it's been a roller coaster of life lately. so much going on. my own way of thinking of things also puts me into places that can be utterly pleasant or terrible, depending on how my mind wanders... I had one rough moment yesterday afternoon. I suppose the best way I can put it is that I'm aware of all that I manage and oversee and for some reason, it is feeling like it is too much these days. I am seeking help and support but not really getting it and so something has to give.
I shut off all electronics last night and went to bed at 10 pm. It felt good for me to cease and desist all computer work and mindless FB chatting. In bed, my mind immediately went to a beautiful image of some future place and state that I want to be in. I drifted off into sleep.
In the morning just before awakening, I had a dream about an old boyfriend. One that I hadn't thought of in years and years. I don't know why he decided to show up in my dream but my reflection after waking was on the ways in which I gave a bit of myself over to him. I was very immature back then and had not had much relationship experience back then. I was a lot stronger, too, in many ways, and that was also good to reflect on. It turned out to be a very good reflection... I went into a place of meditation after that. Acknowledging the thoughts and reflections and then letting them be. No need to analyze further.
More thoughts and reflections came in and they went about their way, too.
In my rough moments yesterday, I want to acknowledge that I did some tonglen around them, too. There was a moment when the pain I was feeling (emotional pain) was so great that it felt like I couldn't breathe for a few seconds. I breathed into and out of that space for myself and for countless others that could possibly be feeling that right then, too. I suppose it helped me to do this act for myself and others because that pain was big enough to fool me into thinking I was alone in that thought/feeling.
This morning I made a loose plan for how I wanted the day to go to day. I'm doing all things for me right now. OBLIGATION was the word that kept popping up as the action to avoid in my life from now on. :-) It feels good to make that claim. I also figured on what I was going to eat today since eating has been so strange for me since late January. (No worries on this.) The phrase that popped in to replace obligation was CARING AS A WANT FOR SELF/OTHERS - in other words: CHOICE. It's a much better place in my heart (with lots of space around it) when I ask myself, "what do I choose to do today?"
This morning I made a kickass slam dunk green smoothie for myself and my kids:
1 local small apple
a head of lettuce
rice protein powder
I sucked down 3/4 of it and will have the rest later. Since January I have been at a loss for what to eat. Don't ask me why. I decided today that I will have a smoothie in the morning and a nori wrap this afternoon if I'm hungry. Dinner is always easy to figure out.
So that's all that's on my mind thus far. I'm off to see about getting another paper written and posted for school. Thank you to anyone that is reading my thoughts and mind wanderings... all love, Linda
May I be well and happy Free from harm and change May any obstacle to my spiritual, emotional, or physical well-being be removed May I reach/be enlightenment in this lifetime. This was a prayer given to me by my friend Ani when I took Buddhist vows nearly 12 years ago. That prayer starts with me and then moves to my loved ones, then to acquaintances, then to "enemies", then to anyone/everyone in the world and universe. It can take a LONG time to do the prayer. I hold the person's face in my mind as I recite the prayer for them. It has helped me to forgive and forget a multitude of things in myself and in others. I read about tonglen for class this week and described it in a paper I wrote yesterday:
Tonglen is a transformational meditation practice that helps to change the atmosphere in our relationships (with self and all other sentient beings.) Tonglen has four stages: Stage 1 reminds us of any of the five mind training slogans from absolute bodhichitta (i.e. “regard all dharma as dreams;” “examine the nature of unborn insight;” “self-liberation is no antidote;” “rest in the nature of alaya;” and/or “in the post meditation experience, one should remain as a child of illusion;” from Pema Chodron's “Awakening Compassion” video.) Stage 2 of Tonglen is to breathe in the dark and heavy thoughts/emotions that arise and then breathe out whatever feels cool and light. Stage 3 is to think of whatever unresolved issue is present and alive in oneself and breathe in the dark, heaviness of it and then breathe out something that feels peaceful or helpful in some way. The idea is to open space up in one’s mind and heart in both the darkness and the lightness, which is the nature of the giving/receiving aspects of Tonglen. Stage 4 asks us to universalize this experience by visualizing all being who are sharing this dark experience that we are having in this present moment and breathing out images or thoughts of peace for all; this helps to help us to feel less sense of separation in our darkest moments.It is a lovely variation on the theme of loving kindness and compassion towards self and others. It seems to help heal suffering in relationships and can be done even for folks that you don't know. Chodron gave the example of seeing a father speak harshly to a child in a store - she said that the breathing in could be for the anger/frustration the father feels and breathing out of peace for him. Likewise, we could breathe in the pain and humiliation the child feels and breathe out an image of a flower or something that might be of some use to him/her. I wrote yesterday about the various monkey wrenches in my day. I noticed that what got triggered in me was not only frustration, but self-doubt. I can write a lot about this and tell you the why's and the how's of this story but the real meat of it was that I got to a very familiar place of self-doubt that I don't frankly treat as an old friend. Lately when I experience self-doubt, it is accompanied with low level anxiety. I realize this is because I want to trust my thoughts, words and deeds in this body and in this lifetime. Not doing so, can feel almost crippling. I noticed the thoughts and stories and was really ok to drop them. Still, I had the feelings that were unpleasant - unwanted. I decided to take a few minutes and breathe in the space of self-doubt and accompanied anxiety. I breathed in all its murky twistedness. I fucking hate this feeling and want to resist it with every ounce of my being. But this time, I invited it in. I held it for a few minutes and then breathed out an image of the beach with the ocean waves washing this feeling through and out. then the fun part began. I breathed in and thought about all the millions of people that might be feeling this same sense of self-doubt and anxiety right at this moment. This really helped to open up space inside me - a space of realization that I'm not alone in this. Probability-wise, there must be quite a number of people who feel this exact thing at this exact moment. Who is to say not? I breathed out images of expansive ocean waves washing this away. It was much easier to do this for others than for myself. I repeated the process because I want to feel the easy kindness I had to send out to others and give it to myself, too. I'd love feedback on personal experience of these loving-kindness meditations. do you do them? Do you find them helpful? do you have insights into understand that might help me too? thank you.
the day started out fine enough. I got a decent amount of sleep, got up and meditated, walked the dogs, fed the dogs, fed myself. I felt in a good place - grounded. I started listening to an audio file for school about tonglen and the lojong mind/heart training. This put me into a great state of mind. I love learning this stuff. It resonates to my cells, blood and bone. I'm listening and saying, "Yes! This is good!" and I swear I'm enjoying the whole day. I take a break, walk the dogs, feed them their green mush and go back to work. Sam's friends come over, Emily is doing her thing. The dogs are on my lap and life, she is good.
time rolls by and I'm just pleasantly plugging along. I think I have all kinds of time to write papers and take care of things that need to be taken care of. I had two very nice phone calls and emails that came in, too, which delighted me to no end (relating to work stuff... more on that later...) then the monkey wrench came. my sweet little peaceful world started to get a little shitty, to be very honest... and why shouldn't it? there's ebbs and flows to the day. that is what is natural.
the three boys and Emily were playing outside and the dogs were jealous or curious or something. They kept barking every time they saw the kids. There would be peaceful moments and then crazy barking out of the blue. turned into every sound or sight was freaking them out. I kept jumping out of my skin each time it happened. (I think the dogs and I are part cat - we can be so highly strung at times.) I swear this must have happened about a dozen times in the span of an hour and each time I breathed and relaxed, it seemed to happen again.
but that was really nothing. it was annoying but whatever. the dogs are just being dogs. they calmed down pretty quickly when I called their names. the real monkey wrench was my son telling me that BY THE WAY, I was supposed to drive the boys home, 1/2 hour drive each way. My brain went into some kind of overdrive, trying to figure out the rest of the day and how it would all work if I'm supposed to take these boys home. When? Where? What about the dogs? What about my papers? What about my chores? What about my intention of doing some yoga? I spoke in a very frustrated tone telling my son that I really want to have clear communication with him, that this would not be a big deal if I just knew about it long enough to figure on a plan for my day. I tried to cram all the things I wanted to do in a short time just so that I could get the kids home and get some things done for myself.
thankfully, the boys' mom called and said she could pick them up at X time. I was instantly relieved. I hold a lot in my day. I manage a bunch of abundance very well. I also know when I have too much on my plate and lately I have had too much on my plate. I've got 2 weeks here of doing the solo parenting thing plus managing school, houses, businesses, work, parenting, etc and so forth. I should stop listing these things because it doesn't really help to do so...
mindfully, I was trying to remember what I JUST learned on the videos about tonglen and awakening bodhichitta and all this good stuff on the ego being like a room that we love to be in and how difficult the outside feels in comparison, so we never leave it, thus creating a kind of prison for ourselves. I had this monkey wrench in some tiny part of my day and I watched how badly I handled it. I suppose I did some good by stating some things clearly and setting up some kind of boundaries. This is good. However, I somehow managed to feel badly afterwards. I felt for my son who was trying to have a fun day with friends. I felt a bit on edge from the dogs barking at random things. It was difficult to get back from this triggered place, but I eventually did.
I ended up doing some yoga and it was very good. It helped to bring me back to my body and that was very necessary. I had an experience of distrust inside myself and I'll write about that in a bit. Right now I really want to say my gratefuls and put this day to bed.
this is the part when I try to be very gentle with what is going on inside me. simple request but not always easy. I'm grateful for this practice...
well it was a restorative weekend for me. time to relax, rest, and be with friends (just a little bit) is always good medicine. I spoke with some friends over the weekend, too, and that always feels good.
still sitting in the mornings. still having moments of loveliness and other moments of thoughts of all kinds. it is what it is.
today I had some moments where old habits were kicking in. I took matt to the airport and noticed the old stories coming in my head about him going. it's very old and tired and SO doesn't serve me. I took a deep breath in and out and allowed for all the feelings come in. "I accept this, too."
there really is something to this. I'm grateful for this little tool in my tool belt. it's not like the feelings dissolved immediately, but they did dissolve. it was more like there was no place for the stories to land. no audience to give the stories so the feelings just were felt and then they went away. what a gift. I have to be honest, these things are so old that I cringed at first when they showed up. I didn't want to even go there for a second and my first thoughts were that this was going to last so long and was going to ruin my evening. I remembered to bow to this and like I said, it went away.
the best part: I had a really great evening. I felt stoked about this time with my kids and with friends and with the universe. I haven't felt that in a long time. Even that feeling went away and that was ok too! :-)
I'm off to sleep. nighty night. <3
I haven't written in a couple days because life is just so busy. It's friday and again, I'm hit with a sense of exhaustion. It doesn't help to get 5 hours of sleep on wednesday nights and then try and play catch up on thursday night...
I'm still sitting each and every morning. It is helping me to notice a whole lot during the day. There is a lot going on in my world. I have relationship issues that I'm working on, I have a wholesale business, online business and I'm trying to figure out what to do with the physical storefront. In the past week I've had landlord issues (me being the "landlord") and we had a repair that was needed at the cafe. My kids are both home daily and so there is the parenting things that come up every few minutes. It seems I am the Chief, Cook and Bottle Washer in just about every aspect of my life. I'm also homeschooling the kids so there's much to be done to make sure that they are doing what they say they are doing. I manage two houses and just had a buying club order come in that I had to sort and get invoices out for. I also am very behind on things like laundry and housecleaning. I'm seeking help and am delegating work and I'm learning to let go of a lot although I must say that I really have a problem with piles of things. Right now there are piles of clean clothes on the one chair that the kids folded but didn't put away. I'm also taking 2 classes this semester and am writing 5 papers a week plus reading/responding to about 10 papers a week. I receive about 100-200 emails a day that need to get filtered out and some need responding to. I have an office manager that I have to make sure she knows what to do each day that she is here. Questions from customers, phone calls to make and/or respond to. Errands to make on the behalf of myself, matt and the kids. I am making appointments for routine exams that happen this time of year and also trying to make sure that I am eating 2-3 meals a day, exercising and taking care of myself. To say that I am walking around in a low-level state of anxiousness about the next thing on the TO DO list is an understatement.
Still, I am utilizing this mindfulness meditation that I do each morning. It's at times as though my thoughts become an errant child and I need to put her straight.
Today I went to get a massage. My body has been tense. I don't have much touch in the day. I hug my kids and I pet my dogs but not a whole lot is reciprocal... I mean, my dogs aren't scritching my back telling me what a good girl I am. (Although they are so unconditionally loving and attentive in other dog ways that are really nice.) Needless-to-say, the massage was welcomed. My muscles are pretty darn tight and it was a good release to do this. It's time to schedule more of massage appointments, too.
Now if there is just enough time to do the WANT TO's plus HAVE TO's...
I've been having some lovely things happen outside of the meditation pillow. Mostly, I'm just able to stop the dialogue, drama and stories a whole lot faster and bring my attention back to the present moment. I'm also kind of experiencing less worry for various things in the day. I think it is interesting that I've been feeling so tired the past couple weeks. I normally always feel good and up and I keep plowing through things. I haven't been eating as many greens the past couple of weeks and I'll experiment with that to see if it has relevance. But I don't really mind being tired. I don't mind my body telling me that enough is enough for now and it's time to stop and relax. I've been napping a lot and that is not me either. But I recognize that there's a lot on my plate - many decisions are being made and I trust the process of this as well as my life.
I'm off to take a bath. This post is really a dumping of my thoughts and various feelings. Forgive me for not being more eloquent.
“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...