Contemplative Photography & Reflections

Category: Uncategorized

The Light of a Distant Fire

The Light of a Distant Fire

It’s Sunday evening, and still so much to do to prepare for the work week ahead. Bills to pay. Lessons to plan. Laundry. The day has faded into darkness. The vegetable and herb gardens are covered with old sheets in anticipation of the season’s first frost. I light a stick of earthy incense on the indoor porch overlooking the river. Then I notice the light across the river.

WoodFire

It’s the light from a neighbor’s back yard wood fire. It pulls me into a state of peace and serenity and ignites the desire to sit around a warm fire in my own back yard on this chilly night. I ask my husband if he’d like to have a fire (knowing full well that I don’t have the time). He is too tired and hasn’t gathered any wood but asks if I’d want him to prepare some for tomorrow evening. Of course. It’s hard not to be inspired by the contagious energy of a fire glowing softly nearby – the woodsy scent and peaceful, crackling sounds. The warmth and the glow. The light of the fire across the river reminds me of the sweet, unexpected fragrance of a neighbor’s flowers drifting in through an open window like a friendly ripple of peace and kindness. It’s comforting.

I linger on the porch appreciating the glow of the distant fire and consider what music would deepen the ambiance. Beethoven piano sonatas, beginning with Moonlight Sonata and followed by Sonata Pathetique. Perfect. As the music flows like the river outside the porch windows, I balance some stones on my altar and complete the arrangement with an origami water lily floating in silky, blue waves and the light from two homemade, glass lanterns embellished with carefully chosen words for attunement. Tranquility infuses the air through the music, the balance, the light as the weekend draws to a close. A moment of gratitude to be shared. It’s the little things, the small moments – at the same time extraordinary and nothing special.

IMG_7359fl

May your week be filled with blessings, balance, and light.

The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Asked for a Dream, Found a Poem

Asked for a Dream, Found a Poem

Saturday was my birthday. Friday evening before falling asleep, I asked for a special dream message for the year ahead – for in past years, certain birthday dreams have held great significance. I think of them as birthday gifts from my higher Self.

I dreamed of a partly gray, partly blue sky with interesting clouds. As usual in my dreams, I couldn’t retrieve my camera in time; by the time I found it and headed outdoors, the clouds had changed, and I noticed some dredging equipment passing by on the river in front of our house. I realized it was the first day of another dredging season, and that made me very sad. I woke up sobbing.

Not exactly the kind of dream I was hoping for. But it was a sunny (albeit frigid) morning, and it wasn’t long before I knew exactly what to do next: Take a walk along the river. The insights I had during my walk, and the way I felt as a result of being alone in nature, helped me realize that nature would be my medicine and would support me through whatever real or metaphoric dredging may occur this year.

Some poems whisper through the air, and I catch them in a net, fully formed. Other times, I string insights together like beads on a necklace, with an eye for patterns. The latter is how the poem (below) came about. It feels as if the dream was incomplete on its own and needed the poem to complete it. It’s about longing for one thing but finding something else.

Later that morning, I noticed one small tree covered with hoarfrost by the dam. It was the only tree anywhere I could see that was coated with frost. But that little tree called to me from across the river, and I had to get a closer look, so I strapped on my snowshoes. Once I got as close as I could, there was a lot of brush and a huge drop (involving icy water) between the tree and me, so I wasn’t able to photograph it, but I kept snowshoeing and discovered other intriguing sights that I wouldn’t have seen if the tiny, frosted tree hadn’t lured me in that direction. Longing for one thing and finding something else was the clear theme of the day. And how interesting that the clouds I saw while snowshoeing looked very much like the clouds in my dream…

The First of March: A Birthday Poem

I set out in search
of a snowy owl
but found a robin
chirping sunrise song
high in the treetop
and an unseen woodpecker
drilling in the distance.

I walk, heart longing
for a certain thing
then stop to wonder:
Am I seeking
in the direction,
at the angle,
through the sense
that offers the best
perspective?

Sometimes the crunch
of our own footsteps
drowns out such life
and delight!
May we remember
to stand still even
in the deep chill of Winter
and Listen
beyond what we want to hear,
be still and See
more than we are looking for —
and receive the unexpected
offerings revealed.

This morning, I searched
for a landscape
and found a song,
asked for a dream
and found a poem.

It is the longing
that sends me deeper
into wilderness and solitude
than I would go otherwise:
The blessed longing
that opens my senses,
propels me to communion,
and fuels my life.

-Susan Meyer

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Icicle Contemplation

Icicle Contemplation

This morning, it is nearly 40 degrees (F) outside, and I am sitting on the porch looking out the window and watching icicles melt slowly. I have been experiencing some anxiety about the day ahead, but watching the icicles drip calms me. Being so absorbed, I notice that I am not thinking about my appointments. Mindfulness of the melting icicles has cut through the anxiety.

And then I begin to focus on each drop of water that falls intermittently from the icicles that line my windows like exterior curtains. I’m drawn in and focus intently on each droplet. How are they speaking to me? What do they have to teach or awaken in me?

It’s the water cycle, of course – as so often is the case. Each drop of water connects us with everyone else – and all life – on our planet. We live in a gigantic terrarium in which each drop of water is recycled endlessly as it passes through liquid, vapor, and solid states depending on the conditions. Water is always on the move; it doesn’t stay the same.

I was especially transfixed by the point at which gravity freed each droplet from the icicle it had been part of. What was that like for the water droplet? Does it experience freedom or limitation when it is a clearly defined droplet? Or both? Does it fear landing and losing its individuality?

 What is it like to exist without a human mind?

As I watched each droplet fall from the tip of the icicle to the snowbank below, I wondered if the drop seemed like a lifetime to the water droplet. What is time like for a water droplet?

Does it remember being a snowflake, a dewdrop, a cloud, a river, a tear?

After many lifetimes, does it get easier separating from and reuniting with something larger than itself? Does it prefer being an individual or losing its individuality as it merges with others to take on the collective identity of an icicle, a puddle, an ocean? After it has become a snowbank, a river, steam fog vapor, and becomes a raindrop once again, is it intact or made of molecules from other former snowflakes and dewdrops, as well?

And then I think of our relationship with water. Our bodies are composed largely of water. And water also exists outside of us; we can collect it from a spring, pour it into a glass, and drink it. We have rivers running through us, and we can swim in rivers, as well. Water runs through us, is part of us, and exists apart from us. Boundaries are blurred.

As usual, when I contemplate water, I realize we are not separate from the rest of life. Living things are never lost, only transformed. We just might not recognize the dewdrop when it becomes water vapor and returns as a snowflake or a feather in a frost painting that appears on our window one morning.

That thought makes me smile.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

On Perception (and Frosted Trees)

On Perception (and Frosted Trees)

What a winter we have been having here in the Northeast! Lots of snow and frigid temperatures. But it is also the most exquisitely beautiful winter I can recall!

In early January, I fell in love with frosted trees. It’s as if they appeared for the first time out of nowhere, leaving me wondering why they’d never made an impression on me before – and also causing me to anticipate sub-zero (°F) mornings with great excitement.

One morning last week, I woke up, looked out the front windows, and to my surprise and delight, the island in front of our house was frosted with ice crystals, as were all the trees along the river.

I couldn’t remember that ever happening before right in front of our house. Surely, it must have at some point, but it probably didn’t register because I wasn’t looking for it. Seems we tend to believe what we can perceive and tend to perceive what we are looking for! And there are certain habitual ways in which each of us perceives the world around us, leaving so much to fall outside of our radar.

That reminds me of an image that came to me recently, all of a sudden. I’d love to draw it but think it’s beyond my current skill level! It’s an image of a picture frame surrounding a scene containing separate shapes that look like people, a hill, a sun in the sky, etc. But the complete picture extends WAY beyond the frame. The frame seems to be the size of a postage stamp, and the picture is at least the size of a house. But I couldn’t even see the complete picture. It seemed to extend beyond the limits of my perception even when I zoomed way out. But the part I could see was like an enormous, intricate mandala or fractal pattern, and the separate figures inside the tiny frame actually extended beyond the frame and were all linked together in the larger pattern; they weren’t separate after all. Oh, I wish I could draw it because words don’t do it justice! It reminded me of the warehouse metaphor Anita Moorjani used to describe what she perceived during her near-death experience, which I wrote about in a previous post.

Getting back to that beautiful, frosted morning… It happened to be a work day, and when I left the house, the sun had risen just enough to flood the frosted island with light and make it glisten enchantingly.

Although I don’t usually perceive the world musically, that morning’s extraordinary crystal sunrise was accompanied in my head by a song that has yet to be born. I still can hear every detail in my mind, and only three words that repeated like a mantra: All is yes. Again, my level of skill does not allow me to adequately express it musically with the light, playful harp or electric piano accompaniment and the mature female voices I heard in the theater of my mind. Words are inadequate. But every morning since when I notice the frosted tree “effect,” the song plays again in my mind like a joyous celebration.

Of course, I couldn’t help it. I had to make a brief detour on the way to work to do the February equivalent of stopping to smell the roses. In fact, I got into the habit of wearing my cold-weather outdoor pants and boots on the way to work and changing into my work clothes upon arrival, for I cannot resist compelling scenery along the way. There have been a few mornings when I deeply regretted not being able to linger for an extra 15 minutes in the frigid cold!

One recent morning, I dreamt that I had become close friends with a renowned photographer. We hit it off instantly and were like platonic soulmates. I was able to ask him all kinds of photography questions. It was like I had my own photography dream mentor! (Upon waking, I had the impression that it was Louie Schwartzberg, my favorite cinematographer.) And it didn’t surprise me at all that, in waking life, it ended up being the most perfect morning ever for winter photography. And it wasn’t a work morning, either! I snowshoed for hours with my camera in the sub-zero, frosted wonderland along the river and was filled with peace and joy. Nature medicine at its finest!

I came home and described the wonder of the silence (punctuated occasionally by the sound of a woodpecker knocking) and the gentle frost showers that seemed to fall from the frosted trees, high up where the rising mist turned to ice crystals. Those closest to me expected I’d write a poem about it, but instead I created a video.

Even when it seems endless (which it’s not!), winter can be downright dazzling! I invite you to enter the lovely stillness, peace, and joy that I experienced that morning. This is my valentine to you. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Email subscribers: Click HERE to view video.
Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFp3mXBjLrM&feature=youtu.be

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Be That Now

Be That Now

“When we know ourselves and pursue our own path, there is only one possible end to it and that is self-fulfillment.” -Sister Joan Chittister

There has been a lot of Big Stuff going on in my family lately between my mom’s pancreatic cancer, my dad’s sudden hospitalization and surgery, and my children’s father being diagnosed with lymphoma. It’s pretty crazy. When I called my spiritual guide for guidance, I learned that she had been in a serious car accident with her husband and was in a body cast.

What is going on here?

Well, the obvious answer is: Life. And, I imagine, quite a bit of transformation, too.

Dissatisfied with certain aspects of my life situation, I had been wondering for a while what’s next. Where does my energy want to go? And while that question still lingered unanswered, the above crises manifested. In the midst of it all, one day the words “mindfulness coach” suddenly arrived in my awareness. And I have been feeling drawn to work that is holistic and healing in nature – or at least a holistic, healing-oriented environment.

Two weeks ago, my dad was admitted to the hospital for surgery, and my sister and I took turns staying with our mother and visiting our dad in the hospital until he was discharged five days later. The first night I stayed with my mom, I had a fascinating dream in which I was walking along my favorite gorge trail in Ithaca, New York during the winter. I’d never been on it in the winter and began by driving (which couldn’t be done in waking life), but it was only plowed a short way. So I got out of my car and began walking the trail and was surprised to see that lots of other people had the same idea. (I didn’t realize you could access the trail during winter, and in waking life a large portion of that trail has been closed for several years). Some people had even set up their own personal spaces along the trail. At the top of a hill, two rainbows – possibly both double rainbows – appeared in the sky at the same time. I continued walking and ran into a woman I apparently knew. I told her of my desire to be a healer. She was an energy healer and immediately went into a trance standing only a couple inches in front of me, to see what she could pick up about me as a healer. Soon, it seemed another entity came through her. I felt the energy shift very strongly and physically. (It even seemed to jolt my actual physical body.) Then she put her hands together so her thumbs and other fingers were touching and formed a circle from which a lapis lazuli colored light emanated.

I’ve often heard that what you seek is already in you waiting to be discovered and activated. The essence of the thing you want to do (when you whittle it down to its core) need not wait until the future when you have more education or a different employment or financial situation. You can do it – and be it – now. For instance, a wise woman helped me to realize that my waking intuition and dream-time desire to be a healer doesn’t necessarily indicate a career change that would require me to go back to school (which really doesn’t appeal to me). It’s something I can do right now without changing any of the outer details of my life.

I have had enough life experience to know that my happiness ultimately does not depend on changing circumstances or conditions, but developing a harmonious relationship with the present moment – transforming reality from the inside out. Accepting responsibility for our own happiness implies not making excuses for why we can’t be happy now or putting happiness off until some future time when circumstances and conditions are finally aligned. My wise mentor encouraged me to realize that I already am a healer by the way in which I share my photography and interact with my students, family, and others. Being a healing presence does not require another graduate degree. It requires being present and allowing that presence to flow through me and make my own little corner of the world a better place.

I have received formal education in psychology, social work, and transpersonal psychology, and my first serious career aspiration was to be a clinical or counseling psychologist. I thought that was the only way I could help others to enhance their psychospiritual health. However, I think about my hair stylist and how uplifted I feel after an appointment with her. What my hair looks like is beside the point; it’s the way I feel after talking with her. She is a healer. Anyone, in any position, can be a healer via their authentic presence. What matters is that we can find something to love enough to continue doing our paid work so our authentic essence can flow into the world. We need to be aligned with the present moment, which is much easier than waiting for conditions to align! When we are aligned with “what is” right now, we experience joy. And our energy is a blessing to the world that can ripple onward.

Perhaps there will come a time when it feels right to make changes. But for me, that time is not now. Now it’s time to retreat into the sanctuary of the present moment and find peace, experience grace, and bring presence into action.
 

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Opportunities for Practice

Opportunities for Practice

This morning, my husband woke me with the following words: “I know you want to get some sleep, but you might want to look out the window. It’s one of those mornings.” And it certainly was. Within minutes, I was walking through a frosted world waiting for the sun to burst through the clouds and play with the ice crystals that formed from last night’s fog.

It took an hour and a half before the rising sun intersected with a patch of blue sky, but I was determined to be there and ready when it happened. I had plenty of time to walk around and consider the scenery and angles I wanted to photograph.

It was a cold morning, and at times I wished the clouds would hurry up and move out of the way. But then I’d take a deep breath and remind myself that this is a perfect opportunity to practice. To meditate.

After decades of practicing on and off, I have come to understand meditation quite simply as the act of bringing awareness back from the thinking mind to the spaciousness of the present moment. You catch yourself again and again, bring your mind back, and work on strengthening that response so it becomes more instinctive and immediate. Meditative awareness offers freedom from the tyranny of thought.

I couldn’t do anything to speed up the clouds, so I had some choices, as we all do:

  • Give up and go home
  • Be agitated and discontented with the present moment while waiting for it to change
  • Embrace the moment, and love what’s already here.

You can complain about life not meeting your expectations, about all the misery in the world, about the present moment not being as you want it to be. Or you can find something to love, here and now. You can have a peaceful, joyful heart despite it all.

I have had a lot of opportunity for practice lately. When the house is still at night or I’m alone without any distractions, my parents’ suffering often arises in my mind. I think about how very unfair it is that such good, kind people can receive such cruel blows from life. Pancreatic cancer sucks. My mom is worn out and in pain much of the time. She hasn’t been able to do the things she loves. I realize the importance of acknowledging, allowing, and releasing grief, and I know from experience that grief is hard, physical work.

But this will not stop me from searching for beauty. From spending more than two hours outdoors on a frosty morning waiting for the moment when the light finally shines through and transforms the world into a luminous wonderland. Kahlil Gibran’s words from The Prophet resonate: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” In fact, the sorrow only fuels my desire to find and share joy and beauty.

Grief is energy that feels like a wave crashing through me. But I’m realizing that grief is not the same thing as sorrow. Grief is physical. Tears flow. Like shells and stones that wash up as waves crash against the shore, grief often gives rise to sadness and sorrow – which can be perpetuated by the egoic, thinking mind. Once the wave of grief energy passes, I can choose whether to focus on thoughts of deprivation or gratitude. I can feel sadness for my mom’s suffering and for everything her cancer is stealing from us. I can continue to think sad thoughts for as long as I want. But those thoughts will not change her situation. They will only keep me awake at night and leave me feeling tired the next day – and less present and able to do the things that will make a difference. So instead of feeding the sorrow, I’ve found that once the grief wave passes through, I can breathe into my heart center and transform grief into gratitude. Gratitude for having such loving parents who have helped me to become who I am today. Gratitude for having awakened to how amazing and beautiful my parents are while there is still time to repay their love and kindness and enjoy their company.

It’s all the same: Impatience for the sun to shine, grieving my mother’s illness, etc., etc., etc. It’s all an opportunity to practice returning to the spaciousness of the present moment and discovering the gifts waiting to be noticed and received.

While waiting for the sun to shine this morning, I found so much beauty when I decided to take a look around and expand my awareness beyond waiting and focusing on what was missing from the moment. The same can also be done when a loved one has a serious illness. Every moment is an opportunity to live and love more fully. Every moment offers a gift.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

The photographs in this blog and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (www.river-bliss.com) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Page 1 of 1512345...10...Last »

There's so much I want to share with you! Subscribe to my mailing list so you won't miss a thing! And don't worry: I won't spam you or share your info with anyone!

You have Successfully Subscribed!