Walking, losing weight and taking photos of life in Virginia.

Posts from the ‘Music’ category

Andrea Bocelli’s New CD / When I Fall In Love

This post is dedicated to all you lovers out there. All of you.

Somewhere along the line you gave you heart to someone. And, hopefully, that person is taking care of it. Gently holding it away from the flames. Because nobody wants a barbecued organ. Karma is never more certain than in the case of love. We see it happening every day. So be kind. Be gentle. And remember the things you said when you fell. In love.

Andrea Bocelli recently released a new album, Passione.

As we approach the great day (need I be more specific?) let us all think about the ones who are close to us. They remind us that Heaven is not far away.

Whenever I see two people in love I am reminded of my own love. I see her in the eyes of each lover and I hear her in the laughter that rises in the air on a cool, summer’s evening. Her eyes are everywhere. And I love her always . . .

 

Restless Legs And Breathing Exercises/ Pendulum/ Under The Waves

 

I’ve been waking up with small headaches lately and I’m not sure why this is happening.  I’ve been doing some house cleaning so maybe that’s the reason (house = body).  I wouldn’t talk about prescription drugs, or alcohol or any of the things we sometimes use if it was just my solitary experience.  But lots of folks deal with these issues.  So, I try to add my observations in hopes that it may help someone.

My goal is to use no-thing that could block an experience of physical calmness.  And, of course, at the bottom of that well is the restless legs issue (also something that affects maybe 10 percent of the population).  I’ve been doing breathing exercises and am learning something about how the body responds to them.

If you are a restless legs sufferer consider this. . .When these hideous vibes start I find it helpful to lay (lie?) absolutely still on a comfortable surface (that would be the bed).  The vibes come in waves and it’s important to break this up.  Because the waves get bigger as they hit the shore (you or me)!  While absolutely still I take a deep breath, tense my leg muscles (but don’t move) and then let it out.  The level of tensing is important.  I want to do this just enough to eliminate this particular “wave”.   Everything is easier if you start all of this when the RLS first begins its attack.

Then (and this is very important too) it’s important to relax mentally.  Relax the mind and the legs.  We did, after all, just repeal a wave!  There will be more but it’s no  good to tense up in anticipation of the next one.  You could call this a self-fulfilling prophecy, I guess, if you do.  Mind is an integral part of the problem and the solution.  Use it wisely, and it will be your friend.  Ignore what it is doing and you may suffer the consequences.

In connection with this notion it can be very helpful to imagine a ball or a cloud of healing energy above the body.  Make it very real and powerful.  Fill it with sparkling light.  Then let it feed into you body and clean out what is in there.  I am actually able to feel a physical effect in my legs when I do this.

And, finally, here is the part I find most difficult to describe (but I will try so stay with me).  We are made up of three things: a physical body, a mind and a spirit (soul).  Try now to identify those three things.  The first is easy, the second only a bit more difficult and the third can be tricky.  When I want to identify my soul I simply close my eyes and focus on it.  I try to ignore bodily discomfort and the chatter of the mind.  I immediately feel expansive and this feeling increases the longer I persist in doing this.  Breathing exercises also help.  Prayer and meditation help.

Sometimes, I get up and walk around.  Thankfully, nature has given us this “safe-zone” to put RLS at a little distance without much difficulty.  Although, it can be difficult to get up and walk around, if you are dog tired or very overweight.  This is one reason why I walk every day and have lost 50 + pounds.  Another is (although I didn’t realize it at the time) you are better able to deal with physical discomfort if you have been exercising.  You are more patient as you try to work these things out.  You don’t “give up” and turn to the prescription “solution”.

Presently, after only a few weeks, I have found that I am able to prevent the RLS from turning into “big waves”.  When it starts up, I am able to eliminate the little waves in a short time while resting comfortably.  The legs still feel tentative for awhile (but this is also the mind “at play”) .  I may get up and do some activity while in this state.  But then I find that the episode has passed and all is well. 

This is a big achievement for me!  And I share it with other RLS folks hoping it may help  someone.  I continue to purify my intake of foods and am now giving up beer and nicotine lozenges (gave up smoking last January). I haven’t been able to give up the actual medication for RLS, called Requip, at this point but we will see. All the other stuff, that I would characterize as “crutches” to deal with the scourge are on their way out the door.

Hopefully I will get my butt out to a yoga exercise meetup group soon.  The healing energy inside the human body is enormous, I believe.  I can’t help thinking my spirit guides have something more in store regarding this whole process and it may be that the RLS I’ve had for 12 years was simply a learning tool of some sort.

But all I know, for sure, is that it works and I feel this energy around and inside me. I have an exciting goal in mind.  One that it is not clear I will ever achieve (deep physical peace inside at all times without the use of any substances).   Occasionally,  this energy catches on fire and tries to light the trees while I’m walking.  This is a joke (sort of).   But imagination is also an important part of our lives and it will get help us solve our problems in some very imaginative ways.  As well as giving us a needed lift!   LOL.  Have a great day.

 
Note: This is a refinement of my initial attempt to find exercises that would help with RLS in September 2011. I had some success there but it was only a “hint” of what is possible in this area. Also, I was still smoking and would sometimes go out for a few drags when things got rough.
 

Robert Thurman / Buddhist Thought / The Path To Greater Realization

Robert Thurman is a funny guy and very smart, too.  He’s on my Ipod talking at great length about the Tibetan Book Of The Dead.  Here’s a joke he tells that he finds hilarious.  “Why does it take so many sperm to impregnate the egg?”

“None of them will ask for directions.”  Pretty good.  Probably an old joke but I don’t remember ever hearing it.  Certainly my Dad didn’t mention it in The Talk we had many years ago.  Although I wish he had and hope my son reads this and will, someday, pass it on to my grandson.  An icebreaker.  Be cool, Dad.

Does the name Thurman ring any bells with you?  Well, it should!  Can any of us forget the bathtub scene with Uma (his daughter) or Kill Bill (not Bob).  Robert married the Swedish Beauty,  Nena von Schlebrugge, years ago.  Nena used to be married to Timothy Leary.  I shared this information with my wife today since Uma’s Dad is my new best friend during my walks (Audible.com  Liberation Upon Hearing In The Between.  Robert Thurman).  She may have rolled her eyes.  I need to see better but at the moment bright lights are causing me some difficulty because I’m giving up the pain medication I am prescribed for RLS (Restless Legs Syndrome).  Pain medications do help but they have very annoying side effects.  They amplify pain and other bodily miseries (itching, for example  and I have patches of eczema that are very distracting).  I could with some justification float around on a cloud all day but I choose to avoid this false reality and the increasing dosages necessary to avoid the “coming down”.

Besides, I’m in good shape now and don’t mind these daily wrestling matches with the body and it’s charming surprises.  But when your eyebrows cause you pain you have a serious problem.  Just saying.

Back to Robert Thurman.  He brings a poetic imagination to the table and builds visions that inspire, for instance.  New York City.  A large apartment building on a weekend evening.  How many people inside are “getting it on”?  Unborn souls are swirling around and being attracted to certain couples engaged in the tangle.  Each is identifying with a certain man or woman and “dive in” to the aforementioned struggle, not asking directions, but becoming an unborn child (male or female depending on  their focus), if they manage to reach the front of the line.  Sometimes it’s a tie (twins)!  His riff on the Oedipal connections at this moment are intriguing.  Lust will find a way, it seems, and we see why souls are drawn back into this world.  I’ve wondering for awhile why anyone would come back to this place.  Reincarnation always seemed a forced procedure but after listening to his description of romance on the East River I can sort of see why it happens.

While I walk the miles.  I’m not a Buddhist but much of what he says makes sense to me.  I was raised a Methodist in the sheltering arms of my parents and my most memorable experience there was “a first kiss” in the choir loft on an evening before we were discovered by the choir director (not a happy man).  It was a group meeting so the recriminations afterwards were diluted due to our sheer numbers.  Ah, church youth groups in the late 50’s and early 60’s were such fun.

Later I was a Baptist after an ill-fated decision to marry (Yours, Mine, Ours) in the Brady Bunch tradition.  I hope it was good in some ways for the kids because it was the Trip To Hell for me.  I stuck it out for 14 years but as you can probably tell I’m not the traditional kind of guy and the finest memories I have of this period were the communal meals with home fried chicken.  Jesus is real and I kept that in mind as I went down the road with someone who was interested only in support of one kind or another.  And still is, today.

The love of my (spiritual) life is Paramahansa Yogananda who arose in the Hindu tradition.  Robert says some interesting things about how the Hindu and Buddhist religions had a parting of the ways in India.  He notes that there are fierce Hindu deities who resemble  Buddhist deities and so forth.  Did you know that if you encounter one of these terrifying-looking forms (you can often find renditions of them in local museums like our own Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, by the way)  you should embrace them!  Don’t be afraid!  They are your protection in the unconscious mind where the great horrors of mankind (Hitler, for example!) reside.  So my guru, Paramahansa Yogandanda, has been with me since I discovered his autobiography on a book table, while in college.  I don’t associate him with kissing or fried chicken.  He has gotten me this far and through all of that.

And so my path continues as I walk every day and try to (gradually) improve.  The inner light calls me although I will admit, at this moment, the gross light of day is difficult.  I understand that life is fierce and lustful, at times, and it will lead you astray.  But I’m also confident that we can find our way.  I’m most grateful to have found a loving and supportive partner, my wife, Elizabeth, who is a gift from God and someone who enables me to reach beyond our mechanical world with it’s failing traditions.  “Betsy” is known to many as a source of strength and love.  I will call her Elizabeth, here, because it is a majestic name and were we to see her as she really is, we would see a spirit of such stature we would be in awe of the light she casts about this frightful (at times) place.

And to sum up, regarding Robert Thurman.  Once, long ago, he was apparently trying to jack up his car when the stupid thing snapped and shattered his face, causing him to lose an eye.  At that time he seemingly was a traditional guy, but after this happened, he gave up his marriage and traveled abroad, becoming the first American Buddhist monk of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.  He studied with the 14th Dalai Lama who became a close friend, and then returned to the U.S. in 1967 where he met his German-Swedish model and gave up his vows to pursue the life of the ordinary man.

Thus, we have Uma, her siblings and so many other things including some great lectures that one can enjoy while walking and trying to do better.  Yesterday, after I gave up the prescription pain medication and walked, I was lying in bed listening to the following music and doing some breathing exercises.  Suddenly, I was filled with a blissful light and energy that made it clear this was the right path.  This is the way.  Thank you for listening.  Have a perfect day.

 
 

 

Keiko Matsui At Birchmere / Happy Birthday Mr. Blogger

Last week Betsy said, “It’s your birthday next week and so we are going to see Keiko Matsui at the Birchmere Theater in Northern Va. tomorrow night.”

Cool! What a nice Bday present! And so, away we went, and had fun. We arrived there early and sat on a bench with a few other early birds. Then we got tickets and call ticket #8 which means they call you to be seated early. So we sat right in front of Keiko’s keyboard. And then the band came out and played!

They all played very well. They are all excellent musicians. And Keiko is especially good, as well as beautiful and, if you can imagine, humble as well. I love meeting extraordinary people who are so much like regular people. It’s such a vast distance to cover but there are those who can do it well. And, unless she is completely different in her private life (always a possibility although unlikely), Keiko is one of them. She played from her new album and then offered some fan favorites. I bought the album and a photo of her and after the show met her and asked her to sign them.

I’m really not into this autograph business but this is the second time I’ve met her and it just seemed right! I wrote about her last summer when she played in the rain at the Maymont Jazz Festival here in Richmond. That was where I realized she is an amazing artist!

So all is well except that I’m now officially a senior citizen. I’m in the last third of life. I will be changing teams (and uniforms) sometime in the not too distant future. Happy Birthday! It means different things at different ages.

Here’s a photo of lovely Keiko and the blogger. It’s not often that he is on the receiving end of a smile from a beautiful, talented super star (except when his wife is happy). So we cannot let this moment go by without recording it for posterity.

 

 

 

Humpback Rocks Backpacking Trip / Central Va Trailblazers At Large / Paul Wolfe Shelter

This past weekend I went backpacking again up on the Appalachian Trail just south of Waynesboro, Va. We traveled 8 miles the first day and 5 the second day spending a night next to Mill Creek and the Paul Wolfe Shelter. I also had a great opportunity to take some photos at Humpback Rock with its grand vistas of the valley below.

The weather was just about perfect. In order to get to the campsite we went down this zigzag trail and were greeted by other campers who had already arrived and were enjoying the cool stream. I set up my tent in an isolated area and went down to the stream to soak my tired feet in the water. Ah, bliss. Later on we started a campfire next to the shelter and enjoyed a few hours of camaraderie. It was just cool enough to make us appreciate the warmth a campfire provides as well as the nearly full moon glancing down at us between the trees.

This is how you get to know a group of relative strangers. And, yes, there were a few drinks involved in that process. But a father showed up with his young son in tow and we all kept that in mind as the evening wore on. They stayed in the shelter. Some of our group also slept in the shelter. I eventually wandered back to my tent, regretting that I has set it up outside the “perimeter”. There were lots of bear encounter stories to wind up the evening so I was thinking that if a bear came by I would, naturally, be the one he would pick off. But there were no bears in the neighborhood this night!

I wonder how one would react to the flash of my camera? Would I have the nerve to take his pic? These and other questions will have to wait until another time. There was much discussion the next morning about a loud introduction some beast, or bird, made around 6 am. I listened to a great number of animal sounds this morning and the closest thing I could find was the cry of a bobcat. It was quite loud and reverberated through the area. And it definitely would make a great alarm clock! Time to get up! Sleep will not be coming again for awhile.

I met a woman who was in her eighties on this hike and she really was impressive. She has had breast cancer, twice! And here she is backpacking on the AT! She sat next to me at the campfire for awhile and I discovered she also went to Boston University! But she was there back in the 50’s when I was still a child. They left early the next day and we did pass them when we eventually started hiking again. Bless her heart. I feel sure she got where she was going in God’s good time.

A Garter snake crossed my path on the way out. I should have taken a photo but I was humping it up a hill and not inclined to stop. When you are with a group there is some pressure to keep up but I regret not spending more time resting, listening and recording the event on film. We did stop, briefly, to take photos of a fireplace that someone had built long ago. Someone spend a lot of time and energy shaping these large rocks into a source of light and warmth. It was home for awhile but now the wood is gone and much of the foundation.

I’ve noticed that after returning from these backpacking trips I have a greater appreciation of the comforts of home; my comfortable, clean bed and much else. And I also have started feeling a bit tougher, in general.  There’s a big push in our consumer society to convince everyone that there is a product to make every situation less taxing. Less painful. And maybe there are things, to a degree, that do this. But it’s still a major challenge, especially for oldsters like myself and my 80-something year old new friend.  Getting older is not a game for sissies.

I guess I would say that, like walking 8 miles every morning, hiking does make you better able to ignore small pains and discomforts.  Without a doubt there are lots of people out there who have discovered this much earlier in life than I did. Military service, for example, must do it to the nth degree.

I never was in the military. But I’m happy, even at this late date, to get some training. And I don’t even have to go to war, although, if a bear shows up in the middle of the night, I may have to take his picture! Here are some photos of our backpacking trip.

 

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