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Posts Tagged ‘birds’


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I have always loved those moments in life when you find yourself in a time and place that you never in a million years would have imagined. Right now is one of those moments. As I sit on the vast, green lawn, overlooking the lake at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts, I am pondering, in amazement, the many dots that had to connect to lead to this moment in time.

It all started in Boston, just about one year ago, when my mother’s boyfriend handed me the Kripalu catalog, knowing that I am an avid practitioner of yoga. Greatly appreciative of his thoughtfulness, I happily took it home with me to San Francisco. After thoroughly browsing through (and drooling over) its offerings, it took up a permanent residence on my coffee table.

Fast forward a few months: In the midst of a job search, I took to my regular practice of meditation, hoping to get clarity on my direction. During what would be one of those rare (but fortuitous) occasions when an insight pops into my awareness, the name “Kripalu” appeared in the forefront of my mind. If there is one thing I’ve learned through my meditation, it’s that when these random “messages” occur, I need to pay attention.

I immediately halted my meditation and pulled out my laptop. I navigated straight to the Kripalu website, where I found a job listing that greatly interested me… this despite my deep down feeling that I really had no desire to move back east, nor  to return to the harsh cold of winter. Listening to my rational mind, I applied for the job anyway.

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Forever being a master networker, I reached out to my network to see who might have a connection for me at Kripalu. As it turned out, a fellow writing friend of mine happened to be friends with one of the foremost yogic scholars, a well-known author and senior teacher at Kripalu. My friend very graciously passed my resume on to this connection. But as fate would have it, the Universe had other plans in store for me. I did not get that job at Kripalu, and I eventually realized that I do belong right where I am, in San Francisco.

But this connection did bear other fruits for me, as I ended up working as a consultant to this well-known yoga author and teacher. Having the great privilege of working with this man, as I learned more about him and read his books, I recognized that this was a person I wanted to know better, and whose great work I wanted to follow and support.

And so here I find myself, breathing in the fresh and fragrant spring air of the Berkshires, having very excitedly journeyed from San Francisco to the wilds of Western Massachusetts, to attend this teacher’s workshop on cultivating the practice of Loving Kindness (Metta).

As part of our meditation practice for the weekend, and in order to take advantage of the spectacular spring weather, he spontaneously changed the day’s agenda and sent us out to the great lawn for some walking meditation- something I did not particularly enjoy doing just a few weeks ago, back home in California. But here, in the brilliant sunshine of Massachusetts’ spring, my feet found themselves unexpectedly in paradise as I slipped off my flip-flops and stepped into the thick, lush grass, warmed by the sun. As I walked amongst the field of dandelions, each blade of grass playfully tickling my toes, I was struck by the fact that I cannot often (if ever) do this in San Francisco.

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In our cool San Francisco climate, it is the exception, rather than the rule, that we get weather that is warm enough for sandals. And even the few wonderful times when it is warm enough (believe me, there is much rejoicing!), the climate of our “Fog City” very often leaves the grass wet and cold- not exactly an inviting environment for your cold little piggies! In that very moment, as my toes sank into the soft, warm grass, it occurred to me that I haven’t walked barefoot in the grass for years!

I was immediately struck by how much people take for granted this simple pleasure. And in that instant, I paused and held such gratitude for my toes being able to experience this heaven beneath my feet. And at the very same time, I was grateful for my life in San Francisco affording me the opportunity for this moment of perspective and profound appreciation.

I continued to move my feet slowly, tuning in closely to the focal points of walking meditation: placing the foot, rolling the foot, lifting the foot, rinse and repeat, all the while being acutely aware of the feeling of my feet touching the Earth. As I did so, the sounds and smells of spring came into my awareness: the freshly cut grass, the bees buzzing around my feet, the soft breeze on my ears… and then there it was- the bird off in the distance singing his “see-saw” song, something that I then realized is an iconically New England sound. We don’t hear that particular bird, with that unique song, in California. Once again I delighted in gratitude for the wonder of Mother Nature and all her diversity.

As I absorbed the see-saw song, I was immediately transported back to the childhood swing-set, swinging by the school yard. That bird, and that song, represent the sounds of my childhood. And then I was flooded with the countless childhood memories of running barefoot through the grass: backyard barbeques, graduation parties, badminton matches, pool parties, camping in my grandparents’ back yard, summer concerts on the common- of all the moments when we unconsciously allowed ourselves to run barefoot in the warm grass, never thinking that there was anything particularly special about it.

And in this very special moment in time, here on the great lawn of Kripalu, during this very unexpected trip, I realized that never again would I take that simple pleasure for granted….and never again would I forget that feeling of heaven beneath my feet.

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Flickr Photo by Amanda Nichols.

As my head lay heavy on the pillow, my eyes awoke to the morning sun. I rolled over to stretch and as I did so my ears were tickled with the sweet sound of the birds chirping happily outside my window. I consider myself very fortunate. I live in California and therefore am blessed to have flowers blooming and songbirds singing all year long. It is the first sound I hear each morning, and a sweet symphony that immediately puts a smile on my face. This day was no exception.

A few hours later, I had set out for my routine walk to yoga, up and through the beautiful park and down the hill to my favorite yoga studio. As I entered the park, the sun sparkling on the city below, I saw dogs happily racing around with their sticks and balls, babies being pushed in carriages, and the trees lightly waving “good day” to me in the light ocean breeze. Then I heard it and a smile immediately came across my face. Once again, I heard the song of birds…birds all around me, dancing atop the tree tops, delighting in one of the first days of spring, singing to one another, and perhaps to me.

Flickr Photo by Michael Newman.

In that moment I was immediately transported to another time and place. I suddenly found myself back on the swing-set of my childhood school playground, swinging back and forth and listening to the birds whistling their springtime song. As I listened to the playful sound of the birds, I watched the kids playing baseball on the baseball diamond, and other kids monkeying around on the jungle gym before me. It was in this moment that I realized just how much I revered springtime, even as a child.

I grew up in the northeast, in a climate where winter is often the longest season; a place where all of the vegetation withers and the trees are left naked and barren during a long, stark winter; a place from which many of the birds flee, in search of warmer weather to the south. Each spring I would anxiously look forward to the re-awakening of the Earth: to the re-sprouting of life from her skin, to the budding of leaves, to the return of color and fresh breezes, to the sound of lawn mowers and the smell of freshly-cut grass, to the buzzing of the bees… and to the return of the springtime chirping of the birds.

As I walked through the park with a smile on my face, I was immediately reminded of the youthful innocence that the birds represented for me; a simple, happy time in my life; a time when I had no care in the world, other than to listen to the birds sing. These are the great moments in life.

I have now lived in California for almost five years, and I have never since had to endure the starkness of winter and the quiet absence of the birds. For this I am grateful everyday. It seems as though from the time I was a child, swinging on that swing-set, that I was always destined to come to California, a place where the birds would always be singing their song. The birds have welcomed me with their beautiful songs from the day I crossed over California’s border, and they have remained with me since. But on this day, when I traveled back in time to that swing on the playground, I realized just how much I appreciate them.

It seems perfectly poignant that only a few months ago, my mother unearthed a childhood Haiku poem that I had written when I was just 10 years old. She sent it to me and I have to laugh when I read it now. It seems that my childhood self always knew the birds were special and that they would eventually lead me to this place, to this beautiful home where I am awakened each day by the sweet song of the birds.

I leave you with this poem, an ode to the birds from my 10-year old self:

A chirp from the sky,
I hear a little bird’s call,
like a playing harp.

Flickr Photo by Black Thumb.

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