It Takes Courage


I’m an introvert at heart and enjoy my time alone. I never knew who I was until I found my authenticity. Until I listened. Until I took the time to hear me.


My silence is a gift. I feared it as a threat until I turned inward and took the time to be with me. It is a key to my existence.


My mind is a gift. I knew it as a dominating ruler until I turned my compassionate attention towards my terror and really listened. There I found MY values and a wealth of experience.


My heart is a gift. I never knew there was such wealth underneath the pain. I never knew a heart is strong enough to survive the opening of my pain door and freeing the mountain of hurt so I could see the other side waiting for me of all possibilities.


My human vessel is a gift. I have held it up in judgment for years until I turned away from others’ values and accept me as I am. I am grateful I have weathered so many storms and still I stand.


I am a finely tuned instrument able to see I am the one in charge of turning. I am in charge of defining and limiting and labeling and blocking and judging.


I am in charge of rising and believing and loving and allowing and trusting.


I am in charge.


Who Turns

by Karen Maezen Miller


Who turns this into that? Sound into noise? Aroma into odor? Taste into pleasure or disgust? Who turns yes into no? Grace into unkindness? Who turns the present into the past? Who turns the now into the not-now? As-it-is into as-it-should-be? Silence into boredom? Stillness into restlessness? The ordinary into the menial? Who turns pain into suffering? Change into loss? Grief into woe? Woe into the story of your life? Who turns stuff into sentiment? Desire into craving? Acceptance into aversion? Peace into war? Us into them? Who turns life into labor? Time into toil? Enough into not-enough? Who turns why into why not? Who turns delusion into enlightenment? Who thinks? Who feels? Who senses? Who turns? All practice is the practice of making a turn in a different Direction.


Participants’ Reflections:

  • Thank you so much. That was so powerful. To me, it was talking about Attar’s first valley, of letting go of other people’s values and really learning who you are. It was an incredible statement you made. The poem you shared extends the idea of unity that started two days ago. Listening, studying about unity for three days now is quite appropriate. The lines about changing grief into loss, aversion into acceptance, all these things. It’s all about not having sides and letting go of sides. Just being. Enough into not-enough. It’s all the same, it just is. That is where unity is, everything is together. It was a good message for me today in order to keep thinking about unity.

  • I lie to myself. It really became clear to me in the meditation where I think I believe the other person caused something. And I am not in the picture, I am so busy taking their inventory. It’s almost as if someone else has some little piece that I can grab on to in order to take them out and be indignant or righteous about, then I believe I have that right. And the more I come to believe that we are one, that I am you and you are me, and that is just part of me manifesting out there, that it comes home, that I understand the lie. That we are the same, and I have a part in every interaction and connection I have. And it’s not always honorable, sometimes it’s just survival. Sometimes it’s just trying to make room for me to breathe. And I forget to tell myself that they are not the enemy. And sometimes, it happens on such a subtle level, I don’t know it’s happening. And I am lying. I’m going to paint awareness and light on the things that I don’t want to see. Thank you.

  • That takes courage to say that. When I had to admit that I’m my own worst bully, I was ashamed of that. Here I am an anti-bully and I teach about it, and I’m the one who’s got myself in the corner pointing the finger at me, telling me what I need to do and what I can’t do and what I need to believe. It was hard to come to terms with that, and very powerful. Thank you for saying it out loud.

  • I think you had a phrase ‘still I rise.’ Of course, during the meditation, Maya Angelou came and sat beside me. I thought of those words ‘still I rise’ and in light of our talking about unity and non-duality, I would like to look at her poem “Still I Rise” and change the “I’s” to “we.” We have to do it individually. It’s not the ego that rises and flies like an eagle. The Womansong choir named one of their concerts “Still I Rise.” I want to go back and live in that poem today. If there is no difference between us, if we see the other as ourselves, then we don’t have to talk about inequality but we have to do that not just with words, but with our eyes and our souls. We have to have the soul of Maya Angelou and say still I rise and I want you to rise and therefore we rise. I heard her speak one time. She shook her finger at the students and audience and said ‘you reach for whatever you want, you can do it.’ She was preaching and saying you have no excuse, don’t say I’m this or that, if you believe you can rise. You can rise. I think it’s true of our country as well.

  • One thought came to me when I got onto the meditation group this morning and I saw the sea of faces. It hit me that I am seeing a lot more of myself than I usually do. There are all our faces. It’s been such a wonderful thing with this meditation group that we are learning so much about ourselves through other people and through these poems and readings and wonderful thoughts and words. We are getting to know ourselves and each other a whole lot better. Thank you.

  • A wise, kind person helped me see things clearer. That over many years, the medical system and government and court system have failed me. I’ve had to learn to acknowledge that and let go of memories I hold of abusive words from the past. Outside my window, I have a tattered old wind chime with a Celtic cross. It gently blows in the wind. I was thinking I am tattered. It blows around but the Celtic cross stops it once in a while. It’s like me resting in nature and with all of you.

  • We teach each other by living our lives. Thank you for being present. Thank you for sharing your words, your presence, in your eyes, in your thoughts, in your silence. I hope you all have a gentle day.

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