a brief encounter with grace


Yesterday as I was walking along Calle Larga, a busy street in Cuenca, looking for Bananas Cafe, I saw a lovely twenty-something woman with a hula hoop. She was dressed in clothes made of long, soft flowing fabric. She, tall and delicate-looking, was one with her hula hoop. Ever so gracefully she was performing in the middle of the street seemingly without a care in the world. It was mid-afternoon, and, at that particular time, everything around her briefly stopped. Then the light changed and we all woke from what seemed a dream.

I have a hula hoop. I’m practicing. She’s my inspiration.

Are you enjoying the day?

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“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare;
it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” – Seneca

“Expose yourself to your deepest fear;
After that, fear has no power,
And the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes.
You are free. – Jim Morrison

a retreat, a salon, a bookshop, a book


Sometimes you simply know deep in your bones that being somewhere can only leave a lasting impression on your whole being, if only you can get to that place. That’s how I felt as I listened carefully to philosopher/writer Tim Freke being interviewed by Lilou Mace as they sat on a bench in front of Abbey House on a site with “ancient roots” in Glastonbury UK. Being part of a retreat there with Tim Freke, along with other “explorers,” has to be an incredible experience. His website gives a glimpse of his life’s work. And after reading about the books he’s written and comments from readers, methinks anyone ready for a first-time reading and a retreat in Glastonbury is in for a wonderful wild ride – a WOW! of a ride.

I fondly remember a charming neighborhood restaurant located on Irving Place in Manhattan called Sal Anthony’s, and after many years in business it closed. Then Sal Anthony’s 3rd Avenue Movement Salon opened. And so last week when daughter Sumi said, “I made appointments for us at Sal Anthony’s,” I smiled a broad smile. Sumi is always happy doing Pilates, and It’s reflexology for me in the very capable hands of Ann. Feet that daily pound the pavement love reflexology.
Sal Anthony’s is a different kind of salon. This from the website: “We’re not cool Cool is for gyms where people are obsessed with style and hubris. We believe in order to find balance we need to free ourselves from limits of this sort”

With bodies in fine walking order, we sauntered over to Namaste Bookshop at 2 West 14th Street. It seems that once again small book stores are opening and thriving. Hooray! and judging from the number of customers squeezed into this small place, thriving is the right word. I was looking for The Five Tibetans by Christopher Kilham. It’s also known as the Five Rites of Rejuvenation, and is written about at length in the book, Ancient Secret Of The Fountain Of Youth, Book 2, A companion to the book by Peter Kelder. Think of a retired British officer who went on a spectacular journey, Tibetan lamas, a monastery in the Himalayas, a man named Peter Kelder who was told an incredible story wrapped in ancient mystery, and in writing about it gave the world five simple, graceful, and powerful exercises.

Now the book – I said, “Sumi, I doubt the book is here; I think it’s out of print.” She said, “Ask.” I looked at the shelf where it would be if they had it. “Not there,” I said to no one in particular. Again I heard Sumi whisper, “Ask.” So I did. And there it was on a table that I had passed when entering. As I paid for the book, the two people behind the counter happily announced that the writer of The Five Tibetans will be at the bookshop this coming Friday, 8 June. I smiled. Christopher Kilham has been practicing The Five Tibetans for thirty-five years, and ” . . . he has conducted medicinal plant research in more than 30 countries across 5 continents and the South Pacific.” Imagine an evening spent listening to him at Namaste Bookshop. www.namastebookshop.com

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“Tim Freke’s work is an open door inviting one and all into the Mystery” – Ram Dass author of Be Here Now

“Inspired and clear, The Five Tibetans makes a worthy contribution to body-mind wellness and longevity.” – Dr. Mehmet Oz

“I have done the Five Rites and passed Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth on to many friends over the years. I recommend them without reservation.” – Martin Sheen


joshua bell and an experiment

Rush hour in many major cities is an intense time. This story though is about so much more. Last year I experienced “rush hour” when waiting for someone at Grand Central Station. I was standing in front of a store window when suddenly many people raced by – a stampede is what it was. They began brushing up against me; I started to think I had become invisible. I was occupying a small space and moving a few inches back wasn’t a possibility. I won’t say anymore except that the insanity will stop when we fully understand the power of the present moment.

This remarkable story has been traveling around by way of email.

“A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the
violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for
about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was r…ush hour, it was
calculated that 1,100 people went through the station, most of them on
their way to work.

Three minutes went by, and a middle aged man noticed there was
musician playing. He slowed his pace, and stopped for a few seconds,
and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman
threw the money in the till and without stopping, and continued to

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him,
but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he
was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother
tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the
violinist. Finally, the mother pushed hard, and the child continued to
walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by
several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced
them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and
stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money, but continued to walk
their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and
silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there
any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most
talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most
intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a
theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro
station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social
experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people. The
outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour:
Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize
the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

“If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best
musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many
other things are we missing?”

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“It’s foolish how we rush through life and cry that time is on the wing. We’re living in eternity, and time is just a clockmade thing.” – R. McCann


caleb hawley, kalahari bushmen, rumi

I like your post, Emi, and when you described the five trained dancers kicking and flipping at Steps On Broadway while listening to the lyrics of Caleb Hawley, I was reminded that there’s another side to the how of meditating; it’s movement. Instead of sitting, the body moves, and dictates exactly how it will move. It’s the way of the Kalahari Bushmen of Namibia and Botswana – “one of the oldest living cultures on earth” who sing, dance – shake, vibrate – all night. THE BUSHMAN WAY of TRACKING GOD by Bradford Keeney, PHD.

Reading Bradford Keeney’s book is exhilerating, to say the least. He seems to forever be on cloud 9; his enthusiasm for this way of tracking God doesn’t stop throughout the book. And to read it is to suddenly find yourself wanting to find a beat on a CD that might somewhat duplicate the beat the Kalahari Bushman dances to. Oh, Yes! And there you are moving to your own body’s dictate, listening, being aware. To what? – you ask. To the place within you that’s been wanting to reveal things to you alone. The jacket of this wonderful book says, “The Bushman Way of Tracking God will redefine everything you ever thought you knew about life, spirituality, and the divine.” That’s the truth.

20140301-201808.jpg And a moving meditation was Sufi poet, mystic, and originator of the dance of the whirling dervishes Jalaluddin Rumi’s way when he began whirling, turning, spinning through the streets of Konya, Anatolia (present-day Turkey). If you carefully read and reread this simple, beautiful, 151 page book, Rumi’s Four Essential Practices – Ecstatic Body, Awakened Soul by Will Johnson, perhaps you will never eat the same way, breathe the same way, move the same way, gaze the same way – see things in quite the same way again.

As you can see, Emi, your enthusiastic description of Sunday’s performance at Steps got me thinking. I liked it, and knowing you, I bet you wanted to be on that stage kicking and flipping, “shaking your booty” with the dancers.

Time to get moving.