Upper Hudson is currently in the process of being dredged, to reduce the amount of PCBs in the sediment at the bottom of the river. 

Despite the contamination, I observe a diversity of wildlife along the river. Among my favorites are: bald eagles, great blue herons, beavers, painted turtles, and dragonflies. 

However, this year I am drawn particularly to the water lilies. I have spent the past few weeks fascinated by a patch of water lilies across the river from our house and have photographed them extensively in all their various stages of opening and closing. I am intrigued by how the water lily floats on top of the water and yet remains rooted in the earth via a fabulous umbilical cord that is intertwined with the stems of neighboring water lilies and lily pads so that if one is moved (by my paddle, for instance), everything around it moves with it. I also am inspired by the amount of rest water lilies require each day. Each morning, the flowers look like they are yawning and stretching open from the tight buds to which they return by mid afternoon. 


I have trouble finding words to describe the profound peace, interconnection, and stillness I experience while floating in my kayak and often wish I could bottle the feeling and give it freely to everyone. Ego falls away and is replaced with an experience of unity, in which there is no "other." I call it "river bliss." War, hatred, fear, and other ego creations make no sense when I am in this weightless, supported space. The peace and stillness uplift me from the gravity and pettiness of daily life and fill me with renewed strength.

While "river blissing" recently, it occurred to me that the Upper Hudson water lily provides a perfect metaphor, and I have adopted it as my personal mascot and inspiration. The water lilies on the river are growing in a toxic environment but bloom so beautifully nonetheless. We can do the same. They remind me, "Bloom where you are planted."


There is a lot of insanity in the world at this time. Our most basic systems and institutions are becoming increasingly toxic and dysfunctional. And yet, this is where we are. Rather than allow ourselves to wither by blaming our situations and circumstances and rendering ourselves powerless, we can look for possibilities and opportunities and find the strength, hope, and creativity to open more fully and express our authentic nature. By doing this, we can emit a lovely fragrance into the world, provide beauty that inspires and uplifts others, and make the world a better place. We can inspire our children to bloom by following our example. We can guide them toward the sun that nourishes them and draws them upward, out of the muck, to embrace their potential.

The challenge is to choose every day to bloom as fully and authentically as possible rather than wither or remain closed in a bud. It is all about claiming our power, one day at a time, and allowing life to dance through us.

Experiencing and sharing river bliss is part of my dance. Although I cannot bottle the feeling, I can send postcards of the images and words that greet me on the river. And so...a new blog is born!

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© Susan Meyer and River Bliss, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all photos, without express and written permission from this blog’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss (www.riverblissed.blogspot.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.