In Consideration of the Color Gray

I have never considered the color Gray/Grey. Why? Because it is Gray. Have you ever considered the color Gray? AND, there is a reason for me to write this blog and for YOU to consider such things in the world. (More about this later.) So, I went to the “Oracle of Wisdom and Knowledge,” Wikipedia and typed in “Grey” (English version of Gray.) This informed me that Gray is a mixture of White and Black, a “neural color and a “color ‘without color.'” What triggered this you may ask? I went for a walk in nature today and accidentally picked an outfit which I do not normally wear. My brown or beige shorts were in the wash and so I found myself dressed in gray shorts and a gray shirt. Weird! This is not normally me… (When Beige is more normal and interesting and natural than gray, for me, this is beginning to be “disturbing” as a consideration.)

Wikipedia went on to say, “Color Meaning: Meaning of The Color Grey
The color gray is an emotionless, moody color that is typically associated with meanings of dull, dirty, and dingy, as well as formal, conservative, and sophisticated. The color gray is a timeless and practical color that is often associated with loss or depression.” What??? Consider what is gray in nature… Rocks, gravel paths through the park, streets, battleships, torpedos, bombs, foreboding clouds, business suits, sharks, some people’s houses, cement, elephants, some bird feathers, and, of course, the color of your skin when you are deceased. (Though, gray on gray with a white stripe for accent can be a stylish mixture for a house, like my neighbors. Boring, but stylish and marketable.)

Gray is NOT used to standout or to be bold. It is often used to hide behind in a defensive way. Business men will wear gray business suits to fit in but, like male birds, splash a “loud,” colorful tie to brighten up their look and to be noticed. Predators like sharks like to be gray because they can sneak up on their prey in a more stealthy way. Gray is stealthy…

Nature does not have many plants or animals which love the color gray unless the animal is defensive and trying to blend in, unnoticed (or a predator.) Nature uses brighter colors to attract attention like flowers or male birds competing for a partner to breed with. As stated, even beige or brown are more warm, attractive, and natural than gray, in my opinion, (and I think beige is a boring,) is a lack of confidence, color. MY opinion and I wear beige ’cause it hides the dirt I smear on myself better than white…

I love rocks and mountains which wear forests up to timberline and snow or glaciers pressed against a bright blue sky. I love the shadows of clouds dancing across the fields and hills cast by the light of the sun. I appreciate a nice gravel trail through the woods with people strolling, bikes ridden, and strollers pushed through a more natural setting. BUT, I will not consider painting my house gray or enjoying wearing gray outfits on a regular basis. This is NOT who I am.

It came to mind as I considered sharing this opinion that many years ago, in my early 20’s, I read Herman Hesse’s, “Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game.” My interpretation at the time of this Glass Bead Game was that all knowledge and wisdom of human consciousness could find its place on the surface of an immense globe. A “player” of the Glass Bead Game took one fact or thing and then attempted to learn “everything” about this thing. Its interrelationships with all other things in the Universe. By being an expert, all knowing, of one fact or thing, the player would descend to the very center of the globe/Universe and then understand ALL relationships in the Universe from this core. This wisdom would “Win” the game and so become “Magister Ludi (Master of the Game.)” To me the consideration of the color gray gets complicated but may seem easier as a target of consideration to descend to the “Core of the Universe” easier than more colorful objects or ideas. For this, I believe that we should consider things which surround us which we may have overlooked before. If nothing else this expands my, perhaps your, consciousness and causes you to be “present” and “aware” in ways not realized/considered before.

If you have read this far, thank you and you can never go back! You will now have to consider Gray/Grey in a more in-depth way. A boring color which triggers thoughts and feelings and your amazing unique opinion.

Thanks for your time and consideration. Your insights and experiences are unique and a blessing, so please share these…

If you are READY and looking for a supportive community where you can share your story, your wisdom, and grow spiritually in a non-religious environment, consider Masters of the Journey.
You are a Blessing! You are a Master! Your wisdom from your life experience can have great value to other pilgrims on the path toward awakening and enlightenment.

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Zen Meditation for Westerners

Have you ever sat peacefully beside a campfire or a warming fireplace and gazed into the fire? You have even lost yourself for moments as you were transfixed by the dancing of the flames. It may have even seemed difficult to turn away from the glowing center of your focus.

Or, have you ever found yourself sitting on the beach watching as the waves roll in, break, and then wash up unto the beach? It is so meditative to walk along the beach and play tag with the waves that are thrown up unto the sand beneath your feet. Sitting by a river or stream can also bring the calmness of mind as you watch the moving water and hear the sound of the water as it washes downstream.

Watching the breezes blowing through tall grasses or leaves on a tree can also lead you into a peaceful, meditative state of mind. But why do these nature visions gently create the relaxed and mellow states of mind and body?

The very act of being out in nature, or finding enjoyment by appreciating natural beauty is one of the most important and most basic tools for finding inner peace and harmony. The very act of “being present” with the glorious natural beauty is another important tool. Find a way to let go of the “past” and release the uncertainty regarding the unknowns of the “future,” even for just a few minutes, can be a practice of restoration. There are many ways to do this such as: following your slowed breath with special appreciation of the cool air as you inhale and the warmth of your breath as you slowing exhale.

In the science of neuro-physiology, you may also learn that the sound vibration of running water (from a stream or from waves upon the beach) resonates with frequency of 10 Hz per second which neuro- psychologists understand is the same as the brain wave state known as the “Alpha” rhythm which, for most people, is the quiet mind, “meditative” state that can be found in EEG (brainwave) patterns of successful meditators. By being around moving water, your own EEG pattern may begin to align with 10 Hz per second and so help you to drift into a more relaxed state.

But what has this to do with the practice of Zen Meditation, which has been taught for thousands of years? Zen meditation, at its most basic level, is the practice quieting the mind by softly gazing through open eyes at the world. It helps to have a peaceful, quiet, meditative point to focus upon such as a candle, flowing water, a mandala, or even the beauty of a flower or tree. To become “present” and to slow your breathing as you focus are the first things to practice. In the beginning your mind may be cluttered with other thoughts and memories, but with dedicated practice you can learn to quiet these thoughts by not judging them and letting flow through you and out of your mind, while returning the soft focus on the beauty in front of you. There are times when times comes more easily and times in life when the distractions are more engaging.

A few moments of peaceful and slow breathing can better help you to prepare for the quieting of the gentle Zen focusing. Your position can vary from standing, to sitting, to lying down, though many trained meditators prefer the sitting position. Whatever your position, it is best to find a comfortable position where you might spend 5 -20 minutes peacefully gazing at the object which you are focusing upon. (If you are using a candle, be advised to do this safely and protected from hot wax or melting candles which may be too close to other flammable materials…)

Be as neutral as you can be regarding the focus of your attention. Accept the beauty and the moment. Allow yourself to drift deeper into the pleasant and relaxing quiet. Many meditators will allow these peaceful feelings to return with them for use through the rest of their day. This can  give them a more solid mental and emotional foundation so they can move more smoothly through the interactions of their daily activities. It may not solve all the challenges but it can be a very comforting, “centered” posture to move more gracefully through the dramas which can enter your life…

Pick a beautiful photograph if you can not get out into natural beauty. Choose a quiet time in your schedule when you are beginning this practice, because this may reduce the annoyances which can be distracting in the early stages of the practice of Zen Meditation. Some people pick early morning or sunrise. I like late afternoon or twilight times. Find the time that works best for you and stick with for a while until you know whether it is a good time in your natural schedule for meditation.

Be patient. Start slowly and for shorter periods of time. Remember to breathe slowly and more deeply than you might normally. Look to relax your forehead, your jaw, your shoulders, and anywhere else you may be holding tension.

My friend, Jim Papp, who is the author of the the book, “Inquire Within: A Guide to Living in Spirit” is a strong proponent of finding solitude in nature. His advice includes a walk or hike in a natural setting with the Zen mind of appreciation and “Presence.” The Zen experience of being with and in nature is a grounding exercise and a centering process which most people find meditative and healing of mind, body, and spirit. Finding all of your
senses surrounded by the beauty of the natural world gives a healthy calmness to your mind, body, and spirit. Connecting with nature is a practice that goes back in human history to the very origins of humankind and even basic survival for all lifeforms. The “ancient wisdoms” have been filled with appreciation and “presence” with Mother Earth, though this practice has been pushed into the background by technology and “modern” scientific rational thinking. This modern approach to nature has also gotten humans into a good bit of trouble with the lack of respect and “connection” with the Earth.

Blessings to you on your path toward greater consciousness and keep your eyes “soft focused” on the beautiful moments you encounter!

For more information on managing stress, including using meditation, consider the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com. For more support and information on growing your consciousness and spirit consider the Masters of the Journey community at www.mastersofthejourney.com.

Commuter Stress Management – Celebrating Beauty

I had a brief visit with “Mr. Scruffy” as I rode in to work one day. It was good to see him. He was perched on his regular lamp post as he scanned his domain. I was blessed to live on Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound, northwest of Seattle, WA. The Northwest has many beautiful sights to behold. There are the Olympic Mountains, the Cascade Range, the San Juan Islands, the Puget Sound itself, and the many types of wildlife that grace our landscape. In my neighborhood, there are at least 30 Bald Eagles that live much of the year within about 5 miles of my home.

That day, I set a new eagle spotting record, for me, as I drove to work in Coupeville. I counted 7 eagles perched in various trees along my way. There were 5 white crowned mature eagles and 2 immature eagles. I was looking for them on my familiar drive into the office. With every sighting my heart felt joy and I felt that nature was allowing me a special moment. (FYI, I have become familiar with some of my special neighbors and my wife and I named “Scruffy” because he appears older and unkempt compared to some of the younger mature eagles we see. But know that “Mr. Scruffy” is beautiful when he flies. He reminds me of Peggy Fleming, the ice skater, because he is graceful, elegant and without wasted effort as he soars the winds over Whidbey Island.)

I am in my tenth year of living in the Northwest, having moved from Sonoma County in California’s “Wine Country.” Sonoma County is also a beautiful place to live, though traffic and increasing population has added challenges to that part of our world. There are no Bald Eagles in my old neighborhood, but there were many other magnificent features of nature. Sonoma County has grand Redwood trees, amazing coast line, rolling pasture lands, oak grass lands, and of course, the vineyards that are picturesque any time of the year. Though I am vigilant when I am driving, I celebrate the beauties of the natural world when I drive down all but the most congested of roads.

In my first book, I coached “commuters” to play a game as they drive to or from work. Within the common sense limits of safety, I ask them to look out into their world and notice something new on every commute. Or, I ask that they find an aesthetically pleasing natural, or even man made, object to celebrate. Perhaps a pleasing or unique cloud formation or a classically designed house or building. Maybe a special vehicle drives by. Or for me, the noticing of birds or wildlife makes me appreciate the present moment of time. And that is the lesson… release your thoughts of past or future events and bask in the present moment, in a “positive” way. Smile as you celebrate the sharing of a special and unexpected sighting. At the end of your commute, whether arriving at work or at home, you will feel less stressed and better focused to get on with the next activities of your day.

This technique may not work as well in speeding Los Angeles freeway driving or when gale force winds threaten to blow your car into another lane of traffic but in many other situations turning your focus to something positive and being in the “present” can create a better commuter experience. I challenge you to find, and then celebrate, the best sights that you might encounter upon your commute. Find beauty or find the most interesting things that you experience along your way. Try it. It works!

Drive carefully and DO NOT TEXT MESSAGE while driving, ‘cause that is dumb!

For more stress management suggestions which can assist you as a commuter, go the Stress Education Center’s website at www.dstress.com