Archives for the month of: February, 2013

I’m building a regular practice these days whereby the last thing I do each night is meditate. Initially, I contemplate my day compassionately, observing it without analyzing it. I note if/whether there is some event, outcome, or theme that seemed most challenging, or most relevant to my current needs and commit to focusing on a single practice, behavior, or cognitive function the next day,  that may be an improvement on what I am doing now.  Then I let all that go – and just focus on my breathing.  I’ve been sleeping more deeply and restfully since I started doing that… I don’t know that those experiences are correlated.

Today I am focusing on letting small things go.  The most challenging moment I had yesterday was when an associate [who matters to me] interrupted me to say something to me in an incredibly insulting and dismissive tone, rich with condescension and derision, and full of assumptions about my level of knowledge. I was… insulted, hurt, briefly even angry. I struggled with it for a few moments at the time, but the social environment didn’t really permit actually addressing it with my associate directly in a comfortable way [that I know yet].  It still lingered in my memory pretty vividly that evening when I finished my day, so – focusing on letting small things go, today. 🙂 Maybe you don’t agree that being insulted that way is a ‘small thing’? Was I, though?  My associate’s assumptions about me, and their own world view, was the foundation of their reaction – does that really have anything to do with me, other than alerting me that they don’t know me as well as I thought they did – or as well, perhaps, as they think they do? That seems a very different thing than ‘being insulted’ – and I’d deal with it differently.  In the moment, my understanding of events was the result of my emotional reaction to words that were the result of a potentially significant misunderstanding.  I’m glad circumstances gave me time to think it over.

I spent the walk to work happily thinking art thoughts. I contemplated my journey as an artist so far, and considered what I would like to accomplish artistically this year. I observed the bare branches of deciduous trees along the walk, and their contrast against the rainy gray sky. I took note of russet leaves that litter the sidewalk on the way, their many shapes, and shades. I smiled at the lichens on the tree branches, and the moss in the cracks of the sidewalk. Many of the trees are just beginning to bud, or unfurl delicate new leaves. Spring is coming. I enjoyed a feeling of just being, as I walked, and becoming – with the spring – as each day unfolds. I’m eager to get to work in watercolor, again. It’s been a very long time.

Words are powerful.  We even have words to dismiss the power of words (“sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me” is a good example). Words can hurt.  Words, in my experience, can be and often are used in ways that amount to abuse, even torture – ‘water-boarding the mind’.  I can give examples, from my own experiences in life. How about these:

  • You wretched, worthless child – god damn it,  can’t you do anything right?
  • F*ck, you’re stupid.
  • You’re a girl, you only have to be good at cooking and blowjobs.
  • I brought you into this world, I can take you out!
  • No one will ever love you like I do.
  • You can not survive without me.
  • You owe everything to me.
  • Without me you are nothing.
  • Well, some people have talent, I guess you have to do the best you can without it.

Words used to imply the threat of violence in the face of non-compliance…words used to punish, to damage, to confuse… we use words to communicate, but we also use words to control, and hurt each other. Words seem powerful indeed; they can deliver lasting damage without contact of any kind. And the more we hear the same words, the more believable the words seem to be. Eventually, slogans, phrases, ideas, even insults become internalized and part of ‘who we are’. Scary.

I know I’ve lashed out at people using words – mostly operating on a very harmful assumption that although hitting people is not ok, hurting them with words isn’t ‘violent’. Oh, but isn’t it?  Is the emotional pain we deal with as a byproduct of unhealthy relationships any less painful than any other sort of pain we feel? Is it easier or more difficult to heal? Something to think about… treating people well, by using language in an honest way, without the intent or will to cause harm, damage, punish, or control doesn’t cost anything, and immediately makes the world a better place for everyone.

Pursuing mindfulness is taking me some very interesting places as a thinking being.

A question for Wednesday – if you could choose a life free of guilt, worry, or resentment, would you?

I find myself inclined to immediately answer ‘yes!’  I admit, however, I have made a lot of choices that brought one or more of those my way pretty reliably.  Worry and guilt seem easiest to dispense with, from my perspective. Worry is about something that hasn’t, and may not, happen. Guilt is about something already in the past – and unnecessary when I am accountable for my actions, and willing to take ownership for mistakes. The resentment piece was where I started this morning – because I was very aware that I had none in that moment, and then… uncomfortably self-conscious that that seemed noteworthy! I found myself understanding how mindfulness could ease worry or guilt, and seriously puzzled by resentment in general.  Should resentment even exist if I ‘take care of me’? If I live honestly with my partners, communicating my needs clearly, and taking time to understand theirs? I have reached levels of resentment in prior relationships that aren’t even describable in a rational framework – because it makes no sense to have gotten to that point! Good choices, honest choices, and treating myself well – and compassionately – wouldn’t leave room for resentment, would it? Is there any moment of resentment that isn’t based on my own choices? Is resentment always self-inflicted? I have no answers, just something I plan to think about more. “Treating myself well” is beginning to look like a vista, not a challenge… and thinking more constructively about some things is having results I didn’t expect. Good ones. Artistic ones. Emotional ones.

Yesterday was a good day. The evening was hardly marred by feeling ill and being in physical pain; I stayed in-the-moment with that, which was a very new experience and quite different. I woke feeling better this morning.  Today seems like another good day… how much of this is me and how much is something other than me?  Do I have so much control over my experience, in fact, that good days come so easily when I don’t expect bad ones? More to think about… but for now, mindfully forward into Wednesday’s work.

I’ve struggled so much for so long ‘to feel heard’… and frankly, we have built a global culture that commonly overlooks the voices of women, and that hurts all by itself, but it hit me…  If I live my own life, on my own terms, treating myself well…choosing my values based on my own judgement and understanding of my experience and circumstances, and living them… building healthy relationships based on mutual respect, reciprocity, and treating each other well… and experiencing my life in a ‘mindful’ way… will I still ‘feel unheard’? Is the person who is not hearing me… me?  It certainly seems like a thought worth pursuing.

Have years of rage, despair, and frustration actually been entirely about me, treating myself well, feeling compassion for my own experience… hearing myself?  It feels a little… selfish. Me, me me… and I hear others reminding me ‘it isn’t all about me’… but some of it is ‘all about me’… and I find myself facing conflict head on within myself. The battle for real understanding of what is ‘all about me’ and what is not… learning to heal, learning to exist comfortably in my own experience of life, and learning who I am, and how to treat myself well… maybe once I am done with that, I can learn to love well, too. 😀

I’ve managed to turn a few other odd notions on their heads in the past couple days… just at the moment I am awed at what an amazing experience this really is. (Nice job, Brain.)

A very good Tuesday…

It’s a good Tuesday. It’s a good day for any day of the week. Nothing extraordinary about it, just chill and good… The mindfulness practices and reading that I have been doing seems to be getting me… somewhere. Somewhere good. For now I don’t have a lot more to say about it – I don’t know enough.  There is a part of me that would like to say ‘Mindfulness, eh? Who knew?’ but I can’t even form the words without thinking about thousands of years of mindfulness practices, traditions, philosophies and beliefs that exist. I am getting to the party rather late. lol.

Will ‘everything be alright’? I don’t know. Will I find peace and happiness, or at least lasting contentment? I don’t know that either. I do know that asking myself different questions, and being more fully aware in my experience has value for me right now. I’m good with that – it’s a nice start to something better.  There are a lot of things going on around me to enjoy, observe, and experience.

Yesterday was good – pretty awesome, actually, and I have the sense that I gained understanding on a couple of things that are very relevant to me right now.  Today is, too, a nice reminder that setting internal expectations has the potential to alter experience itself, or color it consistent with the chosen definitions and map; I didn’t ‘anticipate the day’, and I am exploring just living it. Less dread. Less fear. Less doubt. Nice change.

Enjoy your Tuesday, you only get one this week. 😉

Welcome to Monday. A good one so far, and I’m glad for it. I thought thoughts walking in to work, and some of them may have been profound, possibly share worthy, but by the time I got to work there were really only two things, distilled from almost an hour of walking meditations, that I still wanted to share:

1. It was an overall good weekend – except for the sucker punch my brain delivered to my heart, soul and experience on Sunday morning. Wow. Lethal. I am more thankful than words can express that I have partners with the will and ability to ‘be there for me’ as much as they are, as often as they are, and considering how easily I can, and how often I have, hurt them. I am also extremely appreciative, this morning, that I am alive today – funny thing to say, perhaps, but if you could know the experiences I have already survived across 49 years, it would seem less surprising that I might feel so grateful that existence – mine – continues today. 😀  It is certainly something to cherish, celebrate, and enjoy – even the difficult bits.  So that’s one thing to share.

2. A metaphor… I love music. I started thinking about life and music… and I got this.  There is more than one sort of musician. A skilled studio musician may be a virtuoso with an instrument, or style, well-versed in technique, reading music, bringing ‘a sound’ – and creates music with those tools and skills, but perhaps doesn’t compose or create.  A DJ makes music too – using other people’s music, samples, their own creativity at mixing, bringing elements of varied styles together to create a sound, but perhaps doesn’t have the technical expertise about music theory that might be expected or found more commonly among very technically proficient musicians, or virtuosi.  There are also ‘rock stars’ – gifted performers, composers, musicians – beings of amazing style and ability to capture or drive the zeitgeist, to influence or herald social and cultural change, and I’m sure we’ve all noticed they are not always exceptional or gifted musicians.  In life – which of these am I, I wondered? I realized pretty quickly that although there are qualities of each of these I would very much like to embody, I am probably that guy in his garage with a beat up instrument he got cheap in a pawn shop, who hears music in his head, loves to listen to his favorite tracks and sings along with all his favorite songs… and can’t read a note, and barely picks out a modestly recognizable rendition of the guitar riff from ‘Smoke on the Water’, slowly. That’s not a good or bad thing… but it is sure important to know that about oneself. 🙂  If that guy sticks with it, learns some basics, and figures out what he really wants out of music (life), and applies himself to achieving those goals, he’ll probably get somewhere worth going… on the other hand… if he struts around like a rock star, telling his friends he’s awesome, and showing off what he doesn’t understand… well… I know that guy. You probably know that guy. In life and love, I think I am that guy… and I have a choice to make. I choose to be a humble and honest student of life and love… there’s plenty to learn.   (Thanks, Brain, this one almost makes up for your shenanigans yesterday.)

…and now back to our usual Monday line up… 😉