Monthly Archives: May 2018

So the wonderful thing about feeling awful is that you can notice it. And noticing is the first step before understanding you can make a different choice. And there are just so many tools, but the easiest is: stop believing your thoughts. It’s the thoughts taking us on all of these crazy mind trips. And some of them are true and some of them are not and some are partially true, but all of those things are just thoughts, too, and at our essence we are just organisms sitting, standing or lying down, present to the world unfolding around and within us, breathing in and out.

The downside of slowing down is I really am coming more and more face to face with the parts of myself I really haven’t wanted to face. But this is 10 years in, and as I have slowed down, I’ve developed both capacity and a toolset for when I am out of my depths.  But, make no mistake, “out of my depths” is not unusual. It is conversely related to the dedication and length of my meditative practices. So, while it is uncomfortable it is also very exciting.

“Awareness is the healing agent.” Good Lord, I hope so because I really have no idea how to undo my lesser qualities or attributes. And I’m squaring with the fact that we all contain the fullness of the yin/yang (or am I circling around that fact?) I have habits and attributes for which I am grateful, but I have plenty which make me cringe. And being dedicated to evolving, to slowing down, being present to what is, and being faced in the direction of evolving towards ever more love, freedom and relationship – this is my best bet at transforming those cringe-worthy attributes, and certainly my best way to experience or share my life.

Yesterday at the monastery, there was some debate over the validity of the TM studies correlating a certain amount of meditators in a city with a drop in crime rate. While the talk went on I realized, “the more I meditate, the lower my crime rate” crimes against myself, my loved ones and the world at large. It sortof makes it both a privilege and sortof an obligation – in the best possible way – to be wholehearted in showing up in the world, doing what works and lifting even the cringeworthy stuff to it’s rightful place in the wholeness that we each are.

Craziest thing? I

signals and signs

I’ve spent the last decade teaching myself to use events of my life as cues to move into deeper breathing, mantra, relaxation or some other life-positive pivot. Sometimes it is physical pain. Sometimes it is emotional. Sometimes it is old and sometimes feels new. By embracing the discomfort of the moment, the confusion or the pain, and letting it be and recognizing I am part of life and life has cycles — it typically takes me off the mental bus of 1,000 scary stories and puts me in a more receptive mood that maybe doesn’t take everything to mean everything.

I am so grateful for the training.

Those thoughts are just as distracting as they were before I ever started these practices, but the tools (perhaps because i have so many of them) derail them. And they come back and another tool, and as I said yesterday, how quickly I can apply the tool – how much suffering I let myself endure first – and this cycle has new potentialities. The channel of underlying stress in my mind and my body is not the thoroughfare it used to be, and if I am going to be well, i need to be diligent.

Sometimes, during a flow period, I wonder why I am ever sad, life is so tenderly unfolding before us. Then I get into one of these ebb periods, and perhaps the ebb period is defined as not feeling that way, but the habit of my psyche is to worry, to project and to blame and defend. And much like the yin yang symbol, there’s still some ebb in the flow period (I somes still behave defensively when I am feeling great) and the flow in the ebb period is the practice – is the connection to the fact that I am simply, and quite out of my control, an expression of some larger creative force that is alive within me as evidenced by my being alive. All this other stuff is self-generated. and that’s fine. but it’s not real. it’s like my kids playing videogames. They get all worked up about something completely imaginary.

The feminine power class has had me going back to whatever disenfranchised portion of my psyche initially registered the wound, and i’ve had a lot of interesting and soothing experiences employing that practice when the cue of mental discomfort pops up, but I don’t have the energy for that today. Today, I just want to be with it and overlay it with mantra. I’ve got a nifty ring-based counter and i’m going to try to get to 1,000 mantra repetitions today. That’s a lot. but as i said, it’s been a decade of practice (and I secretly hope I go to 1500. wish me luck.)

one thing i do know: after 1,000 mantras, the situation is going to look a little different.

how quickly can i go there?

I’m having a moment of fear and self-loathing. I’ve been an idiot on a bunch of things, Tucker’s had a few days off, I feel the old familiar patterns of stress beckoning. Thank God for this practice. Thank God for this idea of turning always to God. Thank God for this idea of evolving, what we are doing/all we can do, ever more towards love, freedom and relationship.

Because I’ve gone down all those roads, believing the thoughts in my mind and letting them take me for a ride that is both uncomfortable and unproductive. Now, I’m not afraid of discomfort. Indeed, I’ve come to see it as an invitation. But there are karmic ways of thinking and there are kriya possibilities and breaking the cycle is the mark of the kriya choice. Coming out of the fascination with the story. Knowing it’s the voice that cried wolf and you don’t need to keep falling for it. David Hawkins wrote in letting go about thoughts being the fisherman’s hook. You’re this little fish and if that hook gets your attention and you bite, well, you’re going for a ride and you might not like the end.  If you can simply not take the bait, the river is going to have all sorts of adventures around you, with you and for you. I’ts a nice image.

My big marker of wellness is how quickly I can turn to God when the tempting thoughts come. There are any number of ways I invoke the energy that created all this, whether through breath, prayer, insight, mantra, intention, practice, and for a minute or for a second or for an hour. But a choice, in a moment of sadness or confusion, how quickly the choice? And that’s what is most interesting to me, this process.

I do prefer feeling pleasant to this sortof tortured feeling that keeps coming up, but this has so much more possibililty. feeling bad is an opportunity to be with feeling bad and still love me. my patience with the feeling allows it to come and take what it needs, get my attention and hopefully teach me something. I am unfurling a lifetime of unnecessary stressors and my life, as it is -on good days and on more difficult – is my best teacher. And I know that if I follow the mental ‘you’re not good enough’ channel, i know exactly what i’ll receive there. but when i take that same prompt and use it to turn to a mantra, or relax within it, things start opening up. something new is going to happen, even if only subtly new. That’s the path I am on, and want to be on. that karmic wheel is just not appealing, and i’m delighted that i now can identify some choice-points that bring me one step closer to changing the cycle.

maybe there’s hope

All those painful things that humble me really are a good thing. It’s possible I’d be insufferable without them. Sometimes I really am a jerk. i don’t want to be, but sometimes there it is. Apologize. Integrate the lesson. Hope that if it comes up again, bringing more presence to it. Being better, naturally, because evolving is towards greater love. So, if the explicit and implicit and any -plicit there could possibly be, if the goal is love, the only goal is evolving ever opening to love, freedom and relationship.

Again, the reason for this writing. to keep this, thinking about this, having a practice of regularly touching in with *evolving is my only goal, and literally the most natural thing in the world because everything alive is doing it, so remember the goal and sit tight, you’re in good hands. the universe’s hands. life itself’s hands. and life itself knows what it is doing. and when it fails, ok, that’s interesting, but life itself goes on expressing fully everywhere in the universe. How cool is that.

If only it were that simple.

But it really freaking is, if we can stay present to simplicity. And quit defining outcomes. Man, that’s tough. Setting parameters on what has to happen is a one-in-a-billion recipe for happiness. I mean, that *might* happen, but really, do we need to be OK

I find, without exception, that when i do not ask the question i want to ask, i regret it. Today I made a fool of myself because i was going to ask a question and didn’t and proceeded to prove my ignorance. I hope I am learning from this stuff. There really are whole swaths of human experience where I am clueless. and perhaps offensive. totally without meaning to be. but, still. It’s disappointing.

and yet the yin and the yang are alive in all of us. things we love and do and are, and things we are less fond of. Even as basic as thinking bodily functions are gross. less than ideal experiences exist as soon as ideal experiences exist. Can I get my mind to understand that and literally stop judging “that’s great” and “that’s special” because it always gets countered by “that’s wrong” and “that’s lacking”. Everything is whole. live THAT.

I also have the rationalization that sometimes I am just a tool of the universe. sometimes things just go so. freaking. wrong. there was no way I am solely responsible. like the worst table i ever had as a waitress. wrong food, cooked wrong, long wait, corked wine, just everything bad. and then, literally, when they forced me to bring him a check (that man never should have paid) the pen broke and leaked ink all over his suit. Just. that. bad. I was the deliverer of strange tidings. It felt awful. And, of course, not nearly as awful as it was for him – and i wonder if he remembers. i mean, i do. it stuck with me, did it stick with him? I bet not. I bet he let it go. I think I obviously should, too. (Like the monk… i put her down miles ago…)

Maybe…

Life is weird. Full of dichotomy. Full of change.

How to cope?

Well, flexibility is key, methinks. Flexibility and… (wait for it)… focus on the present moment.  I know from experience and from practically all the “good books” that receiving the present moment with an open heart is the path to freedom, and yet…

Me. Unloading the dishwasher. Trying to figure out how to be more Zen/compassionate/less “me” in a tender situation in my birth family. Trying out all kinds of different approaches, possible conversations, strategies of containment.

Until I realize that the imaginary conversation in my head *is* the problem. That conversation is fully and completely past and future exclusive. It’s the churn. I am prolonging the difficulty AND my experience of it because of this tendency.

Unloading the dishwasher with my full attention is a better idea. Noticing the shine (or, in the case of my dishwasher, often lack thereof) of the glasses, plates and silverware. Appreciating the time this device saved me, imperfect though it is. Recognizing the imperfection without feeling affronted by it.

This is a far better use of my time, my energy, my focus and my consciousness.

And yet I catch myself in these loops dozens of times per day. Worse yet, I try to validate my  imaginary conversations. I can say with some certainty that there is a time and place for contemplation and ‘processing of emotions’ but it is not in the mental chatter stream that seems hell-bent on fixing things, assigning culpability and developing strategies. When I take my struggles into a preliminary meditation, or onto the page of a journal, or into a conversation with a trusted friend, progress ensues. This solo mind-trip is just causing trouble.

Today, that struggle comes from realizing how wrong I am about something, but most days it’s about how right I am. Funny thing is, both feelings suck. And so now the objective becomes working to undo this habit of classifying.

One of my favorite stories is that of a Chinese farmer whose horse ran away.

“Oh!  So unlucky!” his friends and neighbors cried.

“Maybe,” replied the farmer.

A few days later, the horse came back, trailing a few wild mares behind it.

“Wow! So lucky!” his friends and neighbors believed this time.

“Maybe,” was the farmer’s response.

While attempting to train the horse, his son broke his leg. “So unlucky!” chorused the peanut gallery. “Maybe,” replies the farmer.

Next day, army conscription shows up to gather the able-bodied young men for an upcoming battle. The farmer’s son’s injury disqualified him. “So lucky!” from the friends and neighbors. “Maybe” from the farmer.

While I am grateful there are a few exceptions in my life, there are huge, broad swaths of my life where I am that “every moment jumping to conclusions” peanut gallery.

I’m going to become the farmer.