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Archive for March, 2013

march 30, 2013

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

I have hit a wall of exhaustion the past couple of days but I’m still committed to meditation. I’ve been needing naps in the day to catch up on sleep. It’s been a difficult week with lots of details that I could let my ass get twisted into stress about but I have to say that this meditation and mindfulness stuff really has something going for it…

Being committed to meditation is kind of like taking your vitamins or committing to drinking more water each day. At first it is very difficult to remember to do it and then it becomes a habit and so it’s easy at least to remember to do it. All the books say that meditation is simple, but not easy. I agree. I’ve been hitting that place in meditation where I’m finding myself agitated at times, bored at other times. I’m checking into it with curiosity and gentleness and this is a major difference from meditation experiences I’ve had in the past.

In the past, I would mentally chastise myself for not being able to meditate successfully, whatever that really meant. (What it means is that I held some expectation of what I thought I SHOULD do instead of just watch and notice and get back to the breath…) So kudos for me for trying and this time not beating myself up. Still, it’s rather comical sometimes to really see how much I let my mind wander off in a million directions!

Because of this, this is why meditation is called a practice… it’s like playing the piano. I used to take lessons when I was younger and the majority of the time it was practicing scales and terrifically boring exercises to strengthen my fingers and teach them to move in all their little ways, either separately or together. Mostly it was about learning things so that I could forget them… to just play the little songs from memory.

Then came the piano pieces to learn. At first it was daunting to see the black notes on the paper with the sharps and/or flats and learning all the keys. I would practice and I could hear my mom going, “Wrong note!” or “Try again!” and I wished that she didn’t understand music as well as she did because I was already telling myself that I was sucking at this. But if I really liked the piece (and my teacher had a good knack for knowing what kind of songs that I liked), I would keep practicing and then it got a little easier to do and I didn’t feel so suckily untalented.

The keyword though is “practice.” This is not anything that gets perfected quickly. I am not shouting KACHING like the cartoon I posted the other day because I have found my oneness with the world. I am practicing mindfulness and bringing my attention back to the breath, very sweetly, when I notice that I let my mind wander. I get moments of sweet stillness that I love. I also get moments of great clarity. Still other moments are just interesting to notice. And many other moments are wanderings where I can’t really tell you what happened or where I was. Some of those moments are short and some are REALLY REALLY long! Sometimes I have deep urgings to stop and do something specific. I try to work through those but if they keep pestering me and if I’m not successful to just say “Planning” and be done with it, I will end the practice  and then immediately do what seemed so pressing. All, mind you, without judgment or analysis. So this, for me, is pointing my boat in a much better direction…

mindfully sleepy?

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Pema Chodron in her book “When things fall apart” says the following:

“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-mans’ land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. From the awakened point of view, that’s life. Death is wanting to hold onto what you have and to have every experience confirm you and congratulate you and make you feel completely together. So even though we say the yama mara is the fear of death, it’s actually the fear of life.  …. When we wake up, we can live fully without seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, without re-creating ourselves when we fall apart. We can let ourselves feel our emotions as hot or cold, vibrating or smooth, instead of using our emotions to keep ourselves ignorant and dumb. We can give up on being perfect and experience each moment to its fullest.” (Chodron, P. 1997, p71-72.)

I have really been thinking about this sentiment about being willing to die over and over again. She’s so hardcore! With each out breath, we are essentially accepting a kind of death and then with each in breath we make the agreement to live and die again. So Ms. Chodron, if I am to accept the day’s moments without seeking pleasure or avoiding pain, I will tell you that I was one sleepy person today. I fully embraced sleep deprivation this thursday!

Wow, what an experience!

I got up at 6 am after only 5 hours of sleep. I needed to get up at 7 and because I would have only had an hour left, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to meditate since if I was a nun, that’s what I would do at 4 am anyway. 🙂 That early in the morning, my mind was whirling and swirling. I felt awake and alert… My mind was very active and there actually seemed no point to meditating. It was as if the floodgates were opened and every thought and feeling came flooding out. I was so awake and ready to tackle the day… until it was time to get out of bed.

It was a slow morning of getting ready and out the door. The kids and I were frustrated with each other here and there. Well, let me rephrase: I was feeling frustrated with them being so slow to get out the door. They appeared to have cared less if we stayed or if we left… The drive in to Shelburne was slow. and. painful. I was behind EVERY slow moving mammal. For me, it’s as if there is a wall in front of me obstructing my view and my path – this is how I see slow moving cars in front of me. This bugs me and today was no exception, however, in my sleepy state, I was very slow in responding in frustration or annoyance… it was only because my response time was delayed, believe me, I was agitated… I was agitated because I was wishing I felt more awake and alert in my mind and body. I was wishing for smoother sailing and a faster more pleasant ride. WANT, WANT, WANT (for more than what was at the time.)

I dropped the kiddos off and parked my car. By 10:30, I dozed off. It felt like a blink and then when I woke up, it was 12:30 pm.  I would have kept sleeping but I had to pee. I went to the bathroom at the episcopal church and then noticed the doors to the sanctuary were open. I walked in and immediately smelled the incense. It reminded me of my buddhist friend, Ani‘s house. This is the same incense that she burned in her house when she lived in Pittsburgh. I had never been in this church sanctuary before. I walked around and took in all the sites. It’s an old church and it’s very beautiful. There’s a mosaic on the floor where the minister and choir hangs out to do their thing. There is beautiful art on the walls and calligraphy on the archway that separates the minister/choir and where the pews are. (If you know me, then you know that at this point, I was picturing living in this room by now.) 🙂

I sat in one of the pews and listened to the delicious silence in the room. I wished that I lived here so that I could start a meditation group in that setting. It was so nice. I had the thought that probably not many people get to sit in that amazing silence because when it is open, it means music and speaking and a message being spoken/delivered. I had thought it would be incredibly yummy to sit in this FULL stillness and gorgeous silence of this room. Geezum, I really love that sensation.

I decided to seize the moment and try again at a proper meditation sitting. I sat for about a half hour and savored this beautiful space and this beautiful silence. It was interesting to note that when I was walking around, I had a feeling of something in my heart center. It was almost bitter sweet and when I relaxed in meditation, that sensation went away. It came back when I was done with the meditation and walked around a bit again. I went back to the car and had a moment of tears that washed over me. It was literally just a few seconds. I have no idea what came over me. My guess is that so many memories came in. My dad used to play at an episcopal church and I always liked that denomination. I liked it because it was Catholic-light. It has similar symbolism and rituals but less guilt. HA! I recall thinking of the sweet smell of Ani’s house (when she was still Andrea) and the peacefulness that I would feel when I’d visit her. I recall having such a sense of connection with mysticism in Christianity and the experience of the sanctuary felt very beautiful and sacred.

I left, went back to the car and attempted to write some papers. It was difficult to focus. It was as if my brain was not processing or working well. I happily chatted with some friends on the phone. That I was managing well! When it was time to go home, I stopped to run a couple errands and by 4:30, 5:00, my brain felt fried. I was just on auto-pilot. It sort of hurt to try to think or reason or do anything much. I picked up an item in a market and my eyes could barely focus to read the small print! That was almost alarming to me and I was feeling a small sense of suffering but I remembered Pema Chodron’s instructions to not avoid the pain. So I told myself that I accept this sleepiness 100%. It wasn’t easy but I managed to make the long journey home and function as best I could. I’m about to go to sleep now. My wanting mind can’t WAIT to get in my comfy bed and hunker down for the night.

There is something to this acceptance of what is stuff. It’s good stuff. It’s not easy but honestly, it’s easier than constantly wishing that I had more sleep or worrying that there’s something to worry about with regards to my health or driving or well-being, etc. It’s also better than wishing I was already home. I found myself at some point saying, “If I only got even 1 more hour sleep, I’d be able to run more errands and write more and feel way better in my body.” Well, for this day, I just was supposed to do the best I could do. Things felt better in my body when I accepted that…


wednesday – it’s wednesday already?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

This week has really been going by quickly. My hope to slow things down like that star trek lady isn’t really working, it seems! And now here it is, minutes before thursday.

SO much is going on. Trying to work out details for renting out our space. We have a plan A, B and C sort of in the works and aren’t attached to any one of them, meaning that any one of these could be great things and I acknowledge, too, that if there was something better that the universe had in store for me, then I will accept that as well.

What else. Working out a slew of details between matt and myself on all matters including the year end taxes, home stuff, work stuff, everything.

Homeschooling the kids. My son is figuring out and needing help with a science fair project. We are also talking about summer workshops if you can believe that.

We met today to talk with staff and go over some possibilities for marketing as well as see what staff needs are, what supplies are needed, etc.

walking the dogs, feeding the dogs, caring for the dogs, making food for us, figuring out supplies needed for home as well as work. and then there is the school work for me.

UGH, the managerial hats that I wear each day are pretty amazing. I was brushing my teeth thinking that I could easily work just about anywhere now from the house work, school work, homeschool work, parenting, cafe work, internet sales work, and manufacturing work that I do. 🙂

Maybe I’ll rewind for a second and talk about the meditation and mindfulness training here. I woke up at 9 am to my dog barking. I meditated for only 15 minutes this morning because I had to meet a friend for a walk at 10 am. It was interesting to meditate during intermittent dog barking. I wasn’t bothered by it. I still find the dogs’ barks extremely cute and small sounding (even though they are trying to be fierce) so it brought a smile to my face to hear him. I did a quick scan of my body and then thanked the day and set my intentions.

I went for a 3-ish mile walk today with a friend. She is much more fit than I am and she was much more able to walk up the hill and keep talking at the same time. For some reason this morning, it was rougher for me. Maybe it was because I didn’t have my usual morning to get up, (actually WAKE UP!) and have breakfast. HA! That’s so funny! Yes, maybe it’s because I was freaking tired and probably not fueled to actually get going. But I still did fine, got my heart rate up, and had a really nice walk/talk with a friend and that’s the important part.

I got home and did a whirlwind of things and then walked the dogs with my son, making a trip to the post office and then went back to the cafe for a staff meeting. Got back home and went back to ticking off some work-related things. Here’s what I’ve noticed since this commitment to sitting each morning:

It appears that I have a greater clarity for some things. Very simply, I’m not doing things that don’t feel good to me and are not serving to me anymore. I also like not being attached to things, i.e. having a plan A, B and C and not being attached to any of them. It’s a very grounded feeling. And it’s one that I’ve felt before – certainly before having kids and if I’m honest, before my mom died. Her death rocked my world and then having kids knocked all over the place again. I write all this knowing full well that the journey continues and what feels great and grounded and clear today will change in several months or a year… I hope this is making sense. I’m writing very extemporaneously and it’s late.

Right now I feel very grateful for this clarity. In a sense it seems as though I’ve woken up and grown up just a tad bit and I’m seeing things with eyes wide open, awake. What is different is that I’m not knocking myself down. In the past I might have gotten to this place and have said things like “Oh look at this, you dumbass, why did you let that happen for all this time?!”  I’m sort of using my life lessons as the sitting meditations. When the thought comes in and I notice it, I just go, “Oh look, there you are. THINKING,” without judgement or analysis. And what I am noticing lately is me going, “Oh look. I realize I’m pretty uncomfortable with this scenario or situation. I’m going to do this now,” and there isn’t the analyzing or judging or trying to process and figure out stuff for some things. (NOT EVERYTHING, mind you, just some things.) How friggin dreary is it to wonder why the hell you are doing something that you just realized you aren’t liking! “Is it nature? Or Nurture?” Maybe it’s just because I fell asleep again even though I was operating on auto pilot and nobody could tell, not even me, that I was in a trance.

I’m noticing that I’m not as bothered and I’m more able to respond in clarity. There, that’s the right sentiment. It just took me several paragraphs… Yes, this is what I’m noticing and I like it.

(I would like to find a good editor!)

So that’s it in a nutshell for today, Wednesday (which is now early Thursday.)

all blessings,


well, are you? :-)

well, are you? 🙂

Tuesday morning

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

I’m still sitting each morning. I am not sitting every evening but some evenings. Need to work on that. I see the value of this commitment to sit with the intention to meditate because it is creating a lot more mindfulness in my daily life. I am not exactly sure what that is, because I have been practicing mindfulness for years, but it seems to accelerate the process or make it more pronounced and apparent or something.

This morning I noticed, still, just HOW many thoughts and distractions I get swept away by. I really have made a big habit of day dreaming. I noticed the cars going by and was grateful for that because it makes for a good reminder that I got swept away again. I also notice how much I am in auto pilot with my body. I noticed that I’m scratching my head or “wow, I just moved my legs into an entirely different position!” I am really not here at all sometimes even while sitting with the intention of being here!!

I used to think that meditation was to get into a certain frame of mind, meaning outside of the body. Like a blissful state.

I saw this in a paper and cut it out years ago and stuck it on my computer. it cracks me up all the time!

I saw this in a paper and cut it out years ago and stuck it on my computer. it cracks me up all the time!

I’m realizing now that it’s about experience what is happening in and around me right here, right now and just being aware of it, not attaching to it. That is an entirely different sensation. I’m grateful for these guidebooks to help give me a kind of “operating instructional manual” to see what it is that I’m seeking to achieve here. I’ve read these kinds of things so many times, why haven’t I gotten this before?

I have been sitting with the question, “Who am I?” and my first response came as a thought, “I am a complex organism with a presence.” And then I shifted it to “I am a presence or spirit that is residing in a complex organism.”  What do you think? Who are you?

maybe all this mind wandering stuff is just because we are hella bored! lol

maybe all this mind wandering stuff is just because we are hella bored! lol

this is from saturday and sunday…

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

I am posting this up. This is what I was working on when I kept getting interrupted and then it turned into a video game discussion!

this is a work in progress……………………………………………

I got to sleep VERY late last night and then I woke up too damn early. I couldn’t seem to fall back asleep so I decided to meditate. I sat for an hour and a half this morning. My mind drifted in and out and I brought my awareness back to my breath and body. I really am getting into a nice routine here. And you know, it does seem to help in daily life. I am by no means slowing down the thoughts and mental distractions. I’m just happy that I’m not getting judgmental about them.

I got up and started the day. I got onto the GCU learning site and noticed all the emails and posts. I haven’t even checked the GCU emails. I know there are so many to sort through. So you understand, for class each week we have to write 4-6 papers based on books and videos that we watch. It might be entire books that are suggested that we read plus chapters from another. One week we have scheduled a 4 1/2 hour video to watch plus read some chapters plus a book for one class. After we submit the papers and assignments, then we have to read a minimum of 2 papers from each of the ones we submit and give feedback or comments. Plus we have to respond to the comments that we receive. The teachers also read and make comments. So, just when I think I’m done I remember that I am really not done just because I read so much and then wrote 6 1200+ word papers! Now I have to read 8-12 1200+ papers and comment on them. Then a veritable discussion ensues from the comments and the dialogue never really ends until mid-week of the next week when the next week’s submissions begin.  Perhaps I’m writing all of this to elicit some sympathy… 🙂

I’m writing this because this is a current challenge I have. I have had the experience of 15-week semesters at my school and the time got split in half to 7.5 weeks. I have the comparison of what the 15-week semester’s workload looks like. The 7.5 week classes have become double the work in half the time. This is the analytical side of my brain that is trying to process and understand it. From the mindfulness perspective, I realize I have to find a place of acceptance for this. It should be easy but in my analytical mind, I somehow think that I can ask to not have this extra workload of the commenting so I can keep focusing on my work. OR I’d like to go back to the 15-week semesters and have 2 weeks to get in papers and then comment on other people’s work. This is the first week of classes and it’s already rushed. Each semester is now like a summer semester where things are crammed in and studying is frenetic, fast and with very little time to absorb and learn.

So this is my dilemma. This is what I need to figure out how to get past so that I am not in a state of suffering each time I set out to do the reading and commenting each and every week for other people’s work…



being mindful during bickering fests…

Monday, March 25th, 2013

I wake up and do my morning meditations. My body responds very favorably. I get this lovely relaxation in my solar plexus that I long to hold onto for an eternity. LOL I end the practice, say my thanks and intentions and then get up to begin my day. I feel quite happy and I greet the dogs who greet me with wagging tails and sweet eyes. I pet them and take them with me to the kitchen to make the tea or hot cacao that has become a habit, once again, in my life. I think about the various things I want to do, the people I want to call – I start dreaming into the day.

This morning is not an anomaly, this is how I begin most days. Then, on some occasions like today, my kids come together and the bickering begins. Their bickering ends the reverie and this is both a blessing and a suffering. The blessing is that I am in a trance in my reveries and they are lovely. The blessing is that the kids show me that I am, in a way, asleep when I am thinking and planning. My suffering comes because I really, REALLY want to hold onto my plans and dreams. I acknowledge that I want to hold onto the loveliness of the pleasure and peace that I feel. I want to be able to have a thought and finish it with an action. But the bickering starts and it escalates and it’s over something very stupid. I’m sorry. I’m judging this. I notice the tension in my solar plexus area. It is starting to hurt. I can feel my breathing becoming shallow and it’s as if my the wide expansiveness in my brain becomes small and tight and painful. I am trying to take deep breaths because what I’m hearing them do is actually hurting me and they don’t stop just because I ask them to. I acknowledge that I let this bickering hurt me. I am not always able to remain peaceful when chaos is around me and the blessing and teaching is for me to keep practicing so that I can still hold peace amongst this chaos… Each kid wants to let the other know just how RIGHT they are and the other isn’t listening. It’s a total bicker fest. My body is now tight and tense. I ask them to stop, to separate themselves, to do whatever is necessary to end this. I walk out of the room and they continue. I take deep breaths and remind myself that we are all more than this bickering. Their beautiful voices are, at the moment of their bickering, agitating and difficult for my ears to hear. Very suddenly, I can no longer think of any of my day’s plans. It’s all been interrupted and I think I have to choose how badly I want to fight to get something good in for myself. I try to take a deep breath and get myself back to center. What I feel when this happens is stress in my body and in my mind. I am bowing to the stress as the teacher that it is. I accept that this is what is happening now. I still notice the resistance that I hold because I want my morning to go a different way.

This is me being honest. Thankfully a lot of the days and hours are pleasant and fun with my kids. They are great kids and I acknowledge that. I’m so grateful for them for so many reasons and I acknowledge that they have been my biggest teachers thus far. There are some moments like this one today where it is very agitating and stressful. My body doesn’t respond well to the kids’ bickering. In my day, if my brothers and I were bickering, my mother would come in with a rubber scraper and say she was going to end the bickering and ask us which one was going to be first. After I had kids, I understood my mother’s frustrations and feelings of a loss of control. I don’t condone her choices but I now understand with great empathy where they are coming from. I choose a different path of parenting for my kids. I choose the path of honesty and non-violent or compassionate communication. I raised my voice and said, “I am SO frustrated! Hearing this fighting actually physically hurts me! Please stop this fighting!” Still, I notice a rock in my gut and it takes a long time for me to calm my breathing down when they get started. It takes a while to watch it dissolve and if they don’t start again, it will be good… lol I know that this is good work to do…


It’s been an hour and they have calmed down. They are working on their school work. I am breathing to relax and each moment I notice myself saying, “AAAH, this is good. There is that peace again to think and to be…” Just as I notice this, I get interrupted with a “Mom? Can you…” and a request. I breathe into this and I laugh at it, too. I know I’m not alone in this. Mothers everywhere (and fathers who are home with their kids, too) are getting constant interruptions to the nanoseconds of peace in their lives. LOL I surrender to the idea that the day is not solely my own. I bow to the jealousy that I have for Matt who gets to leave the house and go to work and I know full well that he gets interrupted with phone calls all day long… It’s silly to be jealous because we are all in the same boat. I bow to the sorrow I have for not being able to see the day of my dreams, whatever that really means. I fully know that there will be a time when the kids are grown and out of the house and I’ll be walking around going, “God, it’s SOOO quiet in here!” LOL My kids are my most favorite people in the whole wide world and I love and choose to be with them even in the bickering. I bow with acceptance for each moment that comes to me. I bow to the understanding that for now, my days are to be present to the bickering, to the tenseness, to the moments of quiet that come in between what appears to be a lot of chaos in my thinking and sometimes in my environment… I’m also present to the great feeling of joy and happiness that I feel and the aliveness I feel in my body, whether in pleasure or in pain…

trying to write…

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

well tonight around 8 pm I started to write a separate blog post on the day’s mindfulness training as well as the morning’s meditation and insights. I got a paragraph done – well, maybe two paragraphs and my son asked me which war game I think he should get with his amazon gift card. I told him my standard boiler plate of being unable to have my heart behind ANY violent video game he wants to buy so maybe he shouldn’t ask for my opinion if he doesn’t want to have a long discussion. Sam wasn’t happy about this. He wanted to just make light conversation. I told him I understand that he wanted to have light conversation and I understand he is disappointed about my response and I repeated that he might want to choose a different person to have this conversation if he is seeking a like-minded response.

It’s ok for me to not like violent video games. It’s ok for him to like violent video games. It’s ok for me to be unable to differentiate between various kinds and degrees of violence (I hear all this justification from parents and kids about the KIND of violence: “it’s soldiers fighting aliens so it doesn’t count;” or “it’s only a little bit of stabbing;” or “you can turn the blood off.” These comments make me laugh when I hear them.) It’s ok for both of us to understand that video games are not reality. It’s ok for me to think that balance needs to be achieved with being indoors with games and having equal (or greater) time outside in nature. We have a difference of opinion and we still love each other.

Sam is getting older now and I want him to use his best judgement for purchases and anything that comes to him or that he finds interesting. He is still maybe seeking approval and this is a very difficult thing for me to value the same way he does. I do value that he values it. I do see that he wants to be in this field one day and learning these games helps him to think about the kinds of games he wants to create. (And/or movies or stories that he wants to create.) I value the creativity and the artwork and the expertise that goes into making these games. I am honest when I say that I personally would not play the games myself because I don’t want to put myself in a virtual war where things jump out at me and I have to kill them. (I would only eat unfertilized eggs because that’s the level of violence and harm that I could willingly do. I could not kill a cow or cut off a chicken’s head so I don’t eat it because I don’t want to ask that of anyone else… Right now I’m thankfully not in any dire places of survival so I don’t need to make decisions on harming and killing animals to feed myself…)

I also know and appreciate that the body doesn’t differentiate between what stress is real and what is made up in one’s mind or even played out on a computer or video game. I would rather let real life come at me with its roller coaster rides than play a stressful game. But I’m 42 now. I’m not 14. I will willingly pay for entertainment that is going to uplift me, make me laugh or help me to feel good. I don’t willingly pay for horror movies anymore or dark movies that talk about the underbellies of life. I don’t watch television. I don’t see reality TV and I don’t watch talk shows. I don’t have cable and I don’t watch the news. When I use netflix, I watch only the things, like I said, that will uplift me, make me laugh or intrigue me in some way. I will watch things that I can learn from and I don’t just keep it to touchy/feely stuff. If that were the case, I’d never watch anything like Food Inc or X-Files or what-have-you. In all honesty, we have enough “dark” thoughts in our minds if we really stop all this other external nonsense and just listen.

But back to violent video games: I understand there might be an interesting story line. I understand that the person playing is on the side of the “heroes” and I understand that there is a cool and/or badass quality to playing a game where you destroy something and “win” the fight or the battle or reap the rewards, etc. I understand the psychology of role playing games. I understand the dexterity and the eye/hand coordination. (I understand carpal tunnel, too, and how awful it is to look at a lit screen for hours on end!) I can also have an understanding about the mindfulness of playing with death. Death is not seen or talked about in our culture so I get why horror movies and violent video games are played or rather COULD be played or watched in order to work out the mysteries of life and death.

I wonder, too, if some empathy could be given to the idea that glorifying violence and “us vs. them” mentalities might not be the best medicine to help us awaken to compassion whether it be in reality or in a virtual world. Playing hours and hours of video games might just actually keep us asleep to the realities of life… I wonder if spending hours in what might be considered a “virtual violent dream state” might actually have long term negative effects on a person’s brain, particularly if it is not balanced with diet, exercise and lots of time outside in reality, in nature and with REAL people, making real connections and having intimacy with nature and all its inhabitants.

What was I just reading that talked about violence? Oh, it was the Kabat-Zinn video that I just watched today for class. There was a question and answer session and someone brought up some idea about how he thinks meditation is something more altruistic than money and corporations. Kabat-Zinn suggested that he watch those thoughts that gear towards opinions particularly when they put an “us vs. them” mentality. One thing is good and one thing is not good. That kind of judgement, he said is what puts “us as right and better and others as wrong.” He then went to talk about the Stanford Prison Guard experiment that was conducted in 1971. The researchers “planned [a] two-week investigation into the psychology of prison life [which then] had to be ended prematurely after only six days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, [the] guards became sadistic and [the] prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress.” —

Kabat-Zinn’s point was that the mind takes on what it spends time and energy focusing on. These students were just students but they took on the roles they were playing. He mentioned in the video that these students were not any different than the soldiers at Abu Ghraib. They were 18, 19, 20 year olds that were following orders. They were in their roles just like these students were 42 years ago in a mock experiment. He said that the world is multi-dimensional and complex. In this complex universe, we are a part of the same thing. Everything is all interconnected and he advised to pay attention to these opinions that come in to say one thing is better than another. He said that principles and ethics are very much a part of mindfulness and by sitting we develop an unwavering awareness to our own authority and live it out with authenticity. Sitting meditation helps us to develop what is our work in this world…

Kabat-Zinn ended the video with a beautiful poem that speaks to this intimacy that is developed within ourselves when we commit to sitting in mindful meditation and practice what he calls “awarenessing” (vs. thinking)


Love After Love – (I found the poem here)

by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.


beautiful. This is my real wish: for us to feast on our lives. Live our bestest and fullest life. 🙂

full day…

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

1:37 am

papers all written and handed in for week 1.

I’m sleepy

good night

a full day, with lots of ups and downs…

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

I woke up around 8 am and had a pretty decent amount of sleep. (I typically wish for 1/2 hour to 1 hour more though.) I peed and then went back to do some sitting. I once again had that lovely feeling of deep relaxation in my stomach. AAAAH, that is such a nice feeling and I try to sit with that for as long as humanly possible. 🙂 I just kept breathing and relaxing more and more. It was like an unwinding or releasing kind of relaxation – VERY delicious. After about 40-45 minutes, I ended the sitting practice and said my intentions for the day. I didn’t really want to move though, I have to be honest. I was enjoying the peace and quiet very much!

I got up anyway and started my day. I informed the kids that I was going to be interviewed for an online radio show and asked them for cooperation, particularly a little bit before and during the show. I wanted to get centered around the questions she gave me. WELL, as life would have it, the kids decided to bicker and argue over a pillow about 10 minutes prior to my phoning in. It went ON and ON and I asked them to stop and reminded them about my request to have cooperation prior to this call. One of the kids said something – I don’t remember now what it was – and it was clear they were just trying to keep fighting for fighting’s sake. I felt my blood start to boil, to be honest and I left the room. I sat down in my seat and I took a deep, cleansing breath. I let it out slowly and then took another deep cleansing breath. “I’m more than this anger right now.” I focused on my breath and then noticed very quickly that I relaxed and was fine again. Thank goodness.

Time to phone in to the radio show with Ariel Policano – she was very easy to talk to and I enjoyed the interview quite a lot. Here’s a link to it! We spoke for somewhere around 30 or so minutes. I listened to her talk about B12 and was grateful for her good information and tips. Then she got to introducing me and I heard her saying things about being an inspiration. I wasn’t expecting this and I noticed my heart started to pound. “Am I an inspiration?” I don’t see that and it’s mostly because I’m very much in the muck of daily life. There’s a lot of shit to do and bear and sometimes I live in a house full of grumpolas (sometimes I’m the grumpola.) Anyway, I noticed what she was saying and I breathed into it and said to myself, “I’m more than these words,” because I didn’t want to get stuck in that thought or possible expectation of myself. I reminded myself to just speak from my heart and I noticed the first couple of sentences were full of nerves and then things just smoothed right out.  My kids ended up listening to the interview and they were very sweet with “GOOD JOB, MOM!” afterwards. That was nice. I decided to take a hot shower because I was pretty chilly in the room I was in for the phone call and plus washing off the excitement and nerves felt like a good idea. I savored the hot water and soapy bubbles. I lathered up in oil afterwards and put some ointment on my tattoo. Ah, content is a gift and I am grateful for it…

I always think of Kornfield’s book so aptly named “After the Ecstacy, the Laundry.” And sure enough I did a load of laundry after my shower. Bliss done! Talking with a like-minded person was such a gift and a blessing. Check! Done! Time to go downstairs and apparently await my daughter’s next melt down. This is why it is good to not get stuck on too much good or bad, folks!

My daughter came tromping in the house with a dog in her arms. She was angry at the dog and then she was angry at me. I asked her to follow through with walking the dog and she was telling me all the reasons that I was mistaken, why this was the worst idea in the history of bad ideas… I refused to argue with her and that seemed to fuel her fire more. She was again wanting to fight for the sake of fighting. I told her if she kept this up I was going to leave because I don’t want to have anything to do with a fight. She continued and I left and went to the shop. I walked over there and this is where meditation and mindfulness becomes the hardest for me. I walk and try to distance myself from her anger and angst. She was having a melt down and I couldn’t understand why other than her hormones were acting up. I told her I understood how frustrating it is when the dogs don’t pee first thing and one of the dogs we have takes a long time to pee sometimes. He’s looking for an adventure. But the truth of the matter was, he still needed to pee. She was upset because it was cold and all she has was PJs to wear and this just wasn’t worth a battle to me. In my head I said the more “adult” version of what I said to her at home. “Just get your jammies on – get snow pants on – get yesterday’s clothes on. I don’t really care what you wear and NOBODY where we live in this town of 1000 people give a flying fuck what anybody is wearing! EVER! Just walk the damn dog!” This is the thought that went through my head. I was reliving it because I was trying to see what the hell just happened here. (For her, I remained really calm and said that the dog’s health is more important than the idea that someone MIGHT have a problem with what she’s wearing and then I repeated my request to get anything on and finish what she started by walking the dog until he pees and/or poops. When she started going ballistic is when I warned her that I would not engage in this kind of talk and that I was going to leave if it continued…)

Anyway, see? I’m still digressing into this. It’s still upsetting to me because I don’t understand it and I desperately seek to understand and connect with people, particularly at the heart center. I walked to work and I did what I set out to do. It was fun and I chatted with Meg some about X Files and the interview and other fun stuff. I went back home and ate something of substance since I hadn’t done that really all day. (Wasn’t very hungry and find that when there’s big emotions, I tend not to be. This is a rather new phenomenon for me.)

So came back – went onto the GCU site and became mildly overwhelmed at the amount of feedback and unread posts. We have 6 assignments due this first week of classes. And then we have to respond to a minimum of 2 posts that other people write. I tend to want to respond to more than the minimum (that’s just how I roll) and so I’ll just say that it takes a LONG damn time to filter through and read everything. And then to respond to the feedback given. The homework never ends, I swear! lol I’m trying to get my head in gear for next week and geting papers written and this feedback stuff is at times really really difficult… SO in comes the deep breaths as I roll my eyes and change my attitude about feedback… And then it’s not so bad. More mindfulness to spread throughout my day. YAY

Two hours later, I’m in the kitchen and making dinner for the dogs and for us humans. I chat with Matt about certain things that we are trying to figure out and it is a conversation that typically has caused some friction in the past. Again, I’m breathing and I’m noticing how charged I am and I’m telling myself that there is more than just these words and feelings in both of us. Breathing, reminding myself that I can relax even in this. I accept this too in my life and watch it pass.

The night, it seemed, wouldn’t have been full enough without another bicker fest between my kids. I tried to practice the breathing and the mindfulness and I’m honest when I say that I met my match for the day. I was done with the difficult shit for the night and yet the night seemed to have different plans. Emily stomped off in tears upstairs and Sam and I sat in a quasi-shock trying to figure out what just happened again. (I write all this knowing full well that she’s not even a full-fledged hormonal teenager yet. Believe me, I know I’m in for it. I believe in karma and I was a royal handful as a teenager… My dad is sooooo happy for this revenge. lol) I decided it was time to put this stress and confusion to something physical. I got on the stationary bike and chose level 9 for 60 minute on the pikes peak program. I thought I would do some reading but could NOT stay focused. I probably didn’t need to. I just kept pedaling away watching my thoughts and seeing how awful they had become. My friend calls it the “itty bitty shitty committee.” I eventually just got into pedaling and then my dog wanted to get up in my arms so there I was pedaling my heart out while holding my little dog. One hour of heart pumping, deep breathing and pedaling my legs faster up this incline. Very nice. I’m grateful again for the ability to watch things dissolve.

And that, my friends, is the long and full day with buckets of ups and downs. I’m very much ready for bed. Good night.


found this on FB

found this on FB

thursday’s meditation

Thursday, March 21st, 2013

I only got 10 minutes of meditation in so far today but I intend to do more before bed. OK, let me back track a bit. This morning I woke up at 7:30 am and that was too late to do any meditation. Had to get ready to take the kiddos out for the full day with a homeschool group. I said my little thanks for the day (like to start in gratitude, even if it’s just one second.) Got up and got the day started. Arrived up north at 10 am and then went to see about running an errand for my friend Meg. The place was closed until 4 so went to the little cafe that I sometimes go to in order to get internet access. I pulled off some files from a database and noticed I was feeling quite sleepy so I went back to my usual work place for thursdays. I thought about taking a nap and/but as soon as I closed my eyes, I started thinking about all the things I wanted to get done for the day… I had my breakfast and then got down to business…

I was very productive today. Wrote 2 papers and started 2 more. I spoke with a friend from school, then my dad and then I went to run that errand for Meg. I got back and then decided to take whatever time I could before it was time to pick up the kids to do some meditation. Here’s what I noticed:

My body was tense!  I don’t know how long it really was tense for but I began noticing just how tense it was when I sat and started relaxing myself during these ten minutes. I breathed in and out and scanned my body. My brain was very active with lots of TO DOs that I was thinking about for later. When I was having these kinds of thoughts, I noticed my body becoming very tight and tense. That was actually very good to notice. My body doesn’t like these FUTURE thoughts like this. I hope I can remember this now but maybe I don’t need to – maybe I just need to keep breathing, relaxing and noticing.

It was only 10 minutes but it had a very positive effect on me. I realized that so much of my life has been spent in this mode of doing – wanting to be (and actually being) productive. I’m happy and love the life I live and I enjoy the work that I do. It’s kind of a catch-22 in a way. I am propelled to get fun and good things done each day. I accept the work and the school work that I’m doing and I find great joy to be in an academic setting again. I do love homework despite me saying that it is stressful to have to hand in 6 things in one week. The balance that I’m seeking is to continue to take this time to sit, relax and notice. It is a very good break. It’s “me time” in the best sense of the phrase. I’m finding I value it just as much if not more than time spent with my bestest buddies.

In a video that I watched for meditation class, Jon Kabat-Zinn was saying how Americans all could be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He was saying this because we DO and DO and DO but don’t stop to just be. We don’t sit still with focused attention. We don’t tune our apparatus, he says. Musicians will tune their instruments individually and then will listen to each other and tune their instruments together as a group. Why, he asks, do we find it weird to be still? Why is it weird for us to tune our own instruments? I loved the metaphors he was using – he was literal and figurative. I notice that I have definitely gotten caught up in the doing for quite a long while. But I have hope. I do recall a great long while of just being! As well, I have recollection of doing AND being. LOL So I can remember what it feels like each time I sit on the meditation pillow and commit to this time to and for myself.

Well, the clock is showing a late time. I’m going to clean up the kitchen as mindfully as I can and get a little sitting in before bed. I have another FULL day ahead of me. You know, if nothing else, meditation helps to SLOW the moments down just a little bit. (It would be great if we could learn how to do it a la the Star Trek Insurrection lady – she’s so awesome! See that link to catch what I’m talking about.) 🙂

all love and peaceful sitting,


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