Three days into my family’s yearly vacation at Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville I noticed I was in the mountains. At the same place we go every summer. The same cabin, the same embracing forest, the same dear friends, the same food cooked with too much oil.
Why did it take me so long to realize where I was? Familiarity.
It’s so easy to miss the majesty of what is in front of me everyday. Beauty and wonders abound on the short drive from our house to the Y where I sit writing this piece. And yet I missed the moment when the Crepe Myrtles bloomed. If three-year-old Cole hadn’t pointed out a little footbridge over a pond between two apartments, I would never know it exists. I’m embarrassed to note that at first I didn’t believe him.
“We’ve already been under the train bridge, love.”
“No! Over there!”
In a recent interview Christine Valters Paintner, PhD of AbbeyoftheArts.com mentions four principles of a contemplative life: silence, pause, wonder, and presence.
In my experience practicing these four principles leads to, among other things, an experience of flow. Of the undercurrent moving beneath, in, around, and through all of life. It shows up in the cycles of birth and life and death. Of forward movement and backward reflection. Of the change of seasons and the phases of the breath. And its ever present nature makes it easy to disregard.
“How is it September already?” we ask. “When did my child grow up? When did my skin start to lose its elasticity? Where does the time go?”
Back in the Anusara days we talked a lot about flow in the context of currents of Grace and attention. Vinyasa defined as moment to moment awareness. Asana as a seat in the heart. I still like this.
From the Kulanavara Tantra ~ “Shakti-nipata- anusarena sishyo’anugraham-arhati.”
“Flowing with Grace (anusare- na) we experience our inner worth, we align our bodies, our minds and hearts in the current of the Divine flowing through us, we celebrate life itself as we touch the Divinity who pulsates within us as our every thought, feeling, and experience.” ~ Dr. Douglas Brooks
When I pause, get still, and marvel at the presence of the natural – the Bleeding Hearts in bloom in the courtyard at church, the pudgy softness of my son’s wrists, the cicada emerging from its shell by my doorway two hours after I booked a much longed for trip to New Mexico – I step into the current of Grace, align my conscious awareness for just a moment in the flow of life outside my self-centered anxiety.
This takes practice.
As we begin the powerful transition of seasons, over the next few weeks I’ll be posting a series on flow. We’ll explore how it affects health, how it looks in nature, how it shows up in contemplative asana, and more.
For today, begin by taking a look at the color of the leaves. Notice the depth of their hue. Their heaviness. And the few already kissed with crimson. Watch for the sap receding back to the core of the tree. Sense the moment when they, when you, in your silence, pause, and stand in wonder at the presence of Grace.
Grace in the familiar you. As the familiar you. All around the familiar you.