Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Higher Flower Power


I wrote this almost seven years ago. Don't know about you, but sometimes I learn something by reading old words I'd almost forgotten I wrote. It's like recovering a little piece of self I'd almost lost:

Spring, 2001

Hey, this meditation thing works!

I mean I’m getting flowers once a week from a husband who hasn’t given me flowers in fifteen years of marriage. Oh, there were the two times I gave birth. But even the velvety red blossoms of long-stemmed roses pale in the aftermath of that kind of excruciation. I’ve always longed for posies outside of a hospital room, and on an ordinary day, a day on which my cervix hasn’t just taken a quantum leap in the possibilities of expansion. A surprise bunch of daffodils arriving at my desk on, say, a Tuesday afternoon in late September, would be heartening. Maybe, on a lackluster winter morning, a single iris appearing atop the breakfast bar, along with a double espresso. Such flowery gestures didn’t happen once in fifteen years. Not so much as one lousy carnation. Not even on my birthday. That is, not until a few months ago, when I began a meditation practice.

No, I haven’t been praying to the Powers-That-Be for bouquets of hot pink dendrobium, purple snapdragons, morning-glories, and birds-of-paradise. It’s the peace of mind I’ve been after. I’ve gotten a measure of that, and, at this point, I’d say the blossoms are more of a perk. You see, last fall I climbed unscathed out of a totaled Buick. I did have a touch of what they call “cervical strain,” and while waiting for the emergency room physician to prescribe muscle relaxers, I learned my blood pressure was topping off in the red zone. Like an overinflated truck tire, I was on the verge of blowing. They call high blood pressure the Silent Killer, and although I know that sooner or later my own killer will arrive, whether silently, like a cat burglar, or preceded by a fanfare and drum roll, I’m in no hurry whatsoever to meet him.

And I remembered reading a book about those Tibetan monks who, by simply retreating into the vast expanses of Oneness, can modulate their vital signs with the finesse of John Coltrane on saxophone. Such things have been measured scientifically by Harvard medical professors, who huffed and puffed their way up a steep Himalayan trail, hauling stethoscopes, spygnomanometers, and rectal thermometers. The monks actually allowed themselves to be hooked up to such instruments before, during, and after their taking that quiet, interior leap into Oneness known as deep meditation. What the docs learned is that when it comes to such internal variables as blood pressure, body temperature, and pulse rate, those Himalayan monks have got their chops down. They are to diastolic readings what Sarah Vaughan was to vocal chords.

What’s their secret? A kind of temporary amnesia when it comes to “the smalls.” Not only do they not “sweat the smalls,” they don’t allow them to enter their mind at all. At least not during the meditative state. And just like the pop psych book says, when it comes to thoughts, they’re all “smalls.”

SO at 7 a.m. I’ve been getting the kids off to school, then climbing our little spiral staircase to the landing. There’s a window facing east up there and that’s where I sit, not in any lotus position, but simply in a chair, my palms opened upwards, in the direction of the smoke detector and the heavens beyond. I start by clearing my mind with om chanting. The cool thing is this often sets the metal stair rail to vibrating. Sometimes it sounds like a pipe organ, sometimes like a small set of wind chimes set tinkling by a soft afternoon breeze. All I know is that, from time to time, my mind does empty, in tiny but deep lapses. For a moment I forget that my husband, who prides himself on his unerring sense of direction, wouldn’t know his way into a florist’s shop if my life depended on it. I forget about florists altogether. I release any expectations I have of showy blossoms appearing out of the blue. There’s just the blue and whatever it brings. My opened palms tingle. The stair rail rumbles a deep, satisfying chord. Peace. Emptiness. Good vibes.

Later, when I’ve had my fill of this calm emptying, this Love Supreme, I like to hold my tingling palms out in the direction of others I care about. My spouse, for example. The palms are little energy centers, and after mine have soaked up all those good vibes, I turn them outwards, towards the garage, where Bennie is busy packaging art we sold at our gallery, paintings and pots which will be picked up by UPS. I turn my palms in the direction of my husband's hands, which so deftly wield a tape gun and bubble wrap. I send my love in wave after wave to my husband. I send my gratitude for his finesse with packing tape and corrugated cardboard, his ability to send five oversize terracotta pots packing, safely, over three thousand miles of land and sea, to a customer in Thailand. I gather all my love and likewise send it packing, in a sure trajectory, across the roof, across the tops of the junipers, over the winding stone path and into the garage, towards the wrapping table, where my husband wraps Kraft paper around a work on canvas. I aim for his heart.

Later, I am in the kitchen, brewing espresso. The back door opens, my husband walks in, takes me in his arms, and, out of the blue, kisses me. The lips too are energy centers. A Love Supreme. Ask Coltrane.

Post Script, 2008: A couple of days after that out-of-the-blue kiss, Bennie brought me the first of countless bouquets. And I am happy to report they are still arriving. Go ahead. Give meditation a whirl. How could it hurt?



100 comments:

david mcmahon said...

You're right, San - it does work. After all, ``om'' is where the heart is!

Chuffed that you liked my shadow photograph - the delicate spray of flowers even showed up in the frame. The shadow was cast across the restaurant, on the timber of the bar.

San said...

Thanks, David. Clever pun.

Mima said...

San, that is a really beautiful post, and I'm so glad to hear that your hubby has taken to giving you the odd bouquet of flowers, how lovely! I have tried to meditate a few times, and find it really difficult to keep my mind clear, but I guess that it is one of those things that becomes easier with practice. You have inspired me to revisit it!

velvetginger said...

San, your story brought tears to my eys...isn't it amazing how our penned memories hit our present day heart and put things in perspective for us?
Thank you.

lime said...

glad to hear the love has blossomed. thank you for the inspiration.

San said...

Mima, thank you for your lovely words. They're like a bouquet!

Meditation, it's probably worth your revisiting, unless it's frustrating for you. In that case, it can be a stressor in and of itself. I know. When I tried it first, it drove me nuts.

San said...

Rubye Jean, you are so right.

Thank you.

San said...

Lime, thanks for the visit and the play on words.

;-)

CrazyCath said...

San - hi. That is a beautiful post. So glad you found your inner peace. I tried meditating but find it difficult if I think of it in those terms, so I call it 'praying' and get that same inner peace and oneness (in my case with my Creator) that helps me to pass it on!

You express it really well in your post. And I'm so glad a lady who deserves it is at last getting flowers... ;0)

San said...

Cath, I do my share of praying too, which feels very personal.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. I've been getting the flowers for 7 years now. And counting.

Kim said...

Meditation is Awesome! My experiences have been incredible, as well! I have healed myself, been given gifts and gained a great deal of personal power through mediation. My sessions always follow a gentle yoga practice (too many different windows in my life to depend on them) with scent (essential oils or incense) and a candle.

I love the way you have revisited something so beautiful from many years ago!

A.Bananna said...

that is beautiful. :) my husband still surprises me with flowers. :)

San said...

Kim, thank you for sharing your own meditation practice. I now sometimes burn sage.

Revisiting, it can be good for the soul.

San said...

Anna, your husband sounds really thoughtful. You two deserve each other.

SandyCarlson said...

What a wonderful post. I have found that it does work. Those Tibetan monks know what they're about--and it ain't the "smalls"! Great lesson to learn.

I love your artwork. I have been to your website and enjoyed what's there.

There is a local artist whose work reminds me of yours--Bob Alberetti. I marvel!

Thanks for stopping by.

San said...

Sandy, for some reason I'm not surprised that you have tried it.

And thank you for your gracious compliment. I will have to look at Bob's art...

whimsicalnbrainpan said...

What a lovely post!

San said...

Whimsical N, thanks!

Lee said...

What a precious story, San. I loved Bennie's response to your gift of energy! :) May flowers and kisses flow all your lives.

Hugs!

San said...

Oh, Lee, you saw the gift of energy for what it was. That's special, my friend.

May your life continue to flow with gifts and love...

Hugs back.

'American Dreamer' said...

Hi San!
I'm visiting for the first time in a while so I read and viewed down to where I had started the last time here.
You're such an incredible 'out of the box' person.
You give us all so much 'food' for thought!
Thank you for your posts, they're just precious.

Celebration of Life said...

San, I just knew I liked your Bennie; what a sweetie he is!!! I meditate in the morning with a cup of coffee while I watch the sunrise. I know I will have a great day when the sky turns "skyblue pink." Thanks for sharing a part of your life and your insight! Oh, that David cracks me up with his puns! :o)

Calamity Jane said...

Gosh. Wow. Your lovely post just stopped me in my tracks. I've occasionally tried to meditate but usually I just fall asleep (which has similar healing effect I suppose so I'm not complaining). Instead of flowers I would be happy with communication.

PS Did you try the houmous yet?

Shrinky said...

What a life-affirming, uplifting read! Thank you, San, the power of love truly is a powerful force indeed.

HMBT said...

Wonderful and brought tears to my eyes. Love, it's what's for dinner.

San said...

A. Dreamer, you don't know how honored I feel to be called "out of the box." Maybe, as they say, it takes one to know one.

Thank you for reading and for your kind and thoughtful comments.

San said...

Jo, morning coffee is one of my rituals too. Skywatching, that works too.

Here's hoping you saw "skyblue pink" today!

San said...

Jane, communication--that's more beautiful than any floral arrangement. Speaking of which, thanks for communicating!

My college kids are coming home this weekend for spring break. We all love hummus and so I will make your recipe. Can't wait!

San said...

Thanks, Shrinky. You know all about the power of love.

San said...

Thanks, Heather. Here's a kleenex.

Now I'm picturing a potluck where everyone brings their special recipe for love. And their appetite.

Paula said...

Hi San ~

Great post. I checked out your website. Love, love, love the art.

I am leaning more and more toward abstract all the time.

San said...

Paula, thank you so much for looking at the website.

I enjoy working in abstract, but I love all kinds of styles in painting, when in comes to the art of others. It's the soul that counts.

Daphne said...

I like that you face the smoke detector among other things. Great post. I will have to start meditating. I am sooo glad that I have the opportunity to read your beautiful thoughts.

Sparkling Red said...

How lovely! Just reading this brought peace to my heart.

I haven't had much success with meditation, but lately (in the past 6 months) I've been feeling very connected through prayer. I've prayed for peace to heal some interpersonal conflicts (to which I am an audience, not an participant), and so far they have all resolved successfully. Coincidence? I'll never know, but I'm going to keep praying. It feels good. :-)

Meg Wolff said...

San,
This is a reminder for me thanks for sharing this experience. I enjoyed this post immensely and I like the photo of you and your husband.

San said...

Daphne, you are so generous. The smoke detector, that's what makes the difference.

;-)

San said...

Red, thank you for sharing your powerful experiences with prayer. It's the best kind of power--quiet and effective.

I'm a believer!

San said...

Meg, that's part of the joy of blogging, isn't it? Sharing and "reminding" each other what's important...

Celebration of Life said...

Morning San! Yes, I did see the sunrise this morning and saw "skyblue pink" and had a great morning. Now I have to get busy and live up to my reputation and get some work done. Oh, and I wanted to mention that you and I are definitely 'kindered spirits!' :o)
Jo

CHEWY said...

My quiet times are my evening walks and stretches. Love the painting accompanying this post.

Daryl E said...

I love this .. I think I am going to give OM a chance ..

David sent me, but I'll be back on my own!

BTW .. you two make a fabulous looking couple!

jsd said...

not sweating the 'smalls' - ah, my unattainable...one day maybe, when I'm lucky I catch glimpses of what life moving in extended time looks like, but it's so fleeting that it's almost not real. I admire those Tibetan monks.

Angel... said...

OMG you are so cute.. I feel like hug you.

San I liked your picture alott..with your hubby and I already saved it in my friends list. I don't know about meditation whether it works or not.. but I always believe in prayers.

see you,
Angel

San said...

Hi, Jo. Just taking a break from my "responsible" tasks. Hope your to-do list is vanishing...

Kindred spirits or partners in crime?

:-D

San said...

Chewy--evening walks and stretches. That works.

Thanks for noticing the painting!

San said...

In that case, Daryl, I'm grateful to David.

Glad to hear you're going to give OM a chance. And that you plan to return!

See you around...

San said...

JS, I hear you. I'm prone to worry over itty bitty things too. And when it comes to bigger ones, oh no! I don't believe I'll be invited to take up residence in a monastery any time soon.

Peace out.

San said...

Angel, I too believe very much in prayer.

And when it comes to cute, well, sweetheart, you wrote the book! Make that beautiful.

JafaBrit's Art said...

What an awesome post, I drank in every word. I will have to give meditation the way you describe a try.

Today I really found myself wanting to be centered and took to ironing shirts to calm myself down. I think I will give the meditation a try tomorrow.

San said...

Corrine, I too find simple tasks centering. For me, it's putting away dishes. Folding laundry, that's good too.

I hope your foray into meditation goes well...

Celebration of Life said...

San,
Partners in Crime and Kindered Spirits are "same, same" aren't they? LOL

Angel... said...

so sweet....well jst stopped by to say hello to u

Angel

Kim said...

Thank you...peace and serenity is now flowing here at Stillmeadow...om works!

P M Prescott said...

I come by and check out your blog from time to time, but am reluctant to leave a comment when I see a high number have already been left. I would love to come by and see your gallery the next time my wife and I drive up. e-mail me at jtenebrae@yahoo.com the address.

Celebration of Life said...

Afternoon San! I posted some Frisco pictures...bet they look familiar!

Jeff B said...

I need to set aside time for paryer and meditation too. I seem to let life get in the way more than it should. Your post reminds me to be more intentional about it.

Sometimes Saintly Nick said...

Aaaaaaaaaah Ooooooooooooommmmmmmmmmm shalom

Anna said...

San beautiful post. It is amazing how meditation works, I done it, been there, and love it. I heard that one story, that one man was bitten by snake, and instead of going to hospital he meditated for many hours, when his wife finally convinced him to get medical attention, the doctor told him he should have been dead by now. This is how powerful it can be, and in many areas. Thank you San for sharing this very interesting and powerful story, and your added images along are beautiful, along with photo of you and your husband. Anna :)

San said...

Partner-in-Crime Jo, good morning!

Gotta get over to see your SF pictures. SOON. It'll be my reward when I complete my tasks. Being a Type 4 today.

San said...

Always good to see you, Angel!

San said...

Kim, Stillmeadow sounds like the kind of place where peace and serenity flow everyday.

Lovely.

San said...

P.M. Please don't refrain from leaving comments. I love comments.

And I will email the gallery address to you.

San said...

Jeff, lately I've been feeling a little rushed. Makes it more challenging to find time for prayer. But when I do, I'm always so glad I did.

San said...

Peace to you, Nick...

San said...

Oh, Anna, thank you for sharing the story of the meditating man and the snakebite. The powers of a quiet mind --we have only a glimpse of them no doubt.

Peace to you, and I'm so glad you enjoyed the post.

Sandi McBride said...

San...lovely post...ain't love grand???
a warm hug for you
Sandi

San said...

Thanks, Sandi. I agree--it's the grandest!

BIG HUG back...

murat11 said...

Some day you'll look into her eyes
Then there'll be no goodbyes
And yesterday will have gone
You'll find yourself in another space
500 miles high

You'll see just one look and you'll know
She's so tender and warm
You'll recognize this is love
You'll find yourself on another plane
500 miles high

Be sure that your love stays so free
Then it never can die
Just realize this is truth
And above the skies you will always stay
500 miles high

:chick corea

A beautiful piece/peace, San. Wonderful painting, too, and I like the "remindings" of Coltrane and The Divine One. Bless you both.

Julie at Virtual Voyage said...

Just to say I like the idea of looking back and picking out a piece of writing like this to reflect on distance covered. I pray, and have been familiar with mind clearing techniques for a while now.

San said...

Thank you, Paschal, for the lovely, "highly" appropriate words from Corea.

Blessings to you and Tina and Walden. Keep It flowing, man.

San said...

Hi Julie. "Reflecting on distance covered." Gives perspective, doesn't it?

velvetginger said...

just stopping to say Hi!

San said...

Rubye Jean, it's always great to see you. I am SO excited--my college kids are about to be home for spring break!

WILSONART said...

Hi San,
The wildflower in me loves this story! Great art in this post!
I've also been tripping around your site,,,,really fine work,,,"Dreaming In Color" grabbed me especially!

~Babs

Patty said...

Absolutely beautiful post. Meditation works wonders for the soul. Clears the mind, renews energy and gives a general sense of inner peace. Loved your art as well. What a cute couple you and Bennie are. I can see the affection you have for each other.

San said...

Thank you, Babs, for your kind words.

"The wildflower in you"--I like that!

San said...

Patty, I always enjoy reading your beautiful comments.

Thank you.

The Moody Minstrel said...

I particularly appreciate the way you've finely woven together transcendence and some very fine musicians! Those are vibes that should be translated into muse!

San said...

Moody, as always, I appreciate your most excellent vibes. Music to my ears. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Helena said...

WOW What an amazing post!

Helena said...

(my partner says it's ok to throw some flowers into the trolley as we go shopping. Does that count??)

San said...

Helena, thank you!

Throwing flowers into the trolley--I would say that most assuredly counts!

:-)

Carol said...

Hi San,

I am back home from my retreat, but I'm still retreating - and I plan on doing that for a very long time!

I enjoyed your post. A favorite part was when you didn't leave the smoke alarm out of it. It's all there in the mix, isn't it???

San said...

Welcome back, Carol. I'm glad to hear you are still in retreat mode.

And I'm glad you acknowledge the whole mix, smoke detector and all.

:-)

Meanie the baby dragon said...

Hi San! Doo u evow waow yo bwazwut anee mow now u ah hom?

Celebration of Life said...

Good Morning San!
Hope you have a great week!
Jo

david mcmahon said...

Has anyone ever told you that Bennie looks like Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush in this shot?

San said...

Chuck, yes, I do waow my bwazwut. I wuv it. It weminz me uv my fwends in Wiohming. It's speshul. Wehly, wehly speshul.

xoxoxo

San said...

Hi Jo! I'm viewing your comment late afternoon. So good afternoon!

I've been out running errands with my daughter. She and Oaks are home for spring break. It's fun--she's going to make shrimp etouffee tonight!

San said...

No, David. But now everybody will be seeing it.

:-)

B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

)))nose hugs(((

:@D

San said...

Oh, Bob, I love those nose hugs.

Thanks!

kate said...

Hi San,

I thoroughly enjoyed this post... now I'm wondering if I take up meditation again, might my 15-yr.-old maybe start giving me flowers? Hmmm... I used to meditate many years ago. It was a good way of letting go of all the daily minutae.

You and Benny look great in this photograph.

San said...

Kate, you never know. Those 15-year-old sons are full of surprises, aren't they?

Glad you like the picture. It did capture a moment in a very special day.

Jo Beaufoix said...

Oh that is fab. You know, I never tried meditation. I really must as I think it sounds amazing. That and reikii. Sigh.

San said...

Jo, thanks for visiting, babe.

jameil1922 said...

how could that be more beautiful? i don't know.

indicaspecies said...

Loved your reference to Tibetan monks..haha. Another awesome post!

Beautiful pictures, a lovely couple, and the most elegant painting. It's a pleasure to be catching up on your blog. :)

indicaspecies said...

Deep Sleeper..wow! The title is as good.

I still recall the stunning Red Quareling with Black. :)

San said...

Celine, Bennie gets the credit for the title "Deep Sleeper." He and our son Oakley. Oakley had used the phrase in a short story and Bennie thought it would make the perfect title for the painting. He apparently was right.

And thank you for remembering "Red Quarreling with Black." I came up with that title. :-)