03 October, 2014

Today's ...The Day


Things happen in our life quite unexpectedly, and often we can recall some aspect of each particular tragedy in slow motion when the dust settles. Getting hung up on one or the other should haves that would have prevented nature. Whether we enjoy them or not, "bad things" will happen, and part of my practice is to be aware of them, during and after they do ...providing you don't die. Today was the day, to fall down unexpectedly. To be alarmed, and then be surprised that I could get up. Watching the unfolding of moods surrounding it all. A really unremarkable trip and fall where my left knee landed squarely on the soft home made treats I carried to the gym to give to friends, nicely cushioning it and hence saving it. It did not help my bruised ego,  but it did help propel thought to reflect on a day, when we get bad news about us or family and friends that we usually are so unprepared for. Not to worry in advance but try to not to be shocked when anything minor to major happens. An awareness based on simple awareness of every moment unfolding without any blame, worry, cause. This will lessen our desire to want to change or control anything. There will be a day, like this day and so many others when death comes knocking at your door quite unexpectedly. And like the man I found surprised and befuddled when he had a stroke while coming home on the bus.


We spend too much time with worries of things, that may never happen, letting them spin out of control in our heads. Ignoring the simple beauty of well-being present always.  Spend your first day with gratitude of others. What people provide you with this very moment, even at it's most minor forms like a smile. Moving on to friends and family because with this appreciation for strangers it makes them seem even more pivotal. Perhaps, you might not have enough money, or enough good health at this moment, but certainly you do have people that are important in your life. Tell them, and stop taking it all... for granted. Today's...the day!

20 September, 2014

Surrenderfully, Two Stories


When I heard the two words surrenderfully in yoga it made perfect sense and thought I have to use it as the one word it seemed to be. Later, it struck me when prompted by a friend to tell his friend my story why I am like I am, that her first reaction was pity. Then she evoked “God” to bless me which felt like her perception of where she sees herself and me. Then, I detected a felt sense that where the division blossomed was also where the mind closed. If I really sat down and talked to her, I feel that now with her sense of separation, she will never be able to gleam any of the wisdom that branched out of my near death and the sort of resurrection, I experienced. Do we have to follow our own path, tripping along the way, picking yourself up or not? Even though there is no new kind of suffering. It has all happened to someone or is happening right to someone on this great big planet. Perhaps, we don’t learn unless it is tailored individually to our own perception. That is a bit scary, because it signals our doom because we can’t see ourselves as the other and might seal our fate to see the human race(see war cries again in the press). Still it is my own perception, so I drop it and surrenderfully.


A new friend was going on about a new traumatic event that happened when her young neighbor, a single mom overdosed and died leaving her two young kids in limbo and loss. Sure, it was worthy of being upset, but if it weren’t this it would be something else with this friend. It was a pattern of thinking that develops when one feels no control over their own life, seeking outside events to obsess on to avoid your own suffering. I know it first hand too well. So, I used the respect she carried for my partner and I, to get her to sit down for the first time and meditate to a 20-minute guided meditation that I had on my phone. Timing is everything and her mind was so busy that even she wanted a break. We sat down in the gym(of all places) and listened to recording. I used metta(loving kindness) that she would maintain with her eyes closed and remain focused on the words. Which is no small feat for first time meditator, who is also a devout Christian.  I did not open my eyes to check until it was done, so not to throw any guilt feelings her way. When he recording ended, I quietly opened my eyes, noticed her relaxed look, still with eyes closed and waited patiently for her to come back to the room. She had to surrenderfully with the trust she had in me and how she had perceived me in the past. When she did the first thing she said, “This is all a dream!” She was so surprised at how easy it was to change her whole mood and intensity in 20 short minutes.



15 July, 2014

Contemplate Your Suffering


On the day, we married …upon coming home, we got some beautiful orchid leis from one of my close friends that arrived too late to take with us to wear in the wedding. So, I said we need to give them to my neighbor’s young girls, and we trotted over to give the leis to them. We ended up talking for a while, and also to the neighbor next door to them. Who I later find out at that time that they had just found out that their foreign partner of their roommate, who I know, died quite accidently in the hospital. They did not want to spoil our day by telling us. This other neighbor had a nice life planned out with their partner, and all was going quite well, with a business and plans worked on for over 10 years. A life that was unplanned for the tragedy that unfolded.


Lately, my sister during her honeymoon had her husband pass away, and although a very involved story in a developing country….it was never planned. I never thought that I would see that to realize that my suffering was suddenly inconsequential.



I have my partner who is well aware of and speaks often about how much I have changed his life in appreciation at unprompted times. So these latest two stories help to show me that my suffering is old hat. That even though my other siblings reflecting on what transpired in my life and my sister saying that they could have never have survived through similar things if they happened to them. But they forget that far worse has happened to others, and that we have all have this innate will to survive that takes over when things get extremely difficult. Few fall into really giving up, because we know what this means to us both mentally and physically. I really would like to skip the pity train, because it sounds like giving up. Often when I speak I have to get into details so people don’t think I am drunk or a new incident happening right before their eyes. I think that I quantify my existence by my suffering. I seemingly have more which can easily leave me unable to move on or to have compassion(in the way I should have normally) for others. I am aware that others suffer, and see that we often don’t even know unless they broadcast on the news. Suffering is not always news worthy, and can be so regular but points to things we can't control. And some of us can’t bear when it involves many people or a whole family. We shut off. But we enjoy a tragedy story with some silver lining, and I guess it’s the hope that the same thing happens when it befalls us. And that is where they take the idea and run with it for news and/or entertainment. This brings me back to why I am on this path, to look closely at suffering in it's minor forms, so that when it barrels in a grand expression ...I won't necessarily be ready, but will be familiar with what my brain does with it, and how my body reacts to it. Hopefully making suffering a inroad to wisdom, because you can't avoid it.

26 June, 2014

Let Him Smell You First


Tied up to a parking pole that they put in to keep people from driving into a store, was an older dog, and I could tell by his eyes he was blind. Walking up to him let him smell me, first, so that he knew I was not going to hurt him thus allowing me to pet him. I instructed another guy working pushing carts back to the front of the store, how to approach him because his apprehension about this dog was palpable and that could also make the dog react negatively. Also not to roll carts close by him, because he feels the ground. It will make him uneasy. Dogs as well as many other animals can sense one’s fear, anger or any other strong emotional states. And I know from my experience that an animal body adapts to changes regardless of how severe for as long as you are alive. If your body can adapt to change, your mind can, too.


So, yes ...I did let him smell me, so many years ago... he saw my intention and put aside my many flaws, because he knew I would never hurt him intentionally as I also sensed from him and this launched us into a relationship 13 years ago. We finally married this month when the law allowed and continue our life together in the same house… no longer separated by a huge ocean. Few people can understand that the marriage did not change anything we did not have already. 

10 June, 2014

The Quiet Will Fix Me

Having just completed my 10th Vipassana of 10 days, focusing on lifting any expectations and any residual deep-seated problems that could get in the way with my upcoming marriage to my partner. The issues that could come up are more based on my brain injury trauma, and my own unique way of dealing with life in the past, combined with it. Between my partner and I, there is little difficulty with our long history providing I don’t add my daily frustrations of dealing with this disability. We have clear intention not to hurt the other and a natural love that is mature after 13 years.

So, I found another person to join me on the ride there and back and we both were excited about sitting again, talking all the way there. Feeling that we both needed it for our own separate reasons... it all seemed natural. We flowed into the course and moving into silence and the first day I was given my meditation cell number as old student. So I know that it is best for me to work hard and sit in the hall during the mandatory sits and the rest of the time in the cell never returning to my room with the distractions of door closings and the tempting way naps spring up on you. Of course, by Day 2 morning sit, where I tried to make it to the cushion at 4:10 am, I had hit my first hurdle. “Why am I here torturing myself, again,” given that my last course was in October 2013. I worked through that one by the time breakfast bell rang and subsequent sits were moving into settling down into routine by fine-tuning the mind with anapana. 


Resistance is with us even when we have a taste of wisdom with our natural laziness of not wanting to accept any change. It is a scary realization that even doing something we intend to do, we want no doubts to ever show up because they were not invited. So doubts are always present at least for me because I don’t know about you. Onward to day 3 which began to show the knee pain slight bit amplified with the mind do it’s natural jumping around, but day 4 which is Vipassana day was probably the easiest one I have ever experienced, which is not really easy to sit for two hours as you move into body scanning. It is more the mental energy change that bring up your first insight into the deep stuff that is hidden in your subconscious. Day 5 brought me some craving when one is really settled into routine. I like the early wake-up and the walk to the pagoda with the big dipper laid out in my path. I had brought some yerbe matte tea to have and look at the stars just before I walk inside, hoping for the great shooting star I had seen my first 10 day sit there in 2554(2011). When a few of us saw it the same 4th day, and remarked later on the 10th day when we could talk. My craving brought up some sex and closeness I wanted, but my body sensation that day in the 2:30-3:30 sit in the hall showed a relaxation and painless natural flow. I almost felt cocky as my body cracked with ease during what I call the “pee” break.


Day 6 night dreams were interesting as I was knee deep in clear ocean with manta rays coming up from the sand around me, allowing me to grab on to one huge one as he leapt from the bottom out of the water up to the sky to save me from sharks coming near. But then we crashed through the windows in my bedroom at home landing on that bed. That was interesting and because it seemed to have happened just before waking to go for my 4 a.m. meditation.
I could write a lot more about how once you are settled into routine, that one perceives the sound of silence constantly, and even one often hears two pitches of the vibration of the universe. My craving would be shown when I would hear the gong sound not when it was sounded, because the body would want to hear it above the sound of silence. The gong would sound during breaks and meals, so it was hard not to crave it, it was beautiful and a “reward” making one feel much like Pavlov's dog.

But if you all know Vipassana, it all changes and it can be as fast as a heart beat, so then I became more aware of the man directly behind me in he hall who had a frequent habit of swallowing and clearing his throat in a voiced way. He became a constant reminder of what I have to work on, the inability to control others. With my brain injury, I do have an enhanced link to any one’s felt nervousness that my body automatically picks up. That is why I can’t get in line to order like in a coffee shop, because when it comes to speaking with people waiting behind me it makes me lose the balance of the mind leaving me speechless or full of errors. I usually let people pass me until there is a break. It is just one of the few frustrations I encounter every day with this injury. 


Just yesterday an older friend over coffee was trying to coach me how to speak. I showed her how tapping helps slow down my speech, affected by the inability to control air flow. She said that was clear! But I said it only works while tapping right hand in left, and it destroys all thought, so spontaneous speech is out, plus who has two hands free? And if that does not get some weird looks that actually distract from any point I am trying to get across especially in public. Which comes down to carrying a pad and pen all the time, which I don’t do because it makes any speech practice less and less, and any ability to improve with rewiring.This leads me into day 7 morning sit in my cell, almost bouncing off the walls in total frustration. This was when my heartbeat becomes too prominent a focus to scan or pierce and leads me to use it as a metronome. Moving to new spot with each beat.  It annoys me, and the teacher said to avoid the heart area and center of your body when that happens. I have to relax back in anapana while trying to quiet the mind down. My frustrations came out which is good and the reason I was there, but it was no fun. Subsequent sits were easier and with more wisdom, just with more body pain.

Meanwhile, the 7th and 8th day night dreams were of gasping for air relating to my anoxia in the hospital years ago, as it pulled up from my subconscious. I can imagine I have more with intubation to come. By day 8, I was having more parts of my body in flow showing me the vibration of atoms that we really are composed of. I was still making into my cell by 4:10 by waking at 3:45 for tea and a quick wash of my face with cold water. But then anger came out that morning, and seeing the need to fix others because I can’t possibly fix me. A insightful look at where my anger leads to, and again it was resolved by the time breakfast bell rang with tears of appreciation for my Mom and others. That was really a fast work through that would have taken several days in the past in Vipassana sits. Although one is never totally fixed as you delve deeper into the hidden treasures of the subconscious each time you do one of these. And in the hall sits my neighbor who sat behind me was amping up his noise and anxiousness with each sit, almost wanting me to discuss with the management, but I never did knowing it was more my sankhara than his. 


By the 10th day when we spoke I quickly had an understanding with the his tremendous creative energy recounting his dreams and aspirations. He was quick to voice his appreciation for my firm sits that inspired him, and I often got through times when it seemed unbearable to me, by knowing that I could inspire him, by being a good example. So that turned out to be another touch of wisdom in this long path. Another more weighty gentleman talking to me afterward giving me several suggestions like more physical activity to help speech without asking me first what I have done. Again a clue as to what inspires my frustration when other assume my injury is my own health negligence and not a hospital error that I have slowly made significant gains way beyond what anyone imagined. A neurologist friend I have said that I am the most severe he has seem walking around and has used me as an example when he taught medical students about the human potential to heal as one can never assume outlook. My encounter with that fellow sitter leads me to understanding where my need to fix others root is based.

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