Contemplative Photography & Reflections

Water Lily Medicine

This morning, I woke up to a supportive text from someone who loves and cares deeply about me and realizes it might be a difficult day. I’d awakened early this morning feeling worried about how the day might go but managed to get back to sleep for a couple more hours, and receiving that text, literally within two minutes of waking up for good, made a difference. It was comforting to begin the day knowing that I am not alone and that someone truly cares.

In order to get back to sleep two hours earlier, I focused on releasing my thoughts and replacing them with thoughts that brought relief, and I scanned my body to become aware of and release any tension. I told myself it’s okay if I don’t fall asleep and had a Plan B (yoga nidra meditation) if I didn’t. And then I fell asleep and awakened to that wonderful text.

Through half a century of living in this world and being dedicated to personal and spiritual growth, I have developed an incredible toolbox to help me regain my sparkle when I’m feeling down. The toolbox is filled with resources that empower me to embrace my wholeness and shine my inner light. I’m sure you have such tools at your disposal, too. Each of us has our own spiritual toolbox, though the contents will vary from person to person according to personal preference and what gets the job done. Personally, gratitude is one of my power tools that yields consistently effective and amazing results, and I have many specialized, go-to tools in the mindfulness compartment of my toolbox, as well.

I’m not going to beat around the bush. July has been an emotionally tumultuous month here on the Hudson. For example, I took my son (my youngest) to college orientation for incoming freshmen, and it hit me that he really will be going away in less than a month and that I will have an empty nest for real. Not just practice, like when he lives seven minutes away at his dad’s house, but for real. I’ve also been grieving the decline of a close friend’s mental health and how it affects our relationship. Witnessing my friend’s behavior this summer has been like watching a train wreck in slow motion. It’s painful to stand by and feel there’s nothing more I can do to help. My dad’s physical health is suffering, and another friend is dealing with an alarmingly heavy load that life has served up. Then there are national and world events and how they are spun by the media – although I have to say that not having TV mitigates the effects of that.

But getting down is not what I write about. So, no worries. I’m not going there! Back to the toolbox…

I value taking out the tools and doing maintenance and improvement on a regular basis because the greatest gift we can give one another is our whole, loving self. It is that wholeness I strive to cultivate so I can give people with whom I interact the gift of my best self rather than a smaller version of myself that depends on them providing me with the relief that ultimately comes from me taking personal responsibility and doing the inner work that only I can do. In other words, when we look to another person to help us feel good about ourselves, we are doing both him/her and ourselves a disservice – and the relief we receive from anything or anyone outside of ourselves is only temporary. A band-aid. Even an addiction. I don’t like the way it feels to be needy and don’t like the idea of using another person to feel better about myself. That’s not the answer. I can do better.

There’s simply no way around doing your inner work. It’s the only way to liberate you from the chains of dependency. And when you’ve had a taste of that freedom and that expanded Self, you’re no longer satisfied with a life of dependency and addiction. You know that going back (to giving away your power) will not ultimately work, for it will keep you in a vicious cycle of desire.

But there are times when our energy and resilience are low – perhaps from exhaustion or overwhelm (which can happen when we’re not using our tools for daily maintenance) – and encountering a great loss or challenge leaves us feeling needy, vulnerable, and incomplete. We might not even have the strength to open our toolbox and might forget we have a toolbox in the first place.

That’s when a kind and caring communication from someone who truly loves us can make a difference and give us that burst of strength and positivity that makes a difference. So surrounding ourselves with people who are naturally kind, loving, and supportive is another self-care tool to include in our spiritual toolbox. And it’s important to maintain our toolbox by discarding what doesn’t work for us. This includes letting go of people who have a negative effect on our well-being. Because life is too short to have to sort through our toolbox to locate effective tools amidst a pile of tools that are broken or never worked for us in the first place, even if others swear by them.

Recently, I was feeling very sad and lonely. It was an uncomfortable feeling that I realized I probably should sit with even though I wanted to flee from it. I sensed that if I ran from it, it would lodge in my body, whereas if I sat with a witnessing presence, it might dissolve or transform. But the idea of sitting and “being with” the uncomfortable sensations felt daunting. I felt like an addict who wanted a fix. A distraction to whisk me away from the acute discomfort I was experiencing.

It was a clear indicator that I had some work to do and that there was tremendous potential for healing and growth! Opportunity disguised as pain.

And then the image of a water lily came to mind.

White Water Lily-1

I’ve been drawn to water lilies even more than usual lately and have spent hours photographing them on the river. There is something about their energy and form that speaks to me. So when a water lily appeared in my mind during a moment of acute anguish (aggravated by being overtired), it inspired me with a simple movement that helped me to inhabit my fullness again and expand out of a place that felt tattered and diminished. I call it “water lily pose,” and I made my first-ever guided meditation video to share it with you. It’s simple and brief, and it’s the newest addition to my spiritual toolbox that can be useful when you are feeling disempowered in the face of personal or world events and long to return to your whole, sparkling self. Water lily medicine.

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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, 2016. SHARING IS CARING, and I appreciate my work being shared with others! Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography (river-bliss.com). 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. In other words, I put my heart and soul into my writing and photography and want to be credited for it and have some traffic sent my way. It’s the high vibration thing to do!  🙂 

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