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Practice the Presence: Two Lessons

I originally wrote this piece as part of a required assignment for my class in practitioner training. The objective was to "practice the presence" in our actions and lives. I chose to do this with two difficult aspects of my life: my relationship with food and my relationship with my road.

Lesson 1: Practice the Presence in Food

I realized as a result of this assignment that I learned to ” practice the presence” when I focused on re-discovering my relationship with food. My habit had been to eat quickly, sort of gulp my food as if I were in a race to finish first, and I was. As I learned to choose the nourishment that called to me energetically, I also learned to eat in a sacred manner—set the table according to etiquette, include candles, flowers in an elegant vase and a cloth napkin, play soft music, even when I ate alone-- eating slowly and mindfully, focused on every chew invigorating all my taste buds, relishing every aroma. When I ate this way, I ate less and felt complete at every meal. The feeling of completeness is a feeling I choose to repeat when I set out on a task… the feeling that stimulates a knowing that all is good.

Lesson 2: Practice the Presence by Changing my Attitude to Gratitude

Lately, I have been I focusing on cleaning out the water breaks on the road to my house. I live on a gravel road, amongst the trees, on a mountain facing Hominy Valley. The water breaks, which are derived from steel guard rails set into the ground at twenty foot intervals carry the water into the ditches on either side of the road. When filled with leaves or stone which block the water from running into the ditches, steep ruts form, making for a bumpy and unsteady drive. Depending on the weather and the traffic on the road, there are three homes sharing the road, the water breaks easily fill up. I personally am the one only affected by the quality of the road, and the responsibility of keeping the water breaks cleared has become mine solely.

I have had resentment as a shift to the responsibility of road maintenance has been mine exclusively. Through Practitioner studies this year, I have let go of the resentment, and have forgiven myself and my neighbors which was a daunting hurdle.

I intend to clean the water breaks and rake the road on a beautiful sunny afternoon after speaking my gratitude for my mountain home in the trees, from which there is a many million dollar view of Mount Pisgah above, and Hominy Valley below.

After I put on my new, protective brightly colored orange and green gardening gloves, and the oldest comfortable clothes in my wardrobe, a fun yellow crushable straw hat, and my mud-laden shoes, I will choose a stiff broom, leaf rake, and my new bright green handled arched gardening set that will protect my wrists. I will set out on the road. Cleaning out one water break at a time, and making sure all the debris is back on the road and away from the water break itself. I will also clean the transition into the ditches. I will stop with each break and give gratitude to the sun, to the gentleman who found the guard rails, discarded at a construction site and brought them to me on his pick-up truck. I will thank those who came before and built wooden troughs for water breaks, and those who created mounds in the soil.

Though these methods worked briefly, they were sufficient to get me started as a transitioned from the concrete and asphalt streets of New York to the dusty road to my mountain home. I will also give homage to my body that bends and stretches, and sits on the ground as I slowly remove every bit of debris. As I move down the mountain, I listen to the sounds of the birds and watch the sun move through the sky, inspiring light on the trees and shrubs that line the road. I will find joy in each new blossom I spy, just as I now find joy in each bite of food I take. I will breathe deeply, breathing in the fragrance of the early spring.

I have ascribed many metaphors to this road. Now the metaphor is one of delight. As I clean each water break, I will remember each belief I have transformed, each opinion I have questioned, each judgment I have let go of, each fear I have confronted. When I have completed this task I will express a prayer of gratitude for the fulfilling, nurturing and simple elegant life I have chosen-- replete with truth, beauty, honor and courage. I will sit on the deck and admire my work… knowing that in a week or two, I will be called to begin the task anew, smile at the road, and notice how it smiles back in the waning sunlight.

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