Once in a Blue Moon

There really is a “blue moon,” every year around this time. In India, the appearance of the fullest moon in the fullness of summer, is celebrated on the holiday Guru Purnima, which is today. I started my day teaching meditation, then attended a sublimely musical and meditative program at the first place I learned to meditate (Siddha Yoga Center), had lunch with dear friends, and then got on line to work. I took some time out (procrastinatorily, but enjoyably) to catch up on blogs and emails.

I recommend you bring color and imagination into your day by visiting the blog of conceptual artist/painter/writer AJ Atwater www.AJAtwater.com. This one is worth it. I met Minnesotan AJ at JCC’s morning meditation; she started coming to New York twice a year to paint and imbibe the city’s creative juices. The blue moon of creativity shines through AJ’s art. I wish you all an expanded day. Here’s a “Blue Moon” meditation you can try:

1.If you have clear skies (sorry, urban dwellers in dense spaces), wait until dark. Gaze at the moon. See its luminous light, brilliant against a dark sky. This can work in your mind’s eye, too.

2.Make a wish upon the moon. Ask for brightness to illuminate a dark or gray area in your life. On Guru Purnima, there is extra celestial power. Or, just enjoy the energies and feel what they bring into your being.

Enough, Already

“At some point, the world’s beauty becomes enough,” (Toni Morrison).

I was walking around the quadrangle behind my mom’s building at the Senior Living Center. Marked by posts with how many steps walked and upbeat nature quotes, Morrison’s quote lifted my depressive morning mind from its usual abyss of careless worries. The word “enough” is fullness without complaint. When we push our plates away, and say “Enough,” we have chose fulfillment over excess.

As the agreeability of this planned nature walk shifts my restless thoughts from the waffling “what ifs” of youth to the wise acceptances of “mature” age, I think of my mom’s own mental transformation. She has no tolerance for complainers, as “life is too short.” She has learned to look on the brighter side of things. Her cronies at the picturesque senior complex on Long Island’s North Shore, are similarly upbeat. A self-selected group, they do not readily invite newcomers into their dining circle, as there are “enough of us already,” meaning people who are “positive, like us.”

If we look at our values as individuals, we each have to find that enough place inside, and set aside the pulls of family or a materially ambitious culture. When financial gain above or exclusive of all else is the driving value, enough-ness will elude us. A contemplative process such as the one below may help us feel at ease and satisfied with “enough, already.” With pen and paper at your side, try this:

1.Close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths, inhaling from the belly and letting it puff out. Pause before exhaling all air and drawing the belly in towards the back. Repeat a few times until you feel a shift, an interior spaciousness or stillness.

2.For a few minutes, scan your day or week for times you felt grateful, rewarded, or appreciative. Focus on one or two of those experiences and how it feels. Sit with positive or neutral feelings, even if they seem forced or trivial. Notice if it is hard to stay there. What resists “enough?” What welcomes it? Breathe fully as you let these feelings come and go.

3.Gently shift towards acceptance of what is without complaint or story. Be open to having a sense of “enough” as a base or foundation, even if that enough’s only a faint sliver or glimmer of awareness. Open your eyes and journal or take notes.

What simple action or shift in attitude can I take to feel that I have enough right now in my life? Or, as Catherine Ponder writes, “I am rich in mind and manifestation now.”


Memory in Place

Nostalgia’s vague presence settles over me as I recall visiting my Dad at work in the Cooper Square offices of the New Hermes Engraving Machine Company decades ago. This weekend marks his yahrzeit; he died four years ago after the Jewish fast day Tisha B’av, which commemorates the destruction of the Temple. The children of Israel sank to an all time spiritual low, but a glimmer of hope redeems them at the end. Moses (Moshe) also speaks from his near deathbed as we start reading the fifth book of the Torah. My Dad, Morris Kaufman, was also a Moshe. His words come to me in images of his beloved Village (East and Greenwich, that is). This one’s for him: In the chill heat, July blankets the city like a warm snow. Passengers underground spread their gloomy cheer in shrill conversations with their devices. The subway is no cocoon. Stepping outside, the mind creates a cloudy mirror, a mirage of possibility, turning the day in its favor. I select its delights, ignoring the tiny giant cracks in the baked sidewalks along Eighth Street. Ramen shops have replaced the tattoo parlors and earring emporiums of my youth. The Bohemian hipsters look too affluent to be authentic. Iced tea is $4, Lattes $5. Oatmeal with chia seeds, $9. Morris, a salesman and artist, took us for $5 blintz lunches at the Ukrainian Restaurant and to sidewalk art shows. Today’s gentrified Village might jar him but also appeal to his urban sensibility and artistic scrutiny. Where have all the starving artists gone? What’s that monstrosity on the Bowery? What idiot spends $5 on coffee? Who do you remember? What is there legacy to you in all its complexities?