As a coach I serve clients who have a sense that something is not quite right in their life, who feel stuck, are in the midst of a big life or professional transition, at a threshold and who are faced with "New Beginnings". Designing Your Life is a movement to build a well-lived, joyful life with Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. This beloved Stanford class is now a book for all.
The Pyramid, called The SHIFT Rx Challenge Pyramid was informed by Florence Williams’ research in her book The Nature Fix, as well as Tanya Denkla-Cobb/the Biophilic Cities Project’s “Nature Pyramid.” The SHIFT Rx Challenge Pyramid indicates optimal “doses” of nature. From daily micro-doses that can range from exposure to daylight and plant life multiple times per day to annual multi-day excursions into wilderness areas where people can disconnect from technology, the Pyramid offers recommendations for duration as well as location of nature contact.
“Time spent outside in nature is good for us,” said Christian Beckwith, Executive Director of The Center for Jackson Hole, SHIFT’s parent organization. “In an age when the average American child spends seven hours per day in front of screens and seven minutes in unstructured play outside; rising obesity rates add billions of dollars to health care costs; opioid addictions outpace car accidents as the leading cause of death; and the growing disconnect from nature, particularly in our urban areas, leads to stress, depression and increased levels of mental anxiety in our citizens, time outside has never been more important.”
To learn more about SHIFT Rx and the 2019 SHIFT Rx :Nature as Medicine Festival in Jackson Hole in October, visit http://shiftjh.org.
Let us bless The imagination of the Earth. That knew early the patience To harness the mind of time, Waited for the seas to warm, Ready to welcome the emergence Of things dreaming of voyaging Among the stillness of land.
And how light knew to nurse The growth until the face of the Earth Brightened beneath a vision of color.
When the ages of ice came And sealed the Earth inside An endless coma of cold, The heart of the Earth held hope, Storing fragments of memory, Ready for the return of the sun.
Let us thank the Earth That offers ground for home And holds our feet firm To walk in space open To infinite galaxies.
Let us salute the silence And certainty of mountains: Their sublime stillness, Their dream-filled hearts.
The wonder of a garden Trusting the first warmth of spring Until its black infinity of cells Becomes charged with dream; Then the silent, slow nurture Of the seed’s self, coaxing it To trust the act of death.
The humility of the Earth That transfigures all That has fallen Of outlived growth.
The kindness of the Earth, Opening to receive Our worn forms Into the final stillness.
Let us ask forgiveness of the Earth For all our sins against her: For our violence and poisonings Of her beauty.
Let us remember within us The ancient clay, Holding the memory of seasons, The passion of the wind, The fluency of water, The warmth of fire, The quiver-touch of the sun And shadowed sureness of the moon.
That we may awaken, To live to the full The dream of the Earth Who chose us to emerge And incarnate its hidden night In mind, spirit, and light.
April is National Poetry Month. Just returning from a pilgrimage in Japan, it seems natural to talk about the mindfulness practice of writing haikus.
In Japanese, haikus are seventeen syllables in three phrases (5-7-5). In English, it’s as simple as three lines. Patricia Donegan, a poet, translator and haiku expert defines a haiku as “a crystalline moment of heightened awareness in simple imagery, traditionally using a kigo or season word for nature.”
An haiku typically contains an element of nature and an emotion. Here are some examples:
In the cherry blossom's shade there's no such thing as a stranger. Kobayashi Issa
Cutting a pear sweet drops drip from the knife Shiki Masaoka
letting go of a slanderous heart while shelling the beans Hosai Ozaki
The time it takes for snowflakes to whiten the distant pines. Lorraine Ellis Harr.
In the ancient Japanese calendar, there was not just four seasons but twenty four small seasons (called sekki) each lasting around fifteen days, and seventy-two micro seasons (called ko) each lasting around five days. Examples of names of micro seasons are: east wind melts the ice nightingales sing silkworms hatch blanket fog descends North wind rattles the leaves
During my time in Japan this Spring, I lived through two small-seasons and three micro-seasons.
On March 31st, I started my visit to the Kii Peninsula, south of Nara, in the small or sekki season of Spring Equinox and the micro/ko season of Thunder Raises Its Voice. This micro season was the last one of the Spring Equinox season. Then, on April 4th, we entered the small or sekki season of Clear and Bright and the micro/ko season of The Swallows Arrive. And five days later, it was the micro/ko season of The First Rainbow Appears, still in the small or sekki season of Clear and Bright.
So with this culture of awareness of the changing nature of our surroundings, and such poetic names for each season, it’s no surprise that on my Kumano Kodo pilgrimage, I felt like I was walking into haiku country.
So why embracing an Haiku Mind?
Here is what a few known poets, priest and authors say:
In her book, haiku mind; 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart, Patricia Donegan writes: Haiku mind is the awareness to tune into the vastness of the moment. When we can pause and relax in the moment, that is our haiku mind: the awakened, openhearted awareness that we can always tap into.
Similarly, in his book, A Listening Heart: The Spirituality of Sacred Sensuousness, Br. David Steindl-Rast writes:The Haiku is, paradoxically, a poem about silence. Its very core is silence. There is probably no shorter poetic form in world literature than the classical Haiku with its seventeen syllables and, yet. The masters put these seventeen syllables down with a gesture of apology, which makes it clear that the words merely serve the silence. All that matters is the silence. The Haiku is a scaffold of words; what is being constructed is a poem of silence; and when it is ready, the poet gives a little kick, as it were, to the scaffold. It tumbles, and silence alone stands.
And according to poet Tom Clausen: Haiku is all about the fleeting preciousness of experience, nature, and our seamless connection to everything.
So clearly writing an haiku, like reading poetry, is a mindfulness practice that I invite you into for the month of April.
And if you feel so inspired, please leave your haikus as comments on this blog. Here are some more that inspired my pilgrimage on the imperial Kumano Kodo. Thank you.
On my pilgrimage I walk into haiku country
In silence and still in silence along the way
Pilgrim’s staff — I fill my mind with emptiness
At first I follow then pass and get passed — pilgrim’s path
is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control, of holding in our affections those who inevitably move beyond our line of sight.
Heartbreak begins the moment we are asked to let go but cannot, in other words, it colors and inhabits and magnifies each and every day; heartbreak is not a visitation, but a path that human beings follow through even the most average life. Heartbreak is our indication of sincerity: in a love relationship, in a work, in trying to learn a musical instrument, in the attempt to shape a better more generous self.
Heartbreak is the beautifully helpless side of love and affection and is just as much an essence and emblem of care as the spiritual athlete’s quick but abstract ability to let go. Heartbreak has its own way of inhabiting time and its own beautiful and trying patience in coming and going.
Excerpted from HEARTBREAK From the book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words by David Whyte