Archives for posts with tag: meditation only works when I do it

Back to life, back to reality

There have been other times, other places, other loves… other successes, other failures (often failures), other paths that lead away to other destinations. Today? I’m standing here. Now. Looking further along the path, it’s no longer at all clear where this path may lead (was it ever, really?). I mean, I’m not frantically seeking a course-correction, or mired in despair about where I stand, here and now. I’m just taking note that I’ve come kind of far, since… other times.

Paths lead away…

Like any path, the journey itself holds so much of the experience – more than the destination, itself, so often.

Waves approach, recede, and return again.

Like waves on the seashore, practice is repetitive. Lessons keep coming back until we’ve learned what we can.

It’s a Monday. Ordinary in most respects. Adults adulting. Life being lived. Choices being made. Being and becoming. It’s not so much “difficult” as… ongoing. I’m not even fighting it. 🙂 There is always another task to be handled. Another opportunity to reflect on being a better human being than I managed to be yesterday. Another chance to be the woman I most want to be.

…I get it wrong a lot…

It’s time to begin again. 🙂

It’s a mild Saturday morning. Not yet sunny. Also not raining. Just a morning. My coffee is hot, sitting mostly untouched in front of me. My Traveling Partner and I are “enjoying” our individual, somewhat overlapping, personal experiences of seasonal allergies. His, a lifetime struggle. Mine? Returning with a vengeance here in this new place, after decades mostly without allergies at all. I’ve minimized my allergies for years; they simply aren’t “anything” in comparison to what my Mom endured, or what my Traveling Partner goes through for so much of the calendar year that even suggesting those are “seasonal” could seem like a mockery. “I don’t have allergies” still seems mostly true for me… but this morning, my stuffy head and sneezes tell a story of Spring, and pollen (it’s the tree pollen that seems to be the issue; I can smell flowers all damned day without concern).

…And of course, my preferred walks each day? Forests. Trees. Shaded paths. Hilarious. 0_o (That’s a rare use of sarcasm; I’m not finding it all amusing really.)

It is a mild Saturday morning, suitable for gardening (I have a list of things to do), and relaxing. I’m eager to do a bit of gardening in this new place – gardening that won’t suddenly face the upheaval of moving away, gardening that can be planned for a future that exists. Maybe. I mean… the future is an uncertain thing, but at least here I can plan for some sort of permanence, as much as one ever can. No, I’m not feeling down or fatalistic, just disinclined to deceive myself with fanciful tales of “happily ever after” or “always”. Those are not helpful concepts, generally speaking. 🙂

“Baby Love”, an early bloomer, will go into the ground this weekend. 🙂

This cup of coffee is good. Not good enough to ease me past the morning frustration of dealing with allergies, perhaps, or to fix any of society’s ills, but it’s a nice moment on a pleasant morning, and that’s enough right now. I think of far away friends I’d like to take time to connect with, emails I’d like to write. Maybe pick up the damned phone now and then? (Does anyone actually answer the phone when it rings, any more? I rarely do… is that a “me thing”, or an “everyone thing”? Has the etiquette of a phone call changed since… before?)

At some point, after our anniversary was past, my Traveling Partner ever-so-gently brought up how much benefit I seem to get out of a weekend away, solo, and wondered aloud if I were, perhaps, due for one…? He admitted to having the thought on our anniversary, and shared that it seemed less than ideal to bring it up on that occasion. I appreciate his consideration… I’d had that thought, too, and felt like a complete jerk for it, considering the occasion. LOL He’s quite right, though; I’m definitely “feeling it”.

…And he definitely feels me feeling it…

I’m not sure why I’m feeling it so hard right now… the new job is intense (in good ways) and quite busy. I do spend nearly 100% of my waking time in the presence of at least one other human being, or on a call, or in a meeting (and yes, Zoom meetings are still every bit as “people-y” as in person, for me)… it gets fatiguing after a while. I enjoy solitude. I want to simply exist, free of social constraints or pressures to perform, conform, achieve, or relieve. I want to breathe my own breath. Think my own thoughts. Exist entirely in the context of my own experience. Make choices with little regard for other tastes, other needs, other timing. It’s complicated when people partner up who have very different needs in this area. I’m fairly certain that while I feel like I “never have a minute for my own thoughts”, my partner may feel that we “never get to spend any time together” – and both those experiences are legitimate perspectives on our individual experience as human primates. I’m fortunate to be in a partnership in which we recognize our differences and value them – and help each other find our best path forward.

Anyway. I’ve been vaccinated. I feel relatively comfortable making the short journey to the coast and taking a day for myself. Masked & distancing, yeah, that’s still a thing for sure. I’m okay with that, too. I got lucky on getting a pleasant ocean view room a few steps from the beach (131 actual stair steps, if reviews are to be believed) – next weekend. The weather is nice for painting. I’ll take my water colors and my camera along with me. My laptop. I’ll walk miles along the beach. Take some pictures. Meditate. Think. Write. Paint.

…I will miss my Traveling Partner so so much…

We benefit from a bit of time to miss each other. I sip my coffee and wonder what he’ll get up to while I’m away… besides missing me, I mean. 🙂 I already look forward to sharing pictures and conversing about time we did not spend together.

…I’m already looking forward to beginning again. 🙂

My tinnitus is bad this morning. I’ve got headphones on, no music playing, just sort of… seeking quiet. Doesn’t matter; the shimmering, ringing, chiming, faint high-pitched whine that persists in my ears 24/7 is notably loud this morning. I hear more than one frequency, more than one tone, various “noises” – a cacophony of background noise that never really lets up.

…I have another sip of my coffee, and look for YouTube content to distract me from the ringing in my ears. Listening to the tinnitus, itself, is a poor practice; as I begin to focus on it, over time, it becomes harder to hear anything else. A function of attention, perhaps, more than volume. Distractions help, some.

I notice the time, earlier than “usual” – more properly, earlier than the alarm was set. My Traveling Partner’s restless night woke me early, and rather than fight the inevitable, I just went ahead and got up. More time in the small gym at the office, I suppose. The exercise is healthy, and I value the opportunity. For now, I just chill here, with the ringing in my ears, drinking my coffee.

It’ll be time to begin again, soon enough. This moment, here, now, seems well-suited to meditation. I find something to drown out the ringing in my ears… this will do nicely. 🙂

With the return of the rain, I have a sense that autumn approaches; seasons change.

…Unless you are ready to choose change…unless you use verbs…unless you begin again. And again. And yet again…until the thing about which you propose to be resolved becomes a quality about who you actually are. Just saying. It’s said better here, perhaps. Or here. Or here.  All of them are fairly easily summarized – you can choose change, it does require verbs. There are no shortcuts, and there are no excuses.

Sometimes it feels like an uphill climb.

Sometimes it feels like an uphill climb. There are unexpected obstacles. 

The most frustrating thing about ‘New Year’s resolutions’ is that they so rarely result in real change (for many people – your results may vary). The ‘why’ of that is so simple; there are verbs involved, and a requirement that our intention, our will, and our actions align to result in change. No verbs? No change. I can want to lose weight, intend to lose weight, and make a good plan to reach a reasonable goal; if I do not practice the practices that get the desired result, I will not lose weight – and the frustration and disappointment of personal failure can so easily (and thoughtlessly) be transmuted to emotion-driven over-consumption of unneeded calories. Bummer. A lot of things work that way; feelings of futility and frustration easily result in a level of ‘giving up’ that results in not only not making the desired change, but even over-indulging the undesirable behavior. Huge bummer.

It’s not easy to stick with a commitment to change, whether the change involved is quitting smoking, losing weight, or giving up being a colossal psychotic raging bitch 24/7 to people you say you love; the nature of the change itself is almost irrelevant to the success or failure of the endeavor. How much you want it doesn’t have much to do with whether you will succeed or fail, either; the most earnest heartfelt desire for change is still simply an emotional experience (although one that can be leveraged for motivation, still just a feeling). Add to that the discouragement of loved ones in our support system being less than ideally encouraging – or frankly skeptical of success – and it can seem an insurmountable roadblock to change, just having emotions at all! Harsh – we’re so human! How do we get past all that? I don’t actually have an easy answer there; I begin again when I ‘fail’, and use the opportunity to learn and grow. There may be an easier answer, but I haven’t found it – and at this point, I’m not looking for easy answers. I’m content with questions… and verbs.

Go ahead. Choose change. Make a resolution. Be the person you most want to be in 2016! It may not be ‘easy’. You may fail – you may fail a lot. Incremental change over time is a real thing, though, and we do become what we practice – no kidding, that’s real, too (and true of behaviors both nurturing and damaging). Begin again. Start over. And again after that. Use a verb – use a lot of verbs – exert effort fearlessly; all you have in this lifetime is this lifetime, itself. Spending an entire lifetime not even making the attempt to be all you most want to be (as a human being) seems pretty… empty. Pointless? Wasted. So…later in January? February? Whenever you find you’ve quit, given up, or stalled – begin again. That’s actually ‘all it takes’ – begin again. Did you fail again? Okay – begin again. Again. And again. It’s the nature of practice to require repetition. 😉

One last bit on this, from a different perspective… Some of you out there could stand to treat your fellow human beings better than you do. (You know who you are, and your neighbors do indeed hear you; the world sees you in action pretty much every day and very few people are actually deceived.) Are you relying on rationalizations and excuses to get a pass for the mistreatment you heap upon your fellow human being? (Hormones, fatigue, alcohol, pain, illness…) Maybe you just feel righteous and justified or entitled. You can choose change, too. You can also refuse to choose change, but you don’t get to choose to avoid responsibility or accountability for your damaging behavior from that moment that your loved ones wake up to the awareness that you are in fact choosing who you are, and choosing to behave in a damaging ways to your loved ones (whether you call it abuse or not). If you have been told that your behavior or language is hurtful and you continue it, you are choosing and your behavior is no longer easily defined as ‘unintended’; it is not an accident, and you did indeed ‘mean to’.  2016 could so easily be the year you choose differently, learn to love, and learn to treat other human beings well. 2016 could also be the year that you don’t choose to behave any differently (sadly this is more likely)… but 2016 could also be the year your loved ones finally wake up to their value as human beings and that they don’t deserve to be mistreated, and don’t have to take it anymore – and walk on, to a life in which they are valued, loved, and treated well. (They are free to choose change, themselves, instead of enduring your abusive vile shifty behavior or mistreatment. 🙂 Just saying; it’s a system that works nicely with adequate use of verbs.)

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

Practice the practices that take you closer to being the human being you most want to be.

So…here it is… the cusp of a new year. As arbitrary as that really is, it is a moment – and you can choose change. Will this be the year you become the person you most want to be? Will you change the world? Will humankind’s global experience improve in your hands? Will you love well? Will you speak kindly? If practice makes perfect, what kind of world are we perfecting in 2016?

My sleep this past few days hasn’t been great. It’s been restful enough, which is sufficient, but it has been interrupted, each night, with periods of wakefulness of varied length, sometimes resulting in actually getting up, puttering around the house quietly, or writing. Last night I woke, at 2:33 am, and after meditation didn’t return me to dreamland, I got up, had a cup of tea, touched up a couple of the new paintings, and went back to bed. I never really went back to sleep, but found letting my consciousness wander in and out of brief dreams adequately restful. By 4:42 am all I could think about was having a cup of coffee, and got up ahead of the alarm.

The solitude doesn’t cause me any stress. I enjoy it a great deal. My recent camping trip, too, it was the solitude – when I had it – that seemed to meet my needs. On that occasion my usually-at-home partner had expressed concern that I might not enjoy being alone out there in the trees and assured me I could ‘call any time and get picked up’. I remember being quite astonished, and as the conversation continued, it was clear that somehow my partner didn’t ‘know me’ on the matter of solitude – and we’d been living together for some time. She directed my attention to that first month or so we all lived together, and the occasion that she and my traveling partner had gone to San Francisco for a couple of days, shortly before or after New Year’s Day, as I recall.  I had a bad time of things and was mid-freak out, when they called to inquire if I would mind if they came home early – out of boredom.

Moving along past ‘how does someone find boredom in San Francisco?’ to the point I’m actually getting to… We really are each having our own experience. My partner stored the recollection of those events as somehow indicating I had difficulty being alone. My own perspective is very different, because I was there. I desperately needed the comfort of solitude on that occasion. We’d all recently moved in together. All my routines and habits were completely disrupted and I wasn’t sleeping much. My PTSD had flared up partly due to the disruption of the move, partly due to finding out about my TBI – and what a big deal that has actually been all along – and partly due to the heinous gang rape in New Delhi that December that set the media on fire with some unstated competition to report as many rapes as possible, in as much graphic detail as culturally permitted; I could not escape my own history and I was in incredible emotional pain and feeling suicidal despair. As if that weren’t enough, the emotional volatility in the household in general resulted in receiving no emotional support for the state I found myself in, no one to talk to, and lacking any tools to really do anything about it. I was at the breaking point of what limited emotional resilience I had to work with. They went on their trip. I found myself alone ‘at home’ in what was at that time still ‘a strange house’ – everything in disarray from the work of moving two additional adult humans and all their accessories into space fully occupied by one. In the moment they departed, I took a deep cleansing breath and began to relax. It didn’t last. In the next moment, it was clear that I didn’t know how to operate the stereo. Or the video. At the time I didn’t have a laptop of my own, and couldn’t access the household network. My phone wouldn’t connect to the internet over wi-fi, and I couldn’t recall the password. The frustration of not being able to simply turn on some music launched me into a private emotional hell built on the hysteria and pain of a lifetime of chaos and damage, and lit like a bonfire soaked in gasoline with that tiny match of pure frustration, and the shame of being utterly incompetent at 49. I spent the next 24 hours in tears, aside from a couple of hours of fitful napping.  I soon found I didn’t know where much of anything actually was – including most of my own stuff, and didn’t know how to work the alarm system in a house I just moved into. For hours I stalked through the house screaming at myself, crying, storming with frustrated child like rage… because I couldn’t find a pen, to write with. I felt trapped, and frightened.

At that point in my journey, I knew nothing of stillness. I didn’t understand meditation – my only experience with it was intended to increase focus and concentration, not build awareness and mindfulness, and it hadn’t done anything whatever to address the needs of my heart. I had no way to move past my rage. I was trapped. Desperate. Unwilling to reach out for help – because not only did I not know where to turn, I lacked conviction that any help was even possible.

When they arrived home, prematurely, I was relieved.  There was music. There was order. Things could be found. I didn’t understand at the time that my partners – neither of whom has been with me more than a small number of years – didn’t understand what was going on with me. (The weeks that followed developed in a painful way for many reasons. I went from ‘feeling suicidal’ to sitting down and planning things out, and making a list of ‘loose ends’ that needed to be wrapped up ‘before I left’.  Their emotional experiences with me over issues that developed around differences in communication styles and practices resulted in behavior that I try to avoid thinking about these days, it was that damaging and hurtful. I was battling coming to terms with my TBI, and doing so mostly without any help or support beyond a casual occasional brush off intended to reassure me that ‘it doesn’t matter’, and prevented further conversation about a topic that was uncomfortable for them, too.)

What got lost in all that was what was up with me, why, and some really important things about my experience, and who I am. I enjoy solitude. I don’t enjoy frustration. More importantly? I am the sum of all my experiences and choices – not just the ones any one friend or loved one has been around for.  Looking back it is more obvious, at least to me, but as with any small review mirror – I am the only one who sees that view.

Today, as I look ahead into a future that doesn’t yet exist, and enjoy the stillness of a quiet morning of solitude, I gently explore that past hurt in my rear view mirror. Something to share, a matter of perspective, a past moment that so clearly illustrates that however close we are as people, whatever our intimate relationship with each other, however connected we are, our perspective and understanding is filtered through our own experiences, our own choices; we create our view of the world using our own limited understanding of events and people. We don’t just create our own narrative, we create the narrative we use to understand others, too, and sometimes without getting input from the main character of the tale. A poor strategy for compassion, or understanding. The Four Agreements nails this one too, with “Don’t Take Anything Personally” and “Don’t Make Assumptions”.

So basic.

So basic.

Today is a good day to ask caring questions. Today is a good day to be compassionate. Today is a good day to recognize we are each having our own experience. Today is a good day to remember that investing in joy and contentment requires acts of will, and choices. Today is a good day to change the world.