Health · Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Nir-oz · What's Happening

Mindfulness under threat of rocket attack

We come together on our kibbutz for weekly mindfulness sessions. This we do, even under the threat of rocket attack.

Yesterday, Monday, February 24th, 2020 saw a renewal of red alerts in Eshkol and in the northern part of the Gaza Envelope. But, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d show up to facilitate morning mindfulness with our group of over-70s and then a late afternoon mindfulness with a smaller group of women.

I appeared in the “Gan haCahol” (the Blue Kindergarten), the space for golden agers, and was greeted with smiles. H was describing a trip she’d just experienced down in South Africa. We heard about the stark differences between the rich and the poor. How the poor enclaves included raw sewage running through the streets. We heard about the still lingering signs of apartheid and how only now a middle class of mixed races was beginning to emerge, demanding rights. We heard about giraffes and a tiger sighting.

Then we sat to begin our mindfulness session. I wanted to work on body and breath awareness as an anchor for focus, as a release from thoughts. We broke up the body scan with a listening session, our awareness of breath offering a safe distance from the outer sounds. In wartime, the sound of a boom, the pervasive sounds of planes can trigger fear, anxiety. The use of mindfulness offers a way to separate between the self and that which is outside and out of our scope of control.

mountain scape, watercolour by judih, 2008

We returned to the body, scanning all parts, directing the breath and allowing it to clean and renew as it energized us.

In fact, the session was enriching and I was delighted to see that although we’d been in meditation for longer than usual, there had been no shifting of bodies or signs of discomfort. We continued with energizing our hands, creating a ball of power and doing “la qi” to focus movement, mind and breath as we breathed in, separating the hands, and breathing out, allowing the hands to come towards each other.

After a forty-five minute session of replenishing our minds, and energy, there was only one comment about the noise of the airplanes, but since we were all calmer, we acknowledged it and continued, undisturbed. Thanking one another, we got up to continue our lives, with the uncertainty of what the day might bring.

Later on, I welcomed the women to the Open Center, where we sit on mats and cushions. We checked our current body status – our thoughts, sensations, feelings and then offered ourselves wishes for whatever we required such as, relaxation, safety, happiness. Those words we carried along with the breath to renew our bodies after a day’s endurance of rocket fall on various communities. We soothed and energized our body systematically via the breath.

We took short breaks to simply listen to the sounds in the room and outside. This allowed us to rest before continuing. The scan was divided into 3 parts – the head, the upper torso and the legs. When we approached the torso, I introduced the idea of the breath as artist, with the ability to decorate the arms with colour and energy, like a tattoo of light. We highlighted our back in colour and allowed the body to enjoy the effects.

We shook out the body before continuing to scan, breathing into the legs and ultimately creating shoes of colour, shape and energy: shoes which would allow us to travel wherever we wished, magic shoes to protect us.

Meditation as a doorway to body awareness, with enhancements, why not, I thought!

Afterwards, we shook out our bodies, stretching and engaging in our Dry Shower, patting our body, paying attention to areas with tension. On completion, we referenced our wishes for ourselves, if they were relaxation, safety, happiness or any other wishes that applied to us.

Thanking one another, we left the session. This time, the session had been accompanied by booms, from the beginning at 5 p.m and throughout. Still we held our concentration. Later on I read that rockets had fallen on the neighbouring kibbutzim.

I feel gratitude for mindfulness as a tool in the resilience kit, and fortunate for the ability to offer sessions on the kibbutz and to pupils, via whatsapp or phone. This is an open invitation for anyone who needs a few minutes to disengage from surroundings to focus on the body, mind, breath. Just contact me, Judih, via a comment here.

Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Music · Nir-oz

Listening to the body, flowing with music

Before doing my own sitting meditation, I always address my body. I stretch gently, I warm up the joints and do what I must to maintain skeletal integrity. So, this Friday in our Nir-oz Sangha, I asked: ‘Who’s done a little body workout already this morning?’ Since no one had, we turned on some music.

thanks to karma castle for the image

My instructions were simple: to move slowly in the room, being aware of our feet on the floor and to gently add movement to other parts of the body – the hands and arms, the knees, the spine, the shoulders. Oh so gently, listening to the body.

After five minutes, I asked who would like to continue and we all wished for more. And so we continued, each listening in our own way to our own body responses. No need to watch anyone else, we played with height, speed, direction: growing taller or shorter and moving slower or faster, backwards or forwards or still. And so it went on for a total of 15 glorious minutes, as we slowly eased up on the movement (and what beauty of movement was present in the room!) and re-found our cushions.

Gently noticing our body’s sensations, sensing our breathing and heartbeat, we began a slow body scan to allow the breath to enter and cleanse, releasing any tensions, noticing any pains or itches.

We shook it out after about 20 minutes of this seated meditation and with cleansing breaths, we used sound on the exhale to further align ourselves to ourselves. Why don’t I give details, here? There are situations where to read afterwards what sounds were used simply won’t be useful. There are experiences that must be experienced directly. Each environment requires unique components.

The feeling in the room was rich, and upon wishing ourselves a good day and then thanking one another for coming together in the meditation session, we slowly arose and left the room.

The participants were more quiet than usual and I felt wonderful.

Thank you Nir-Oz sangha.

Creativity is the answer · Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Nature · Nir-oz

Two word poetry

Mindfulness and poetry.
What could be better?

As a writer of haiku, I firmly believe that by condensing one’s thoughts and focusing on the immediate present moment, one can hone thought, feeling and sensation into a precise gem.

Sometimes the gem is flawed and that makes it all the more unique.

This morning in our mindfulness practice, we went through a systematic body scan and then after stretching our limbs, we each took the Tibetan Singing Bowl, invited the sound of the bell and offered a noun and an adjective to pinpoint our present moment.

Beautiful day

Beautiful child

Rich morning

Inner quiet

Crying heart

Flourishing garden

Circling around, each of us rang the Tibetan bowl and added our short phrase.

Our body alive, our mind alert, our hearts opened and a chance for verbal expression, this day offered a rich, gentle session with a flourish of creativity.

photo by Stewart Ganulin, LIfe on the Border
Health · Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · Nir-oz

Questions about Mindfulness Practice

Before the group of practitioners show up for our Friday morning sessions, I arrive early to arrange the space, the temperature of the room, the amount of sunlight that seeps in and I arrange myself.

Sitting or standing, I begin my morning contemplation, listening to my body, thoughts and sensations and following through whether by deliberate breathing meditation to focus my mind or by engaging in qigong or movement or as in this past Friday, using movement, breath and tone to synchronize myself – to come to a holistic unit.

Doing so, I eventually heard the voices of the arriving and soon the sliding door allowed in the cooler air of the main room and the warmer beings of the participants.

I began with a direct request for questions. Not asking, “Are there any questions?” but rather, I’d like to hear some questions.

About the weather?, asked H.

About your practice, about things you’ve noticed or experienced or wondered about. About things you might have questioned this past week, but forget about as soon as you walked into this room where we feel supported.

After I was silent, the first voice was heard:

I don’t have a question but I want to say that I practice mindfulness meditation every day and then throughout the day, I feel that it supports me to be focused. I often pause, take a few breaths and then proceed. It really helps me and has become a part of my life.

Another voice said, Yes, I practice every morning or almost every morning, sometimes life’s events interrupt me. Also, if I feel that I’m getting angry, I tell myself, “No, just a minute, take a breath.” And that helps me.

Another woman concurred saying that she feels it helps her stay calm.

One woman asked: I want to know how often I should be practicing. Is once a week enough? Should I be doing it more?

Finally, I thought, a real question! And I answered with confidence, thanks to the input I’ve been receiving over the years: Practice needs to be done daily. Even if it’s for one minute: to sit down and be aware of your body and then bring awareness to your breath. Stretch out and resume your life.
Every day, and it’s helpful to build up a habit and do it at the same time every day, whether it’s before a shower, after a shower, after coffee. Every day to do it and then whether it takes 3 weeks to build the habit or 2 years, you will find it easy to sit down for a formal period of time.

That’s not enough, however. It’s also important to practice mindfulness throughout your day. For example, I left my house and suddenly I’m at the Open Center, and I don’t remember anything on the way. Where was my attention? That’s the moment to pause, accept the realization, not to bother with self-rebuke, but rather to notice my feet on the ground and take 3 attentive breaths. That’s mindfulness.

This is how we learn to accept what we notice. I might hear a voice in my head, ‘No, no, no!’ and see a finger wagging at me. I notice the voice, whether it’s my mother’s or anyone else’s, I notice that it’s not me, but a thought. I witness it as a thought, and I continue bringing my attention to my breath.

The Day of the Unexpected Bike Ride Home

Sometimes it takes a great deal to force me to be mindful. Two weeks ago, I was riding my bicycle home from school and had to maneuvre through a place where the dirt road is being shifted and rebuilt. The neighbouring kibbutz was in the process of fencing off the new road, which would close it off to all traffic – tractor, bike or jogger. I had to navigate an incline of dirt and so, got off my bike and gently climbed the mound. Then, just as the sun hit my eyes, my left leg landed in a newly excavated hole for a future fence post. (By new I mean that it hadn’t been there two hours prior when I’d travelled the same route on the way to school).

Suddenly, I found myself knee deep in a hole, my body landing on the ground and my bike falling as if in slow motion on top of me. When all the pieces landed, I wondered what I’d find. I literally fell into this space of conscious awareness. Was I afraid? Only slightly, as I scanned my body – sensing functioning of the toes of my left foot, and my leg with no discernible pain. My right leg was fine. I looked around to see if there was someone within shouting distance if I needed help. No, no one. A tractor was blocking my line of vision and the noise of the engine was making it impossible for me to be heard, if I had to yell. No problem. I gently shifted myself out from that hole. Delicately, I arose onto my feet, tested my weight and to my delight, found nothing amiss. Now, I’ve heard stories like this before. Just the other week, I met my friend P H, who had fallen when she’d miscalculated where she’d planted her foot. She’d been fine, too, until she wasn’t and found herself with a swollen ankle.

Remembering her, bless you P H, I lifted up my bike and carefully, examining every step to make sure that I was on actual land, I walked my bike towards home. Arriving at the tractor location, I asked if it was a viable choice to keep going ahead in order to reach my road towards home. Yes, ma’am, they said. There’s an opening in the fence if you keep going.

I did. I found it. Mindful of the present moment – ever so mindful. Mindful of the what-ifs thoughts in my mind and of my physical condition – my knees, my ankles. Happy to be in one piece, joyful really, but preparing myself to apply ice or hot compresses when I finally arrived home.

Mindfulness

Do we wait till we fall into a hole in the ground before we pay attention? Sometimes we do. But let’s incorporate the awareness that sudden holes can happen at any time. How often do we need to practice mindfulness? There’s no reason not to aim to practice mindfulness as often as we remember!

I got home, I applied ice to my left knee and later noticed some swelling on my right ankle. I wore over-ankle height boots for support and within a few days, my body was fine, or at least 90% fine.

Incorporating mindfulness into our daily lives. Feeling gratitude for a chance to learn a lesson, I can only hope that self-acceptance will open my inner window.

And so, a Friday morning session of Mindfulness began. Placing our practice in context to create more personal meaning. We proceeded with some mindful stretches to awaken the body and mind and then we did a short breathing awareness meditation. We did further stretches and then another breathing meditation. It’s far better to be kind to ourselves, allowing ourselves to feel a higher attention for a shorter time, than to aim for a longer session in which we find body discomfort or rampant thoughts impacting our experience.

These factors are part of life, and acceptance is important, but while in the process of building a habit of daily practice, a shorter practice is fine!

May we be healthy, happy and safe.

Birth of a Butterfly, judih, circa 2005
Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Nir-oz

Mindfulness Jan 17

What happens when the mindfulness facilitator loses her voice? Time for creative instruction!

When I entered our meditation hall, turning on the heat and adjusting the blinds for gentle lighting, I prepared myself for a meditation on how I would present our practice that morning.

I turned on the background timer, adding minutes to the 45+ minute session that we usually experience. I sat down, on my cushions, on the mat, cross-legged and began my body scan and mindfulness on my breath. I began to enter that zone of self where outside noises could be recognized without hindering my meditation.

When I felt ready to gently emerge from the inner state, I saw that the others in the room were also in meditation, eyes, closed, hands resting on their laps or on their knees. I joined them and after a few minutes announced that our session would revolve on being open to what we noticed, without judgement and with acceptance.

And that the first part of our practice would involve attention to the breathing. I rang the Singing Bowl three times and said no more.

The next part of our practice revolved around attention to our thoughts. The Singing Bowl indicated a gentle change of attention to the sounds in the room.

The next phase involved body work – circling our ankles, rubbing our legs, using our fingers to massage and awaken the legs, tapping and listening. We paid attention to our feet, stretching the areas between the bones, massaging soles and the tops of the feet. We shook the entire leg onto the floor and in the air, and then sat to notice any differences between that leg and the other. Then we did the same routine to the other leg. This was followed by rounding the back hugging ourselves and then opening the arms and stretching the chest. We massaged the face, the head, the base of the neck, the shoulders. We stretched up to the ceiling, to the sides and twisted our spines slightly. We massaged our arms and our hands, the places between the bones. We then danced with the arms and the hands, allowing them to feel the freedom. Finally we paid attention to our back, to our sides, to our bellies. Then as if the floor was quaking, we allowed ourselves to be shaken, freeing up the energy.

The next part of the practice was to sit and notice our bodies, noticing energy flowing or not.

The singing bowl announced the next phase – we got up gently and with open awareness, moved around the room, paying special attention to what we could see, as if it was for the first time. Our feet on the floor kept us in check. When I struck the singing bowl next, it was to invite us all to pick one item in the room to examine, all the details, and then we returned to our places.

The next phase was to close our eyes and look at the image we had chosen.

The singing bowl indicated the end of the phase and I invited us all to simply sit for a few minutes and then gradually move our fingers our hands, our shoulders, our legs. I asked if there were those who wanted to share their experience and comments ranged from how easy it was to meditate, surprisingly so. How many details they noticed for the first time in the room.

I asked if the lack of verbal guidance on my part made a difference, and someone commented that it was interesting to practice in that new manner.

We concluded the session with a Dry Shower – patting energy into our bodies and then 3 transformative breaths ending with a hug, a self-loving “There’s nobody like me” and a lotus-hand blessing for a good day ahead.

This session was remarkable in that the participants again followed my instructions and enjoyed them. I could see their smiles periodically throughout, which is always heartwarming.

Till next time.

Note: On our kibbutz, we meet Monday mornings in our “Gan haCahol” (the Blue Kindergarten space) for over-60s, Mondays at 5 pm in the Open Center and Friday mornings in the Open Center.

Kibbutz Nir Oz, Open Center – Red marks the spot
Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · Nofei Habsor

August 22nd, 2014 – falling into patterns of war-behaviour

confusion

ceiling fan or airplane drones

no dreams tonight

Cleansing backdrop:
I finally got into the technique of how to do my chant. It’s the 40th day of a forty-day challenge. Ashana, the one who plays the crystal singing bowls and leads the chant has announced they’re going to extend the sadhana for another 50 days.

Ashana and the Crystal bowl

Extension! Where have I heard that before? But unlike the ceasefire extensions, this one is up to me. No one will snatch away my voice and with luck, no one will blow up my ability to hook up to the net.

The secret to the chant is letting air rise up through my body into the syllables until my whole body resonates. The focus results in a tonal cleanse.

Meanwhile:
About the surreal aspect of today’s date: Friday, August 22nd. This coming Sunday we’re slated to return to school to prepare for the coming year, which might not open on time.

I’m thinking that in the spirit of living this present moment, I’d like to do a comic book version of the English Teaching Staff in our current war-time behaviour. (names are hidden to protect privacy)

Comic relief:
JV with her glass-eyed determination to slaughter any Hamas-nik who approaches her porch. She sits up at nights with a knife, her dog and who knows what else.

A, running around getting interviewed, going into terrorist tunnels with the Press, on the news, in the news…

L, whipping up vegan care packages for vegan soldiers.

K, alternately hugging her traumatized dog who even on sedatives is massively shedding and losing weight, and comforting her little kids

M – on What’s app all the time to confess her thoughts, with a son on the front lines. She’s occupying herself tracking all of the Army’s maneuvers to keep her sanity

I – with her 4 little kids travelling around the northern parts of the country, seeking refuge in various friends’ houses, speaking to the press about her simple desire for some form of guarantee that she can safely come back home.

S – from funeral to backyard swimming pool, gathering her kids to run inside at the sound of sirens – 2 little kids, 2 bigger kids, husband in army

Me? Meditating, on the computer trying to write while listening to the whirl of my fan as my room rumbles with the booms

It’s a motley crew, alright. 

southpark therapy

cartoon crazed reality

may we find humour

August 21st

Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · Nir-oz

August 21st, 2014 – not the best week to try the no-deodorant experiment

heart rush

4 rocket crashes

in the neighbourhood

Our turn to see our name on the red alert app. In my case, it was after I’d heard the crashes and felt my room shake. But sure enough, there we were. I called Gadi. His workplace is exactly where rockets have landed before, where the manager of the Chicken Coop was hit by shrapnel six years ago.  So I called Gadi. ‘I’m alive!‘ he said with his boyish enthusiasm that always gets an added zing when faced with qassam fire.

Me? I get hungry. Rice cracker alert. And coffee. But de-caf. I’ll take a sip now. Okay that’s better. I see my writing muse, Ella, on her webcam. All is back to normal. It a flux that happens within minutes

Thursday. I have to get some clips ready for Sunday’s Class Relax sessions.

I haven’t stepped foot in my puppet room since I’ve been back to Israel. A long time. It’s hot in there, but that’s not why. It’s because I have a lot of words in my mind and I’m using the writing platform, Hubitus to get them down on paper.

Now, I don’t have anything to say.

It’s amazing how fast adrenaline pours into the bloodstream. Fight or flight? I’d take “close the door and duck” any day. No one’s gonna see me run into the line of fire. 

Counting rockets. So far Nir-Oz has missed hits. That could change in a fraction of a second.

Perhaps this wasn’t the right week to try the no-deodorant experiment. After rocket crashes and news that they fell very close by, the body reacts. Hunger, thirst, and then sweat. Or  that might be because it’s over 30 degrees in the house. Or it could still be hot flashes. This is the body’s way of cooling down, so I’m grateful.

Listening to the most beautiful Japanese flute with a gentle stream in the background. It is calming, I must admit. Here’s the link: 3 HOURS Relaxing Music

Ynet just called the 1000th rocket hitting our Local Council – Eshkol. This must be a record. Who’s been counting? Whose job is it to tally the rockets?

Qualifications: Able to carry on for indefinite times without sleep, OCD tendencies a must

What does Facebook have to do with it?

My friend Adele created a facebook group for those living on the border to speak out about what we’re going through in our daily lives. Just reporting, no politicizing.  So, usually, I shut up, but I just posted. Only a few people have reacted, but even a few comments like ‘oy’ or ‘take care’ serves to drum up the feeling.

I imagine that after a while of spilling out experiences, the body grows used to getting triggered via sympathy.

Update. We were on the news. A friend sends me the TV shot via What’s App. There’s the reporter standing in front of the kindergarten. Great for worried parents.

Our security head has texted us: the Open Center (for alternative therapies), our communa, where our laundry gets folded and distributed to the members’ cubbies, the plumbing office and the cow shed all got hit.

Again I gravitate to listening to the Japanese flute. Life goes on. I think of the women in the Communa, shrieking and peeing in their pants. Or not. They’re sturdy ladies – been through hell, most of them. And they have a shelter – close enough for protection.

Birds sing along with the flute. We’ve been through generations of war. There’s  always a peaceful moment, time to reflect and breathe.

flute sings

it’ll be okay dear ones

as the river flows

voice of the Japanese flute

August 20th

Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza

August 20th, 2014 – Seeking refuge from war

not long ago 

quiet mornings and evenings 

maybe they’ll return

Yesterday afternoon, rockets were fired at us.  I ran to my first line of defense – to check my email. I found a message from Ella, with a writing trigger centering aroung a bizarre time journey. This was good, a way out of now, just what I needed.  What came out of me was kind of depressing but for a few minutes I was able to ignore reality by looking at it straight on.

My computer is in my safe room, and when I get into my space, close the door and turn on the fan, I disconnect from everything else.

fan cutta.jpg

Sometimes life intrudes – like a shake of the house, or a voice coming unexpectedly close, jarring me out of my trance. The space is there – a cocoon for the taking.

Those uncertain afternoon hours. It was Tuesday, and that meant there had to be a phone discussion: would we cancel T’ai Chi?

 Would Doron, our teacher, risk coming to Nir-Oz. Would others want to venture out? We were all under a warning to be 15 seconds from shelter.

We cancelled. Better not to take the chance. This gave me a night off and one more week to try to get acquainted with the fan cutta – the frighteningly fast set of movements with the periodic zaps of the fan opening that they’d all learned last year while I was at MindCET.

After dinner, I walked Zohar, my soldier daughter, to her room on the kibbutz. My phone rang. A new teacher was seeking advice, lots of it, about how to go about teaching high school English next year with all its new programmes.  I offered to help.

Zohar and I got close to the kibbutz swimming pool and heard party sounds. Soldiers were there for R & R and she decided to join a friend and check out the scene. Was it a good sign that they were still there, I wondered.

I walked back home talking to the new teacher, watching the sky and listening for booms all the while. Then another English teacher called asking for sympathy and support: “How can we start the new year? What’s this shit?”

Clearly, it was time to reconnect to society, I realized with a sinking heart. People would be calling. I’d be answering. Summer solitude was ending.

A few minutes later

Then it began – whams of rockets all over the place.  The alerts were flooding the TV screen, blocking out the junk TV show I’d been staring at.

Bedtime. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I checked for red alerts and text messages from the Security Head. We’d been ordered to get into our safe rooms for the night.  I tried it. But there was no way I could get into a coma state. I gave up, drank some de-caf and tried to feel a normalcy in what I was doing. Normal! Everyone has problems. Writers thrive on neurosis and ennui. Why shouldn’t I rejoice in my unusual set of circumstances!  But the unusual was becoming mundane, no real seething fear or anxiety. I was in a safe room and I heard nothing, except that boom that shook the 40 cm thick wall. But still I was alive. So no big deal.

Sometime later my phone vibrated beside my head. It was Zohar. “Mom, what should I do?”

Me: “I don’t know, I haven’t looked at the red alerts, yet”. Zohar: “Red alerts? Mom, we’ve got ‘orange panther’ alert.” Me: “Oh, so, we have to stay inside?”

Zohar: ” Mom, there’s a terrorist infiltration.”

Me: “Oh, so call your army base. Tell them you have an infiltration and you can’t come.”

Zohar: “Okay.”

Good morning, Hamassssssss – so said Joe on facebook this morning. Oh yes.

They greeted my daughter before I did.

Reminds of the time that Hanna-le, night-guarding with Gadi, found out that I was pregnant with Zohar before I, myself, knew. I’d thought it was the flu.  But in their discussion that night, she was 100% sure of my true condition. (*note: When we first got to Kibbutz Nir-Oz, there were still Children’s Houses where our children slept the night. We needed night-guards to listen to intercoms to hear who was awake, to go ease them back to sleep or to call their parents to offer comfort.)

It’s not just kibbutz that’s a small place, but also this part of the Middle East. A tunnel here, a tunnel there, and a stranger gets there before I do.

Sweet Child o’Mine – Guns n’Roses.

Zohar made it to the base. Twenty minutes later the Orange Panther code was lifted and we were back to simply having to be within 15 seconds access to our secure rooms.

No problem.

I’ve been eating fruit, hoping that the naturalness will sweeten this morning.

persimmons

every rock song

each fine harmony

a dance towards peace

August 19th

August 21st

Health · Israel · Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Middle East · Nofei Habsor · truce with Hamas

August 19th, 2014 – actively working to ease my mind

overnight planes 

dogs strangely still 

ceasefire extension

If I were to chart my jet-lag, I imagine it would look like this:

Tip: Smart Art helps chart state of mind

I’m getting a little more normal. I woke up at 1a.m. to check the news. I went back to sleep and concocted some very weird dreams that I couldn’t quite recall when I woke up at five-fifteen. This is a good technique, for when school begins: to let out the weirdness at night and to carry on during the day.

So, the war situation. I was thankful that I didn’t have to tear into my safe room last night, but this morning people on facebook are not pleased about the 24 hour extension of the Ceasefire and the so-called agreement. One woman even went so far as to agree with ‘Jo-Jo‘ (1.1), a popular right-wing radio host, by calling the agreement disgusting and a crappy piece of paper that could have been signed before those 64 soldiers were killed.

JoJo 1.1

From the Israeli point of view, I guess that might’ve been an option, but we know that Hamas wasn’t terribly interested in signing anything. And is it now? And if so, why? What’s in it for them?

Most of us in the south want no half-ass agreement. From a military point of view it would be prudent to tear into the Hamas infrastructure and wipe out their leaders, now, while we have set the stage and while our soldiers are prepared.  I don’t have much of an army-mind but in a chessgame sort of strategy, I see the strength in such a decision.

But holy shit, I hate the killing and fear of being bombed. I’ve been told,  killing and fear is inevitable as the Hamas increases its strength and resolves to wipe out the infidels, of which Israel and Jews represent only a small fraction.

Gershon Baskin -1.2

Nothing is black and white, is it? All those slurred boundaries and see-sawing opinions. Pacifism seems so out of style.

Gershon Baskin has become a household name. Among other endeavours, he worked behind the scenes to deliver Gilad Shalit from captivity. He is co-founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI)  and his contacts include moderates from within Hamas. He has been working for rational negotiations as well as humane treatment of those Gazans who’ve been bombed out of their homes. He’s collected household goods from Israelis for delivery and he’s raised money for emergency food. He’s crusading to bring the other side of the story to the attention of those of us who live on this side of the border. But what is the other side? How many other sides are there?  Some people claim that his very earnestness to listen to those across the border has made him too cynical about the Israeli side.

Who am I to guess? How is anyone to know what the objective situation ‘is’.

In world situations, everything links to everything else. One bit of evidence leads to the certainty that something else preceded it.

When people share their political vision, I listen for awhile and then off I go, daydreaming about ‘what if’ and what beach or scene would I rather be surrounded with.

Poetry seems trite. Art seems logical. How would I paint what I want to express? Closing my eyes, I see a kind of huge textured coloured landscape. It’s filled with ranges of low rising mountains and raggedy paths. The mountain has no summit – it’s rather endless like the Great Wall of China, only earth-made. I see a low craggy mountainscape in rusty red with bits of rock in no certain shape.

Up the Mountain, watercolor by judih

This imaginary large canvas contains a very clear way, somewhere within. A poor trekker prepared with dates, water and a hammock, makes camp, knowing that one day, the hammock will find a place to be hung and on that day, the trekker will rest.

hammock offers rest

  1. 2. Gershon Baskin: Israeli Co-Director and founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) – a joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy think and “do”-tank located in Jerusalem.

August 18th

August 20th

Kibbutz Life · Living in Otef Azza · Music · Nir-oz · truce with Hamas · Youth Making a Difference

August 18th, 2014 – pondering different realities

piano chords

flute melodies

waterfalls and birds

chinese bamboo flute.jpg
Chinese bamboo flute

Listening to Chinese bamboo flute music.

The single chords of a piano, the melodic flute, water runs in the background and a bird on occasion. Some vocals, some strings.

It opens me up in an effortless way. Immediate effect. And it works on so many others.

new york kids aug 2014.jpg
Our School Twin, Bet Shraga, Albany, NY

I see a group of American kids posing in front of a beautiful backdrop that they created. I cry. Why? Because I wish I could be teleported into that picture. Happy, smiling. For that particular moment, they’re together and their only goal is to have a picture taken to mark their existence.

Beautiful existence.

I look at them and wonder when our kids will be having that experience. It seems like we’re in for war tomorrow. They cancelled the train from Ashkelon to Sderot. That translates to heavy odds towards renewed rocketfire, missiles being aimed at a chunk of the country.  I clearly don’t want to think about it, but it’s hovering right there, just above my right shoulder.

The bamboo flute reminds me that this too will pass. The future doesn’t yet exist. One move made by one person could change everything. One move leads to another. I could be sitting here tomorrow morning praising the wisdom of those sitting at the negotiation table. Or their folly. 

Humankind doesn’t seem to learn that flexibility comes with practice. If each human exercised daily, meditated daily, listened to Chinese bamboo flutes, then perhaps, human beings would be able to reconsider the old ways.  Perhaps those ways don’t suit the current reality. It could be that there’s a new way of dealing with things right in front of our eyes, if only we were to be open enough to look and see.

August 15th

August 19th