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June 25, 2012

Think of an Encounter

The process for this piece of contemplative writing was a bit different in that we were first given the prompt and then we meditated for 10 minutes. Usually, we would mediate and then receive the prompt, putting pen to paper immediately after receiving it. The prompt: Think of an encounter. I immediately thought of a client I had worked with on the colon therapy table earlier that day. As I cleared my mind and focused on "silent awareness," I was suddenly aware of my lower legs and feet: "running" and "not my own."

Again, the prompt: Think of an encounter. Put pen to paper for 10 minutes and write without stopping, without lifting the pen, without editing, without looking back at what your wrote prior.

Hours later, I ran across this piece of almost blank paper with my pterodactyl feet. Well, actually when the page was blank, my dinosaur feet and strong muscular legs, were running under the table, then I jumped up here to the paper. The flowing ink didn't stop me, the line across the page didn't stop me, nothing stopped me. I couldn't see the rest of my body, but I knew I was real and I wondered whether or not he had cancer on his lungs in my little reptilian brain – run, run,brun. There was no such thing as tiredness, no, none.

Would he find out on Wednesday, 36 hours from now, that he had a malignant tumor on his lung? After all, he had coughed up blood a couple of weeks ago. When he was on my colon therapy table today, he cried, "I don't know what to do! I'm so overwhelmed. It seems life gets harder and harder no matter what I do." That last line hit me over my little green head; it did. "It seems life gets harder and harder no matter what I do." How do we climb out of that? Facing cancer after years of work on oneself -- a divorce, quitting the office job to become a Reiki Master, seasonal fasts. And, there were those five beers per night since his son moved in full time in September. Oh, right, yes, he quit smoking years ago, but had smoked for 15 years.

Run. Run. Run.

I am no longer on this piece of paper; now I can feel my feet against the hot sand, my large claws digging in with each step. Now, I am hitting against cooler, more moist sand.

Run. Run.

Would coffee enemas do the trick? Today was day twelve of fasting for him on soup broth and vegetable juice; day twelve of two coffee enemas per day; day twelve of despair, effort, anger. Now, here he was, crying on my colon therapy table.

Run. Run.

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June 8, 2012

Some Things Will Never Happen; This One Will

This next contemplative writing example combines a prompt, along with the meditative practice of observing and describing the immediate environment. For this writing, I sat at a table in the Williamson Street Cooperative. Try it. Sit anywhere and watch what goes on around you. Notice the unique details, try to dig deeper into the experience, into a broader awareness than you might usually.

Prompt I took from a poem entitled Aubade by Philip Larkin. An aubade is a morning love song (as opposed to a serenade, which is in the evening), or a song or poem about lovers separating at dawn. It has also been defined as "a song or instrumental composition concerning, accompanying, or evoking daybreak."

Prompt: Some things will never happen; this one will.

I had my prompt and my sunny, engrossing spot to sit so here I go – pen to paper. Don’t stop, don’t erase, don’t edit, don’t really even think…

Most things will never happen; this one will, like the way people walk. Some of us plod along as if we are digging into the earth with each step, slowly but with certainty, trying to reach its center.

Sneakered feet - heel to toe – now a man with wooden crutches and only one sneaker goes by. I look up, beyond the single shoe and cement and see a missing leg. My mind erupts into a million stories. War comes to my mind as a likely stork of a story that birthed this man from his two-legged life into his one-legged life.

Now very small feet pass me by, again – heel meets cement first, then sole of foot, then toes. As toes meet cement, the opposite foot is flying in the air in complete support of its mate, giving of its entire self with a single purpose.

I suddenly feel that I can't do this activity for too long, otherwise a dizziness may take me over, as it feels as if time speeds up, as if the earth is shifting on its axis from all this digging, all this heel to sole to toe – so I look up to see and feel and taste and touch – knees! – these one-of-a-kind triangular sorts of things – asking for forward – not down – for continuing – not ending – for the helicopters that fall from the silver maples – not for soil and rocks and roots.

If I was sitting underground in a crowded subway station in Chicago at 5 PM, I wouldn't be able to notice all these details. Too many feet. Too many knees. But as I sit in the corner table at the Williamson Street Grocery Cooperative, looking out the two glass windows, I am able to notice just enough to be able to write down.

Now what… Pen to paper. A plastic red wagon seems to have parked itself outside the window I sit at, parallel to the wooden, large-squared fence, just behind a large pot half full of stinging nettles.

More feet, more knees. Oh my God! There are also hips and buttocks and bellies and breasts and necks and shoulders and lips and teeth and ears and hair all with their own perspective on where they are going, on what they're doing, on whether or not to cooperate or resist, have unity or separation. I swear I just saw a set of teeth turn right towards the neighboring firehouse instead of going with all of its related body parts to the left – back to the gray Subaru, back to the seatbelt, back to the Joni Mitchell song on the CD, back to agreeing to look into the rearview mirror as the car left the Willy Street Co-op parking lot. Yes, this adventuresome set of teeth was now learning how to drive a fire truck; slide down a fire poll at 3 AM, wide awake fully dressed, ready to save a trapped chocolate Labrador from a burning house.

Now I see a man carrying a brown paper sack of groceries take out a pack of cigarettes, bring the pack to his lips, and mouth one of the cigarettes inside of the pack’s edges, pulling it firmly between his lips. He then puts the pack back in his khaki shorts, pulls out a blue lighter from the same pocket, brings the lighter to the tip of the cigarette, flicking its roller, creating a flame, which in turn lights the cigarette. This entire process completed while heels take turns with soles and toes meeting the pavement – heels to soles to toes to heels to soles to… Fade out.

Now I see a hand with fingers equally spread apart and its opposing thumb opposing as fingers and complete cooperation with holding a plastic funnel which is holding together a bouquet of yellow tulips.

A sparrow swoops by, low to the cement sidewalk, and lands in the fenced in area of metal picnic tables and crumb-making people. Feet, to not cement but now gravel, meet with a fullness and a hopping.

Back to the prompt – Most things will never happen; this one will. Like the way the orange-haired man with the orange beard and orange mustache just took his cell phone out of his pocket outside of this window of mine, flipped it open and looked at what I'm assuming was the time, then flipped it closed, all the while moving his lips, pointing to the left, away from the fire station to the side parking lot of the co-op and the entire group of six people walk with him – heels to soles to toes to heels to soles to toes – the direction he pointed. Now, I imagine all the stars that exploded, all the bacteria that came into oozy being and all the stories that have risen and fallen just for me to be able to witness that moment that is now gone forever. A sensation consumes my body of wanting time to stop.

Time's up.

Please join me in this practice of contemplative writing by sharing your own writing practice samples here or by simple inquiry.

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