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Lions Roar : July 2011
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2011 64 I didn’t like the struggle. At times it even felt like I might be breaking down. Over- whelmed, I feared I was either going to have to give up my career and just take care of Paul, or feel like a total monster and have my career but not take care of Paul. My challenge was to see beyond either/or, and find a way to be a loving caregiver of Paul while also nourishing myself. There was a time when I could be de- coyed out of bed by the simple beauty of a summer morning. Now I awoke tangled in worry. All I could do was wither and wait, breathing shallowly, as one often does when beleaguered. I needed to find some calm and continuity again, and so I made time each day for a few minutes of ton- ing, a fourteenth-century word for singing or chanting in elongated vowels. Inhal- ing deeply, I exhaled ah until my breath faded, inhaled again and exhaled a louder steadier ou (as in soup), whose vibrations I could feel in my cheeks and ribs, then inhaled again for a more invigorating ee, and finally for a rotund oh. I sang out the sounds again, this time louder and more richly. Echoing around the bones, the vibrations steadied my breath, focused my mind like a mantra, and relaxed my body. It helped calm me a little, just as it always had, not only by deepening my breath, but by vibrating my cartilage, sinuses, and bones in a sort of tonal massage. Needing to ground myself, I sought the early morning light. As I strolled through the neighborhood, admiring tar patches poured in random squiggles on the roads, I imagined they were poems in Japanese, Chinese, or Tibetan, which I translated. Working on a haiku as I walked helped me focus my mind on something other than illness, something natural and timeless, such as: “Orange stars on stilts: / Late sum- mer in the garden / Before the leaves fly.” Returning home, I noticed a bush of yellow peonies blooming like brilliant handker- chiefs against a backdrop of multicolored tulips. Glossy, purple, spaniel-eared irises were swaying next to their wilder yellow cousins, the Siberian irises, which had trav- eled a long distance from their ancestors on the Siberian steppes. We’ve all traveled, I thought. Parts of us, anyway. Some of VISIT THE SHAMBHALA SUN ONLINE STORE www.shambhalasun.com SHAMBHALA SUN FOUNDATION An independent, nonprofit corporation. Publishers of the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. SALE! Enjoy savings of up to 35% on our collection of dharma art – www.shambhalasun.com Own the Art that Wows Enjoy our collection of dharma art captured in beautiful archival quality giclée prints. Taken from the pages of the magazines, the gallery art includes pieces by well-known teachers, artists and contributors, such as Thich Nhat Hanh, Chögyam Trungpa, Kaz Tanahashi, and cartoonist David Sipress. Enso © Kazuaki Tanahashi