An Impermanent Breath

IMG_0388

Sometimes there is a winding road

That seems to lead nowhere 

And the soul whispers, “Go on…

Don’t stop now…”

Taking a deep breath

You take the next step and the next

Clinging desperately to faith 

As you venture farther out

And you slowly begin to realize

Just how infinite your spirit is

You begin to see that 

You will never reach the end

Of your essence…

You go on and on 

An impermanent breath

Of eternity.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

Mother Nature

Breathing in silence

Breathing out love and patience

Earthling gratitude

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

Heart Whispers

IMG_0589

Bumble bee humming

Amidst the Forget-me-nots

My heart whispering

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

Looking Deeper

S0611217

“It’s better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It can’t be taken away from you not by angels or demons, heaven or hell.” 

-Buddha

Infinite Design

winter web

Silken thread with lace

A life design spun with grace

Joy in commonplace.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

*photo by Coralie Mercier

http://www.flickr.com/photos/koalie/4429225149/

Soul Fragrance

burning incense

Sacred offering

Rising up in wisps of smoke

Fragrance of the soul

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2015

“To let go means to give up coercing, resisting, or struggling, in exchange for something more powerful and wholesome which comes out of allowing things to be as they are without getting caught up in your attraction to or rejection of them, in the intrinsic stickiness of wanting, of liking and disliking the present moment” ― Jon Kabat-Zinn

*Photo found on Pinterest via http://www.pinterest.com/Francien2812/

The Life Balance of Happiness

We are well on our way into 2015, and well…interestingly enough life keeps slowing me down…causing me to pause, breathe, and smile. Here is something about happiness I’ve been reading lately that has poured a lot of insight into my day to day routine.

“Our minds, hearts and souls have been fully coded for happiness; all the wiring is built-in. Everyone is capable of finding happiness. all he or she has to to is look for it in the right places. While happiness is our natural state, we’ve been trained to feel more comfortable with unhappiness. In a strange way we are not used to happiness: at times it feels not only unnatural but undeserved. That’s why we often find ourselves thinking the worst about someone or some situation. It’s why we must work to feel good about being happy and why we must commit ourselves to happiness.

IMG_1983

Part of the work is accepting the belief that finding happiness is essentially our purpose of life. Many people recoil at such a thought, saying such an approach is self-centered and uncaring. Why do we resist the idea that the purpose of life is being happy? We feel guilty being happy, and we wonder how we can strive to be happy when so many people are less fortunate than we are.

You were meant to enjoy all the wonders around you. And remember that you have more to give to others, to the suffering, when you are happy. When you have enough and are content, you will not act from a place of need or lack. You will feel that have a little extra to give to those around you, that you can afford to share more of your time, yourself, your money, and your happiness. Happiness expands our capacity to give. True happiness is not the result of an event, it does not depend on circumstance. You, not what’s going on around you, determine your happiness.

IMG_1985

Happiness depends not on what happens, but on how we handle what happens. Our happiness is determined by how we interpret, perceive and integrate what happens into our state of mind. How we perceive things is determined by our commitment. This is where the balance comes in, learning our lessons and remembering the truth about each other. Are we committed to seeing the worst in people and situations or the best? What we commit to, what we turn our attention to, grows. So the best or worst grows within our interpretations, and within ourselves. If we see the past in a bad light, as lacking purpose or meaning, we plant seeds that will grow into similar futures. This is why we refer to the past as our baggage–it’s something heavy to carry around. It is the part of ourselves that continues to weigh us down and slows our progress toward happiness.

IMG_1988

Happiness is our natural state, but we’ve forgotten how to be happy because we’ve gotten lost in our notions of what things should look like. Making comparisons is probably the shortest route to unhappiness. With little effort, we can quickly compare ourselves into downright misery. We don’t even need others for these self-destructive comparisons; comparing ourselves to our past or future can do the same thing. Happiness comes from seeing ourselves as being okay, just as we are, today. without comparison to others, without reference to the way we were or the way we fear we will be.

Happiness is just as possible with this set of circumstances as it is with the next. Often, we don’t see a situation as it truly is. Instead, we focus on our image of what the situation ‘should’ look like, or how it should be. By projecting our ‘should’ onto circumstances, we deny the truth. We see illusions. To see truth is to know that no matter what may be happening, the universe is moving in the direction it is supposed to. The world is set up to work in a way that brings us to our lessons. It is designed to move us to joy, not away from it, even when we think things are going in the wrong direction.

IMG_1993

We want to live our lives in balance, but what we think of as balance is not balance at all. In fact, it’s very much out of balance. We are a mass of contradictions. Always trying to be more, yet trying to accept and love ourselves just as we are. Trying to accept the reality of the human experience while knowing that we are also spiritual beings. We suffer, yet we can rise above our suffering. We experience loss, yet we feel love forever. We take life for granted, yet we know it does not last. We live in a world filled with less and more, with cycles of scarcity and abundance, big and small. If we can recognize these oppositions, we will be happier. Our part of this universe is always in balance, it just may not seem so to us.

Part of dealing with this balance means understanding that life does not revolve around our big moments: the promotion, the wedding, the retirement, and the cure. Life also occurs between the big moments. Much of what we need to learn is found in the small moments of life.”

-Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Gently and Sacredly

Hong Kong, China, 1998, final print_perugia

On the way to work earlier this week riding the train to the 2nd district of Vienna, an elderly man caught my attention. He wore an attire of black dress pants, a starched white, shirt with a blue-stripped tie and a tweed jacket as he sat by the window. The jacket hung loosely over his shoulders which he adjusted every once in awhile with trembling hands. There was a black winter coat neatly piled beside him on the train seat. A faraway look shone in his eyes through his metal-rimmed glasses.  He glanced in my direction when I entered the train, but looked straight through me.

In both hands he held some wooden beads, while his lips moved silently. The crease between his eyebrows grew deeper as he held the beads with one hand and with the other moved a finger methodically in circular motion over one bead at a time. And then onto the surface of his pointy finger of the opposite hand. Eventually, he put the beads away in the inner pocket of his jacket.

Momentarily he wrung his hands together and then adjusted his jacket once more. He pressed his lips together and took a long, deep breath. Afterwards, lightly placing his hands together at the fingertips holding them in a thoughtful pose.

Right before his stop he stood up and put his arms into his jacket and then donned his elegant winter coat.

It so happened that we were getting off at the same time. He was slightly confused as he stepped onto the platform. He needed a moment or two to orientate himself before disappearing into the shuffle.

It struck me how many people have a heart full of so many different things that we can’t possibly ever know.  We face each day in our fragility and try our best to get through life. Let’s keep our hearts open even in the midst of our vulnerabilities and be compassionate. First to ourselves and then to others. In patience, hold your essence gently and sacredly.

Be blessed this Christmas Day.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2014

*photo by Steve McCurry, http://stevemccurry.com/galleries/faith-and-prayer

Stealing Kisses

S0170034

The sun thought

I wasn’t looking 

When he kissed the earth

But I saw

The soft light 

Between his lips

As he delicately

Brushed through

Her grassy meadows.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2014

S0180036

The Wisdom of Bees

S0909346

Drink in the sweetness

S0969357

Pulsate with truth

S0090017

Calmly and patiently accept change

S0160032

Surrender to impermanence

“For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”
— Carl Sagan