Clouds in My Eyes - Nalandabodhi International
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Lately I’ve been fascinated by the stunning visual display of clouds in the vast Seattle sky at different times of day and early evening. You could say I’ve had clouds in my eyes, which reminds me of song lyrics. For example, “I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee” by Carly Simon and “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now” by Joni Mitchell. Clouds are wonderful metaphors for so many things in life – emotions, tears, impermanence, transitions. I especially love to watch how quickly the sky changes at sunrise or sunset. It is a great reminder of how fleeting life is and that nothing lasts. The consequence of being born is that we die.  Some people whom we have loved and cherished are no longer alive with us on Planet Earth. A seed becomes a sprout, then flowers and fades. Green summer leaves turn into vibrant shades of yellow and orange in autumn before falling to the ground and returning to the earth. Clouds are even more ethereal. They don’t fall to the ground unless transformed into mist, rain or snow. The transformation of clouds seems much more magical than earthly matter. Their shapes can morph in a matter of seconds. Clouds manifest in so many astonishing shapes, colors and forms from “ice cream castles in the air” to dragons and butterflies, bears and boats, and “bows and flows of angel hair.” And it seems impossible to really know clouds. Looking at clouds can allow my mind to relax into a more spacious moment, to imagine, to wonder, to let go of my worries, burdens and concerns, because my worries won’t last. They will shape shift, morph and move on, just like clouds.

It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

— Joni Mitchell

When I look at clouds in the sky I am reminded to remain open to possibilities, different viewpoints and opinions.  Situations, problems, challenges and conflicts can feel like heavy storm clouds that weigh us down. If I remember that everything changes, it feels much more workable.  The storm clouds of yesterday or even last night’s dreams can be swept away by the freshness of a new day dawning.  Every moment is like that too. Full of possibility.

During these challenging times of the coronavirus pandemic and timely protests against systemic racism, I want to examine my ingrained behavioral patterns and assumptions. Can I take a moment to pause and perhaps hang in the air for a moment like a cloud before rushing to judgment? I can be quick to point out what I think are the illusions of others but do I even see my own illusions?  What clouds my judgment and my mind? What can I do to connect more often with my inner wisdom, with space and possibility?

Contemplations

Look or go outside. Take a deep breath and release it slowly and fully into the space in front of you. Repeat and with each deep breath in, imagine taking in invisible nourishment, ease and clarity. With each breath out, release your worries, your tightness, your judgments.  Let go and relax.

Spend some time gazing into the sky without labeling or judging the sky, the view, or yourself.

When you feel the weight of challenges, imagine that your body is a cloud.  What do you look like and how do you move through space? Perhaps you become one with infinite space…

This week, imagine wearing the sky as your hat!

Lynne Conrad Marvet
Lynne Conrad Marvet

Lynne Conrad Marvet met Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche in 1988 in Woodstock, New York and has studied Buddhism with him since then. In April 2019 she was the Artist-in-Residence at Nalanda West. See her work on her website.

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