Meet Mu, a French bulldog mix girl. She is young but has already had many babies. She gave birth to them and they were taken away. Mu just arrived from China and found her home for now on Linda’s Wonder Farm with dozens of dogs, pigs, hens and other animals that have been rescued from a doomed fate. Mu’s eye is missing as a result of a nasty infection but she is beautiful! I bet her babies are prize winning dogs.
When I met her the first time, Mu needed so much love and attention. She parked herself right on my lap and gave many kisses and needed to be seen, held and loved until she dropped from exhaustion later that day. If other dogs came by, she pushed herself closer to me so she could be touched, as if when she didn’t get the attention, there was something terribly terribly wrong. “Show me you love me, I love you,” was her mindset.
I find this need in myself and in others as well. The need to shout to everyone we meet “love me” as Hafiz writes it in his poetry.
We all have a deep need to be acknowledged and loved. We seek to be seen and validated, sometimes at the expense of others just like Mu pushing others aside to be right there, visible, in the front row.
What creates this craving for constant reassurance? Is it the ego, old trauma, insecurity or social anxiety…? Mu has lived through trauma in her past. She was used as a breeding machine and was mistreated. Next time I saw her, she greeted me readily and stayed close to me. I played my bamboo flute for the animals on this farm and the dogs came by to listen. Mu wasn’t so sure and kept her distance for the first time looking a little scared. I let her sniff the flute to know what it was, and as I lifted the flute back towards my face, she cowered expecting to be hit. Poor darling, the flute looked a lot like a wooden stick that delivers pain. So I played just a little longer and then gave her plenty of cuddles.
This need to know all is ok, that we are enough, that we are cared for… is it based in a fear that the only other option is getting hurt? And what if others get love and attention instead, perhaps right in front of us? Mu pushed others aside and pressed herself harder against me leaving no space for anyone else when that happened. But what about the others?
What about me? Do I leave enough space for others? In conversation? On the stage of life? What about you and the Mu in you? When you walk in the room, do you need all eyes on you? Do you need to have all the answers? The best jokes?
I do love that strong little doggie girl. I pray for her to land in a loving home, to be able to be less frightened, to let go of that hyper-alert state and be at ease. I pray for all of us to recover from hardship and trauma and to be content, to be the Light.
Everyone you see, you say to them,
Of course you do not do this out loud;
Someone would call the cops.
Still though, think about this,
This great pull in us
Why not become the one
Who lives with a full moon in each eye
That is always saying,
With that sweet moon language,
What every other eye in this world
Is dying to Hear.
For more information about the Wonder Farm and the Wonder Dog Rescue please visit this website: https://www.wonderdogrescue.org/wonderfarm
These last months, my life has fallen into a rhythm of wakefulness and rest, work and play, inner contemplation and outer explorations. Now my days are changing again. As most of us are vaccinated here in the San Francisco area, it is becoming safer to go out, meet friends and family, eat out and mingle. Yet again, we are asked to adapt and shift gears.
This impermanence of human existence is in plain sight. I see much change that happened to me and others; in health, relationships, work... Many of my relationships have changed, some grew stronger and some weakened or dissipated. I have had all those recollections of the past, memories pulled out from a deep slumber of unconsciousness awaiting resolution or just a bit of attention. As a result of this deep internal work, new realizations and old patterns came to light.
Once again I strive for balance between doing and being, solitude and "with others". I see many of the unhealthy patterns of social engagement I have had, many things I considered normal and willingly settled to live with. Now is a chance for renewal.
In these months I have continued to cultivate awareness as we meditators do. I am grateful for my practice and now I seem to have an increased need for solitude or perhaps it’s always been there.
I aim to live an authentic life that is worth living. Life where my heart stays soft, feeling the pain of old things, yet free and spacious, filled with Light, Love and Beauty.
Om Shanti. Peace to All. Peace in the Heart, Peace in the Mind.
Please enjoy this poem I wrote during the last year and that was published by local literary magazine "The Bohemian".
The Folding and Unfolding of Grace
by Diana Meltsner
In your urging I move.
In your arms I die.
I blossom and I die
all at the same time.
You take my lips
to give this flute a voice
only to dissolve it into silence.
The merging and dividing,
ecstasy and pain,
beauty and terror waking me up.
The folding and unfolding of
Grace. Now and then.
~ The Bohemian, Notre Dame De Namur University's literary and art journal, spring 2021
She found me and silently
clung to me in a tight embrace.
Surprised by the intensity of her need,
I held her like one holds a sleeping child.
we slipped into Oneness.
She let go suddenly.
She knew it was time
and was ready, right away.
I watched her leave with them
and followed outside onto
the cobblestone street.
Crowd gathered around.
And there she was, going
through her moves so gracefully
so focused on
a flawless performance.
The air filled with Fascination.
Each of her steps infused with practiced
elegance and skill.
She could do all that...
And she looked
They were there too looking so proud
Oh how well trained she was, how
obedient...the Perfect Girl.
Now I see her putting on those
and I know
- that must hurt.
She did it anyway.
Why are they cheering her on?
Don’t they love her?
She’s in pain, a little numb and at the same time
happy to please, smiling, even
content in her pain.
They are her people.
We were One
just a moment ago
I can still feel her.
It’s too much.
I can’t watch anymore.
By Diana Meltsner
For all those who give them selves freely to others and their needs and wants. How far to go? How much to expect of others, of ourselves? How much can we fit their views and them ours? Where is a line that we cross and harm begins? Where do we loose authenticity?
I think of the little girl that is still within me. The little girl that likes to play and love and cuddle, and needs to learn to do things all by herself.
Sri Swami Satchidananda, who brought yoga to the West and my teacher, spoke of having a dual vision, living as an individual and yet being part of the One. He spoke of being conscious and aware and playing one’s part well. I pray for his guidance.
I have opened my heart, opened my mind, dissolved all boundaries and got lost in the ocean of blissful Oneness. I also got lost in the shadows only to find my Self again like a Phoenix rising from the ashes.
Who am I?
How do I live in this world?
Am I that “me” which keeps feeling the same? Even after all these years?
Are you that also?
What do I think I am not?
I fondly remember the innocence of being that little girl, the ability to be open to new frontiers, ever learning, ever evolving. I need her now to remind me of being and loving so freely. I remember delighting in beauty and not being troubled by the wrong doing or the right doing. I remember existing beyond all that with a sense of timelessness and simplicity. Just as is, just as day turns into night and winter into spring, without fuss or judgment, simply being in the midst of it all.
That little girl’s “me” still feels the same even though I am almost 50 now. That same “me” is looking in the mirror, “me” who was checking out her earrings when she was 5. I wish I could have been there for her when she was struggling and frightened.
I do love that little girl. I wish I could go back in time and hug her.
"The greatest difficulty is the mental resistance to things that arise, and the underlying assumption that they should not." - Eckhart Tolle
Acceptance is a doorway to freedom. Often I get caught up in the spin of assumptions that this should not be happening.
This resistance, this inner scream “NO!!!” has an undeniable gravity to it... if it is happening right now or even if it has already happened. The mental draw to unresolved events is enormous. As long as the assumption that things should be turning out differently is in the mind, the resistance to what is will remain.
Memories of events like this will recur and shape our destiny unless we find acceptance.
I often find myself dwelling on the past in hope of learning to avoid similar situations, in hope of sparing myself of pain. By recollecting things I wish turned out differently, I find myself trapped in the cycle of reliving that pain over and over again.
Dwelling on aversion, resistance and non-acceptance always results in pain.
I am not suggesting to idly submit to anything that is happening to us, nor to "go with the flow" of being in a bad or even abusive situation. What I am suggesting is being honest and aware, no matter what, to find the courage to look.
It takes awareness and admitting the truth to finally step away from that gravitational pull of resistance and from dwelling on “this should not be happening”. Even just accepting that the resistance is there can help. Only by seeing clearly, we can make decisions and respond from a place of choice. Seeing and accepting the truth is the first step to letting go, forgiving, and results in ability to live in the present moment fully and gracefully. Self-acceptance and self-forgiveness have a huge part in this.
No covering up
Om Tat Sat
The practice of Satya, truthfulness is described in Yoga Sutras of Patanjali Book 2, sutra 36. Swami Satchidananda speaks of great courage that comes from practicing truthfulness. Looking at life with acceptance can bring freedom.
Living with acceptance or living with resistance is our choice.
“Therein is nothing to remove
And thereto not the slightest thing to add.
The perfect truth viewed perfectly
And perfectly beheld is liberation.”
It is so easy to get lost in our story filled with pain and resentment, worry and helplessness. I call it being stuck in a box. It is a very lonely place. We can examine our box from the inside, how tight the walls feel, whether we are alone all the time or if people visit us. Are there windows or doors? Do we dare to peek out into the unknown and look at the world beyond our own suffering?
We all recognize the windows, when the fresh air comes in and with it a sense of being able to breathe again and feel inspired. We might even recognize the door we peek out from and even take a step bravely out letting our old story go and risking the heart again.
At each moment we can check in and see how deep inside "the box" we are and look for the cracks where the light comes in. Are we out of the box? That is something amazing, something to acknowledge and celebrate. We are free from the old prickly prison of same old thoughts and we fly free like a bird outside it's cage until we return again.
The practice is to come out, stay out as long as we can and eventually move out. The box will always be there; it is part of life. The practice is to check within yourself and recognize being in the box before settling long term, to use mindfulness and yoga tools to find the way out again, alone or with help. Open the doors, open the windows, open, open, open, open, open, OPEN.
My teacher Swami Satchidanada taught me that selfishness causes us to suffer in this way. We are meant to be connected to all, think of others, serve others. We are all One.
The heart can open the doors and windows wide even if the hinges are rusty. Love has that power. As you step out and free yourself of this prison and heal, we all heal. We are all interconnected.
May you recognize in your life the presence,
power, and light of your soul.
May you realize that you are never alone,
that your soul in its brightness and belonging
connects you intimately with the rhythm of
May you have respect for your individuality
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
that behind the façade of your life,
there is something beautiful and eternal happening.
Excerpt from the blessing, 'For Solitude,' from his books:
Benedictus (Europe) / To Bless the Space Between Us (US)
The practice of loving kindness has been part of my daily meditations. I have started including those in hospitals, ICUs and those taking care of them. They are only a mile away from where I sit, in the comfort of my home. There are a lot of people staying at home and suffering from disease in my neighborhood and everywhere around the globe. There are a lot of people grieving losses of dear ones, jobs, financial security…I open my heart to all.
I would like to express my gratitude to my dear friend and mentor, Eric Gustafson, for inspiring me to do this daily.
Opening the heart and mind these days can be scary.
I face thoughts about my own mortality, the potential of a change at any moment, the possibility of my job as a yoga instructor and health educator with Kaiser Permanente not coming back anytime soon, the changes in relationships in my life that seem unavoidable and painful. The impermanence of life is in plain sight…This will also pass.
I feel that opening the heart and mind is the only way; feeling everything and allowing, accepting, staying present. It is the only way to stay connected with the felt sense of being, the Self. The broader picture of existence sustains me and yet this broader picture cannot exclude the painful and unpleasant. I can no longer run away from the undesirable by avoiding it and I can no longer run after the things that give me temporary relief. The price is too high. The separation anxiety from the source, the Self, is too high a price. I think it might be the root of all anxiety.
I invite you to take a chance and start opening up. Risk this house of sticks we have build for ourselves and extend out into the spaciousness of consciousness. Meditation and prayer are like running a purifier in the polluted air of the mind. We are all interconnected. We do this for each other.
You are welcome to join me for guided meditations on Sunday evenings at 5:30pm.
We might be alone but we are in this together.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
There is this inner quiver. Can you feel it?
It’s like a knocking from the inside.
Don’t be scared. Take a peek.
You alone can receive this messenger.
It carries a blessing.
It unlocks the doors.
Let the loudmouths of fear and thrill be.
They only hold you tight in endless spin.
Sweep them out of the house.
Get quiet and listen.
This moment is a gateway.
Enter and love.
Enter and dance.
Enter and be.
~ by Diana Meltsner
It helps to keep this rhythm for about 2 min. The visual aid is very helpful.
The breath is such a powerful tool and has a deep effect on the nervous system. There are quite a few breathing techniques out there suggested for insomnia and anxiety. The well-known 4-7-8 breath is one of them.
If you are starting out with breath control, try 4-8 first and see how it feels to inhale 4 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds. You can deepen the breath and slow it down to 6-12. If it is feeling comfortable to keep that rhythm for a couple minutes, you can proceed to 4-4-8, holding the breath for 4 seconds before exhaling for 8 seconds. Eventually, progress to the well-known 4-7-8 breath.
You can use these techniques in bed when trying to fall asleep or anytime when you feel the anxiety creeping in.
Please know that holding the breath can cause strain to the nervous system rather than soothe it. Take it easy and don’t rush. It might take a couple weeks to get there.
Swami Sivananda recommended silently repeating OM while holding the breath. The vibration of the mantra OM creates a protective shield. I use this technique occasionally since I don’t always have the choice of environment or company. Elevating the personal vibration feels so good.
om om om