Fire, Water, Earth & Sky

I’ve been away for a few days, up in Point Reyes, one of my favorite places on earth.

We spent hours watching the tides of Tomales Bay and hiking damp, green trails all the way out to the Pacific Ocean. You know that quiet restfulness of being away from the city, the computer, the phone, the to-do lists. Moving into slower time, laughing a lot with good friends. Filling up with fresh air. Star gazing. Sitting on rocks. Reading.

What I read was Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Anger. Perhaps an odd choice for a relaxing weekend away, but there it was on the rental cottage bookshelf. I’ve noticed anger and irritability arising a lot lately, and it felt like good timing — reading about how to practice with the fire of anger, while surrounded by cool, estuarine water.

Thich Nhat Hanh writes about bringing mindfulness to anger, as a way of creating space around it — so that the anger isn’t pushed away but rather is incorporated or composted. In this fertile mixture, change grows. Positive emotions, communication, and new furrows can be cultivated. He gives the metaphor of a garden, containing both positive and negative seeds: The practice is to avoid watering the negative seeds, and to identify and water the positive seeds every day. This is the practice of love.

Whenever we can, we water the positive seeds with our attention and intention. The garden is right here, just outside the cottage door. It’s everywhere: both very personal and much bigger than each of us individually. We water the seeds by making space and time for meditation, for walking, for watching, for slowing down.

Although it can seem very difficult to get there — & it helps to go somewhere as gorgeous as Point Reyes — it’s also right here, and with each other. We can take a conscious breath and step into the vast perspective of fire, water, earth, and sky. This tangible, loving container that is and holds everything we are and experience. This is the practice of love.

One comment

  1. Carol says:

    I love you for writing this! Beautiful!

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