Monthly Archives: June 2019

having the headache shifted the practice

I’m far from enlightened, but i’m more and more content and interested and happy. This is the trend of the practice and why i am so excited to share it. i don’t share it as a spiritual practice (with a goal of enlightenment) but as a physiofocus practice (with a goal of peace of mind throughout the day). maybe they’re the same thing, but I don’t know.

realizing how deeply entrenched in spinning stories about my successes and failures as a person in the world because of the comments of a few well-intentioned people – it was familiar. i fell into it and automatically engaged support structures to keep the stories active, the fears prominent, the strategy elusive and my mind consumed.

the headache didn’t help.

or so i thought. maybe the headache had me do more bodyfulness practices which helped me notice this mental spiralling. This “fully and completely outside of the present moment” mind path, and then when i would try to tap into the present moment, i got a lot of, ‘the present moment sucks, even if only because it is trapped here between this traumatic past and “elusive, and even then still probably not going to work” future. Yes, I’ll concede: that’s a terrible place to be.

Instead, let’s pop over here, where life is flowing through us regardless of how we perceive it, and to feel that for a moment (dropping out of perception – and maybe when we come back to it, we enjoy renewed appreciation for life itself caring enough about us to keep us breathing. Those stories – all of them – can be seen for what they are: nothing. and right here, in this breath, I can claim my alignment to the present moment and drop all of the identities and defenses and prognosticating.

Thankfully, this space is becoming familiar, too. And now I can engage my supports to reenforce this way of being in the world and relating to it. Huge shift. Thank heaven.

noticing, noticing and more noticing

I really did not enjoy everything I noticed this weekend. I’m also incredibly grateful for it and struggling just a bit to keep from ‘just wanting it to be over.’ Right? Noticing what comes up without judging it, wanting to change it… you can see how i’m doing on that today. But, these things come up. and throughout this headachey, emotionally draining couple of days, I just keep trying to say “yes, yes, yes” and “release resistance.” over and over again. A few times it has lulled me into a nap (thank heaven!)

OK, so, yes, I’ve been struggling. I’ve been trying to learn from it and make the best of it, and know it’s productive and be williing to let it transform me, but it has still sucked. And I think I just figured out why.

For the most part, I have to accept that talking about God, philosophy, human potential, evolution and the cosmos is all I really truly enjoy doing, and that’s been true since I was very young. Illness pointed me to both nature and stillness, both tremendous enrichments.  When I started doing Bodyfulness calls 4 months ago, I did it because that’s how I want to spend my days: I want to spend my days focused on what is true, what is possible, and how to relax into it.

During a consultation on Surrender as a Spiritual Practice, a woman asked, “but what about your personal agenda?” and for the first time I realized, Surrender may just be the relinquishment of the personal agenda, in favor of being wholly open and receptive to the cosmic agenda flowing through you and everything else. This has to be preceded by a huge curiosity about life itself and what It is up to, and the potential that this broader picture is more interesting than whatever little picture it is I am trying to create.

Late in the week, I had an encounter that left me angry and dejected. Actually two in a row. I’m not one to shy away from negative emotions if they come up, and I tried every technique I know to try to move it through me. Ritual, they say, is how the universe knows we’re serious, so along with lots of body practices, a few prayers, meditation, tears, (back to bodyfulness), overwhelm (back to bodyfulness), it finally occurred to me: all of this upset? It’s about the personal agenda. I’m feeling defensive about it, inadequate, scared, marginalized – all kinds of things. Every depressing thought and self-negating statement came out to play, and as usual, I tried to entertain them all (thanks for the idea, Rumi, but this shit is hard) and finally I realized: I don’t want to fulfill my personal agenda. I don’t care about my personal agenda at all. It’s like holding on to the junk in the garage. I don’t need it, I don’t want it. So why do I let it stay?

My agenda is to allow life itself to flow through me as purely and freely as possible. I believe that having that agenda by necessity includes things like being an interested and engaged parent, a responsive and nurturing wife, a decent human, a fair friend. It may sometimes also move through me as a bold fury. That’s up to Life. But I am here and infinitely curious about what life has got up its sleeve and ready to play. willing to play. willing to show up. and to listen. and to do what wells up within me to do. in response to life itself in and all around me, and motivated by the song that wants to be sung through me. i don’t even know the tune. i think i have a sense of the melody, but i may be very wrong, and the only way i can find out is to keep playing.

As I’ve been experimenting with this priority, I’ve gotten progressively more relaxed and more engaged. As soon as I hold this up to a personal agenda wherein i may succeed or fail, make illinformed choices and not be appealing? Sure, it’s a huge fail. OK. Fail away. That’s not the game I’m playing. I can fail in a game i am not playing, easy. No repercussions. Unless I convince myself I AM playing the game, and not doing very well. Then it’s torture.

Well, gosh. That’s silly.

It’s also understandable.

Remembering my priority shifts me back. And when I fall away again, into all that fear and shame? I’ll come back. I know that oscillation is the nature of life, and I know that returning our attention to the object of meditation IS the work. I am here. and I am free. and I remember.

practice, practice, practice

Walking my dog this morning, I had to drop my shoulders about a dozen times. In maybe a 20 minute walk. and tree pose while she does her business. Being present not only to my body, but to the habits I acquired over a lifetime that I now have the privilege of making conscious and making new choices.

It’s so remedial. And it is so powerful.

I thought waking up would consist of meeting a spiritual teacher and community that wouldn’t have the trials and tribulations of “regular life.” I’ve never joined such a community, or met a teacher that made me want to pick up and follow.

The truth is, for me, waking up (or becoming alive and present to life in the moment) seems to consist of noticing my own body. my spiritual teacher is within me (as yours is within you) and the community seems to be shaping up to be all of the me’s in there that I’ve shunned or repressed and that by releasing resistence to that which I constantly resisted before, i can integrate, I become whole – and I experience that wholeness through the feeling state of my body.

I know I talk about this stuff ad nauseum, and I should really do less stream of consciousness writing and more editing, but exploring this is the most interesting thing in the world to me. The idea that my efforts in life were to turn me into the best me i could be (which included wiping out all of my extremely annoying ways of being) has given way to my openness to all of me, even the parts I am ashamed of (for example: I get some Kali energy from time to time and I am relentless and unapologetic. I tried for years to shut that part of me down and it would spring back forcefully. Now, I accept it. I (am doing my best to) stop resisting it.  So, now, instead of trying to become someone better, I am trying to be gentle and present to the me that I am. She’s going to evolve naturally, because that is what life does. She’s going to evolve most gloriously from a foundation of wholeness, I can feel that right down to my toes. The 30 or so years of trying to get her to evolve into something i wanted left me frustrated and disappointed in myself.

That’s another interesting piece, I think… my own flawed views on what would be best. and ever-strategizing “better.” I’m less and less interested in what I think might be better. I’m really curious about “now.” I’m leaving the authorship to life itself, as it flows through this body it created, and I’m finally more interested in that unfolding than in the creation of a life whose basic specs were scribbled on a napkin I carried around through my teens and twenties, incorporating everyone’s opinion of me and culture’s dictates. Yeah. That napkin is not the map I want anymore. I want the most luxurious unfolding of my own DNA (I have a theory that our DNA has a spectrum of possible unfoldment, depending on the constriction of the body. Basic, no-frills unfolding for the stressed cells. Broader, richer unfolding of a wider variety of traits for the relaxed, expansive cells. No evidence at all here (although some may exist), but it feels right for me.

my body gets more communicative the more i do it

and not just in my awareness of my physical sensations, in the habits and situations I become aware of (such as a few weeks ago, not standing square to the sink; months ago putting hands down at red lights; last year, relearning how to stand and walk from my center – instead of  trying to be three feet in front of myself, always in the next thing

I carry a ridiculous amount of tension in my body for no reason at all. it’s self inflicted, deeply habitual and of absolutely no benefit. Some time ago, I realized my shoulders were often up around my ears. I’ve never inhabited my body fully, even at the height of my yoga practice. it was all in the service of something else, something elusive, and i kept myself always three feet in front of myself looking for the answers, trying to get there quicker. Now, going into the body being my primary practice, spiritual and simply practical, I want to be right here, right now. and my body is the obvious access point. Relaxing as my primary form of prayer and meditation – a physical experience that when added with open noticing and not needing to change, forms this trifecta of gorgeousness that lets life open up to in all her gentleness and glory.

Walking through the grocery store today, I felt the sensation of trying to be in the next aisle, trying to move through the store. Thankfully, I noticed. I became conscious of the choice I didn’t know i was making, the program i run about grocery stores. Noticing brings choice and when the default choice is “relax” things start to shift. and then it feels good so you want to do it more: more noticing, more relaxing –  our bodies can surf in this symbiotic amalgamation of energy and matter on this planet, at this moment. We’re here. We’re here, we’re here, we’re here, we’re here, we’re here. It’s bigger than any one of us, and yet we are all essential in mind-boggling ways we could never understand – but we can live.

Relaxing makes my experience an entirely different one than that physical tension-filled embodyment I do by habit. things go from ‘having to be somewhere’ (which was always) and to “here. relaxed and moving through time and space from my center and my love.”

I used to (regularly) turn the oil on in the pan before I peeled the onion. No reason. (i mean, to heat up the oil a bit, but I also risked burning it if everything didn’t go according to plan). I put undue pressure on myself to spur myself on. Now, I explicitly do the opposite. I undo the pressure. i drop my shoulders (i learned to try to start doing 10 years ago), square my hips (this is new in these couple of weeks), drop my sacrum and breathe at the dantien (new through tai chi a year or two ago), notice, relax, not need to interpret, be and relax for a minute; then, boom, back into life. chop that onion. and usually, before I finish chopping that single onion, I again will notice somehow my shoulders developed some stress and I get to relax them again, while chopping, relearning to chop at 50 years old.

Now, from this fresh place that knows it can jump in the pool really soon (because I’ll have another cue that will prompt me to take a bodyful breath within the next half hour at the most). The habits are identifying themselves and moving towards release as I notice and release resistence to the feeling state.

So my direction feels good. relaxing feels good, getting out of whatever i was thinking for a second feels good (I’ll get back to it in a minute, but for this moment, the body gets the keys), coming into the present moment is rife with gift (if just for the reprieve from the past and future for a breath or two). Life is made up of one breath at a time. Some moments are painful. I’m learning to say yes, yes, yes. i know as i release my resistence to the pain it will run its course in the shortest order possible – resistence is what causes suffering. pain’s no big deal, though sometimes it sucks – both emotional and physical. Coming to accept the wholeness of the Tao within us, that which we’re so pleased to be privileged to live and also to those traits and qualities that seem to have been programmed from a million different factors that cause shame. (that’s true too. or is it?) I think the body processes shame much more efficiently than the mind (which will always have another thought about it). Emotions work in short bursts – 90 seconds even. let them have their moment, grounded in the present moment, then relax in your dantien til you feel grounded, then go on with your day. you’ve just given yourself the best shot at a good ‘from here on out.’ Every time we make a choice like this, we are rolling out the carpet for the future – it is mind boggling to think that each choice we make is creating our future. are we choosing love or fear? I personally am experiencing that question as love=relaxing, fear=constricting, and I am training myself to relax more and more…

the platinum rule

We all know the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” But, honestly, I think we’re getting ahead of ourselves. I believe the opportunity starts with the way we treat ourselves, because as we get that sorted out, the Golden Rule is easy peasy. But, until then, it’s just aspirational.

May I suggest a Platinum Rule? I don’t have it sorted out but it’s something like: “treat yourself the way you would like to be treated” or “live the paradox of tender kindness and firm encouragement” or “stop beating up on yourself” or “don’t talk to yourself the way you wouldn’t talk to your best friend” — you get my point…

I notice a crisis, and it’s cross-generational and multi-cultural (certainly in the west. I’ve heard rumor that there are cultures without this self-flagellation, but I don’t have much experience). My observations indicate key factors include comparison, expectation, disappointment and a corruption of hope. It’s actually quite sweet – I believe it comes from our exceptional ability to project and imagine. But, then it often gets wrapped in desire and entitlement, which leads to impatience and futilism.

I postulate that in generations past, life in the moment was so prevalent that our ability to transcend it from time to time augmented our ability to endure. People had tough lives and survival wasn’t guaranteed. Imagining a better future buoyed the spirits to contend with the day.

But in a world with amazon prime, some of us may have developed ridiculous expectations about the speed (and the source) of change. And then we get so caught up on “if i was any good at this magical thinking, all my problems would be solved by now” and then get so fixated on the wanting and the lack we often shut the door on the natural unfolding of perhaps more than what we’d hoped for. It’s a hugely defeatest lifestyle and emotionally excruciating way to spend our moments.

I use *everything* as a reason to beat myself up. I use the present tense because even though Bodyfulness reliably removes that pattern from my day, it does so only when I employ it. I still find myself sliding down those old familiar slopes. Thankfully, I’ve developed that sensation into a cue that has me drop into my feeling state and welcome whatever I am feeling as a passing sensation in a context of wholeness. But those interim moments are excruciating. and I used to do it all the time. Even thinking about it, a sadness descends and my appreciation for these practices skyrockets.

my deepest heart’s desire

My deepest heart’s desire is to live in the world God created (a huge distinction from the world I interpret).

Recognizing all of creation (for all of its mystery) as Life Itself Expressing, and therefore receiving the people, things and events that occur with curiosity, because it’s source itself expressing – everything. and everyone.

In the world I interpret, I have a way I’d like things to go.

In the world God created? I’m just really interested in the creation. It’s fascinating. And massive. All the way down to infintesimally small..  With all of these systems and symbiosis’ this gorgeous fractal….

That deserves my attention. That is scientifically more true about me than any story i tell myself.

Often my attention goes to how I think the world should behave.

Bodyfulness has me stopping and noticing that tendency, and directing it to the recognition of some of the glorious eternal truths of our lives (life is ever-renewing, we are part of a universe the scale of which is incomprehensible. you can take that with stress (of not knowing the answer) or with deep relaxation and surrender and curiosity. No fear of losing your semi-permeable identity (huge fear of losing your fixed senses of identity). What if, just for an experiment, we went along for the ride? Radical acceptance. What does that look like?

Investigating that space? Especially in community? That’s my acting deepest heart’s desire, the one that sets the stage for that primary one above by being the natural road to god the sages have talked about since time immemorial – go within (if even just for a breath)

compensatory karma correction

Tucker gives great notes. He doesn’t give them often (which is probably why I’m so open to them when he does) but they tend to almost knock me over with insight. and if i write them down and carry it around for a little while, i can notice the behavior enough to start making choices about it.

Today, it was tacos.

I am not a taco fan. Tacos are my son’s favorite food. My husband and son have frequented a certain Laguna Beach taco stand for many moons now, and today I went with them. I’d gone with them once before and (not being a taco fan) had a blackened potato taco. It was good. So, I joined their voyage today and had a killer blackened swordfish taco. So good, in fact, I immediately got up to order another.

While in line, I gave them this effulgent 5 star review on yelp.

Then my second taco came and it was decidedly average.

Tucker noticed a pattern. When I go overboard, the universe balances me. I over-tipped the carpet cleaner and an hour after he left, I found a bunch of mistakes.

I’d never considered the causal relationship that way. It’s always when I go awkwardly trying to demonstrate support/appreciation. Making it more than it is – or (another Tucker note) taking it up to 11 (when perhaps an 8 would do).

This is an actionable note, and what is so awesome about it is that I feel the awkward wanting to be super supportive and now, by using it as a cue to relax, go into the feeling state, feel what is actually emerging and the authentic intensity and then respond with a simple “thank you.” Maybe even a enthusiastic praise, but not with grand gestures- not feel ‘i really need to show them I really do appreciate it!’ Like I need to compensate for something. There’s a lack piece, and a wanting to be accepted, and other things in this, and I am so happy to have it on the table for exploration and maybe even some better choices…

Someone wrote me a review (totally out of kindness) pretending to be squarely in my target demo (even though they totally weren’t). It was very supportive, but also sortof implicitly demonstrated inauthenticity, which simply isn’t helpful (even when it is kind). It seems like support, but it may even reflect a lack of it. Why would we overcompensate unless we thought something needed compensation?

There’s a post in here somewhere about observed phenomena, and not only am I improving, when i lapse, I’m less disappointed and more amused. I feel like I am in-process with an improved habit/way of being. It didn’t resolve by noticing the pattern, but it is resolving through noticing again and again, and making choices – and I find that when those choices are based on immediately checking in with my felt sense upon noticing, I find a lot of freedom to make a grounded, informed new choice.

canceling

… i have a 75% increase in acheyness than I’ve had the last week or two. I was noticing I was feeling quite good, so I attempted to start the long-put-off task of cleaning the garage. Now, you may notice a pattern here: stable health leads to “i should be able to do this now” leads to backslide, and it’s true, that’s what happened, but I think I learned from it better this time, remembering how important it is for me to enforce 15 minutes of rest to 45 minutes of activity if I am going to exert myself. It’s a totally manageable formula and surprisingly productive, and I neglected to employ it and so I get a few days to be a little less active [I want to write: to contemplate my error, and I feel that’s from my parochial upbringing because this stillness isn’t here for me to contemplate my error; it’s here to remind me to breathe, value stillness as every bit as good/productive/interesting as activity, to read some things I find interesting and engage presently with my family and the cadence of our natural rhythm…

Problem is, I had plans tonight. Like, the first grown-up, social thing on the calendar in several months. Months. It’s kindof sad. These are people I really love and we don’t get the opportunity to see each other often. My mind is attempting to get traction on the ‘this is unacceptable’ stance. i said i would go and now i’m not going. that feels out of integrity. And it’s a celebration I felt honored to be included in. Certainly doesn’t demonstrate that, does it?

And yet, my body is fine with it.

When i bring to mind trying to rally and get there, my aches ramp up. When I imagine staying here, writing this and a few other ideas i’ve been enjoying, my body relaxes. opens up. not a lot, just subtly, but that will be a fun edge to work with throughout the day.

The bad things may be true: I may be out of integrity (how often am i really in integrity about time?) and unreliable. These unfortunate parts of the mix that is me disappoint me and the person I want to be/way I want to show up in the world/life i’d like to cultivate.

The good news is that i’m fully living the life i’m actually living, and deferring to my feeling state and that feels like a win.

As I contemplate the voices in my head saying, ‘you should…<get out more><do more things><honor time commitments>’ I know they could be right, no question, it may be better to do it and would even make me a better person. But, it is relieving to make peace with the fact that I’ve only got what I’ve got, and it’s unfolding and I sure as heck am doing my best.

I always thought that was my senior quote: “do the best at what’s before you, try to keep a smile on your face, and let the universe take care of the rest…” or so I thought…. when we packed up our stuff in 2015 I saw my yearbook and it actually was from an America song… ‘Oz never did give nothing to the tin man that he didn’t already have.”

It is funny to think i’ve developed spiritually, and then i go back and read stuff from 20 years ago, and it’s all the same stuff. I have the perception of change, and a feeling of change, too, but an underlying sameness is at least as true.

I would like to be a person who naturally and reliably shows up on time. That has not been my experience. It may be in the future, but certainly not through self-shaming (I’ve tried that approach for too many years) – but I am present and I notice and at the very least I am listening to the feeling state of my body and aligning to my deeper yes.

 

 

owners manual in the glove compartment

I’m beginning to believe life actually does come with an owner’s manual and it’s right within our cells and we access it through our attention to our feeling state.  It’s no-nonsense, essential, and only revealing what’s needed right as we ask. But, in asking we also perform a whole-body service appointment – noticing the filters and liquid levels, wiping down the dashboard and cleaning out the trash in the map pockets (or at least allowing it to leave). My auto metaphor isn’t great here (for a girl from detroit, you think i’d be better at them. but they evolve, much like the lamborghini metaphor has)

Anyhow, Yes, I think life comes with an instruction book and the free will to ignore it. i believe culturally we decided we weren’t interested in the natural unfolding – we wanted to create some intentional unfolding and see what we come up with all on our own with these brilliant brains and opposable thumbs.

Maybe it’s time to refer back 😉

Important point: each of us has a unique instruction manual, so what mine says won’t necessarily work for anyone else.

It’s a journey we each must take.

I believe our unfolding is encoded in our cells. Acorn to oak tree, we are becoming something I think our conscious mind may have literally no clue about. In my picture of reality, the reason we were born may be what we said to the checkout girl – we often have no idea of our most powerful works (and the things we’re most proud of may not be as important a contribution as we thought). But, in my picture of reality, we each have a something within that wants to express, and as it comes up and through us the residue is a sense of appreciation and wholeness. Also in my picture of reality, the more we relax, the more space we give that DNA to unfold and flourish.

I feel tension all through my body all the time, which is why i am so committed to this bodyfulness practice. i notice So. Much. More., which puts me in choice, which lets me make better choices more frequently. i struggled with each time i noticed being disappointed in myself for not having solved this yet, for goodness sake. Now, I’m just happy I notice. And every time i bring presence and relaxation and noticing into my attention, i feel that ice melt, freeing, I believe, the cells to unfreeze as well and begin their liquidy descent – the melt is humble, always going to the lowest place – and when I can even go into that lowest place and not be immediately repulsed by it (typically a prompt to avoid in most psyches, but we’re applying intentionality here) – then i can let the water collect and begin it’s powerful journey shaping the landscape and in time welcoming even more spaciousness through evaporation..

I can’t melt your tension, but i can offer you my warmth, and as you melt it, I can’t tend to your lowest place, but I can witness your descent and love you and the world including it. I can’t breathe in the spaciousness to your lungs, but i can encourage you and laugh with you, which brings a whole lot of spaciousness.

We can’t eat for each other. But we sure can share a meal.

That’s what I think has been lacking from my psyche – this idea that I had to do it alone. We must do it individually, we must each eat for ourselves, but what joy to do it individually together.