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On this solstice, I am musing on a conversation I had recently with my very close friend on the phone. Against the backdrop of sound interruptions: our headphones, text notifications and the shuffle and clanging of kitchen noise as we both tried to prepare breakfast together, she tells me of a discussion she just had with her latest dating partner.

They are fairly new at the dating, and were dipping into the subject of how things were going between them. What she brought to me was his tentative confession that he felt she is a "bit hard to get to know".

I have known her for over 2 decades - we have grown up together in our common spiritual path, and also have held hands in our parallel medical professions. So she wanted to get my view. In her own opinion, if anyone knows her well, it's me. But now she wanted to check out the truth about her ability to be known by others more directly and intimately.

We bantered for awhile and tried to keep our cell signal steady. Eventually we had to bookmark it and get on with our busy mornings (Hmmm).

Also recently, nearly everyone I have had contact with tells me a version of: "there's TOO MUCH going on!...I can't catch up...or finish anything...I can't remember/keep track of everything anymore..." OR "I can't handle any more news...or information...or dealing with people..."

It sounds to me like a moment to stop and take stock. I hear it in myself as well. The next reactions can go either way: speed up, do more, strain to keep going...or, stop completely, hide under the covers, hunker down and shut it all off.

And simultaneously - the little messages come. In my world, they come all day long in my clinic, from things patients tell me from their lives. And, from any signs I hear in the bigger picture - the universe that is - of the stars and planets circling overhead and in the environment around us - in nature and in our communities.

Here we are at the solstice for example. It is a time when there's a "stand still"of sorts. But it's also literally a Turning Point. The sun appears to stand still in the sky - and it is also for me like a pivot point - a pause.

It's the shortest day of the year - perhaps giving us a tad extra time to look at our "stuff".

A chance to pause inside ourselves. To assess. To take review of our inner and outer world.

Some of us already make quiet time, or meditate (or wish we did, knowing we "should"). And some of us have never trusted that stopping for just one deeper breath is going to help us - especially when we really need to. We keep going.

I've written before about how Winter can be either daunting or a relief from the hurried bright time of warm weather and movement. And over the years, I hear it in others as we approach the seasonal shifting. I HATE Winter. I don't like the darkness and shorter days. I can't STAND being cold.

And, occasionally: I LOVE snow...cold air...and staying inside with a good book near the fireplace.

I have had both attitudes at various times myself. I want relief from the heat, the cozy of the book and fireplace scenario. And, I have hardened up and felt a rigid dread for the literal cold of it all.

But here's the Yin and Yang of it. We need both. We need to have one nestled inside the other. Even in the peak of the summer months, we need to stop and cool down. And, here on the brink of (maybe) a cold season, we need to move around - inside and outside ourselves to see what needs to be seen or known.

Somehow, this keeps me thinking about my friend's question about closeness. How "close in" do we let others get? How close in are we willing to be with ourselves?

Getting closer in has the spirit of stopping or at least pausing. As when we are on the phone trying to hear someone, understand their words in the midst of noise and movement. Or when we open our device to do one thing and 10 other things grab our attention.

I thought of her and how her life looks from my angle. It's active, busy, moving and full of her (self-professed) built-in craving for planning adventures, large and small.

"Moving target" came to mind. I have known her for so long and in so many life phases. A smaller portion of her time has been for slow, resting or quiet mode. (granted, she's an emergency physician, so there's that.) And now, as life has asked her to have a look, she shares with me her own wondering about how to make sure the balance for this gets addressed. And how this plays out in her wish to be "better known"...more deeply and directly.

Both of us have wrestled with it, as surely many of you have. My version of medicine requires me to stop and slow down. I can't hear or feel someone's needs unless I stop long anough to listen to them.

And personally I can't hear myself until I stop the moving around - physically and mentally. The noise of the regular, ordinary life pace keeps a filtered and almost barrier-like block to being really IN - meaning Here and Present.

I told her in our next chat that I had had this insight image about 'Moving Targets'. And that for me, she often appears as such. But since I DO know her relatively well, I also am aware of her deeper intention to really BE with people. To listen to them. She cares about who they are and what they need. And, she has a commitment to being close in with herself and what her needs are. Me too. Me. Too.

How do we each bridge this gap in intimacy - with other people and also with ourselves?

It's very much spoken about but do we really want it? And if we do, do we actually make the time to create the opportunity? (hint: it isn't going to happen without our effort - culture, society, other people, circumstances - are always going to be asking us for our time and our attention)

What if, on this winter solstice 2021, we could think a moment about taking some moments to check this out honestly and deliberately?

Consider: Am I continuing to chase moving targets (projects, relationships, tasks, goals)? Am I internally avoiding - or obsessed - with moving targets inside myself (emotions, feelings, health worries)?

Am I easy to be with, easy to get to know?

Do I know, right now, deep down, what I really want and need as I go forward?

I dunno bout you, but these past many months have given me PLENTY to consider. How much 'slow down/pause' was in our life before the pandemic made it happen - on any level? Did we even allow the pandemic to slow us down? If we did, how did that go for us? Were we miserably trying to do more - accomplish all those things we always thought we would do IF we had the time?

Or, did we collapse and become idle, frozen, inert, unfocused, unmotivated and in an unending "give up" frame of mind? (Yes, I did. Both happened)

I see it as a good outer and inner metaphor for exploration and discovery.

My experience with this can be a mixture. When I find that I have not allowed much or any time to be quiet or slower, I can feel sad, frustrated and sometimes bewildered about it.

Where or to What are we rushing to? With Who, and How, do we really stop and listen?

If we don't know the quiet and peace of our own mind and understand the driving and creative aspects of the way we move in our lives, what's the point of all this?

Where are we going in such a hurry? What (and Who) will be there when we stop moving around?

Welcome to the folding inward of Winter season.

I'm with ya.

May we all cherish the moments to Pause, to feel the Peace that is ready and waiting to be found within.

May we bring that to the points of intersections with others - to be seen, known and heard more deeply on all levels of the relationship.

From that basis, may we move onward with Purpose and Joy for the Journey to come.

Holding my heart peacefully still...for all you moving targets out there.


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You can't give it if you haven't got it.

(Giving Gratitude)

It doesn't have to be big or expensive, but it CAN be perfect. I know of only one gift that my perfectionist self can give (and confidently relax that it's perfect).

[If you would rather listen to this on audio, CLICK HERE]

I am going to loan you something - it's my gift to you.

It's something simple and easy from my own spiritual traditional practices. As someone who has been making effort for most of my life to become a true meditator, it now makes me laugh with delight to share how really very simple it is to become more mindful. And to meditate.

When you MEAN IT

When you really (Really) get tired of not being able to control your own moods, emotions, feelings and thoughts, it sort of breaks you down to a place where you REALLY want to. (It is your own mind, you know. How weird is it that we feel it controls US?)

Stop getting ready

Yes, meditation is a rehearsal, but eventually you just decide to get in the game and stop getting ready. As a teacher of mine says - it's finally time to stop doing push-ups in the locker room, getting ready. Go ahead and get out on the field. The game is on.

Can you do it now, here, while you are reading this? It will only take a few minutes. Decide - I am going to take a few minutes and try this.

Here goes:

  • Sit still. Straighten your back and decide not to move (say five minutes or so)

  • Take some deeper longer breaths

  • Don't try to stop thinking but don't relate to your thoughts - don't follow them anywhere, don't believe that you have to think them for these next few minutes. Don't connect to them, just - let them in, let them out.

  • Keep making the deal with yourself - not gonna think that, or that or that.

  • I am right here, only here, only now.

  • Then decide - Today I want to feel a happy feeling. I want to have a happy mind. I am going to do that right now.

  • One mind I can think with right now is a Giving mind. A mind of gratitude.

So now I invite you to think of something that you are grateful for - make it easy and simple and natural. You are welcome to allow a list of things to come up, of course, but it really only takes one.

Hold your attention here - a thing or a person or a situation.

Now, while you have it, feel it here. Or feel the person here. All the way.

Notice if you have a feeling in your body anywhere and hang on more closely to that place or feeling. This is an energy appearing - it's nature is grateful. It's voice is appreciation. I am grateful for this.

Keep letting yourself feel this. Keep deciding to stay with it, moment by moment.

Think: I am ALL IN. I am going to let myself feel this ALL the WAY.

Now, after these few minutes, appear someone else that you know or have thought about recently that you are sure would love to feel this too. This good feeling you are now having.

Just bring them to mind, gently and easily. Picture them as clearly as you can, doing what you think that they might even be doing right now.

Don't worry - if they are far away, busy or upset or even seem to be oblivious or ignoring you - you just think of them. They can't stop you from thinking of them...

Sit with it. Feel it. Then, just pretend that they feel the same good feeling of your gratitude energy. (I like to pretend that they suddenly, somewhere, have a little feeling that they have no idea where it's coming from. TeeHee)

So right now - you are in the game - you are both giving and receiving. Giving them a good happy feeling AND you are receiving the good feeling OF them having the feeling. (everybody wins this game)

Then, if your time commitment is over now, allow it to fade inside you, but it's ok to believe that it is there to remember throughout your day. You rehearsed it, so it's yours.

So maybe you are with people today, maybe not. Maybe you have a busy day, maybe not.

But here's the healing part: all day long, you can dip back into the memory of feeling this way. And especially if you start to feel bad feelings or feel your mood darken or tighten up.

It's energy YOU created. So guess what? You can do it again.

What a GIFT. First you buy it, in the moment, for yourself. Then you have something to give someone else.

You have an actual gift, your gratitude. It's perhaps a secret - but make no mistake, it's valuable and valued.

Thank yourself. Thank others.

And, I thank you.

May everyone everywhere be happy and be free from pain and suffering.

With all my heart


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