Archives for posts with tag: buddhist boot camp

I’m groggy this morning, and fighting fatigue and arthritis pain. Well, not ‘fighting’ them, so much as acknowledging and accepting them, doing what I can to improve the situation, and moving on. Yesterday was one of those busy sorts of days that pushes the limits of endurance, and skill, and ends with a feeling of profound satisfaction in job well done, which was awesome. This morning, however, I am groggy. I was so tired after work yesterday I crashed much earlier than usual. After a couple of hours of deep sleep, I spent the night waking more or less hourly in response to my brain tossing work-related questions at me all night, which I dutifully woke myself to answer, before returning to sleep. It was not the most restful night of sleep I’ve ever had, and waking to the infernal beeping of the alarm, which rarely happens, isn’t a pleasant experience for me.

I feel ‘behind’ on everything this morning. My consciousness feels fuzzy and somehow always arriving late for the moment I’m in. There’s not a lot to say about this state of being. It is what it is. It will pass. It is relevant but unimportant. It’s ‘weather’, not ‘climate’.

Yoga, meditation, a shower, espresso, correspondence, Facebook… and now, a few moments, a few words, the rhythmic sound of fingers on keys; a new day begins.

I have no keen observations on my very human experience this morning…only observations of the most mundane sort: my room is untidy, in spite of my love of order, and this is telling. I tend to descend into disorder under stress. My hands are not as neatly manicured as usual, and I’ve bitten my pinky nails down to the quick; this also tends to be limited to times of stress. In the past 10 days, I’ve had two headaches that felt like transient ischemic attacks, which I had fairly regularly for many years, but which I’d not been having for a long while (about 4 years, I think). I associate that experience with stress, too, although it could perhaps be something else altogether.  Interestingly, I don’t feel – emotionally – as if I am under a lot of stress.

A moment of stillness can change so much.

A moment of stillness can change so much.

I take time to meditate a few more minutes, and return to writing feeling calm and content and soothed. Keeping an eye on stress matters. It’s not generally necessary to exist under that amount of stress; I have choices I can make to alleviate a lot of it. It helps to know where it is coming from. In this case? Work. Yep. Simply that.  I experience some internal conflict over it, because on the one hand – it’s amazing work, I’m good at it, and I’m valued… but feel some performance pressure, nonetheless, to really ‘wow’ the company I work for.  Pretty common, I’m sure. On the other hand? Well, frankly… I don’t place a high value on being an employee, on ‘gainful employment’, or on ‘having a job’, because these are not experiences that define me as a human being. There is so much more to me than work! I’d happily retire this very moment, if I were financially prepared to sustain a simple life of sufficiency for the 30-60 more years I might be around. I’m not, so I can’t… the stress I’m experiencing comes from being aware of how little I actually ‘care about’ work, in the face of how much pressure there is to do it very well right at the moment. Quite a balancing act.  I find myself surprised every time I meet someone who claims to really want to be employed. I’ve been working on figuring out how to be retired since I was about… 18. I have stuff I’d like to do, and so little time for me…

My at home partner becomes a traveling partner tomorrow.  I’m sure I’ll miss her.  There’s a small amount of stress there, too… both partners away for days means a weekend of painting, and I’m so excited about that time for myself, that I have the sense of it being ‘inappropriate’ or somehow unkind. Silliness, and I recognize it as such, but there it is. I am so very human.

I take another moment or two more for meditation, self-compassion, loving kindness, and awareness of how good it feels to have this time to meet such an important need for myself. Content solitude is a precious gift of love, and I’m eager to honor it, savor it, and take advantage of it creatively.

Awareness and presence need no excuse, but do require practice.

Awareness and presence need no excuse, but do require practice.

Today is a good day to be who I am. Today is a good day to be considerate of myself, and others. Today is a good day to celebrate small successes, small victories, and everyday joy. Today is a good day to appreciate that we’re all experiencing our own pain, and to be mindful that a moment of compassion can make a big difference in the world. Today is a good day to be gracious, and to be generous. Today is a good day to change the world.

Just one thing…”If I could change one thing…” “If I could just get this one thing done…” “I just have one issue…” “One comment…” “One book on a desert island…” “…only listen to one band…”

The power of one, the pedestal upon which we stand our fragile individuality, is a big deal.  Things that are singular, unique, or rare seem sometimes to thereby also be more desirable, more valuable, or more precious. It can also be a wedge that drives people apart, the fulcrum of an unbalanced argument, or representative to us in our own thinking of why we do not, or can not succeed at some one thing we have chosen to matter to us above all else.

Just one thing can also be a stepping stone to change, a way to ‘make it all seem more manageable’ somehow; I don’t have to wake up perfect if I can use will and action to change over time. 🙂  I find a lot of reassurance in that thought, but I’ll admit straight up that the associated challenge for me has been that I also have to choose what those one things, those small changes, will be. No handy ‘user’s guide’ for being human.

At the risk of seeing my blog become a book review blog over time… I may have found something on the order of ‘a handy user’s guide’ for the brain. Seriously? Yep. Just One Thing.

Is it that simple?

Is it that simple?

I’m still reading “Emotional Intimacy”, too, which is very science-y. They are a good pairing for me. I wake up each morning eager to read more of one, then the other, then to act on what I have read. Like going to the gym for my brain. 🙂

See? Spring.

See? Spring.

Spring is coming, and although I feel intellectually stimulated by good reading, life feels very busy to a point of nearly overwhelming me, and I feel rushed, crowded, and overloaded with details. Time for another day on the beach, walking, meditating, slowing things down…just planning it and acting on those plans results in feelings of being loved, supported, cared for, and nurtured – and I smile when I think “I did that, for me!”  It’s not really a credit/blame/fault thing at all, I’m simply pleased to have come far enough on my journey to do something positive to take care of me, before I hit critical mass and my head explodes, leaving me screaming at someone I love over nothing that matters. 🙂  I am delighted that when I mentioned to my partners that I need some downtime, I had their full support.

I’ll be headed to the coast to sketch, write, meditate, and slow way down in general – and celebrating the Vernal Equinox with a weekend of calm, and stillness. I’m so excited that like a kid waiting for Santa Claus, the days seem to stretch into an infinite far away future, although it’s really only two weeks away. lol

In my not-so-distant-future...

In my not-so-distant-future…

I was walking home last night, finishing my commute, looking at the evening sky and contemplating ‘how it is’ and what I see ahead on my path, and what I am looking for. Considering the ‘evening light’. I am changed. I am still ‘me’. Growth. Identity. (I thought I might be going somewhere with that, but no.) The sky was on fire with color as the sun dipped below the horizon. I snapped a couple of pictures, but capturing that certain special quality of light is a rare thing. I still love evening light…illumination. Gnosis. Awareness. My smile these days contains a certain quality I can feel, but not name. It feels, to me, like ‘evening light’.

Evening Light.

Evening Light.

I slept poorly. I woke several times, restless and fearful, then later, angry. I struggled with nightmares. I felt too hot, sometimes, others too cold. I woke at 3:20 am, utterly awake, with ancient rage riding shotgun, feeling raw and emotionally volatile. I fussed restlessly through seemingly endless minutes of ‘trying’ to meditate. It didn’t feel effective, or worthwhile, and I gave up when my frustration with myself began to exceed the intensity of the emotions I woke with. I’ve come far enough along this path to recognize, and accept, that I might have a better experience, sooner, were I to choose to commit to the moment, and allow myself to begin to calm, truly, through meditation. There’s a verb there. I know it.

I’m not exactly best friends with my anger. Hell, I don’t think Anger and I can even have a civil discussion over coffee, just yet. My head aches from resisting it. My Anger launches a salvo of nerd quotes relevant to futility at me, from within. Oh yeah. Thanks, Brain. I wasn’t amused by “Resistance is Futile”, and frankly the material just got stale from there. This is a challenging emotional precipice for me. Teetering between the potential for unexpected rage, and unexpected tears…just waiting for someone to come along and flip that coin.

Did I mention the headache?

Which comes first, the drama or the fucked up sleep? Does it matter? One pushes the other, turn them around and the effect is quite the same; one pushing the other. Bitter damaged angry bits of self fight for a voice. Humor and cynicism occasionally pull into the lead with some comic relief. Take every tortured Super Hero, ever, portrayed as screaming, twisted, going through some powerful change… this morning it feels like that on the inside; some ferocious moment of tremendous growth and progress, imminent, painful, resisted…only to see the Hero, in the end, yield to their true nature. God damn it, when do I yield? When do I declare myself victorious in the face of my vanquished demons? When is ‘enough’? Who am I, and am I worthy?

Where the hell do all these tears come from?

I was not going to write this morning. I finished a favorite book… it was still brutally early when I had. I tried writing a tender email to the partner I lean on most for emotional support…words upon words, so many… when I found myself observing, in text, that the words themselves seemed ineffective, superfluous, and not actually helpful, I tried again. I eventually just scrapped the attempt. What would be the point? Communication? Of what? With what goal? I ‘officially let it go’…but here I am. Struggling with myself before dawn.

Let’s look at this again… I woke early, from a restless uncomfortable night. I have the luxury of spending much of that time in meditation, and some of it reading for pleasure. It’s quiet time, invested in me. My latte is exceptional this morning, and aside from the headache, my body feels pretty okay today – not much pain. I have a high-speed internet connection, and a warm secure place to live. My family is safe at home, sleeping, and the world (near by) is quiet. I have time and space to write, and the respect of my partners who know that I need it.

“Gratitude is the opposite of Anger.” Timber Hawkeye (among others)

I’m grateful the winter snow has mostly melted away, although the beauty of it was also quite wonderful. I’m grateful to have good coffee in the morning, and hot running water. I’m grateful that I can count on the good company of friends, and that I have a job I love. I’m grateful for so many opportunities to grow, and become the woman I most want to be. I’m grateful that I can recognize choice, and opportunities. I’m grateful for language, both spoken and written. I’m grateful for Love, and that wonderful quality it has to overlook bullshit.

I’m tired. It was a challenging, distressful night. This headache hasn’t let up, yet, but it likely will. For now, I’ve gotten past the anger I woke with, and that feels very good – and I still have time to settle down and meditate. The day is just beginning, and I yield to the moment, and all the possibilities it holds.

One small crocus getting a head start on spring.

One small crocus getting a head start on spring.

How do I ‘measure’ time in those timeless moments of meditation?

Just one moment...

Just one moment…

I woke early this morning, feeling rested and serene. It is an ordinary enough morning. I sat down to meditate…it was 5:35 am. In the ‘next instant’ it is now somehow 6:50 am. More than an hour slipped by as I contentedly planted myself and my awareness fully in just one moment… now.

Some other moment.

Some other moment.

I don’t know that meditation ‘does anything’ for me beyond the obvious bits of change I really feel: the increase in apparent emotional resilience, the improvement in my sleep over weeks and months, improved posture, an increased everyday level of contentment, increased patience and compassion with myself and others…but… that’s not exactly ‘science’, is it? It is simply my experience with the value of meditation in my own life.

Another moment, another day.

Another moment, another day.

When I started this blog, I was struggling. A lot. I struggle less now, and enjoy the moment more. Even the challenging moments seem less fraught with a sense of futility, doom, and torment, and a bit more like ‘moments’, themselves. Learning to meditate, and doing so in the face of a personal conviction that “I already know this and it doesn’t help me”, has been critical to my personal growth, and healing, this year. I’m not ‘selling something’, and there is no ‘helpful link’ to a product anywhere in this post.

Yet another moment.

Yet another moment.

I am a student of life, of love, of mindfulness. I am asking questions, a lot of questions, and gently observing my experience more, and thinking ‘about’ it less. I am learning to live firmly in my ‘now’ and slowly, little by little, I am healing my ancient hurts.

75 minutes of meditation slips by as comfortably as 10 minutes these days. Unmeasured time, uncounted minutes. Worth it? Totally. I am learning that time spent in meditation, spent observing and aware of ‘now’, of living mindfully, is just about the best way to spend it. Certainly, taking time for timeless moments in meditation is a lovely way to begin a Monday. Any day, really, but definitely a Monday. 🙂

The photos? Just a handful that didn’t ‘have their moment’ in earlier posts, on other days. Pictures of evening light and quiet moments in 2013. This has been a very important year for me. I don’t cry much these days… I do meditate.  It is possible I spend as much time meditating these days as I once spent crying.  I haven’t the data to quantify that accurately, so I can’t say with certainty; I feel changed.

A very recent moment just at dawn. A beginning.

A very recent moment just at dawn. A beginning.

In the morning, life can feel so new, so ‘right now’, and so gentle. In some moments, these days, my whole life feels that way: new, gentle, and ‘right now’.

Today is a good day to experience change, to wonder, to be awed by loveliness, to embrace what matters most, to smile on the inside, to love. Today I am compassionate, joyful, and kind. Today I am tender, and gentle. Today I will change the world. 😀

 

 

 

 

I woke early this morning, filled with a sense of purpose, and slightly concerned I might have ‘overslept’. It was 6:00 am. I didn’t feel rushed, but I also didn’t want to, so I remained committed to the purposeful moment, and moved through my morning routine contentedly. It was the start of an excellent Monday… only… today is Sunday.

I’m still contented; early mornings don’t distress me. I slept well after a couple difficult nights, and a day of illness, and feeling both well-rested and ‘well’, it is a lovely morning thus far.

I took time to meditate, and my yoga practice felt relaxed and deep, and I was patient with myself. I enjoyed the satisfaction of doing a couple new asanas with fluidity and grace, having practiced them enough now to be able to do them without refreshing my memory immediately before doing them.  One of my partners had been pointing out how much bad posture was also causing elevated stress (through physical discomfort) and I added a couple of asanas to my yoga sequence specifically to help improve my posture, overall. It’s been helping. I also got my eyes checked – because by far the most common scenario for my bad posture is ‘hunched over the computer/my laptop’.  I did indeed need new glasses.  Just knowing my eyesight is a factor in my posture, and thus my pain and stress levels, I adjusted my settings on my laptop so that everything is a tad bigger and easier to read. 5 years ago, having to take such an action would have peeved me for days, and caused me to feel very blue over ‘aging’. This year, it was really a pretty matter-of-fact thing, without stress. Why wouldn’t I take advantage of the user preference settings in my own computer to suit my current needs? Anything else would be…ridiculous. I’m eager to have my new glasses, too.

Somewhen during this morning’s meditation, thoughts of road signs [on life’s journey] and highlight reels [of life’s important moments] drifted through my consciousness. I observed them, as words and ideas, and let them drift on by. They lingered in the background, wanting to be considered later, and here I am considering them.

It would be pretty convenient if life did have ‘road signs’, wouldn’t it? “Abrupt Change Ahead” for life’s unexpected challenges, perhaps, or “Caution: Slow Self ” for those groggy mornings? We try so hard to benefit from the wisdom of others, and with such limited success, sometimes. Is that a lack of trust? Is it a lack of understanding that the experiences of others may be truly relevant to our own? Is it a misplaced sense of our uniqueness to the detriment of our similarities? Is it a lack of will competing with the possibility that even those acts or qualities that do not serve us well, may serve us somehow? I find myself wondering if I can somehow imagine those ‘missing road signs’ as I experience my now – by inserting a gentle “Yield” sign in those moments of stress before escalation, or a bold “Stop” sign in that breath before saying just the wrong thing? If I could, would I mind them or disregard them? That got me wondering… am I a ‘good citizen’ in my own experience? I suspect that last one could easily amount to an entire day’s thinking…

Highlight Reels are something totally different, but still somehow potentially instructive and cautionary. I often explore a montage of relevant memories when I tackle life’s curriculum. New lessons often prove to be significantly less ‘new’ than I experience them to be initially, and there is value in considering prior opportunities to have applied the lesson facing me, as well as considering what future opportunities there may be.  There is also value in contemplating past successes – with precisely what I am learning, and things that are quite different in some way.

When do those ‘road signs’ become paralyzing anxiety? When do ‘highlight reels’ become self-deprecatory or punishing rumination full of futility and despair?  If the most useful question is not ‘when?’… what is it?

Not even a thousand words, and no pictures, and I notice the morning wearing on gently. It’s 8:00 am, and although it is a Sunday, I hear a partner making coffee in the kitchen. This morning’s words are more words in a recreational way than words with any urgently serious intention. Casual words. Reflective words. Neither road signs nor highlights – just words.  I will set them aside, and return to the immediate and beautiful ‘now’. 🙂

Today I am compassionate. Today I am content. Today I am changing the world. Sundays are good days for change.