The Mean Time: Embracing the Slow Vibration

clock-590293_1280Isn’t it curious that we desire our lives to be a constant upward progression of positive and pleasant events? We want our lives to unfold in ever increasing abundance, accomplishments, and success. But if you are over twenty you have enough experience with this thing called life to know that’s not how it works. Life is more like an EKG of a healthy heartbeat, a repeating cycle of upward peaks followed by downward troughs. Perhaps our hearts understand the rhythm of life better than our minds do; that there is a wisdom to these downtimes when nothing appears to be happening, when all our goals and dreams seem to stagnate. Whether or not we choose to embrace these meantimes and in between times is another matter altogether.

I am currently participating in a seminar series held by, spiritual teacher and empathic healer, Matt Kahn. A couple of weeks ago he presented a new way of looking at life’s downtimes not as a negative but as a gift from the Divine and part of our normal and healthy cycle of existence.

He says:

“So many of us have intuition about what’s ahead in life’s plan and we want what’s up ahead in a chapter of our existence where it is not time to receive it. We want to be high vibration when life says ‘no it’s time to be slow vibration, slow down let’s learn from these lessons, let’s integrate  these insights’ so that when you get to that point of your journey you will be able to handle and receive it.”

And while I understand these deep truths my first and only reaction to the slowing down has been resistance. I ignore the pull of slowing down by working harder, doing more, sending out more query letters and resumes and writing more daily pages. When these efforts don’t pick up the pace of my life, the inevitable frustration, anger and depression would set in.

Instead of resting and reflecting and allowing silence to percolate the deeper more uncomfortable feeling to rise up and be released I would distract myself with books, bingeing on Netflix and constantly checking emails and my Facebook page. I would grasp for anything (even cleaning the grout in the bathroom) to avoid the inconvenient and uncomfortable feelings that persisted.

And then my life would move forward in its own time and in circumstances that I hadn’t anticipated or planned. You’d think as a garden, one so connected to the cycles of the seasons, I would have made the connection that in life so in our human experience.

As Matt explains it;

“Slow vibration by comparison is not as pleasurable as high vibration . . . but be that as it may, blossoming as a flower might be more outrageously pleasurable than a seed underground that has to explode in every direction in order for that flower to blossom but it is necessary for one to create space for the other.

I’ve recently moved to a new town. I’ve unpacked the last box and placed the final stick of furniture in its place and now . . . and now, I find myself in a slow vibration, again. It is early spring, the in between time of the seasons and like spring I too am in between jobs, in between book releases, figuring out the lay of the land in a strange town and getting used to the unfamiliar sounds and feelings of a new place.

I still have moments when I reach for the chocolate and watch yet another episode on Netflix but this time, more often than not, I walk towards the silence and just see what arises without judgement or fear. Last week, I put in the first veggie crop in my new place and as I sprinkled carrots seeds and pushed onions sets into the warm soil it reminded me that I too have been put into the seed phase again, a time to strengthen my foundation and put my energy into expanding in all directions deep below the surface so that when the time comes I can head into the light and bloom extravagantly.

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Chesterfield of Dreams

AfricanvioletIt’s been a month of soaring temperatures and oppressive heat.  Even with the blinds closed and several fans running, my apartment is sweltering.  The only solution is to head outside in search of shade and the faint hope of catching a breeze.

My apartment opens onto a covered patio so finding shade wasn’t a problem but the available seating left a great deal to be desired. But that’s where my sister, the Garage Sale Guru, the Diva of Dumpster Diving came to my rescue.

She’d recently plucked a rather sad-looking bamboo and wicker sofa from someone’s front lawn.  Don’t worry, she didn’t steal it, the owners had stuck a free sign on it before my sister scooped it up and shoved it in the back of her truck.

Its coat of glossy black paint was peeling off, there were no cushions and a few of the wicker wraps on the back and arms had started to unravel. I gave it a good cleaning and fixed the broken pieces.  As for cushions, we snagged them for under forty dollars, sixty percent off, as the store was already putting out its back to school merchandise (this was in July).

At first I labeled this wonderful piece of furniture the Couch of Procrastination because as soon as I’d settle into it, time would disappear and I would find myself daydreaming while watching the bees dance with the flowers in the back yard.

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But the word procrastination conjured up feeling of guilt; that in sitting in this wonderful space I was somehow being lazy.  I was wasting time when there were more important things that needed my attention; laundry, housecleaning, this month’s blog, hitting my daily word count on my current novel.

Then I remembered a quote from Socrates, “Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”  Somehow I’d forgotten the value of being instead of constantly doing. Its only when you are really clear on what is important in your life, what fulfills you, can you lead a meaningful life.  And the only way to figure that out is to be.  Be with yourself, and your thoughts and your fears. When you dig deeper that is when the real richness of your life can come forward.

Now more than ever, we need to disconnect with the digital world and step out of the rush of modern society.  When you aren’t distracting yourself with tweets, Facebook updates and pinning images on Pinterest or rushing about to-and-from work or dashing out to do some retail therapy, something wondrous creeps in. Silence.

And once the silence has established itself it allows you to finally hear that still quiet voice of your authentic self.

There is a reason why even cloistered monks and nuns set time aside for silent prayer and meditation.  Only in quiet contemplation can one begin to know God, or Buddha or the intelligent consciousness of the Universe.  Without that sacred space of silence, we who live in the secular world can lose our centre and get way off track in our quick-fix, instant gratification society.  Our purpose for being gets lost under the barrage of advertising, consumerism and distraction.

If you build it he will come.

Or in my case if you arrange some second-hand furniture unexpected magic may happen.  And to ensure that this little corner of the patio nurtures the alchemy of the soul I’ve imposed a few rules; no iPods, portable DVD players or cellphones allowed and the laptop comes out only when I need it for writing.

What is allowed are books, journals, sketch books, cold drinks, fresh flowers, something delicious to eat, and a soft pillow in case the urge to have a nap overtakes me.

It really is an adult play space were daydreaming, reading, lounging, napping and reconnecting with family and friends are fostered.

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So I encourage you, while we still have a few weeks of lazy summer days left, to find an outdoor spot and install your own Chesterfield of Dreams. It doesn’t even have to be a sofa, perhaps a hammock is more your style or a chaise lounge.  And if you don’t have the furniture already and dumpster diving isn’t your thing even a blanket and some pillows arranged under the spreading arms of a tree would be just fine.  Whatever appeals to you.  If you set up your spot for reflection without delay, I promise you, you too will begin to experience the magic of being.

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Keeping Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy grandmother’s house was a place filled with the comforting smells of baking, of warm sunshine glowing through pleated curtains and the sound of her mantle clock chiming out the hours. Hours I spent in the company of a woman with a quiet voice, gentle hands and the patience to entertain three young girls.

My grandmother has since passed, her house and belongings sold off, but whenever my sister and I recall our visits with her we inevitably speak of the constant chiming of her mantle clock. The sound was the anthem of a time when we experienced small pools of loving calmness in an otherwise chaotic childhood.

A while back, my sister and I stopped in at a local antiques shop. I was nosing through stacks of old postcards and photographs, Cari was meandering through displays of china and kitchen items when we heard the opening bars of Westminster chimes. We looked at each other then, without a word, headed towards the sound of the steady tick-tock.

The clock wasn’t grand, vintage rather than antique. It was smaller than our grandmother’s clock, its wood veneer beginning to crack with age and neglect, but in our eyes she was beautiful. We stood momentarily transported back in time. We left the shop, postcards and teacups forgotten, a sense of longing and sadness following us outside.

Months later we were back at the antiques’ dealer. As we stepped inside, we noticed things had been rearranged. The small clock wasn’t sitting on the sideboard where we’d first seen her. We scanned the store and found a tambour mantle clock, one with the graceful camel back curve that most people think of as the typical mantle clock, but it wasn’t the one we’d fallen in love with. The one we had come for was Art Deco in its design and more compact and sturdy in appearance. We looked everywhere but she wasn’t there.

I decided to take one more look through the labyrinth of furniture. In the far back corner of the store I passed a glass-fronted bookcase when I happened to glance down at the bottom shelf and there she was.

Back home, we placed the clock on an old dresser and started the pendulum. The clock worked for only a few seconds then stopped dead. We started the pendulum again with the same results. After several unsuccessful tries a dreadful feeling that we had just bought a broken clock sunk in. The clock had been working the first time we had seen her but maybe something had happened to her since our last visit and that’s why she’d been hidden in the bottom of the bookcase.

Not one to give up easily, I booted up the computer and started to research mantle clocks. The more I read the more I realized these clocks were not just works of fine craftsmanship but more like living breathing things requiring love and attention to get them working and to keep them, keeping time.

The first requirement of any pendulum clock is to put the clock into beat. The clock should have an even tick-tock sound like the beat of a heart. Too fast and the clock won’t keep accurate time, too slow and it will stop completely after a few seconds. To put a clock into beat the clock must be absolutely level and sitting on a stable foundation because even an accidental bump can put it out of beat.

Pendulum clocks are only happy in the Now. Not even for a moment can you force it to go back in time; turning the hands backwards will break the gears. And it can’t be rushed into the future. If you spin the hands quickly without allowing it to chime each quarter hour you will throw off the chiming sequence and even risk damaging the escapement.

It took me a week to get the clock to run and chime the correct hour and quarter hours. During my learning curve, I couldn’t help notice the parallels between how to keep a pendulum clock running in perfect time and how my life could benefit from the same attention.

Mine is a 30 hour clock which means, for optimum working, it needs to be wound every day. Each evening as I attend to the needs of my clock, it draws me into reflecting how my day was. Did I go through the day feeling balanced or off kilter? Did I allow myself to become rundown or was I wound too tightly? Did I need to stop my headlong rush into the future or had I been dwelling too much in the past? Did I need to stop the pendulum, step out of the flow of time for a while and just take a break?

Nowadays, more and more people don’t even own watches much less mantle clocks, as they can check the time on their cell phones, without the hassle or the bother of maintaining an old fashioned timepiece.

In the near future will anyone care for these timepieces that require such constant attention or will they be relegated to the junk heap like so many gramophones and manual typewriters?

I hope not, for I believe that in our disposable convenience-obsessed society, we need to honour the craftsmanship, skill and artistry that these antique timepieces embody. And if nothing else, caring for one of these clocks forces you to contemplate the nature of time and the value of slowing down. And perhaps inspire you to tune into the beat of your own heart and the music that your soul wishes to chime out into the world.