First Snowfall

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Two tiny snowmen

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In woodland garb

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Enjoy a leafy picnic

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?”

~J. B. Priestley

Putting Fears to Good Use

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PRAYER TO PUT FEARS TO GOOD USE

Going over and over one’s fears
is empty
and emptying.

There’s something Greater that sustains.
We call it esperanza. Hope.
We call it guerre es podar. Desire is power.
Hope and desire are powers.

Fear—ha!
Fear—ha!
Ha, hum—fear.
Pstt, pssh!

Consider that most fear
is not fear of failure:
it’s fear to live wide
and deep, as soul calls,
in full power.

Choose your petty fears carefully,
because they can grow big teeth.

Instead, draw your attention here.
I have several fears
I would like you to have.

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Fear these:
Fear not loving
while you have the chance.

Fear becoming bitter.
Fear cynicism.
Fear turning to stone.
Fear living underwhelmed
by everything.

When the culture drags you
back and forth
between being fearful
and being a person
who gives blessings.
Give blessings.

When the culture drags you
back and forth
between being fearful
and being merciful.
Be merciful.

When the culture drags you
back and forth
between being fearful
and being forgiving.
Be forgiving.

When the culture drags you
back and forth
between fearing
and loving.
When the great “they”
say it must be decided,
one or the other,
you can either be fearful,
or do the other, be loving…
refuse to do only one.
Choose all of them.

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Be fearful, and bless others.
Be fearful, and be merciful.
Be fearful, and forgive.
Be fearful, and do.
Be fearful, and love.

It is by doing,
by doing the blessing,
the mercy, the forgiveness,
the doing, and the loving,
that fear is dissipated.

Be not afraid to ride
right up to the enemy
and touch with your
most sharpened flint
made of Love.

So may it be for you.
So may it be for me.
And so may it be for all of us.

*prayer by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, posted on her fb page Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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*this post is dedicated to all the water protectors at Standing Rock

Unearthing Bones

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Unearthing bones 

That were buried

In silence

By the ignorance

Of cold, distant minds

Through darkness

The wind rattles

Between  gaps

Of light

Where the heart

Begins to beat

Flesh to life

The sacred dance

Of true love.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

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Embers to Ash

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Embers to ash

Fragrance

Of a mindful life

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

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Meaning
Being Your Own Voice of Reason

by Madisyn Taylor

How we attach meaning to events in our lives has a large influence on the quality of our life.

The meaning we assign to our experiences–whether pleasant or distressing, is a very powerful factor in determining the quality of our lives. What we imagine events to mean will color the way we feel about ourselves, about the people in our lives, and about the world at large. If we want to encourage a positive outlook, well-being, and a sense of self-confidence and even trust in the universe, we can begin by assigning more peaceful, loving meanings to what we experience.

Imagine, for example, that a friend fails to show up to a lunch date. You have choices as to what you will make this experience mean for you. You could allow being “stood up” to reinforce your feelings of unworthiness, you could begin to mentally attack your friend’s character, or you could assume that something big must have happened to cause them to miss the date–then, you might open yourself up to enjoying some relaxing time alone.

If you were recently laid off and are having difficulty finding a new job, consider that you might have hidden gifts or passions that were untapped in your regular career that you are now available to explore. The universe might simply be moving you in a more fulfilling direction. If you have recently lost a loved one, gained weight, lost money, or gotten in a fight with your partner, see if you can infuse the experience with meaning that feels loving and empowering and opens a door for you to embrace life and the world a bit more.

When we begin to bring consciousness to what we are making things mean, we may be shocked at the messages we have been feeding ourselves all these years. Try taking the reigns and begin assigning a kinder meaning to the events in your life and you will likely find yourself on a much more pleasant ride.

an excerpt taken from DailyOM  Meaning

a song by Akira Kosemura, Embers

Walking Sacredly

Fire / European Salamander (Salamandra salamandra)

I AM all life

All life AM I

Fire walking 

With each step

Homewards.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“Let us move on, and step out boldly, though it be into the night, and we can scarcely see the way.”     ~Charles B Newcomb

“Move and the way will open.”     ~Zen Proverb

*photo by Alex Hyde, Alex Hyde Photography

For the Sake of True Love

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But for the sake

Of true love

I let go…

Of pride

Of fear

Of illusion

Misunderstandings

Like a wind

Blowing through 

The forest

In a sacred dance

Of leaves

I let go…

For the sake

Of true love

I let go…

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016*

“Everyday we say or do things that might leave behind ‘internal formations’ in the person we love. Following that, then the suffering and pain grow, and the person we love turns into something like a bomb that might explode at any moment. A few words are all it takes to trigger anger in this person, who you are afraid to approach and who you are afraid to talk to because he or she has become a bomb loaded with too much suffering. When you try to get away from him or her, this person thinks you do so out of contempt and their suffering increases. You also have become a bomb, because you have lost the ability to speak the language of peace, of understanding. You have lost the ability to listen, and so all communication has become impossible.”  ~Thich Nhat Hahn, True Love

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Cultivating the energy of loving speech and deep listening is a daily practice that begins with ourselves. When we reach that point where we are no longer able to speak and listen with compassion either to ourselves or to another being then its time to pause and look deeply and to trust our heart to guide us. The practice of mindfulness can help us. Mindful breathing and walking. It can help us to come back to ourselves. Bringing our mind and body together in alignment. That happens because we take the time to be present with ourselves by connecting with our breath. Or if we are walking our concentration is on the step connecting with the Earth. This brings a sense of grounding to our being. A space of calm can open our hearts so that we can see ourselves again. Mindful breathing helps us to take care of our body, our painful emotions, and to become aware of our mind.  Sometimes we lose perspective and see ourselves as something apart…something separate. We become overloaded because we aren’t taking care of ourself. But, we don’t have to get caught up in the stories we tell ourselves. Instead, we can retrain ourselves to focus our attention. When looking at our views and perceptions we can find a way to let go of our conditioning, illusions and misunderstandings. We don’t have to do anything…we don’t have to try hard. Breathing happens naturally because we are alive. We just need to notice our breath. Coming back to our breath and reconnecting with our bodies and mind opens up a space for our heart to guide us back to safety…the island of mindfulness. Where we can reconnect to Life. To True Love.

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*this poem is dedicated to the monks and nuns, Wake Up staff from Plum Village and laypersons who guided us through the retreat “Happy Teachers Change the World” at EIAB during October 14th-23rd

Deeper into the Forest

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Pulling 

My sweater closer

I walk deeper 

Into the forest

Of ancestors.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2016

“In gratitude, I bow to this land and all of the ancestors who made it available. I see that I am whole, protected, and nourished by this land and all of the living beings that have been here and made life easy and possible for me through all their efforts. I see all those known and unknown. I see all those who have made this country a refuge for people of so many origins and colors, by their talent, perseverence, and love–those who have worked hard to build schools, hospitals, bridges, and roads, to protect human rights, to develop science and technology, and to fight for freedom and social justice. I see myself touching my ancestors who have lived on this land for such a long time and known the ways to live in peace and harmony with nature, protecting the mountains, forests, animals, vegetation, and minerals of this land. I feel the energy of this land penetrating my body and soul, supporting and accepting me. I vow to cultivate and maintain this energy and transmit it to future generations. I vow to contribute my part in transforming the violence, hatred, and delusion that still lie deep in the collective consciousness of this society so that future generations will have more safety, joy, and peace. I ask this land for its protection and support.”  ~III Touching of the Earth, Thich Nhat Hanh, Plum Village