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

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Terra Word Art

The clouds jutted upward like mountains from the flatland rolling at the horizon in shades of lavender, smokey-blue, and silver- white. Birches huddled together like naked ladies in the wind.

Gaea adorned herself in a soft-blue gown of billowing chiffon for the dance of new beginnings. Gifting mortals who have the power to look deeply with a glimpse of clarity.

The sun kissed her face of many colours. Nourishing her wounds and scars as well as her abundant bounty.

It is in her nature to be fiercely harsh and even destructive, yet she is also known to shield and nurture all of life. Thus, she weaves magic under hard, crusted furrows touched by winter’s frosty tears.

© Salem Islas-Madlo 2014

The Simplicity of ‘It’s Okay’

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“The nectar of compassion is so wonderful. If you are committed to keeping it alive, then you are protected. What the other person says will not touch off the anger and irritation in you, because compassion is the real antidote for anger.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh-

I have always been an open book for all to see. My mom used to tell me, “Don’t wear your heart on your sleeve.” I didn’t get it for the longest time. I simply didn’t understand which is why I got hurt so often. I also had the tendency “to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders” to quote my mother yet again. That gets really heavy. Now I find myself at a time of transition. Alone. I have tried so hard to make peace with myself. In fact, I really found a path in this life that supports me a great deal. However, the age-old demons that plague everyone in this life, like fear and anger, take their toll.

Time has a way of grabbing hold of our thoughts and feelings and squeezing tight till we are out of breath. Fear rises up. And then there is a mad scramble to protect ourselves. To control. What we don’t realize is that we are giving our strength away. We forget who we are and take on an identity associated with fear and anger. Fear or anger shouldn’t necessarily be shunned, but we should greet it with compassion and patience. We cheapen our essence by shutting out fear in ignorance. I am slowly waking up to the fact that compassion for ourselves is the very protection we seek from our fears. Fears that we might not even understand half the time because they spring from our imagination.

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It’s okay to lose our balance, but when we do, instead of being critical and judgemental we can mindfully choose to approve of ourselves. We can concentrate our energy on self-compassion when we make mistakes instead of taking out our anger on ourselves. David Kessler once posed the questions,”What if we started taking some chances, if we stepped into our fears? What if we went further, if we were to pursue our dreams follow our desires? And if we allowed ourselves to experience love freely and to find fulfillment in our relationships? What kind of world would this be?” Sometimes the only way forward is to move through our fears. We can embrace them and still proceed on our journey. It doesn’t have to be a paralyzing process that zaps all our strength away. We are new each morning. We have the opportunity each day to open to life. To BE. When we find that our strength is gone we can whisper to ourselves, “It’s okay.” Then we find that place of belonging. That safe place within where our soul can breathe.

I would like to conclude with another quote, “Now is the only real moment we have, and love is the only real emotion because it’s the only one that occurs in the present moment.Fear is always based on something that happened in the past and causes us to be afraid of something we think may happen in the future. To live in the present, then, is to live in love, not fear. That’s our goal, to live in love. And we can work toward that goal by learning to love ourselves. Infusing ourselves with love begins the washing away of our fears.” -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross-

Live the breath my friends. ❤

Come Home

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There has been a struggle in keeping to my meditation as of late. I feel like an empty shell. I feel chained to a land in which I don’t belong or want to live, and yet I have no where else to go. I feel weighed down by the burden of loneliness. I haven’t ever really found my peace about being here. In Austria. I feel frustrated because after 14 years of living in this place I still can’t make lasting connections, and yet am I alluding myself? An old friend, student called me today to see if I would like to join her for a visit to the theater. I had seen her just last week at a poetry reading where I was performing some of my pieces in support for Austrian women’s shelters. A few years had gone by since I had seen her last. I received some powerful feedback from others that night. A gentle reminder from the universe that I am still connected to my inner voice. She was part of that encouragement. So, I accepted her invitation. I accepted because this is the first invitation…personal invitation I’ve received from anyone to do something in a long time.

I am struggling today with self-sabatage. I should be doing something, and yet my pioneering spirit isn’t feeling very adventurous. It is almost like I have to force myself to do anything. I am suppose to be getting organized  and packing to move by the end of the month. I am not feeling motivated.

Maya Angelou died just a few days ago. She was for me a living example of how to be true to oneself. A spiritual mentor whose integrity rested over me like a veil upon the face of light. The brightness of her inner beauty hasn’t been extinguished, but her passing has momentarily caused me to pause.

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I feel the old wounds, but it isn’t my reality today. I am looking within to find the strength to take another step forward. All the critical voices swirling in my mind. The ache in my heart intense at the moment. I trust if I stay mindfully with it that the pain will subside.

A voice whispers,”Finish writing and then go to the theater…everything changes…move with what’s being done. Let go of the familiar and the comfort it brings. You are faithful and have always known this about yourself. Stay true to yourself…even if life seems bleak right now…even if the emptiness is overwhelming you.”

“You write words, and don’t feel like a writer. You judge yourself so often. This is self-sabatage. When will you accept yourself? You come home to yourself sometimes, but then make excuses that you can’t stay for long. You only come to visit. Don’t you ever get tired of wandering without protection? If you stayed home in the light of your soul long enough you might find an altogether new adventure.”

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“And yes, it is I, your own soul, whispering to you now even as you move this pen across the page. The protection you seek, the safe haven, is here within yourself. It is a home that has always been open to you, but you are a prodigal wandering aimlessly. There is a time coming very soon when you will hear your voice clearly…the voice of a stranger who will call you home.”

“Come home. You are wanted home. You are missed. Come home. Be at home. Home is your protection.”

“Each time you came for a visit you sensed this more and more.”

“Come home to the light of your soul, and be healed. Let healing begin in the safety of home. Let healing begin in the protection of your heart.”

“Open your heart to yourself. Open the door and come inside where you will greet the stranger who was yourself with open arms of love.”