Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Walking discipline

The 8th day. 8 successive days of either walking or going to the gym. The idea is to develop a discipline for fitness.Walking is simple and may not involve any driving. Although I like to drive to Kennedy Park which is 5 minutes drive from our place. The walking path is along Napa River. There more walkers, roller skaters or walkers with dogs. The SPCA is along the pathway and encourages walkers to volunteer in walking the dogs.

Walking along the river, I see the open space, the hills and people enjoying the park.There are days when the model airplane aficionados fly their airplanes. They have their own airstips in the park.

Scientific studies showed many benefits of walking.It can be a form of prayer or meditation. It can be a time for thinking or day dreaming.Sometimes I study my chess games while walking.

David Steindl-Rast, a Benectine monk, writes ( Common Sense Spirituality )"...every human being is a kind of mystic... mysticism...in the strictest sense, as the experience of deep union with Ultimate Reality-those moments of blissful wholeness and harmony that break through to us every once in a while... What does distinguish mystics, however, is their willingness to give these experiences the central place they deserve in our lives. Mystic allow these moments to influence how and what they do and , in so doing, to give meaning to their lives."

He cited Abraham Maslow's "peak experiences"..."transient moments of self-actualization." David Steindl-Rast "think of them simply as moments that 'makes life worth living'..." you get an insight into meaning; there's a moment in which meaning really touches you."

I don't experience 'peak experiences' often. But I have experienced those moments.

( the photo is from Glenstal Abbey: www.glenstal.org/monastic)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Taking pictures

For the last three days I have been walking to the river. I took my camera and started taking pictures in the manual mode instead of the auto.I have to keep going back to the camera manual to determine how to use the aperture, ISO and speed. I have to acquire the beginner's mind again.

The last two days were warmer and a lot of fishermen idling or enjoying the day.The crane was basking in the sun and the tide filled the river.

I read from the New York Times 3 days ago that there are classes on how to walk. The class emphasizes correct posture.It helps relax the body while walking.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A walk to the river

The sky above the western hills was orange brown when I walked out of the door towards the river. It was cool and practically no breeze. I twirled the staff or was it was really a cane I was carrying?. I was fond of carrying a swagger stick since I was in high school after I saw that Gen. Douglas McArthur carried one all the time.At other times I carried a paperback book. I guess I like to carry something light in my hand. A cane is handy when I am walking. I can use it as a barrier between a jumping, barking dog and me.

I paused now and then to clear my sandals of pebbles.The tide was slowly coming in when I reached the river.The dredged part of the river bank was exposed. The two fishermen were preparing to pack their gears. There were no good bites they said.

The full moon shined brightly over the eastern hills. I regretted that I did not bring my camera which often I did whenever I take a walk.

I could still see the trail, dimly lighted by the street lights, when I returned home.

The NY Times article I was reading before I went out was the improvement of memory in the elderly. It advised to play mental games and physical exercise.

It was an envigorating walk and leisurely. One Benedictine said leisure is a virtue.
I was happy.

Monday, November 10, 2008


"Poetry-writing it, reading it, and sharing it-provides insight into all mysteries and pursuits." ( Poetry as Spiritual Practice" by Robert McDowell)

I read and wrote poetry when I was in high school and on and off during my adult life. For the last several years my mind became barren for poetry. I could only write a line not enough even to wite a haiku. But lately I am hearing a new "stirring of pages", a glimpse of inspiration from tidbits of reading about irelevant things, about giants and pigmies, what GK Chesterton calls Tremendous Trifles ( from Willa's Spacious Space). I borrowed from the library Robert McDowells' book.

Maybe I should start again reading and writing poetry, develop that discipline to pick up the pen and jot something in my notebook and maybe after carrying some ideas and pictures in my head it will develop into something like giants and pigmies. They can look around and see things, an empty bench, a crowded sidewalk, a fisherman lost in day dreaming. Maybe I will climb the rocks and boulders along the trail or describe cut logs arranged like a fence.

The songs will sing again in my head, colors will paint my eyes and I can listen to the silent passing of the dark clouds and sleep dreaming of rain tapping my window pane.

It is Monday in November and cold. I will take a walk bundled in sweat shirts and a basebal cup. Walk to the cafe in the downtown carrying the Poetry as a Spiritual Practice. I will sit with a cup of coffee and sharpen the pencil.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


"We can spend a whole lifetime enjoying
various benefits and not appreciate their value until we
are deprived of them. How many lovers boldly contemplate
separation, fondly imagining that they have enough
of the beloved. And yet as soon as they actually experience
separation, they burn up with longing."
- Jami (Quoted from "Attitudes of Gratitude" by M.J.Ryan)

There is no other opportune time. The time is now. Life is fragile. Life is a mist. Write your letter and say thank you. Express your gratitude.

Say I love you.