Friday, August 30, 2013


Where I walk in the mornings is along a bluff overlooking the rocks and sea.  I follow a path that curves along the edge but wide enough for three people to walk abreast.  I walk for about 40 minutes along this route and then make the turn home but I go upwards towards a road which is inland and above the cliff walk by about a quarter mile.  It gets my heart going a bit faster and I end up higher on the ridge where I can overlook a broader picture of the ocean, craggy shoreline, and the ridges and sand dunes to the north.  Once I reach the top, there are a few dips and rises but mostly it is a rarely traveled paved road that parallels the bluff walk in reverse.  

But the time I reach this higher point, I can see the distant speck of the white  van and I feel happy.  The hormones secreted within my brain and nervous system, peptides, are activating my body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.  We know this process as the “endorphin rush.”  If you are active at all, you know this as a welcome and pleasant feeling.  

There is a spot on the road when it is only downhill to the car and I can see the ridges above the cove and the Rock at a distance.  It is such a vast and spacious view that it always takes my breath from me.  The way that I am walking and putting down my feet changes, in this small almost imperceptible way.   I begin to feel something in my body, a bit of ego, probably, for completing the loop.  But there is a kind of swagger in my body and steps.  I am immediately mentally transported to a movie image. 

Do you remember the movie Witness?  It is a police thriller about an Amish child who sees a murder, and Harrison Ford, the detective John Book, goes undercover on the child’s family’s farm to hide and protect him.  He falls in love with the lovely Amish woman, Rachel played by Kelly McGillis.  At the end he is torn but ends up leaving and not pursuing the relationship with her.  All along there has been this big strapping Amish man who has had eyes for Rachel.  In the final scene, John Book is driving out the long driveway, heading back to Philadelphia to his life there.  His car heads up a rolling hill and as he is about to go over the crest, he sees Daniel, the Amish man, casually striding towards the house where Rachel lives.  You see John Book's car stop for a moment and then he drives on.  As we watch all of this, Daniel takes long steps coming down the hill.  We know, as did John Book, that he is heading for the porch where he will woo Rachel to be his wife.  There is a quiet confidence in his walk.  One might say swagger, but it is more of confidence than ego.  There is a solidness to his step.  He comes down the hill and you can almost feel his feet hit the dirt, each step landing solidly and strongly in the dust.

This whole movie scene gets played out internally each time I come over that final rise and start down the hill.   I suddenly feel that heavy footfall, the brightness of spirit, the confidence or maybe pride coming down the home stretch of my journey.  It is just like Daniel did in that final scene in Witness.  I am embodied by his image and character, solid, sure, content.  I was thinking yesterday about how often movies have amplified my life’s experience.  How like theater, the arts, opera and myth, movies become portals to our experience, a way to see the big and small moments of our lives, from just a bit outside of ourselves.

There was a TV show named Northern Exposure.  It started in 1990, and took place in a fictional town in Alaska called Cicely.  If you have never seen it, you might take a peek.  It is a wonderful blending of people, culture and ideas, and for TV, way ahead of the cultural curve.  There was one particular show where a young Native American: Ed Chigliak, a man who is in training to be a Shaman, is visited by an elder of his tribe.  Leonard, the elder, is asking about the white people’s stories.  He comes from a society where story is like myth, it holds lessons, healing and cultural references that inform and companion his people.  Ed, who lives among the white people of the town cannot answer Leonard’s question about where the stories are.  The show follows this quest until the ending minutes where Ed, a budding filmmaker is sitting in a dark theater watching Citizen Kane, when Leonard comes in an sits beside him.  I don’t remember exactly what is said, but it is clear that they both might understand that movies in Western Culture are our stories.  Or at least one of the ways we hold our personal and cultural knowledge.

In the final minutes of my walk, I do like the silky feel of shifting between the threshold of my own feet hitting the pavement and the imagery from the movie.  It is a sweet place of resonance, introspection, amplification and separation.  

I would like to ask you to think for a moment of one, or twenty of those times where your own breathing life is blended with an image from a movie.  Maybe one where the images seem to blur and become one.

A little consideration, a moment, a memory.

Send them on to me at  Thanks.. and good walking to you!  Misty

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Good morning.  This is a follow up to my piece on Haiku as meditation.  I did get a few responses which I have included, and one of my own.  We are often intimidated by sharing something creative.  Even if you did not send them on to me to post, I do hope you take up the pen and sit with the process for a moment.  It, like yoga, centers and slows us into our hearts.     New post shortly….Misty

What white land is this?
Peopled by ones now ghosts,
Walking on shoulders.

Paris Rose

To live without want
Dancing is a middle way,
Desire fulfilled.


Hazy sky at dawn,
      Fire raging in the forests.
Bring rain to heal us!


O Buddha sit me
Under ancient Bodhi tree,
And then I fly away.

My boat, on water,
Floats along the tidal rise,
Forgetting I ride.

Misty Wycoff

Thursday, August 22, 2013


January 23, 2013

Part of the border plants died.  The Martha Washington geraniums have taken over the entire bedded area around the statue of the Buddha.  Gardens teach us to let go.  In science and nature,  perhaps since the writings of Heraclitus, the idea that “Nature abhors a vacuum” is a cornerstone construct.  It reminds us that life is always shifting around on us.  Empty spaces get filled in the real world.  Also things disappear, die or become dormant.  You cannot be a gardener, or a naturalist and not know this on a deeply physical level. 

Animal trails through the wilderness are not straight.  Trees are not symmetrical, and we cannot take one step without seeing a dying life form, a leaf, a bone or the rich loam of decaying life.  Although in one lifetime we may not perceive it, but too, the mountains are slowly letting go of their shape and making boulders into dust.

One of the subtle and persistent experiences of being in the natural world is to relax.  We are small again.  We are just a piece in the bigger thrust and pull of the universe.  Life out there is simple.   That which adapts and gets the right nurturance survives, until it doesn’t.  Simple.  Dying isn’t scary, wrong or evil, it just is.  It is part of it.  Part of the wide screen, the molten apricot sky, or the water dropping thousands of feet down the hillside to the deep caverns and cool riverbanks below.  We belong.  We are here for a piece of that long time, and then we are not.

Some of our interior borders will be dying off right now, and other parts of us will be taking over a zone of our consciousness.  We do have the ability to prune things back and to replant, but sometimes it is just interesting to see where the big spin is taking us.  We spend so much of our time trying to control things.  We get used to comfort.  We want things our way.  Nothing is wrong with that. Work it.   Get some things you want.  Make some space for yourself.  But don’t let that take over your experience of things.  Learn to sit back and watch.  Be still.  Give time for things to emerge, for relationships to develop, for ideas to reach maturity.  Let time edit the process.   Meditation helps with that, because it is scheduled reverie but reverie nonetheless.  It is a moment of not acting, but just observing. 

Oh yes, that border plant has died, but look at those Iris!

Coming attractions:   A few Haiku poems that came in from last posting....stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Pelicans Gliding Flight

I start today with a poem, a Haiku.

                                   Northbound pelicans

                                   Where do they gather and land?

                                   Always, my heart!

I thought I would give some examples of Haiku Poems and invite you to consider writing one.  Haiku writing is a form of meditation.    I have included some information about writing them and some examples to let you see how powerful they are. I invite you to write one and send it to me in the "comments" section.  I will publish the entries in my next blog (with or without your name...).  I think you will find it a calming exercise.  I particularly like the one that starts...."O snail..."(I just heard that sometimes the comment button doesn't work.  I will try to get that fixed, but you can email me the Haiku to

Haiku poems date from 9th century Japan to the present day. Haiku is more than a type of poem; it is a way of looking at the physical world and seeing something deeper, like the very nature of existence.

History and Structure of Haiku Poems

A haiku poem consists of three lines, with the first and last line having 5 moras, and the middle line having 7. A mora is a sound unit, much like a syllable, but is not identical to it. Since the moras do not translate well into English, it has been adapted and syllables are used as moras.  
Haiku started out as a popular activity during the 9th to 12th centuries in Japan called “tanka.” It was a progressive poem, where one person would write the first three lines with a 5-7-5 structure, and the next person would add to it a section with a 7-7 structure. The chain would continue in this fashion. 
The first verse was called a “hokku” and set the mood for the rest of the verses.  Sometimes there were hundreds of verses and authors of the “hokku” were often admired for their skill. In the 19th century, the “hokku” took on a life of its own and began to be written and read as an individual poem. The word “haiku” is derived from “hokku.” 
The three masters of “hokku” from the 17th century were Basho, Issa, and Buson.  Their work is still the model of haiku writing today. They were poets who wandered the countryside, experiencing life and observing nature, and spent years perfecting their craft.

Haiku Poems From the Masters

A review of haiku poems is an excellent way to become familiar with this form of poetry. Remember that in translation, the moras won’t be the same as syllables. In Japanese, there are 5 moras in the first and third line, and 7 in the second, following the 5-7-5 structure of haiku.

Basho Matsuo

Here are three examples of the haiku of Basho Matsuo, the first great poet of haiku in the 1600s:
An old silent pond...
A frog jumps into the pond,
splash! Silence again.

Autumn moonlight—
a worm digs silently
into the chestnut.

Lightning flash—
what I thought were faces
are plumes of pampas grass.

Yosa Buson

Three examples of the haiku of Yosa Buson from the late 1700s are offered here:
A summer river being crossed
how pleasing
with sandals in my hands!

Light of the moon
Moves west, flowers' shadows
Creep eastward.

In the moonlight,
The color and scent of the wisteria
Seems far away.

Kobayaski Issa

Here are three haiku from Kobayashi Issa, a haiku master poet from the late 1700s and early 1800s:
O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!

Trusting the Buddha, good and bad,
I bid farewell
To the departing year.

Everything I touch
with tenderness, alas,
pricks like a bramble.

Natsume Soseki

Natsume Soseki lived from 1867 - 1916.  He was a novelist and master of the haiku. Here are a couple of examples of his poems:
Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in  rage
with no leaves to blow.

The crow has flown away:
swaying in the evening sun,
a leafless tree.  

Recent Poems

Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind. - Richard Wright

ground squirrel
balancing its tomato
on the garden fence - Don Eulert

Remember, haiku is more than a type of poem; it is a way of looking at the very nature of existence.

So take a moment and look around you.  Be in the present, find those 17 moras or syllables, and send them on to me.  PS- Enjoy those moments while you are considering what to write   ~~~~~~~~~~ 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Been a busy month for books. 

I recently came across the phrase:  “The inescapable disappointment of intimacy”  It was in Elizabeth Gilbert’s newest book called Committed, A Skeptic Makes Peace With Marriage.  After her Eat, Pray, Love book, she goes on happily in her life with the Brazilian man she met in Bali.  Two years later there are problems when he is refused entry into the United States.  Both their relationship and his import business are interrupted by this challenge by Homeland Security.  This book is not only the story of their year, or more, of going through the channels to become legally affianced, and for him to be allowed back into the USA so they can be married, but she has also researched the whole marriage, relationship history from sociological, religious and personal perspectives.

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage | [Elizabeth Gilbert]It is interesting, charming, riveting and funny.  By contemplating her own life and doing her research she has once again allowed an opening for the rest of us to benefit from her life path.  In Eat, Pray Love  we were able to see the end of her marriage.  This was a journey of self, that led her to a deeper understanding of her own sensuality, spirituality and centeredness.  Continuing along her path, she leads again to places where we have all traveled, but pulls us into a deeper look at our own journey and our consciousness.  It helps us  to look at intimacy, relationship and marriage and commitment.

The phrase “the inescapable disappointment of intimacy” has ridden around in the back of my head for a few weeks now.  It seems that all my conversations with clients and friends, all things read on the topic and all relevant movies, have been the mirror upon which I reflected and considered these things.

Isn’t it true that at some level we have all been disappointed by intimacy?  Given some of the perspectives of her book, I have wondered why.  What expectations do we have of our love relationships or even our friendships?  Are these ideas, historically, religiously, or culturally instilled?  Or is it a more fundamental question, where we try and fulfill our need for spiritual connection in our relationships to other humans?  

What I do know is that having read the book I felt more at ease, my perspective opened up, my understanding deepened, and I felt more free regarding this topic.  Whether you are in a relationship or looking for one, or even recovering from one, I do believe you will enjoy and be informed in subtle and obvious ways about who you are what it means to be committed to someone in relationship.  It will give you an opportunity to see where you lie on this continuum of understanding.

So, for today, I recommend a book.  A good book, a fun book, and a smart book that brings a little fresh air into an area that is so laden with expectation, history and sociological meaning.  I downloaded it in digital from from the library and listened to it.  Nice!

Til next time......Misty