Sorry I didn’t post a reflection last week. The truth is I was preparing for the Super Foods mini retreat last Thursday and then basking in the afterglow. What good food! What kick-*ss participants! What a great nutrition coach! What fun to do detox yoga in my living room to the smell of baking bread (something you know I would want to do but never actually do just for myself.)
On the menu: Spinach pesto gluten free pasta with fresh herbs, cabbage salad with pumpkin seeds, and spiralized zucchini salad with roasted tomato dressing fresh from the garden. I had already eaten the aforementioned (GF) bread before I took the pic!
Tea steeped from Tulsi or Holy Basil flowers– a gentle anti-anxiety brew
and for Dessert– Chocolate Mint Super Smoothie!
To catch up on work after the retreat I headed to a nearby coffee shop for a few hours on Memorial Day before a family BBQ. It turns out I was the only person interested in working on this day (I get it– it was a holiday!) but I wasn’t expecting the Starbucks to be so lively. Some relatives seemed to be convening a family reunion in the corner so I packed up and looked for another venue.
I was craving some green space and on a whim pulled into a little cemetery not far from my house. I was the only one there and I felt the inner shift as I spent time among the tombstones.
One of my favorite Zen teachings recommends “meditating on your own corpse.” I feel under-skilled to actually do this practice. I try and my mind recoils. But I appreciate the idea of it. And I felt something akin to a meditation while I was in the cemetery: a big (and quiet) invitation to notice the ground under my feet.
Cemeteries tend to do some serious ninja work on my consciousness. I read the names and the dates and hear the question they evoke:
“Am I living the very life and work which is called out of me?”
For me, meditating on corpses works in a couple of different ways.
It helps burn up self-criticism and makes me feel lighter and more willing to risk saying what is true and asking for what I really need. I’ve recently had a chance to practice this as I’ve connected to a biz coach who has encouraged me to increase my fees for holistic coaching. With her support I’m settling on a rate which enables me to continue to do the work I love, to serve in the way which feels authentic and to earn the income needed for myself and my family. (And really honor my desires and the income I need to satisfy them… like the desire to take my husband to New Orleans for our 10th wedding anniversary this fall!)
Somehow the trip to a cemetery does what I’m not able to do myself—remind me that this one life is what I have and that I have to be willing to risk in order to create it.
Cemetery visits also work in another way– they remind me of the age-old truth related to what is valued at the end of the day or the end of a life: time spent with people we love, savoring the beauty of a good meal, remembering what it feels like to really notice and catch the good moments of our lives coming down the pike.
Many of my coaching clients are looking for support in slowing down. Which is of course, a spiritual practice of prioritizing. For me what that has looked like is honoring the paradox of my interests:I love the complexity of community and relational life and am drawn to work and contribute in those spheres. But it also really takes a lot of energy out of me. When my enneagram personality is in charge it would just have me go go go. But that doesn’t honor my real truth which is actually that I need time for daily pleasures. I need a lot of down time, it turns out. And while there is nothing outwardly productive about this time (gardening, reading, playing with children on the floor, taking long baths) without it I feel like I’m missing my own life.
I enjoy working with people who are wondering about this dynamic in their own lives; whether in the wake of having a baby or in a conscious process of simplifying obligations in retirement or at another point in between.
I think it is a question we ask ourselves at every stage:
how to balance contributions to the community or world with activities that feed our inner life?
Any cemeteries in your neighborhood beckoning you in for a visit?