Monthly Archives: December 2017

I can’t convince you

When my doctor told me to slow down, I completely ignored him. I didn’t really know what he meant, but it didn’t even matter. It was such a stupid thing to say, and such a stupid thing to do, I mean, I was a busy person. Slowing down wasn’t even part of my universe.

It took my body literally stopping me cold to even make me start to ponder what on earth he had been talking about, and how to think about life in a new way. I was forced to, and I can’t imagine how I might have come to it without such decisive intervention.

So how on earth could I presume to try to help people slow down? I have no idea what magic words might make someone consider the option in lieu of total body shutdown. Once the body shuts down, I could get going, but there is a period of confusion and grief that precedes the impetus to make the most of things or dive into the lesson.

In considering writing a slowing down program, I am realizing that I still have enormous gaps in my own learning. I know a lot about slowing down and I’ve realized the world-changing benefits of this new (to me) approach, but it’s as if I’ve found the joy of the wave and want to talk about the ocean. There’s just So. Much. More.

Plus, my life isn’t relevant to you. Your life is relevant to me in that it helps me to refine and evaluate my own predilections. When you try to tell me what to do, it becomes obvious how little you know about me (even if you’re the doctor telling me to slow down. You may know quite a bit, but without transmitting the awareness, it’s nearly impossible for me to properly assess). When I try to tell you what to do, I’m looking through a very narrow lens.

And yet we can inspire each other.

There was a significant amount of time on this journey wherein I did want you to tell me exactly what to do to get from point A to point B. I see you’ve journeyed a similar path, and I figured if I could replicate it, I could achieve point B more quickly. It only took several years of butting my head against point A.5 to realize I had to find my own course.

I really admire people who can find the razor’s edge of applying past wisdom to generate real change in a new situation. I think I’m going to get myself some training.

I don’t want to tell people what to do. I would, however, like to crystalize the benefits, patterns and activities of slowing down for those who have a real desire and no clue how to proceed. And then, I need to find that lovely balance of providing information without being didactic and gently guiding someone in a helpful way. I am trying to remember that moment; the moment of receptivity and what might have been helpful. Because we defend our weaknesses. It’s a silly habit, but we almost all do it.

Because we defend our weaknesses. It’s a silly habit, but we almost all do it. That defensiveness might be the single silliest human foible. I imagine it has its purpose, though.

 

I have had an Interesting Week

This really has been quite the 10 days. I’m not sure when I wrote last, which is sad, and a condition I’d like to change and not be in so often. I have been writing on paper. I’m taking a 7 week Feminine Power course and I love it – May have mentioned that before. Not sure. My present moment awareness is my excuse for frequent lack of recollection, but I’m OK with it because if I had to pick, present moment awareness will win every time.

Slowing down is, without question, the most productive thing I’ve ever begun. I am still a beginner, and I notice that I push myself to my limits far too often, still after many years of focused effort. Indeed, I have yet to experience a “check in” with my body in which I was not holding significant unnecessary stress. I feel so grateful that this practice is such a big part of my life.

One of the wonderful aspects of slowing down has been unplugging from needing to do something to be OK. I can sit for a very long time. 🙂  But, there are subtler elements. I used to hear about something and think “Oh! I need that!” Not much anymore. I can look at a practice a friend is doing and feel glad for them without trying to figure out how to integrate it into my practices. I mean, sometimes I might give it a whirl, but it’s not this constant seeking for the magic formula that will finally bring everything into alignment. That shit was *exhausting*.

Occasionally, things sound too interesting to pass up. Or, that whole law of threes kicks in (things get mentioned 3 times in a short period, it’s the universe saying “do this” – although now as I write this it may have something to do with marketing. But, no. I ingest so little mass media… hmmm. i’ll think about that). The threes thing kicked in with Sound Showers, Gong Bathing, call it what you will… and the price and timing were right so I spent an evening at the lovely F.U.N. Yoga studio in Riverside, CA with some preliminary kundalini yoga and 450 minutes of gong immersion. Twenty adults sleeping on a yoga studio floor while 4 facilitators played the gong. It was pretty cool. I had a dear friend (one of the threes) talk about a session with people snoring so I brought earplugs, and oddly enough could hear (and of course feel) the gongs 100% through the plugs, but none of the snoring (of which there was plenty). As a big part of my MO right now is about vibration, being in that environment for an extended period was quite cool and I believe uplifting. I did learn, however, that I am not terribly interested in sleeping on a yoga studio floor again. (much like my teepee experience. glad I did it. all set.)

I also had the great benefit of Meditation with Horses, facilitated by my dear friend and equestrian. We meditated in a horse ring with 5 mares free to mill about. I think we had about 12 people, and it was my second time at this monthly community service program. This time was especially grounding and uplifting for me – my favorite combination. And I met some wonderful women.

I also had the bizarre experience… well, my mom and I met my sister and her boyfriend in Fallbrook, CA. It was something new from our semi-monthly meetings in San Diego before they head back to Detroit for the holidays. I didn’t have particularly high expectations, but we met at Myrtle Creek Nursery & Botanical Gardens and I absolutely fell in love with the place. It was such an elevated experience of farm/garden shop, botanical garden, cafe and more… I’ve known and loved many of all of these kinds of places but this place took each to new heights – and the kindness of the people. Wow. Totally blew me away. And then we made our way to dinner in Bonsall where they gave us free appetizers and wine (“it’s Wednesday!”) and an exceptionally delicious dinner. Driving home, I was just so taken by and appreciative of what a wonderful day it had been and what a beautiful part of the state I’d just been introduced to, I adjusted my family schedule so I could bring the kids as soon as possible. I decided on Friday.

Thursday afternoon, the area was engulfed by the Lilac Fire, which is still burning and making its way to the ocean (but I think those brave and amazing firefighters will have put it out by then). Myrtle Creek was across the street from the mandatory evacuation area (thank God), and the town of Bonsall was in the center of the fire. That beautiful town with that enormous Christmas tree that blessed our holiday dinner… I have no idea if it’s still standing.

I am really of the belief that All Is Well, and that the challenges we face are toward the continued Evolution of Life Itself, marching ever towards more love, greater freedom and more elegant complexity. But sometimes, it’s hard to be present to the fullness of that promise.

 

One More Time, with Empathy

Because of my decision about writing this unedited, I’m not even going to read what I wrote yesterday. It left me with a feeling, or a series of feelings, that require me to jump in with empathy, which I am feeling wasn’t particularly present towards myself, towards society or towards the process.

Between my family, society, timing and natural proclivities, I quickly and fully became immersed in the idea that my way to receive reliable love was to do something, to do it well, to do it with distinction (whether speed, creativity, or whatever else) and to “check all the boxes” that my parent/teacher/boss/friends/etc might require of me. I strove to achieve that doing so that I could feel valuable and deserve love. I’m not alone in this. It’s pretty common. The details of the stories vary, but literally hundreds of millions of us bought the line that the way we’re valued by the world is measured by what we do, our impact and the world’s response. Consequently, we’re in a race to be worthy, trying to meet the markers and always watching those markers move. That’s because they’re just outer reflections of the single marker within us, the thing we’re really supposed to pay attention to and the thing we already have, we’ve nothing to achieve.

Now, it’s not particularly easy to transition to “Inherent Worth” in a society not only based on “doing” but on “fast” and “flair” and “fancy.” For me, it has taken more than a decade and I’ve still only got a fragile hold.

It’s also pretty common to blame the old person and the old mindset for being wrong. Not a whole lot of compassion in that view. We’re growing, changing, evolving beings. In order to evolve and grow, we have to change states. it’s the natural process. And I’m pretty sure there’s not a tree in the forest that thinks the sapling was an embarrassment.

So this process of slowing down, this process of valuing life itself as it arises, this process of recognizing patterns that don’t serve and releasing them – it’s a process that is best served with a double helping of empathy, of self-compassion, of gentle kindness: that’s the productive method, that’s the natural method, that’s the method I want to realize, embody and express. But sometimes I fall behind. Sometimes for decades, sometimes for blog posts. Six of one…

I am infinitely glad that my life has forced me in a few directions I never would have gone by my own mental propulsion. In the experience of these changes, I recognize underlying mindsets I blindly followed in my old pursuits. Kindof like Josie notices now that wearing cat ears everywhere is kinda weird, whereas at 7 it seemed pretty darn cool. To judge the 7 year old doesn’t make much sense. What a sad and backwards habit. And in recognizing that, maybe we laugh and quit judging and move on.

This flawed human? This person who thought multitasking would earn me love? This is the same person who resented being alive – who felt it would be better to be on some other plane without the general mullarky of life on earth. who felt that the body was just something to cart my thinking mind around. That my thinking mind was what was going to lead me out of the wheel of karma, of samsara, of the miseries of human life.  My faulty assumptions and cultural understandings were mindnumbingly misguided. It makes me so sad. But mostly, it makes me want to develop a culture that steers young souls clear of such misunderstandings. That offers young souls a view of life wherein they are whole and the universe is friendly and we are all One, with each other, with the earth, with the many opinions in our own mind.

Unity. That’s where it’s at. And it’s a travesty that we teach anything else. The sheer volume of kids who feel lost, unloved, that there’s no path forward. If I could do anything, if, of all the many ills facing our society, I could impact one thing, that’s the thing I would hope to influence. That the truth of the love of Life Itself is pulsing through each of us all the time, and that we have the opportunity to express our own unique take on it, and lots of other good things I don’t even understand yet.

way past time. but this is going to get more attention.

 

No More Multi-tasking

I started multi-tasking well before there was a term for it, and I took enormous pride in my ability to engage in multiple projects efficiently. I looked down my nose at people who couldn’t (or wouldn’t) run several channels simultaneously and complete them successfully. I am so sad to admit it, because it just shows me what an arrogant jerk I can be. But there is no mistaking my old approach and the smug joy I took in it.

Which is probably why it got taken away 😉

I don’t multitask anymore. For lots of reasons, most involving forms of decreased capacity.  I am super slow, right, so I can’t run 10 errands in 10 minutes anymore. I’ve also got diminished mental capacity. Not sure if it’s age or brain fog or what, but it takes me a minute to access information. Given that my quick mental processor was a huge part of my sense of identity growing up and through my first adulthood, this was hard to get accustomed to. What I valued was gone; I no longer contained what I valued about myself, prided myself on. There may have been a crisis. But for the most part, once again, I find myself appreciating the turn my life has taken that has slowed me down, even if I had to change my values to get it.

Looking at it now, and in honesty, I wasn’t multitasking for the innate enjoyment or service of accomplishing the tasks in which I was engaged. I was multitasking to show off what a badass I was. The accomplishment held little joy in and of itself. The speed, the efficiency, the ability to look down my nose at whomever I just came in and rescued. Oh, Lord, it is hard to look at, and I guarantee you I didn’t see it that way at the time. And maybe I’m being a little hard on myself. But, the truth of the matter is that I had a lot of pride and hubris and I wouldn’t have been able to dig myself out of it without the utter breakdown of the systems that upheld it. My blinders were on, and ultimate success was the only goal. No matter how spiritual I was – and I have always had a primary interest in spiritual principles, literature, traditions and potential – my own spiritual objective had to do with the accomplishment, not the peace it brings. Eric Klein at Wisdom Heart talks about waiting for the “spiritual limousine” -you know, walking the spiritual red carpet, waving at people, stepping into or out of that spiritual stretch that acknowledges accomplishment/achievement. Yikes. And I couldn’t have seen it on that path I was on. It took a profound lifestyle upset to right my misguided values.

I am sad to frame this stuff this way. I don’t like what it says about me, and one of the things I often notice about people who talk about how flawed their “old way” was are typically still living all sorts of flaws, and have a tough time going back and acknowledging the people who had to endure said “old way.” The truth of the matter is I was a normal person who wanted to succeed and who valued the markers of achievement from personal satisfaction to societal approval. Having to deal with physical breakdown and societal meaninglessness, everything has changed. In my enthusiasm for the path that has resulted, I maybe look at my old patterns with not just remorse but frustration, pity, embarrassment and, from what it sounds like, resentment and some disdain. Those emotions and perspectives aren’t particularly helpful, but sometimes they’re there. That’s what I’ve been experiencing here. What started as thoughts about slowing down, changing from multitasking to slow, focused attention turned into an embarrassing rant about myself. And this is unedited.  Which is sometimes a drag. And I could just delete it, but this whole thing is about sharing process, and yucky as the picture of myself I’ve painted here, these changes and my perspectives on it have some level of truth -though no picture is complete or entirely accurate – and shine the light on how much this new set of practices has transformed me from who I was trying to be into who I am.

I intended to be more upbeat

I think I’ve written before about not being so good at routine. It typically eludes me. However, in the last 6 months or so, I have somewhat reliably gotten up in the morning (not exactly at a reliable time, but…) and brushed my mouthpiece while reciting balancing sentences for each meridian. I hadn’t done that yesterday because the phone rang or something else happened, and it did seem to impact my effervescence. As in, I had none.

Today was much better, having begun with my meridian balancing, but in the last hour or so things took a turn. Now, how to deal with that turn. The first turn was Josie actually wanting to talk about what to do about work and school (which was great) exactly as I should’ve been walking out the door to listen to Swami Yogeshananda give his very private and second to last talk about the enlightened beings he had the privilege to know. Sorry to miss it! And Josie and I really didn’t come to any good resolution, but it was nice to have her talk. And learning to be ok in the midst of uncertainty seems to me a pretty important skill in this day and age. Being able to talk about it without needing immediate resolution. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. “Fixing” things doesn’t seem realistic. Being with things, being able to take our time with them, seems to me much more practical.

And then, I read an article about ethnocentricity, nationalism and white supremacy and it’s meteoric rise in the western world not just in the past decades but in the past 2 years, with it continuing to climb and gain support even while the liberals in the world shake their heads in disgust with Trump’s imbecilic behavior. It was wildly depressing to read.

I know that stuff is going on. And there are even individuals I know and love who I am watching devolve into angry, finger-pointing blamers. And I have to watch myself as I contemplate the paradox of tolerance (that the tolerant can tolerate anything but intolerance, which must not be tolerated if tolerance is to succeed), looking within to the still grandiose, protectionist, flailing parts of me that want to point my own fingers, whether at myself or my past or the “bad guys.” Bringing the light of awareness into ever more subtle aspects of myself I wish I had matured beyond. That’s the technique. Feel the feeling, apply love, be. repeat.

So, as someone who recognizes, as Buckminster Fuller described, “the future of humankind is an all or nothing proposition: either all of us will live and thrive or none of us will” it’s really disheartening to see not just the existence of hatred, but the growing momentum of it. And the most natural thing in the world is to blame the hatred, but of course that won’t solve anything.

I want to do something great to forward the agenda of the loving. I want to be instrumental in turning the tide towards cooperation and brotherhood. I have a ridiculously small circle of influence, and at this moment in my life, no real prospect of extending my efforts beyond it. I’m not scientific, I’m not a technological genius – I have no idea what my contribution could be beyond my absolute commitment to love, my utter surrender to life itself, and the application of the tools I know when faced with love’s opposite.

I used to run/kick/scream. Now I turn to the breath, and/or the mantra, and/or tenderness. This move from reactivity to calm intentionality has made a vast difference in my life and daily experience. I can only hope it can tip the scale…