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Summer of 2010 was the coldest summer on record in Los Angeles, and I think this winter is the coldest I can remember in the 17 years that I’ve lived here. That summer, cold as it was, was a non-starter. Rain had ordered Begonia bulbs in the Spring, but by the time he actually potted them, it was already June. We had about a dozen pots; both ceramic pots for standing plants and plastic hanging pots – all huddled off to the edge of the patio that still gets sunlight in the afternoon. It seemed to take forever for them to get started.
Yet, one by one, their baby pink tubers peeked up through the soil and eventually, blossomed. All except two standing pots, which I watched suspiciously, as Spring turned to Summer and their soil went unstirred. One began to develop mold, so I knew the bulb had rotted so I removed the pot from the group. It had totally decomposed; there was hardly anything left to throw away. But the soil in the pale green pot still looked viable; and it cost me nothing to pass it back and forth every day, eyeing it and waiting for a change. As the summer wore on, the Begonias in the other pots exploded and I was graced with Puja trays piled with opulent blossoms in a variety of shades of salmon, red, pink and yellow with crimson edges.
Finally, as the summer waned, our un-proverbial late bloomer in the green pot awakened from its slumber. For its debut, it produced a huge, dazzling pink, ruffled blossom that was totally worth the wait. Autumn came, and as the other plants began to lose life force, this plant kept producing these show-stopping blooms that were the center piece of the puja tray. They were always the ones offered to my Guru’s picture.
And they kept on coming – until finally, I picked the last one in the last week in December. The day I picked it, I steeled myself knowing that after this last bloom was gone, I would have to cut the plants back, prepare the bulbs for storage, and my patio would again be barren til the next Summer. I would now have six months of having to purchase whatever I could to offer for puja: baby Carnations, Alstromeria, perhaps an occasional Hibiscus. Now, the feeling of abundance that would naturally arise within me as I harvested the Begonias every morning had to be cultivated; it was no longer a product of my experience. Now it was all in the attitude: I was grateful for these store bought flowers. If I focused on my gratitude, I could amplify it. But the generosity of energy that I got from our Begonias was gone.
In January, I happened to end a relationship that needed ending. For months, I kept thinking that it was over only to have it flare up again, so that end was a long time in coming. Now, that energy, too, was gone, and a chill came over me. Often, I would find my mind heading down dead-end thought processes about my choices, the circumstances, wondering about the future in a vain attempt to grasp the past. Quietly these thoughts would steal into my consciousness, unannounced, wreaking havoc until I would notice them and in doing so, lessen their effect.
This inner dialog, though, is persistent. It wants to know when will it experience that energy again. It wants richness and beauty and it wants it to be summer, too! It is Los Angeles, after all. We never used to have winters like this – they were always so mild. It wants to love – and be loved – again. This inner dialog does not know about time, and that it heals. It is not aware that without time, nothing can.
Meanwhile, the Begonia bulbs know that it’s Winter. They know it in their DNA – on a level we humans wouldn’t condescend to consider knowledge. But it is an intelligence nonetheless. They rest, nestled in sawdust in little cardboard boxes in the tool shed, as night temperatures around here flirt with freezing and the wind and rain scrub our polluted air clean. The bulbs are gathering life force; germinating, storing energy. They don’t dream of Spring. But they’ll know what to do when the time comes.
Heart Chakra Healing Meditation with Singing Bowl
A happy Valentines Day may not be about receiving flowers or Valentines messages, a romantic evening on the town, or even having a date! It’s so easy to be distracted into quantifying the measure of love in our lives to be the love we receive, instead of the love we give! This Valentine’s Day, as we’re inundated with revenue generating messages, we can instead focus on a healing meditation for the Heart Chakra.
Although the world’s major sound healing systems perceive the Heart Chakra frequency variably to be either a fourth octave F or D, any beautifully tuned singing bowl can be used for this meditation. Sitting comfortably with your back straight and shoulders even and relaxed, softly strike the singing bowl with the padded end of your mallet. Taking generous, but natural breaths into the solar plexus, tune into the bowls’ frequencies. Try to lengthen them to the count of 8 on the inhale, and a count of 8 on the exhale. On the in-breath, visualize the sound waves entering your heart through your chest. Let the vibrations expand the area around your heart, creating a space of light. Visualize your exhale washing back out of your chest, releasing any emotional contractions around the heart which can create energy blocks. These can feel like tightness, pain, or fear: give them to the bowl. Strike again, and repeat. Images and thought forms attached to these emotions may come up. Be aware that they are only products of the mind, and gently release them through the out breath.
Now begin to rim your singing bowl, breathing in the female overtone through the chest and directing your breath up the Shuchumna Nadi, straight up the spine and out the Crown Chakra at the very top of the head. Now visualize your heart’s energy in the form of love infused into your breath, and direct it up the spine and out the Crown Chakra. As you exhale, you can visualize God; your loved ones; all sentient beings; the planet and its life forms; perhaps yourself: all bathed in your love. As you lift your mallet off the bowl and listen to the sustain fade into the air, enjoy the vibration of silence that remains. Observe the space you have created around your heart; it should feel lighter, and your whole body should feel energized. Your Heart Chakra should feel open and clear, a perfect conduit for love to flow.
Like any meditation practice, Chakra healing takes time and perseverance. Enjoy the journey!
Founder, Partner, Vigraha, LLC
A year ago today, February 2, 2010, Lee and I sat on the oriental carpet of Bodhisattva’s showroom at the Tucson Gem show, as we had in many a recent year past, selecting singing bowls. His bevy of various wives and daughters sipped tea, and my sales rep and I scurried around the room seeking out the most intricately decorated, rarest and highest quality, small antique pieces we could find.
My partner Rain and I always thought of Lee when we were packing for the show. Every year, the question would come up: What are we bringing for Lee? Undoubtedly, I would pack my highest quality stuff to howls of protest from Rain, who contended that we needed to sell all that retail! Eventually I’d pretend to acquiesce, knowing full well that these little treasures would find their way into Lee’s hands and from there, they would move on to disparate communities of art lovers for whom Vigraha was both a source and an inspiration. Some of our best pieces would whisper Lee’s name: “take me!”.
There were so many times, particularly in the past few years, when the Gem show wasn’t going so well for us. But Lee would appear at our door, usually preceded by a scout or two, and when I’d see him my heart would literally jump with excitement. Sure he was generous – he was an angel – and he went a long way to help make the show profitable for us. But apart from that, he was cool and I loved spending time with him.
I would start a long list, snaking a line of bowls around him, softly striking them, usually to his nods of appreciation. The list would grow, sometimes, into the largest order we would take that year in Tucson. Lee would roll his eyes when I would present him with the bill, saying, “I don’t know why I buy these from you. I can get them for a lot cheaper!” Yet, just the same, he’d snap open his wooden briefcase to write a check, and I would smile. I knew why and so did he. It was because these bowls were beautiful, and Lee was nothing if not an appreciator of beauty.
On this day last year, I was aware that it would be our last. All our rituals were observed; business was conducted in the same amiable way it always was; but something about that day was different. Even as Lee had grown physically more frail, his presence was stronger, more vibrant. As his family gathered, the room was full of a palpable sweetness. It was charged with love. We were all enjoying being together, fully present, in the moment. He was graceful and courageous; patiently repeating words that I missed. The little bowls sang, cell phones chirped, conversation rippled, and the demure Bodhisattvas and Goddesses gazed down from the thangkas on the walls upon us, blessing us with their peace. That day I had the gift of just being in beauty – in the beauty of the singing bowls, in the beauty of each other; in the beauty of life and appreciating every moment as if it were the last. It was a teaching I will always treasure.
This year, I write about my memories of Lee from LA. For the first time in 15 years, Bodhisattva is not at the Gem Show. Our room, long infused with rich energy of the bowls as often as with the fire of Tapas, stress and hard work; we let go of. It was a whole era that we let go of, as we let the Universe move in the way it does. Our condolences to Lee’s family, to Purna, and to Lee’s community. We will always remember Lee with love and gratitude.
Thank you, Lee. God Speed and Namaste.