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
Nir-oz

Thinking about January

We live in tense times. We already listen for possible Red Alerts. We are poised for phone messages from our Council Security Team about current dangers. We watch the skies for balloons bearing explosives. We need a time-out. Therefore, every Friday, I come early to the Open Center in Kibbutz Nir Oz to arrange the space, adjust the room temperature, and align my mind with my intention: to offer a safe space.

Nir Oz fields, January

With every session, I’m learning more about timing, attention span and interests of the people who come to practice mindfulness.

With the new group of over -60s in the Blue Kindergarten, I have seen that starting the session with qigong helps circulation and ability to focus on breathing. One woman is a little hyper and finds it hard to sit, another has poor circulation and a third holds her own, enjoying the challenges. Rather than turn up the thermostat in the room, it’s preferable to turn up the body’s thermostat, so we engage in basic warm-ups and then some breathing, movement sets.

qigong

With the Friday morning group, I vary the theme according to the weather, the feeling in the room and the particular outer and inner environment. The past week has seen threats from many explosive-laden balloons and we are always aware that Trump’s Deal of the Century is going to bring angry responses. It’s never-ending and we must be highly diligent all the time. This is why our times together are sacred – a chance to breathe and check our physical condition, emotional and mental states.

Today, I began with some lilting music called Restore, published by the Insight Timer application. We gently circled our upper bodies, crossed legs our anchor on the floor. Our heads and necks extensions of our spinal chord, we moved with awareness 10 times counter-clockwise, with a pause to scan our sensations, and 10 times clockwise.

We then did a body scan from head to toe and back up to our pelvis. Each station was a slow four-breath pause before I moved on. Pauses for more inclusive breathing included head, upper body and lower body, before we allowed the whole body to breathe – out breath from head to toe, inbreath from toe up to head and we followed 10 of these cycles. Afterwards, we took time to allow the body to breathe while we listened to the sounds of the room. These included the hum of the air conditioner and the birds and gentle music and watersounds of the Secret Garden (Insight Timer).

Insight Timer app

The body scan was about 22 minutes long. We unwound, taking time to stretch out our hands, fingers, arms, shoulders, shaking them, dancing with them. Then we addressed our legs, rotating our ankles 10 times each direction and stretching our spines by reaching up to the ceiling and then bending slowly towards our toes, unimportant how far we reach, just the reaching is what’s beneficial. Three times center, 3 times to the left of our legs, back to center, then 3 times to the right of our legs. We reached up to the sky, stretching the upper part of our bodies and again reached down to stretch our spines – center, left of the legs, right of the legs. Then again shaking it out, and noticing our sensations.

la qi – pulling qi (energy)

We bridged into la qi or ‘pulling energy’. We warmed up our hands, creating electricity, rubbing our hands till we could each feel the energy. Then from playing with that ball of energy, rotating the ball, getting to know it, we allowed our hands to part and come close together – inhaling with their parting, exhaling when they came together. We reformed the ball of energy and then felt a small rod of energy between our hands, a constant distance and took it to the right side, right hand on top, left hand on bottom we brought it across to the left side and reversed hands. The movement was kept central, not going past the knee, sensing our crossed legs as anchors.

We reformed the ball and gently pressed it into our lower bellies to recharge our energy reservoirs (dan tian).

Right hand travelled up to our heart, left hand on the dan tian, we began a Metta meditation, (meditation for lovingkindness) wishing ourselves, health, happiness and relaxation. We brought to our imaginations someone who inspires us, brings a smile to our faces and wished for them the same things. We next brought to mind someone in need of energy and wished for them the same things. We then thought of someone with whom we have difficulty and knowing that they also want what we want, we wished them the same. To reward ourselves, we completed the cycle by returning to wish ourselves these good things.

The singing bowl signaled a transition. It was a time for gentle full belly breaths, inhaling filling up our abdomens and – exhaling in turn: ‘aah’, ‘ohh’, ‘mmm’ and ‘ohm’ which brought us to a self-hug, offering ourselves love.

We gave ourselves a Dry Shower to pat in all the energy. Thanking ourselves for being present and wishing ourselves a good day, we parted.

Then H told me of a family trip they’d taken out of the country. When on the road, in the car, A decided to lead everyone through a dry shower. He was quite sure of himself and illustrated exactly how it was done, guiding his family to do it correctly.

In another incident on the trip, he had felt ill, vomited and to quiet himself, set himself to focus on breathing. Before long, he’d fallen asleep. His delighted grandmother was eager to report that A had internalized our methods and was quite naturally using them when required.

I felt, my work is done! I can pack away my sign on the door, hand over the keys and sit back!

Now, however, I have a lesson with A and H, so till next time.

Shalom Sangha readers.

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 · 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

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

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

August 14th, 2014 – ceasefire? Red Alert? What’s going on?

I went to our kibbutz grocery store and while choosing cucumbers, I met Bat-Sheva. Grabbing this perfect opportunity to share our thoughts, we agreed that there was only one logical next step to the war situation – a miracle. A sudden burst of sanity! People would sit up, become sane and realize that there was a far easier way to deal with one another: via peace and cooperation. Seems so simple, but it would take a miracle to bring about a reasonable future.

For the rest of the day I made phone calls, dealt with people then conked out from the heat.   The buzz of nervousness was kept on a low flame as the clock ticked towards the midnight end of ceasefire.

sudden red alert

heart sinks in dismay

then news…ceasefire

It seemed so commonplace – just a few hours left of the ceasefire when we suddenly started to get red alerts. Rockets were being fired, before time. Friends began to text one another. Where to sleep? The secure room or our regular bedroom? We were split in our decisions.

I went to my regular bed and then after midnight checked my phone and discovered there’d been a decision to extend our ceasefire.

Not a miracle but a quickfire intervention – another five days of ceasefire. A placebo relief to placate the crowd.

a toss of a dice

tomorrow promise of ease

until the next time

But is anyone placated?  The US is pissed off. The Knesset is pissed off. The residents of the South are pissed. The Hamas are going with the flow, I imagine, setting up housekeeping for the next opportunity.

I can’t speak for the Egyptians or the rest of the world.

Me? I’m breathing easier. I like the illusion of peace, the absence of booms and sirens as I sit here. I guess in gaming this would be called onboarding – learning the rules under simplest conditions. When I’m adept, I’ll be able to carry on nicely under more extreme conditions.

August 13th

August 15th

Israel · Living in Otef Azza · Music · Nir-oz

August 13th, 2014 – Ceasefire distractions on tap

one a.m. recess

sample of R.E.M.

Hong kong dreamscape

Enough of the same bombed-out photos of our neighbours’ hood. Last night’s dream made me a photographer documenting nightlife in Hong Kong. This was a flash, glamourous gig. Thank you unconscious mind!

There were no people, I was looking at angles and the effect of neon lights on the lines of buildings.

reminder to reader: All this is emerging during the mind cleanse regimen that I’ve embarked on. That’s all

I remember the drawing class I attended on Kibbutz Nir Oz where Rahel D, kibbutz artist, had piled up a bunch of wooden chairs and instructed us to sketch the negative space. I tried. I really did. I also tried to sketch my hand without judging.  It must be, I thought, an acquired taste. Like the time I was told to listen to the Grateful Dead’s Sugaree via the space between notes.

So I looked between wooden chairs, between fingers. I listened between sounds, but stuff kept getting in the way. Perhaps it was a matter of not enough LSD.  Too late now. These days I think of my liver and my equilibrium and back away from unusual recreational drugs.

. . . . .

Here it is, Wednesday morning. Another day of ceasefire and I realize that while we’ve had a break from rocket attack, real life has begun to seep into my days. My jet-lagged stupor is no protection as I slowly begin to take on assignments.  Hanoch Piven has asked for my help. He wants to come south with a team of therapists to work with our local Eshkol population. As wonderful as this is, I will need some skills to make this happen. 

Hanoch Piven

Telephone skills? Can I manipulate a telephone sufficiently well to make myself understood? I haven’t spoken Hebrew in ages and when I do, I insert liberal amounts of gesture to make myself understood.

And I need people skills. Unfortunately, this comes just as I’ve come to terms with my mild state of social autism, especially significant during times of war-time stress.

There must be a way to navigate the committees and the faces that comprise them to get to my required Yes!

It’s not just Hanoch who needs me, I need me. By luck, I have a chance to enroll in a marvelous course “Teaching Mindfulness to Children.” This is a newly expanded course, and by some miracle, school has granted me the appropriate day off and there’s still room in the class. Now, I only need to find a way to pay a small fortune. I need the kibbutz for this. (Note: the kibbutz grants permission to only a few to go out to study, with a chance for financial help if one’s petition is accepted. There’s also a matter of submitting a request before the deadline (which I hadn’t) and then being called upon to speak to committee members)

Perhaps there’s a mantra for this.

I also sense that the new school year is approaching. I’ll need to keep myself strong while a million little nudniks claw away at my reservoir of energy. Demands for my attention, from meetings to dealing with special situations, each replete with smiling faces. That’s how it is, but at my advanced age, I prefer to keep myself in one piece while I respond. I’ve decided that my survival depends on dedicating time to chomp on salads – this has become my favourite pastime during summer vacation – the ability to chew lettuce as it’s meant to be chewed.

take your time to chew

My gravestone: Her life was made happy by ample greens.

And while I’m contemplating death, I must manage to schedule the puppet bodies I need to create – shoulders, chests and arms. I’ve already made my peace with leaving off legs. No problem. But I need shoulders and arms.

These will have to be sculpted. This requires time and cooler weather to sit in my lovely little wooden workshop which tends to steam up in this 36 degree weather.

A fine August morning 

wordless salad

just the green of nature

to find and enjoy

August 12th, 2014

August 14th, 2014