Wednesday, January 26, 2005

integral medicine, breakfast, and tzimtzum

On Monday morning, James O'Dea, who is the new president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, will be the guest at a breakfast gathering here in Seattle of healthcare practitioners drawn to know more about "integral medicine." IONS has just published a lovely-looking medical textbook called "Consciousness and Healing: Integral Approaches to Mind-Body Medicine"--I can't comment on it yet, since I've only just looked at the Table of Contents, but there is an impressive roster of authors and editors, and a Foreword by Ken Wilber of the Integral Institute.

What's interesting to me about this meeting at the moment is the planning and coordination of it. I would have said that I was "helping to organize" the gathering since I am listed as one of the hosts, but actually I'm not helping very much, and am happy to watch from the fringe (I am, come to think of it, pretty comfortable on the fringe overall). 

At first, it sounded like a pretty simple breakfast meeting, of maybe 20 or so people, with Mr. O'Dea introducing some of the approaches to a new health care paradigm discussed in the book, and then facilitating some dialogue on how we are each incorporating those approaches in our own work, and about how we might work together to help "shift the culture of healthcare". We only started the planning a few weeks ago, so I was all for quickly choosing a place, thoughtfully crafting an invitation, sending it out to whomever we thought would like to come, and to expect that anyone who was really interested enough would show up...and that would be pretty much enough planning for it to be a great meeting (well, along with making sure that one of us, or some of us, would bring enough food!) -- this reflects, I think, on how I have been forever imprinted by the principles of Open Space Technology

As it's turning out though, there were differing ideas amongst the six or so hosts of what exactly the purpose of the gathering was, the wording of the invitation, and who should be invited - and so it's become a very stressful process for some of my more detail-oriented colleagues. I feel both the impulse to say, "oh, for goodness sake, let's just do this and this and this! and then relax, it'll be fine!" as well as a little flick of guilt for being so la-di-da, and not helping with the detail control. My fallback response is to wonder, "how much do I care about this?", realize that I do truly think it'll be fine no matter what happens, and to take a giant step back from the fray (hmm - in only one sentence, I'm both "falling back" and "stepping back" - finding myself trying to emulate this universal principle in other areas of my life as well)

Anyway, there's been lots of interest, which is exciting. Around 40 people have said they're coming--nurses, visionaries, policy-influencers, physicians, teachers, and of course all of us are or have been patients, too.

If I figure out or find out what "integral medicine" is, I will let you know!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

water and air

I have a bunch o' embryonic blog posts still in draft form, consisting of titles with a few lines, or maybe just a word or two, trying to grasp the threads of a thought or image as it sails by. Little weightless kernels, dots of concentrated color, waiting for...? a little heat, a little light, a bit of moisture? So far, they look like this: "shabbat in the city of air", "between that which is holy and that which is not yet holy", "morning in the pardes", "sarvodaya, awakening on behalf of all", "white flame, seeds and fruit", and "the gordian knot and the leap of faith"

Currently I feel perfectly suspended between winter (which is now, according to the dark and the chill) and spring (which is soon, ready to fling itself open the moment the time is right, according to the fat buds on the rhododendron and the red poking-out stems of paeonia). 

Between pared-down-to-the-essence deeply quiet hibernation, and the quickening vibration of the swelling seed coat about to split, the sprout longing to sproing and unfurl. I'm reminded of the Hanged One in the Tarot, about which Vicki Noble writes: 
"Think of a spider suspended by its own silken substance, yielding in trust to gravity. You are suspended in time, right now...It definitely means "stop action" and "allow" to happen."
I think that this time offers the possibility of learning to surrender a little more, to become more patient and open-handed.

The other thing that occurs to me is how useful it can be during these times of feeling "up in the air" to spend some part of it immersed comfortably in warm water...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

twinkles & sparkles

"Twinkles" is what our Japanese friend Kaori-chan* said for "twins" (her charming English also included "Mekeesko" for "Mexico," and that has become my preferred pronunciation too ;-))

In the past week I've gotten to have time with two good friends who seem quite different on superficial first glance but whom I now realize are "soul twinkles," including the way that both of them sparkle and fizz up a room. Last week deep and buoyant, easily-amazed Ashley was in town to visit, and today I got to have lunch with elf-friend Anne Stadler, as curious and playful and exuberant in her 70's as any 6-year old. It turns out that Ashley and I had tea, and then Anne and I had BBQ chicken and coleslaw, on different days in the same place: the great community living room (that is, a living room with a bookstore, restaurants, a farmers' market and a bakery), Third Place Commons which Anne and her husband Dave helped to found.

I met both Ashley and Anne at the Practice of Peace last November, an extraordinary Open Space gathering (most all Open Space gatherings are extraordinary, according to those who have had lots of experience, but this one was especially special) that continues to ripple out into the world in good works and heartful connections. With both Ashley and Anne, I have the sensation of being held in very spacious embraces, able to bask in their radiant and warm wonder and joy, which relaxes and nourishes many of my little crimped corners and dried rootlets, and gives me modeling and support for the ongoing practice of remembering to pay deep attention to what Swami Omkar calls Adorable Presence, as well as to what Anne calls "the new We" (-- sounds like the same thing, to me).

When Ashley comes back through Seattle next month, I'll get to reconnect the two of them with one another and bask some more -- just as good as a vacation in the sun.
(*in Japanese, adding -san onto the end of someone's name is an honorific and indicates respect; adding -chan is like a "cute-erific" and indicates affection and mostly you would use it with girls and women younger than yourself)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

adorable presence

Prayer for Peace, by Swami Omkar of the Shanti Ashram in south India

Adorable presence,
Thou who are within and without,
above and below and all around,
Thou who art interpenetrating
every cell of my being,
Thou who art the eye of my eyes,
the ear of my ears,
the heart of my heart,
the mind of my mind,
the breath of my breath,
the life of my life,
the soul of my soul,
Bless us, dear God, to be aware of thy presence
now and here.
May we all be aware of thy presence
in the East and the West, in the North and the South.
May peace and good will abide among individuals,
communities, and nations.
This is my earnest prayer.
May peace be unto all!

from God Makes the Rivers to Flow: Sacred LIterature of the World selected by Eknath Easwaran, founder of the Blue Mountain Meditation Center