Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tools for the Journey #20 - Who do you carry?

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart] 
By E. E. Cumming

 i carry your heart with me(i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it(anywhere i go you go,my dear;
and whatever is done by only me is your doing,my darling)
                             i fear 
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)
i want no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true) 
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant 
and whatever a sun will always sing is you       
       here is the deepest secret nobody knows 
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud 
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) 
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
   i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

  I have always loved Cummings' works, however this particular poem has long been my favorite. As with all good poetry - it has held different meaning for me at various points on my journey. During a recent trip to California my old friend and mentor, Wendy Palmer, posed a question to me which brought this poem back into my mind once again and gave it new meaning. Her question was:  

"Who do you carry with you?"

Wendy and I were talking about ways of walking through this life; during our conversation she shared with me both the question and her own answer to it. She told me, "In my heart I carry the Dali Lama, in my belly I carry O-Sensei (Japanese martial arts master and founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba)". I cannot recall now whom she said she carried in her head but her point was she carries in her head, heart and belly those people she feels can help her be more grounded, centered and powerful as she walks through her life. This is a mindfulness practice and one which I had never thought of before in quite this way...

Who do I carry with me?"

Each body center contributes to our understanding of the world around us and if open can enhance our experience of life.

Head - intuitive intelligence - self-awareness, new ideas, paying attention to the world around us, wisdom, thinking, consciousness, listening and our connection to concepts; intellectual knowing.

Heart - emotional intelligence - self-concept, radiation of  love, kindness, compassion, emotions and creativity, how we feel, sense and experience life and our connection to people; inner knowing.

Belly - somatic intelligence - self-portrayal, the solidity and connectivity; the embodiment of how we stand up and walk through this life, our connection to Mother Earth and the natural world, our foundation; movement and physical knowing.

Since the conversation with Wendy, I have given quite a lot of thought to who I would want to carry in my head, heart and belly. Each person I have chosen is a person I feel embodies in a significant way, the strength of that particular body center.

After I decided who those people would be then began the process of actually walking through my daily life carrying them with me. This means paying more attention to how I am looking out of my eyes, listening, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, paying attention, and exhaling (what I give back to the world) as myself yet also endeavoring to embody some of the essence of the people I 'carry' - because the way they walk through the world resonates with me. This practice has enriched me in ways I would never have imagined possible. The benefits have been subtle, but the changes in my point of view have added a richness and texture to my day to day life which has been wonderful and surprising.

Who do I carry?

In my head I carry Erik Weihenmayer. I carry Erik because of how he listens to and thinks about the world, how he intellectually engages with the planet and the people on it, how he uses his wisdom in unconventional ways and challenges conventional thinking. He is my "head person" because of his stunning capacity to problem solve and because he looks for what is possible past what is simply visible.

In my heart I carry His Holiness, the XIV Dali Lama. I carry the Dali Lama with me because of his compassion and love for all living things. His Holiness summarizes Buddhism and his life philosophy in this way: "Try to help others. If you are not able to be of help then at least do them no harm." Kindness, compassion and wisdom...for His Holiness the Dali Lama these are not just empty words, but rather foundational principals. My most sincere wish in life is to be a kind, caring and compassionate person. I carry the Dali Lama as my "heart person" because I know of no other living being who has so mastered the art of true compassion.

In my belly I carry Wendy Palmer. I carry Wendy because she is the steadiest, most peaceful, rooted and centered person I have ever had the blessing to know. She seems to be a tree in human form and her roots go all the way to the center of the earth. She is solid and unshakable. She embodies for me creativity, intuition and a calmness which I strive for but have not yet achieved. Wendy is my "heart person" because she reminds me it is not just about the journey but about being conscious on the journey. In my pursuit of wisdom I have much still to learn and Wendy taught in times of uncertainty there is value in simply entering the sanctuary of not-knowing and having the courage to wait.

I believe E. E. Cummings got it right in his poem - about who we carry with us.

"...(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud 
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) 
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart..."

On our internal and outward journeys we may not find 'the whole truth' or come to know all the secrets of the universe exactly, but if we carry with us those who keep us grounded yet also open and honest, then we will certainly find pieces enough to enrich and sustain us. This seeking is a worthwhile endeavor and what we gather along the way will be sufficient to grow our Selves in rich soil with deep roots...

Ask yourself who you are 'carrying' out and place these people within you because the celebration of those who nourish and sustain us on our journey is indeed part of the wonder that's keeping the stars apart.

On this Mother's Day I wish to say 'thank you' to one person in particular who nourished and sustained me for much of my journey - my mother, Carol.

Mama, I carry you in my heart in a special 'center' reserved just for you. You left this life fourteen years ago but you are still the voice inside my head and part of the fabric of my heart. Not a day goes by when I don't use one of the many 'tools' you gave me.

It is my belief that even if your mother is already gone from this life she will come close on Mother's Day each year to listen to her children. So if you are listening, mama - I love you and I always carry you with me - I carry you in my heart!

Happy Mother's Day