Monthly Archives: December 2017

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…