Never Too Busy to Sit Still

Time sure seems to be flying by down here in Cuenca. I was hoping to get a new post up a few days ago but my last week has been surprisingly busy. Even though my friend Keith is on his way over here for a movie night, I feel like sharing news with all who care to hear of it.  So I will rattle off a quick update for the moment…

I am keeping up with my morning writing routine, of course, but my days have otherwise filled out with a variety of activities. There is no shortage of opportunity to meet people and get involved with various groups around town.  Some meet weekly, others monthly, and after dabbling in a number of different groups, I am even leading my own weekly event.  I mentioned last time that I was planning to lead a meditation at my Spanish school…what I didn’t know then is that it would actually be IN Spanish!

Last Thursday came around and I learned that none of the people coming for the Friday meditation spoke English.  It ended up being a great opportunity to share in a new way.  I had a chance to get somewhat prepared, translating and writing down a few things I tend to mention when I lead a meditation.  Last night I led another meditation in Spanish and it went even better the second time around. We will be continuing them every Friday evening at my Spanish school.

After having joined a Gringo group for two weeks of meditation, I was invited to lead it this last week. We had about 22 or 23 there and the mood was very receptive. I have been blessed to connect with some special souls there.  I am beginning another weekly night of meditation this coming Monday, hosting one in English at my Spanish school. We will see if that also becomes a regular event.

This past Monday I went to an Open Mic, having missed it the previous week. I met some interesting characters and felt very welcome, enjoying a number of nice conversations, but I didn’t fall in love with the atmosphere. I ducked out early and doubt I will return..but you never know. There is another Open Mic on Wednesdays and I think I will check it out after meditation this coming week.

***

In the midst of these various meditations, I managed to secure my Visa extension this last week. After reading about potential delays and various hurdles others had encountered, I was surprised that the process opened up so effortlessly for me. I had built it up to be more than it was. There was a lot of paperwork to do, which I had to wade through slowly, but it was over in a matter of days. Now I can legally stay in Ecuador until early August. Having overstayed previous visas (once by nearly a year), I am feeling good about respecting the process this time around.

I found out that the writing group I sat in on a couple of weeks ago is hosting a Spoken Word event this Thursday and I have been invited to share an excerpt from my book. I chose a portion of the introduction and I look forward to letting it out into the air. I imagine it will be a fun evening.

In the interest of ‘keeping it real’, I will share that I am also dealing with a case of Montezuma’s Revenge…or as my buddy Keith is calling it, ‘The Aztec Two-Step’. I have been through a round of antibiotics (something I am not fond of doing) and I am hoping it will resolve itself shortly. It seems to be a normal part of life here…nothing too serious. And it is surely worth it as a trade-off for all the other joys of life here.

***

Beneath all these details of daily events is the more important undercurrent of silence that gives rise to everything. I have been bathing in this silence more deeply than ever before (so to speak) and it continues to blossom forth from my heart. I am learning to stop and honour it more consistently, always grateful that its invitation is endlessly available.

I sincerely hope that all of you can take a moment to give yourself the gift of your own silence. Even an apparently noisy mind can’t stop this inner quiet. It is almost like a sense of ‘seeing’ that resides deep beneath everything else buzzing about. We are closer to it than we can know. Indeed this ‘seeing’ – this space, this silence, this being of ours – holds all ‘knowing’, along with all other passing phenomenon. Relax. Pay attention.

***

Here is a bit more street art from around town:

And one night we happened upon a traditional Quechua dance (and human tower):

IMG_20160213_174338

Ciao for now everyone!

🙂

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First Full Week in the Rhythm

The week has passed swiftly and I am developing a decent work routine.  Instead of the 5 AM wake-up call which I held to firmly during my previous longer stint of work on this project, I have been getting up at 6 AM.  That seems to be working well.  I drink a big bottle of water and then do roughly half an hour of yoga (starting slowly).  Then I sit still for half an hour and watch my body and thoughts do what they do (AKA meditation).  And by about 7 AM it is time to sit down and write.  This involves a lot of reading, in fact.  I am in editing mode and trying to thin the crop of words I gathered in my earlier work.  Some days move quickly, others a bit more slowly.  I get to laugh at some of the terrible garbage I wrote earlier (in some cases nearly as long as five years ago!), which makes for easy cutting.  I do at least three hours each morning, usually more.  Then I tend to check my email and get some oatmeal started.  I add some banana, raisins, chia and flax seeds to sweeten the mix…occasionally even some strawberries. 🙂

I have been keeping an eye online for local Gringo gatherings, keen to see what the city has on offer.  On Tuesday I attended a local writer’s group.  It was basically a little writing workshop, with about 15-20 different writers there.  We talked about writing great beginnings.  I shared a bit about my story and made some good contacts.  I look forward to continued involvement with this group.  I am hoping to share an excerpt of my current work at an upcoming evening of ‘Spoken Word’ where various kinds of writing are being shared.

On Wednesday evening I attended a group meditation and discussion about ‘spiritual growth’.  It was hosted by a local Gringo couple.  There were about 25 in attendance and the energy of the meditation was particularly potent.  They are continuing this event weekly and I will surely be a regular attendee.  The mood was beautiful and we gathered for snacks afterwards.  The guacamole was perhaps the best I have ever had.  (As it happens, guacamole has been a large part of my diet this week.  The avocados are so fresh and cheap that it is hard to pass up…)

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons I have Spanish class.  My teacher, Mariana, is one of the sweetest women I have ever met.  Her two sons usually come by during our lessons (nearer the end of her workday) and they wait patiently for us to finish up before they head home together.  Every day I try to read over some of the work I have done thus far in order to keep it fresh in my mind.  I practice fairly casually.  (I skipped the weekend.)

As I was speaking with Mariana (in Spanish) about my interest in sharing guided meditations, she invited me to host them at the school.  It looks like we will start this Friday afternoon and keep them going weekly.  This is a great opportunity and I love to share in this way.  I am grateful it is all unfolding so naturally.

We held off on starting the meditations last Friday as I had a dentist appointment.  It went well.  I still can’t believe it only cost $15.  The dentist was very thorough, cleaning my 10-year build up of plaque.  He says I have terrific teeth and great overall mouth health. 😀  That was nice news.  I have still never had a cavity…a bit surprising considering all the sugar I used to eat!

Before I sat down to write this little update I was on my way to an Open Mic night down in the old city centre.  I found out (after waiting a while) that the buses are not running today.  Fortunately the Open Mic is a weekly event, so I will likely be in attendance fairly regularly.  It finally occurred to me as I waited for the bus that today is a holiday.  Carnival season has officially kicked off and the streets are filled with the voices of kids running around instead of the regular rumbling of buses.  Lots of water balloons are flying through the air, as well as bags of flour and plenty of foam spray.  The kids seem to be enjoying themselves.  I haven’t been too seriously attacked yet.

Throughout my week’s activities I have been hanging out a fair bit with a cool guy from New Jersey named Keith.  We met in the first hostel I stayed at in town and then bumped into one another again in the last hostel I stayed at before moving to my flat.  He is hanging around Cuanca for a while and we often grab a bite to eat together at Govinda’s or walk to the market to shop for incredibly cheap (mostly organic) produce.  We shared a meal and a movie on Friday night.  (Trumbo was a pretty good flick…)  It is nice to have a running mate as I acquaint myself with the city.  We are planning a hike in the national park some day this week.

He and I both enjoy the local street art.  Some of it seems to be sanctioned by the city and most of it is more standard graffiti but I love it all.  Keith has been amassing a greater collection of photos than I but here is a peek at some of my harvest this week:

I guess that will be it for now.  I will keep you posted on how things unfold.

Hugs all around!  Enjoy yourselves!

🙂