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So far Nadine Lockitch has created 7 blog entries.

Everything Changes
by Erin Dunigan

Erin BackpackingIt is so easy to want to hang on to the way things have always been, isn’t it? Even if we don’t realize that we are doing it. I don’t know about you, but I find comfort in routine, in predictability.

I am an avid backpacker. I love getting away to the back country for days – no internet, nothing extraneous, all day long hiking in spectacular beauty, breathing fresh air, drinking only water, eating only what the body needs to resupply for the journey, sleeping under the stars. For me, it is magical. Now, to hear that you might be led think that I’m some rugged adventurer. Which, in part, is true. But not completely.

The thing is, my backpacking has almost entirely been in the High Sierra of California – an area which has trails, maps, rangers, and for the most part, well maintained markings along the way. You don’t actually have to be able to use a compass, though of course it is always recommended. You do need to be able to read the topographical map to know when to expect access to water, potential river crossings, and possible flat areas to camp. But, the thing is, there is a trail. For the most part, you follow the trail. There is no mystery as to where you are going – you are going that way.

It was not until one such backpacking adventure, when my traveling companions wanted to investigate a local peak that was definitely not on the trail that I realized – I am actually not as badass as I thought. Because, as soon as we began to hike off trail – going toward a very obvious landmark that would be hard to lose sight of – I felt a bit of a shift in my breathing. A shortness of breath. A bit of fear, even. I realized, it was the fear of going ‘off trail.’ The thing is, we were in a valley with a small peak – it was really quite obvious where we were headed, and how to get back to the trail from which we had come. This was not some blizzard situation, where we couldn’t see in front of us and were fighting for our lives. It was just a short jaunt off trail to see if we could get a nice view from a bit more altitude.

What I realized that day was how much I had come to rely on the trail. How much I had come to rely on knowing where we were going. On knowing that there was a path, a plan, and that our job was to simply follow the path. As soon as I was ‘off trail’ all of a sudden all of that security melted and I felt vulnerable, a bit afraid if I were to admit it, and as though I were losing my sense of orientation. The adventure was fun as long as it seemed safe and […]

By |2020-04-22T11:32:07-07:00April 22nd, 2020|Articles, Talks|Comments Off on Everything Changes
by Erin Dunigan

More from April Not Church

 

April Not Church was historic and you can read a short post here to find out why.

We opened the historic gathering with “The Swan” by Mary Oliver

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?

Mary Frances Lyans shared these thoughts on changes and led us in singing “Long Time Sun” followed by a meditation:

Dear Friends,

During this season, many in our human family around the world, of various spiritual traditions and practices, take time out to reflect upon some of life’s deeper mysteries.

Be it resurrection, reincarnation, rebirth and renewal, there is a common theme.

And at this time of global crisis, there is also great opportunity to go within and effect a transformation of fear into love, for ourselves and for others.

Through deep meditation we open up the possibility to be “reborn” in every breath, in every moment. And gratitude is essential.

We can come to a place of silence and inner peace. It is only here, in the present moment, that we are able to realize the Christ consciousness, the Buddha nature within, which is our true home.

We can help guide humanity through the dark night of the soul by giving our Light, thus increasing that Light exponentially.

Fasting, prayer, meditation, service to others – all are helpful in making our hearts a beacon.

While we certainly may miss the joy of family gatherings, Easter baskets with brightly colored eggs and chocolate bunnies for the children, a beautiful Passover seder,

or even dancing and singing together in celebration of Spring, we have, I believe, an even more compelling and joyful calling.

We clean house, sort out what is truly of value in our lives, and shine our Light.

Om. Shanti

PeaceLove,
Mary

Erin’s wonderful talk, “Everything Changes” from this historic gathering can be read in its entirety here.

Tom and Yella Werder shared their personal insights and practices that are supporting them during this pandemic and closed out the gathering with “It’s in Every One of US.”

See you in May!

 

By |2020-04-22T13:10:10-07:00April 22nd, 2020|About Events, Talks|Comments Off on More from April Not Church

Begin Again

Tap Dancing

by Erin Dunigan


I love the idea of ‘beginner’s mind’ – this idea that we should be open to the new, willing to be a learner, accepting of not knowing. The idea of Beginners mind, to me, is one of possibility – who knows where the path may lead? Who knows what new journey might be just around the corner?

I love the idea of beginners mind…in theory. In theory not knowing and being open and being willing to be a learner all sound like great ideas.

Until that is, you wind up in a leotard and tights as a grown adult in a children’s production of the Nutcracker.

Not long ago I decided that I wanted to take up a new hobby, a new practice in order to learn something new, get out of the comfort zone of my normal routine. They say the brain actually rewires itself when you learn something new. Rewiring my brain? Why not?

So, I decided to take up tap dancing when I found out a neighbor was teaching a class at the church in Santa Anita. In the beginning it seemed a bit less like brain rewiring and more like blowing a fuse, but I kept at it. I like the combination of hearing the sound that the tap shoes make as they contact the floor, as well as the movement that goes along with the sound. Slowly, week after week, my body and my brain began to get the hang of the steps, the movements, and remembering how they all go together. In fact, one day I found that instead of remembering the dance we were learning with my brain, it was actually my body that remembered. Success!! Beginners mind, conquered. I was ecstatic. I had learned something new!

And then came the real test – this new dance that had moved from my head to my body was to be performed. In public. As part of a children’s program of the Nutcracker in which ours was the only dance being performed entirely by adults. Immediately, the brain kicked back in. “It is one thing for children to look cute in a production of the Nutcracker and who cares if they forget the steps or aren’t in rhythm? And it is one thing for professionals to perform the production for a paying audience. But me, in a leotard and tights (a leotard with tassels and sequins no less!), hoping that both my brain and my body would remember the steps and not wind up falling on my face in front of the crowd…? Well, that’s an entirely different level of ‘being willing to be a learner.’

As the recital day neared, I began to think of any possible excuses I could use to get out of showing up. But, the thing is, there was also part of me that wanted to embrace the challenge of stepping so far out of my comfort zone, being willing to risk looking like I […]

By |2020-03-05T15:16:05-08:00March 5th, 2020|Articles|Comments Off on Begin Again

Take the Reins

by Erin Dunigan

It’s a saying, of course – but the thing is, it’s also true. Like so many sayings that have been separated from their original context, ‘Take the reins’ is not just a metaphor – it’s actually a ‘thing.’ It applies to horseback riding. It applies to life.

When people ask me what I ‘do’ I often have a hard time answering – at least in any kind of brief or simple way. One of the things I ‘do’ and that takes up much of my day, is around horses. Sometimes it is working with them, sometimes it is taking people on rides. (More info at http://www.horsesbyjose.com). I find that through it all, I am constantly learning – both in my horsemanship, as well as in life.

One such example happened recently. It was on a ride. One of the riders, let’s call him Jack, supposedly had quite a bit of riding experience and it was clear that he was comfortable around horses. But as we left the ranch and headed out onto the trails I saw that he was holding his reins not just loosely, but practically not at all. “Hey Jack,” I said, “you need to hold your reins a bit tighter, not so loose. Otherwise the horse doesn’t even know you are there.” As we rode along I noticed that he still had his hand way back on the reins – and that the horse was going where he wanted, and not necessarily in the direction we were headed. “Hey Jack,” I said again, “You really need to take the reins.” To which he responded that he knew that, but that he didn’t want to be mean to the horse, didn’t want to be so assertive.

It was like I was hit in the face, the realization, and the parallel to my own life came at me, smack!

The thing is, when you are riding a horse, taking the reins is not ‘mean’ – it is part of the deal. If you are going to ride, you must assert control – it is your job to ‘drive.’ The horse needs you to be the leader. Taking the reins does not mean you have to be a jerk or mean – it just means that you need to be assertive. What I realized with Jack is that he was confusing the two. He thought being directive, being assertive, was being aggressive, dominating. But one of the things that I love about working with horses, and riding them, is that it is an invitation to find a gentle strength, an assertive firm, but not domineering hand.

Isn’t it funny how it seems that things seem to appear just when we need to hear them, or learn them? Because what I saw clearly that day with Jack was my own tendency to associate being firm with being mean. And so, in an attempt to not be ‘mean’ I had essentially been riding my life with loose reins, letting it […]

By |2020-03-05T14:57:39-08:00March 5th, 2020|Articles|Comments Off on Take the Reins

Letting Go

by Erin Dunigan

Image may contain: sky, cloud, outdoor and nature

I have to admit, I’ve got a love hate relationship with the idea of letting go.

Just last month I wrote an article for Baja News with the title of ‘Taking the Reins’ – about just that, taking the reins of your life, rather than just letting it lead where it will. I had realized that too often in life, in an attempt not to be ‘mean,’ I had held my reins loose – too loose. Reins are there for you to use – to steer, to stop, to decide in what direction to travel.

The thing is, I used to be more of a take the reins kind of person. And then I went to therapy. And learned about letting go. About balancing my over achiever self of doing with the self of being.

“I’m just letting go” I would say to myself. But I began to wonder, had I gotten it all wrong?

And then recently I had an aha moment.

On this particular day, leading a group of people horseback riding, this particular rider was trying to improve his skill. He had been riding a number of times, but he was still trying to get the feel of how to hold himself on the horse, how to balance his weight, how to feel centered and secure.

He was on a horse who is nice and smooth, dependable – the horse for first time riders, little kids, old people, or others who need a slow and gradual confidence building for their first time riding or for building their confidence. He wanted to try going faster. So, I explained to him how to hold himself, how to position himself in the saddle, how to signal that he wanted to go a bit faster, including giving a bit of a shout of a ‘yeehawww!’

I watched as he built up his courage, implemented the signals, including the yeehaw, and the horse began to respond – for about ten feet, and then slowed down. I watched as he repeated this again. And again. And then as he was doing it, I rode up beside him and saw it – with one hand on the reins, the other hand was firmly planted on the horn of the saddle, holding on for dear life. “If you want the horse to run, you’ve got to let go of the horn,” I yelled over.

And that was when, like a book end – the second realization hit me.

Letting go.

If you want the horse to run, you’ve got to let go.

That’s what it is! I almost yelled out loud, like a moment of epiphany with the clouds parting and the light coming down upon my newfound realization.

That is what letting go is all about – it is not about letting go of the reins, it is about letting go of the horn.

The reins are what give you direction – you need to keep […]

By |2020-03-05T14:47:16-08:00March 5th, 2020|Articles|Comments Off on Letting Go

New Book – Tao Te Ching

Tao Te ChingI am excited to announce that the Happiness Study Group will be starting our new book on March 17th, The Tao Te Ching. With some much-needed and appreciated guidance from our dear friend and scholar, Daniel Bisgaard, we will explore one of the most translated books in world literature. This twelfth selection is a bit of a departure, though most assuredly related to our continuing study of the Middle Way.

Authorship of the Tao Te Ching is credited to the 6th-century BC sage Laozi and the oldest excavated portion dates back to the late 4th century BC. The Tao Te Ching… is a fundamental text for both philosophical and religious Taoism. It strongly influenced other schools of Chinese philosophy and religion, including LegalismConfucianism, and Buddhism. In its 81 verses it delivers a treatise on how to live in the world with goodness and integrity: an important kind of wisdom in a world where many people believe such a thing to be impossible.

The edition we have chosen is: Tao Te Ching: With Over 150 Photographs by Jane English Paperback – November 1, 2011 by Lao Tzu (Author), Gia-Fu Feng (Translator), Jane English (Translator), Toinette Lippe (Translator), with introduction by Jacob Needleman.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

“For nearly two generations, this bestselling translation of the Tao Te Ching has been the standard for those seeking access to the wisdom of Taoist thought. Now Jane English and her long-time editor, Toinette Lippe, have refreshed and revised the translation, so that it more faithfully reflects the Classical Chinese in which it was first written, while taking into account changes in our own language and eliminating any lingering infelicities. This beautiful oversized edition features over a hundred new photographs by Jane English that help express the vast spirit of the Tao. Also included is an introduction by the well-known writer and scholar of philosophy and comparative religion, Jacob Needleman.

Lao Tsu’s philosophy is simple: Accept what is in front of you without wanting the situation to be other than it is. Study the natural order of things and work with it rather than against it, for to try to change what is only sets up resistance. Nature provides everything without requiring payment or thanks. It does so without discrimination. So let us present the same face to everyone and treat them all as equals, however they may behave. If we watch carefully, we will see that work proceeds more quickly and easily if we stop “trying,” if we stop putting in so much extra effort, if we stop looking for results. In the clarity of a still and open mind, truth will be reflected. Te—which may be translated as “virtue” or “strength”—lies always in Tao meaning “the way” or “natural law.” In other words: Simply be.”

The book is available from Amazon, ABE.com and other sellers. Other editions of the Feng and English translation are also suitable…particularly versions without photographs at lower prices.

Please contact Nadine if you would like to join the […]

By |2020-04-22T12:51:55-07:00February 28th, 2020|About Events, Happiness Study Group, Study|Comments Off on New Book – Tao Te Ching

Monday Meditation with Ron

Ron de Jong

Monday Meditation includes an introduction, a 20-25  minute meditation and a discussion afterward.  It’s a great way to start your week and a wonderful introduction to meditation. The group meets on Mondays at  8:30 am in Plaza del Mar.  

Everyone is welcome.

Please email notchurchbaja@gmail.com for details.

By |2020-02-15T12:44:45-08:00February 10th, 2020|Monday Meditation|Comments Off on Monday Meditation with Ron