Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mind Like Water

For many people the practice of meditation is an opportunity for gaining some control over the often hectic thought process of the mind, the success of which is usually in direct proportion to the amount of time actually spent in meditation. If you throw a handful of dirt into a glass of water and shake it up, you have a glass of muddy water. If you set the glass aside and allow things to settle, the dirt sinks to the bottom and the water becomes clear. This is a simplification of the basic meditation process. The mind is the glass of water, the swirling dirt makes up the myriad thoughts we have filling our heads during every waking moment of every day, and meditation is setting the glass aside to allow the thoughts to settle.
Most of the time we spend our days listening to this nonstop monologue inside our heads. Do this, go there, buy that, eat this, look there, smell that, I like this, I hate that, she’s funny, he’s smart, I wonder if, etc. It never ends. From the moment we wake to the moment we go to sleep, the chatter continues unabated in our heads. On and on it jumps from subject to subject, idea to idea, emotion to emotion, and thought to thought like a butterfly flitting from flower to flower, occasionally stopping to drink more fully of some idea or thought, and then off again. Sometimes, when it finally does stop on one subject it clamps onto it tightly, causing us to think continuously about it, processing the subject from every angle over and over until it borders on or becomes an obsession. We have all experienced this at some point when we have stressed about something so much that it seemed to consume us - maybe it was an unexpected money issue or a personal confrontation with someone. We can get so caught up in the worrying that even eating and sleeping become difficult. Our glass of water can get very muddy.

In traditional martial arts the concept of Mind Like Water goes deeper. Mind Like Water is used to define the state of perfect readiness in preparation for executing a response to any given situation. Imagine a pool of water. If you throw a pebble into the center of the pool, the water ripples out in a totally appropriate response in relation to the force and mass of the input. The water’s reaction is in exact proportion to the size of the pebble. If we toss a big rock into the pool, we get a large splash and bigger ripples. Each and every time the response is exactly as it should be, given what we throw into the pool. The water doesn’t overreact with a huge splash when a small pebble is thrown in. Nor does it under react with a small splash when a boulder is dropped into it. When applied, this concept can be very useful for anyone in the process of navigating through our hectic world.
Water is shapeless. If you put water into a glass it becomes the glass. If you pour it into a bucket it becomes the bucket. It reacts to any situation just as it needs by following the path of least resistance. If you place a large rock in a mountain stream, the water will find a way to flow around the rock and continue on.
Mind Like Water is the process of mindful awareness. When our minds are full of thoughts and distractions, we have difficulty responding effectively to situations that come up. If we have too much stuff going on in our heads, we can miss opportunities or fall into difficult situations. On the other hand, if we are focused on the present moment, we are able to see our situation clearly and react in an appropriate and effective manner. We basically become ready for anything that life puts before us. In this way we are able to bring a sense of calmness and peace to our lives.
Mindful awareness of the present moment is based on intention. Intention is a concentrated focus of the mind, causing the occurrence of events in our lives. When you intend to do something, you cause it to happen. If you do something unintentionally it is from a lack of mental focus that it comes to pass. Learning to stay present is training intention. Training intention allows you to be successful in whatever you attempt.
Unlike more modern styles, traditional martial artists train their minds just as hard as they train their bodies. They understand that the physical body has limitations and techniques that depend solely on physical action will always be less effective than techniques that are done with a connection between the mind and body. Summoning the mental energy needed to deal with a situation is creating intention. When the mind has a clear idea of the task at hand and its commitment to that task, the motions of the physical body will be controlled and guided to their highest levels of proficiency. Our response matches the size of the stone thrown into the pool of our mind.
Water flows to the path of least resistance yet it has the power to overcome any obstacle. If we are able to maintain our center in the present moment we are able to react and adapt to situations as they appear. Cultivating this can be a challenge if our mind is swirling with dirty water. Finding a few moments each day to sit and allow the thoughts to settle will be of great benefit. You don’t necessarily have to think of it as meditation…Think of it as watering your mind.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Now is the Time to Walk the Talk

The definition of character is what you do when no one is looking – Beck Weathers

We have now reached the time when the behavior patterns of the past no longer enable us to move forward effectively. As the old structures begin to breakdown more and more people are searching for answers to the fundamental questions regarding the purpose and meaning of life. They are motivated by a desire for a means of dealing with the myriad of challenges that face us as individuals, as a society, as a culture and as a planet. W

The first thing we need to do is realize that the true answers are only going to come from within. We can experiment with all methods of alternative/holistic healing, but until we realize that the work needs to take place inside ourselves, the results will only be superficial. 

The challenges that face us may appear overwhelming. Indeed the financial crisis appears as if it is going to fundamentally change the dynamics of our society. At times like this it is easy to give in to the forces of negativity that seem to be growing in power. For some there is a seductive aspect to the concept that things are going to fall apart. For others there is a tendency to allow doubt and fear to permeate their lives. Still others see an opportunity to profit from the disaster. None of these outlooks are beneficial in the long run.

As we all struggle to adapt to the rapid changes that are occurring in the world we must take care to maintain our center. It is easy to start making compromises when times get difficult. Yet this only leads to trouble. In truth, the only way forward is to maintain peace and balance in our lives as we adapt to the ever-changing world.

Of course there are times in everyone’s lives when it is difficult to stay on the path. Events and circumstances often conspire to challenge us in ways we never could have imagined. However, if we are sincere in our desire to be of service to others, we must get our house in order. Without a sincere core of integrity within, it is impossible to offer pure, positive energy to those we come in contact with.

In the alternative/holistic health community, be we energy workers, psychics, healers, teachers or simply beings exploring our own spiritual nature, we need to take a moment to turn our attention inwards and look at ourselves. The time has come for each of us to walk along the path we are so good at talking about. The time has come to let go of the behaviors that no longer serve us. The time has come for us to become the true embodiment of the spiritual essence that exists within the core of our being. We have reached the point where we must now truly evolve. In order to do this we must release the chains that bind us to our lower selves and begin to vibrate on a higher level. 

The road ahead may seem dark and forbidding. We may have doubts as to our ability to continue on the path. But this is the time for each of us to step up, open our hearts and shine the light of truth and love out into the world. This is only possible if we have come to terms with ourselves. We need to walk the path we profess to travel. 

Walk the talk. Lead by example and allow others to recognize and benefit from that pure energy within us. We must do no less.

I wish you warmest of blessings and much peace on your journey.

The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence.  When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers. -Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Entering Into Life

The attitude we take towards any task or undertaking reflects on how we view our self. The completed task is the outward projection of what is within us. A task done with quality and completeness corresponds to a quality and completeness within while a task half-finished or done sloppily reflects a sloppiness within us. The importance of the task is irrelevant with regard to the quality and completeness with which we undertake it. Whether we are doing life-saving surgery, writing a book, washing a car, or tying our shoes, we need to focus all of our attention and concentration on that action. In effect, we want to enter into the essence of it.
By entering into the essence of something, we mean becoming one with the action we are performing. In Japanese there is a word shoshin which means “beginner’s mind.” As a beginner, the first time you do something you have to concentrate on it in order to do it correctly, but as you become adept at it you soon stop paying attention to the doing of it. The idea of shoshin is to retain the mindfulness of the beginner even as the task becomes routine. In this manner you are able to enter into the essence of what you are doing and that makes all the difference. Doing anything without entering into its essence is pointless and empty. However, the more fully you enter into something, keeping mindful of it, the more point or meaning it has and the more alive you feel by doing it. Musicians, dancers, or artists who are able to enter into the essence of their art, become their art - they transcend the doing and are just being. By entering into the essence of your daily tasks you can begin to wake up to the great secret of life – living. The quality of living that results from entering into the essence of everyday life is profound. By entering into the essence of things, it is possible to feel a connection to the creative principle of the universe. But only by actually being mindful of what we are doing can we reach that goal.

By remembering to be aware of ourselves, we begin to learn how to engage in living life as it occurs. By slowing down and experiencing each thing we do to the full extent we beginning to gain a calm sense of control over our lives. By entering into the essence of something and concentrating on the quality of our actions we begin to sense a true feeling of peace within the self. 

Monday, August 17, 2015


We stand on the threshold of a profound shift in our world. Industrial civilization has led us down a destructive, all-consuming path that has compromised our soil, food, water, and atmosphere. This way of life has fractured the idea of community and instilled selfish values in the people. It is quickly becoming apparent that our way of living has reached the point where going forward in the same manner is no longer feasible. The time has come to either do something different, or face extinction. 

A growing sector of the population is starting to realize the degradation of the Earth can only be halted when the majority of people feel deeply that the Earth is sacred and should be revered and cherished. The Earth is not ours to ruin and destroy. As more and more people begin to understand what is happening to the Earth, the need for a fundamental shift becomes apparent. An environmentally-focused spiritual transformation is underway. Reverence for the Earth is becoming a sacred calling. 

Wandering Sage Wisdom is part of this process of evolution. We need a better way of living that is connected to the whole. We cannot hesitate any longer.

Most humans are alienated from their vital individuality — their souls — and humanity as a whole is largely alienated from the natural world that evolved us and sustains us. Soul has been demoted to a new-age spiritual fantasy or a missionary’s booty, and nature has been treated, at best, as a postcard or a vacation backdrop or, more commonly, as a hardware store or refuse heap. Too many of us lack intimacy with the natural world and with our souls, and consequently we are doing untold damage to both.
--- Bill Plotkin

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Wakeup Calling - Poetry

Wakeup Calling 

humanity rages
destruction in stages
of everything under the sun

the birds and the bees
the rivers and trees
it seems like the end has begun

a population of people
turned into sheeple
conditioned to crave more and more

life based on greed
want, desire and need
leads to nothing but war

the planet is dying
the animals crying
the forests all being cut down

the climate is hot
except when it’s not 
and some say we’re all going to drown

living in fear
something is near
now we are all scared to death

chaos and change
can often feel strange
please just take a deep breath

we eat poison foods
take meds for our moods
we’re so ill we cannot take action

to keep us asleep
the tendrils run deep
with all manner of lies and distraction

we cut the tops off the hills
down below oil spills
for us to progress, it is said

it’s hard not to believe
if we do not grieve
soon we all will be dead

so what can we do
just me and you
to turn this whole thing around?

one way to recall
our connection to all
is to put our bare feet on the ground

now feel the Earth
remember its worth
let the energy run through your soul

look deep in your heart
that’s where you start
to connect yourself to the whole

this cannot be solved
if you don’t get involved
start now, there’s no time to wait

change how you’re living
stop taking, start giving
please, before it’s too late

and so there you are
if you’ve made it this far
three last things I will say if I may

begin with a bow
stay here in the now
and remember to breathe every day

Aaron Hoopes

April 2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Self-Healing on the Vernal Equinox

March 20 is the Vernal Equinox. 
In many traditions the Vernal Equinox is the beginning of the Awakening Time. It is a time of emergence from the long dark hibernation of winter when everything comes back to life and awakens. The Vernal Equinox marks the beginning of spring, a balance point of time when energy starts to rise just as the sap begins to flow upwards into the branches of the tree. 

In the cycle of the seasons, spring is a wonderful experience of rebirth and expression. It is important to take a moment and immerse yourself in this process. The natural world has so much healing energy, yet we almost seem to avoid it these days... This is a very powerful time of year, a time of exhilaration.

In Chinese 5 Element philosophy, springtime is associated with the element of Wood. Wood represents growth. It is the element of expansion. Wood is the lifeforce that exists within all things. In the body, the sacred point of Wood is the lower dan tien, a point approximately three finger widths below the navel. By practicing deep breathing into this point we can access the energy of the Wood and connect with the inexhaustible source within our being. 

The color of Wood energy is green. Wood energy provides confidence and the ability to persevere in times of difficulty. It enhances physical strength and stamina. Balanced Wood energy is rooted and decisive. Unbalanced Wood energy brings anger and confusion. 
The increasing power of Wood provides us with the ability to recognize our higher purpose in life. Connecting to Wood energy brings us into alignment with nature. 

The Wood energy flow is facilitated through the Liver. The liver is the yin organ which stores blood and facilitates the flow of blood and energy through the body. The liver is responsible for the strength and flexibility of muscles, ligaments and tendons. The gallbladder is the yang organ that balances the liver and is responsible for storing and excreting bile. Cultivating Wood energy can help with subduing anger and irritability as well as banishing indecisiveness. It also helps with blood flow problems.

After a cold winter it is always beneficial to take care of your liver. 
Care for your Liver:
1 - Drink water 1st thing in the morning - this supports the liver's natural detoxification process
2 - Eat green vegetables - green is associated with the liver and veggies provide chlorophyll, which is the energy of the sun.
3 - avoid refined sugar
4 - eat more sour tasting foods to enhance bile flow, or drink Apple Cider Vinegar.
5 - reduce alcohol, nicotine and caffeine consumption to ease the pressure on the liver.
6 - schedule time for self-care. Get a massage, take a hot bath, meditate!
7 - Breathe, move and relax daily.
8 - Practice Zen Yoga! - 

Wishing you much peace.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March Snowstorm Poem - Still Winter

Still Winter

I snowshoed up the mountain
Yesterday afternoon
Two feet of snow
I couldn’t see the moon

The wind blew cold as I stood there
And soon the snow grew deep
Apparently, from what I heard
The trees still want to sleep

- Aaron Hoopes 2014
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