04 June, 2018

Fruits from my Third 30-day Vipassana


Offerings, give to get idea
After our trip to Sri Lanka, I got a last minute email from being wait-listed for my third 30-day Vipassana. I knew that it would be hard again for my partner, so I sat on the email for 24 hours, asking him when it was a good time to do so. So, when he said Ok, I confirmed and said good-bye for another month, and he stoically said to me, “don’t cry”. It was not like I have done this many times before, but I did not want him to feel that it was done to punish him. Off I went in April, better prepared mentally for what I about to do, more training of the mind.

Things fall into Place
It became pretty obvious, that this being the third time I felt like I could sit through “storms” of the mind, instead of feeling like I had to go walk it off. Most all sleepiness, instead of being laziness was purely a consequence of morning and lunch time digestion falling like clock-work at exactly the same time. Even though I ate lightly. I only missed one sit in 30 days in the hall or my cell, when the weather was stormy and sat in my room, but have always felt like the room sit was far less productive then the cell or the hall. Believe me, the cell is only you with all your mind stuff, the hall less so, but has the power of having many others sitting or having sat there in the past.

Real, but artistic rendering
On day 14, I had a worry storm hit my mind and spun on it for several hours, even feeling like I wanted to go. Later in our final sit of the day at 8-9pm, I got into a zone in my cell, and did not hear the final gong. At 9:40 pm a man who was further down in the pagoda, snapped his fingers, as a sign it was time to go. I left and returned to my room an my whole left side which is numb from my brain injury was vibrating amazingly. I just watched it for two hours until I fell asleep, knowing everything is impermanent. This was more a sign of enough brain(what I have left, HA!) concentration to power up the nerves that are still there. But later in the 30-days, when worry mind came up again, I had enough wisdom to recognize and release it immediately. This came from a felt sense that nothing comes from worry except mental distress.

Upon returning, it became obvious to me and my partner that more and more of my anger has subsided. He went as far to detail how much I have changed yet, I know I am still a work-in-progress. What was really the fruit of this sit, was seeing my partner join me in about one half of my evening sits, without asking or prodding. This was remarkable, because even though Buddha’s wisdom is born into him as a suffering Thai, and his history as a monk at age 13 for a year…surprisingly, he has never meditated with me in our 17 years. I still let him decide when to do it, but I continue two hours a day, one hour at 5am, and the other around 7pm.

Some takeaways for those contemplating a 10-day for the first time, just let your base intention to want a happier life guide through your own rough spots. As each hour, each day and every meditation is slightly different...so go with your flow. Your hinderances are very different than mine, and the great thing is you are teaching yourself through awareness with a path laid out by Buddha.

30 May, 2018

Sri Lanka Revisited for Plan B


Dana Service cleaning Mihintale

We went to Sri Lanka for a month with everything up in the air about my husband’s green card. One, to visit an old favorite of the two of us, and two to explore options in case our case never was granted in our favor. It gave us time to put it away, and have fun because we had not left the country since he arrived for our marriage. With his extension stamped inside his passport we were off, and got to go up north to Jaffna and circle back along the east coast, two new places within the island we never got to. Trincomalee, was where we first encountered all the trash burning which included plastic bottles right in front of our guest-house. Something I had never been totally aware of any other visit, and ended up playing a key minus when we looked at condos in Kandy(which also had smoky air from the same problem). I knew from recent news before going that a dump near Negombo had collapsed killing several people, but never had encountered the increase in tourists brought so much trash…Everywhere. 


We began to feel responsible by the time we saw more of the same in Mirissa, which was totally developed, compared to the quiet of our visit in 2004. Never-the-less we visited important Buddhist sites to make offerings and to inspire us both. I had big plans to meditate at sites, having signed up for another 30-day Vipassana Meditation November 2017 for April 2018 when I returned. But I never got to, just alone in guest house or hotel each day. We did enjoy the people, even witnessing a Sri Lankan wedding and meeting indigenous Sri Lankans, the veddas.

By the time we left after our month taking off for the Maldives for a quick taste of a local island, we both decided this was our last time sadly for Sri Lanka. On our last week we got the good news from our lawyer that our case ruled in our favor, after a 5 year grueling test our of 17 year relationship ending for now our Plan B pursuits.

08 January, 2018

A Perfect Example of Not Peace

I wanted peace, and now home with a normal cold I can reflect on the fact I have a little bit. Peace was not something to own, it was something to be in. We are having to run hoops to gather more evidence for our marriage proof for I.N.S. again, it just makes me want to have a plan B. What happens, will happen. What we do know is that we have love and no one will separate us again like it was in the past. This is very comforting to know, that these difficulties do not define or restrict our love. I will continue meditating two hours a day to observe any hurt or pain I still carry around, that may be the cause of some crazy dreams I have occasionally. This is where the morning meditation helps one to go from sleep right into meditation rather straight into any daily activities that automatically puts the sub-conscious on the back burner driving it further away from any insight. Certainly, after a few years of two hours per day meditation, I am far from being fully realized and feel more like I gathered up a few more seconds back in my reaction time. Time that can be perceived as owning my future, where I don’t see it as a problem instead yet another way to push the “I” aside…and to fully relax. Undoing conditioning from a young age is challenging when it is so tightly woven in who you are. 

A perfect example of this, is noticing rain water was running down the wall of my house, and going under a basement door. It was not a matter of house leaning more(as first thought of), I noticed it today while home with this cold, but a plugged roof drain. Of course, I had to try to fix this in the rain, knowing that any pile up of water on the roof or running into the house would soon end up being expensive. My partner just looked at me crazy, as I got the ladder up to go assess the problem. It was a tennis ball from the kids across at school probably lobbed up. A simple fix, with immediate results, not like meditation. Old conditioning made me jump up and fix it, growing up short of funds, which is can be resourceful...but can appear to others as crazy. While I was being handy, my partner made lunch in the dry indoors saying, “Credit you!” A joke that we share, to humor me. 


I know this will a long path to access peace, sitting when you are exhausted or sick, but it gradually leaves you lighter and happier. Please don’t give up, listen to a guided meditation when the mind is jumping, or when it is pacing - just watch your breath. Then one day, when you sit in silence in the dark it will be a seem-less existence. That peace was there always... just waiting for you to notice.

20 October, 2017

The Insect Rave — This Dance Will Break Your Arrogance

This Mooji clip about wisdom corresponds with a recent acknowledgement of where I am at this moment. Knowing that anytime I can totally relax any expectations, I am directly rewarded with even more closeness with my partner. It is not spoken, but is real tangible expression of the freedom he feels when I relax. He can now “bug me” and is met with playful fun instead of the seriousness I carried around in the past. A recent weekend course with Mozart Brain Lab refreshes the work I did 4 years ago, and produced more calm. I am still sitting two hours per day to prevent build up of unresolved feelings, dreams and of course... any anger, too.

20 July, 2017

Shrine On(with update)

Walking through Bangkok's Chinatown one morning, I came upon a trash pile, and in it was an old Spirit house from some shophouses being remodeled nearby. Usually they take to the country near a tree to dispose of. Obviously whoever put it in the trash was not related to the family who last owned it. I photographed it, and started to walk away, and came back thinking to myself this is an old one and has some charm. Perhaps, I can sell it.  Walking to a nearby store to quickly buy a bamboo brush to clean it up, came back and pulled it aside for the trash heap so I could brush it down. Just in time because the trash truck drove up, and the two men saw me cleaning it off and gave me thumbs up, and one even said it is about 100 years old. I was beginning to feel lucky, the closer I looked at it. Surely at home this would sell for a lot, but here no one would buy it. When done with cleaning it up, I walked it down a street to get a taxi home. The driver even said it is good find. I got it home, took into the shower area and wiped it down fully. I brought it into the room and set it in a corner. 

Later my partner came home from work, and upon seeing it, he bugged out, and said it can't stay here in the room. His upbringing dictated that the old spirits of the family would come here into our room. And ghosts are about the only thing he is scared of, that and angry people. Of course, my first internal reaction from my gut was don't push me into believing what you believe. It is a nice piece and I want to sell it. But he was throwing a fit like I have never seen, being as far away from it as possible. I told him to go out for a run, and I will figure something out. It was becoming a new test for me. I asked the manager of our apartment to allow me to store in their storage place, and when he came home from his run it was gone. They were used to me, and honor the fact I do Vipassana 10-days north of the apartment and were more than happy to store it.  My partner never asked about it, but he was relieved. I put in online to sell, and see what came out of it, but I was beginning to think of it as a test. What is more important how I see the world or adapting to each ever-changing event? I was putting everything on the line over this, if I were as stubborn as he was about it. What if the spirits came and affected our relationship? What would be the worse outcome? Was I putting things over people, and if so, it would inevitably come back to bite me hard. My partner is not about money, and has made this clear numerous times. If I am putting money ahead of his feelings, I am really screwing up.  I left it to sit in storage a bit longer. He never asked where it went.


It never sold, and today was the day to free the spirits out of their temporary room to outside near a tree. Where they move about with ease, and perhaps climb the tree. I carried it out on this beautiful sunny day and found a nice spot for it. Where it can rest undisturbed. Then walking to buy joss stick, candles, and flower garlands for it. I found the two elephants buried nearby and pulled them out to guard it. I lighted the incense and said my apologies to the spirits. I showed him where it was placed off the alley. I saw relief in his eyes. I am very lucky to have someone to care enough about to let the whole thing go, because it was so disrupting to the way he was taught and thus his being. It scared the crap out of him, and I did not make fun at the time, give me some credit. How silly can I be to think that I know better, when I could have asked him what do with it, when he first saw it? Still learning that the things we think we feel lucky to find, are often not the obvious thing we already have in our hand. Yep, thinking happiness lies outside of us ...bit me, again.


Now, it 5 years later and my husband is with me at home...ghosts are idea put in his head by elders in his village.  He exclaims, “There are No Gods and No Ghosts!” with the firm knowledge that he has now as he discovered more truth living outside of his culture. I am proud that he came to this on his own, since he jumped in totally learning English(back to square one in an English speaking country) and the freedom of knowledge he experiences here. One day, he will apologize for putting through hell with my shrine find. But I won't ask for it, and just smile with his new knowledge he arrived at without my help... via news, reading,  school and listening determinedly to podcasts to learn different English dialects. In 3 years with his hard work, he has made incredible progress and it delights his teachers. I just enjoy his unbroken discussions as it flows now almost effortlessly.

24 June, 2017

Benefits of Sitting Daily

As I continue to sit daily for two hours, I wanted to share some of the benefits I see (and feel). The first thing is that with most conflicts, I am much more apt to just let go, and instead of making a point of being right, I will stop even in mid-anger or dissatisfaction and leave it all alone. Everything has its half-life, and will auto-resolve naturally in a way to please most participants as long as none hold on to what they want(usually held tight in mind).  Perhaps things won’t happen in time frame originally thought, but the outcome for all those involved will have less stress and more freedom.

I also noted that when I most serious about anything, later, it will relax fast when I see it clearly in one of my sits either morning or evening. This seriousness I notice in myself is when I am too invested in the personality… with all its stories. Postponing any idea of happiness in the present. So, I will introduce this freedom/happiness I am looking for, without any seriousness or conditions. One good reason to make this change is the wisdom that we never know when we will leave this life, and the foolishness of not enjoying every moment.

There are quite a few things that are less concrete to write about, but the people around me enjoy the freedom that I think I am allowing me. Many years ago I marveled at people who were like this, as if they had a privileged life. Certainly, others can’t relate to my brain injury's life complications, but being serious about things in life will never enlighten them, it will only burden them creating a sort of “Pig-Pen” cloud around me. Lift the cloud!

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10 May, 2017

Gone Fishing for Sankaras:
A Second 30 day Vipassana.

Meditating on my second day, I commented to myself that I am amazed that here I am again sitting my second 30 day Vipassana, all the while starting all over again with anapana to start to build a concentrated mind. This is where one will go part by part through the body in an effort to expose deep hidden complexes after 10 days carefully redirecting the mind to just below the nose(anapana or mindfulness of breathing). This is done once you have Sila(the 5 precepts) in place in order not to lay more Sankaras( conditioned formations) down in their place as fast as exposed.

I do remember in 2012 an older fellow meditator was recalling his 45 day Vipassana, and I had never even thought about doing longer than 10 days, but this obviously planted a fruitful seed within me. At this retreat 30-day were combined with a 45-day meditators, and they had to stay on after we left. 45-day goal is set in my head within 2 years, and my teacher said do a few more 30-days, then perhaps.

I experienced a huge Sankara on my 20th day over an normal interview, when I felt dismissed by the teacher in an effort for him to move on to the next person, and this set off an internal alarm. I am not normal with a huge brain loss, and need more time to process and talk, and even meditate with the teacher. This, of course, screwed up all the concentration I had, but did not stop me from meditating, or make me feel the need to walk it off. I asked the teacher how is it best to restart, instead of laying it all out why anger arose and he replied that to watch the palms and soles of the feet, since more sensitive to fine feeling. This allowed me to get back in the flow as anger subsided in about 4 days. This may seem like I was rolling in anger for a long time, but in effect I was mostly unfocused in my meditations and never really discouraged about it. Knowing from years of meditating that there is really no bad meditations, maybe just not so productive. I don't really ask for anything in life to help with my disability, and even stopped telling people on the phone or in person why I speak so weird.

There were many sankara moments, some pronounced and some not, but all in all I was able to stay put and live through them, mimicking how you are supposed to sit: Never moving, never scratching or fidgeting observing body sensations. This showed that the body/mind has learned a few lessons in equanimity, but not enough to be cocky or even appear to be rolling in peace...now. Although people have remarked I look better and more relaxed.




I did see some progress this time where the first 4 days I could stop the mind by re-focusing on the breath and even more relaxed than the past when things fell apart. I could actually feel the mind dumping things, in a way that you could feel more mentally sane on quite a few days. It feels like being more empty, so it may be not having to worry about mundane householders life! This is an experiential path and all based on each one's own sankara's.


So, I am fully aware that this is lifetime of work, and that my partner I love wants to take full credit for the changes he has seen in me so far. This is with his own experience of Sila(morality) and Buddha's teaching that have worked for him that he has tried to pass on to me. I just need my nose rubbed harder on the ground with Vipassana to flip the mind over to passenger mode in order to more compassionate and

kind. I may never see the same results as others with the frustrations I have with my brain injury caused confusion and speech disability, but so far I have seen some small fruits that I am happy with enough to continue this path and never feel discouraged. With the path, I can see my passing all too soon, which presses me to stay put instead of jumping to the next thing in an effort happiness ...out there...where it never really existed in the first place.





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