08 October, 2015

20 days of Meditation: It was what it was.

You can watch people’s hair grow! You forget your passwords. But before I try to tell about my experience I need first to tell you, it will nothing like yours or mine... my next time. It all depends on the day, your karma, your body and your own life experiences. If I do it again, and yes, I will… it will be totally different, and yet, not unfamiliar. Now planning on a 30-day in the next two years. I went eager hoping to deepen my practice, and maybe experience the jaunas while pulling up deeper hidden sankaras. I had just heard my sister committed suicide and watched a friend who was dying in hospice of hepatitis B cancer pass with little wisdom or insight the week before. All of this was unexpected, but that it with most of life. A 20-day Vipassana meditation is only old students, so it is very quiet, and nice with responsible meditators cleaning up the dorms daily with no laziness one normally sees with new students. Basically, for those unfamiliar, you are training the mind to accept that all life is impermanent, starting with sensations where all misery originates. I started in, able to meditate most of the day wherever we wanted, except the evening sits from 6-9 pm which were held in dhamma hall which included a detailed one hour talk about what one is doing. Starting with 7 days of anapana, watching the feeling of the breath just at the entrance of the nose in an effort to make the mind concentrated. This gives one the unique ability to pull up deeper previous hidden sankaras, when you do start scanning Day 8. I used only the dhamma hall and the pagoda cells alternating sometimes with a walk outside if the mind was hooked on something. One issue that kept reappearing in my head was something when I returned never materialized, so I was making misery unfounded. I rarely found it to have traumatic hooks on things, but more like an endless loop playing in my head that I could not seem to drop. Day 9 night dreams exhibited an issue, I thought mentally was gone, but obviously the body held a different idea. It woke me up, I replayed the whole dream and it all fell into place and I went to my pagoda cell early that morning, awake with happy release. The brain will have learned that this process is good for you and then just pulls to do it more. 

I had another dream that seemed to be a self-guided warning that my anger will kill me if continued. Scary in dream form, but once awake I easily analyzed it. Generally, with my knee pain my samadi was not as usual, but with learned equanimity, I felt no remorse at where I was at any time. This was really a first real sign of being equanimous, where I could later tell looking back why under pain I did not want to run away, instead solve the problem as best as I could at that given moment. My body/mind knew wisdom could be found there, far beyond wanting to go grab some ibuprofen, food or the car keys to leave. I just adjusted my sitting posture, trying kneeling, moving my right leg higher to undo the cause of years of sitting improperly and knowing chairs are available, if it was worse than imagined. At no point was masochism involved in this wisdom. The comparing mind was never involved, one took things as they are which is pretty much how one should treat life. As far as eating, one eats less and less because it only affects the quality of meditation, and you are way past the idea with food as an answer to pleasure if you are dealing with feeling the digestion of each meal, daily. Sleep too, begins to be less and you don’t feel the need to run to bed to escape what you doing with mind and body. In the whole 20 days, I only missed three hours of meditation because of a little more sleep or walking to break a thought pattern, making to sit down at the latest 4:30 am until 9pm, with the normal breaks. And the bonus of seeing your own death as a reality that you can't run away from. I recommend highly to take a 10-day to see all the self-created dukkha.

08 September, 2015

Dear Sister, How Do You Do, Now?

One hot night in Florida, my sister and I went out dancing, driving my dad’s car when we both visited him. I was a pretty good club dancer, and it was time to have fun during a family visit. My sister was a good sport, and we now of the age and maturity to become close. She had had her first schizophrenic breakdown, but was back in college, and dating. We separated in the club, dancing with different cliques. I went to have fun and dance, but evidently she was the hit.  She met a handsome Peruvian, and he invited to his Mercedes parked outside for a little nose candy. When we got in his car, it became obvious he wanted my sister, a lot, and he was just asking for my permission while entertaining us with a huge cigar box filled with cocaine.  It was still dark, and for miraculous reason while being high, my sister and I were on to his invitation and game. Tapping each other’s legs in communication while in the rear seats, so he could not see. So we asked him of instead of driving us to his huge condo to party on, that we follow him in our car, so we could avoid Miami Beach parking fine. He dropped us off at our car, and we proceeded to follow him, but we both had the idea that this would be scary to follow a big drug dealer home. I drove and we waited for a place to ditch him where he could not turn and follow. The cocaine was running a good dose of paranoia through us both, excited and determined to get away. She yelled at me, “NOW!”, and I quickly turned left while he got on the freeway, unable to stop in a flow of traffic. We did it and sped off in the opposite direction, with her looking back and reporting to me, stopping an hour later to rejoice, laughing non-stop. Dawn light was beginning to show the potential of yet another beautiful sunny day with oranges, pinks, and yellow. I had won my sister back….this time.

With concern constantly coming your way, your family is carrying great shock and yet its mixed with a total understanding for wanting peace from your mental illness. Thirty-three years you have been hospitalized many times, walked homeless unmedicated and forced to get shots, all while being a bright intelligent woman with a masters in film, each episode you would try to return to have some kind of normalcy. Your escape to New Zealand was your last ditch attempt to escape the voices in your head in a country with a decent mental health care system. Damn, you tried and tried, when I would have just quit life. Then, later losing your new husband and love to a mentally induced suicide in foreign country was something none of us could imagine. So the leap was for peace and reuniting with him, and you went into the abyss happy and determined. The family deep down, know it was never about us, and will try to balance the hurt with logic as we place ourselves in your shoes, with the mental illness you were born with. With your new found peace, also goes the delusions of persecution about several of us were decorated with, but know that all the love in the world(our mother tried, and never failed you) cannot surpass schizophrenic paranoia.

22 August, 2015

Do You Believe in Your Own Suffering?

Then sit with it. Looking forward to my first 20-day Vipassana, because I am now a bit more familiar with my mind. For those not familiar with Geonka's Vipassana's they are about 10 hour sitting meditation per day, with no phones, no internet and no contact (besides teachers). One is on your own pretty much, self disciplined for the most part by the time you can qualify for a 20-day. I like my location for it's remoteness and they have a pagoda with individual cells to get deeper faster when there is no body but you inside.

How sadness and anger come and go naturally, and how the body reacts when all other distractions are not available. I will be curious during the latter half, when I totally give up on the planning mind and just be and watch. I know by now, my body usually disappears, especially sitting in a pagoda cell, and I am left with mental awareness. This all happens, as concentration gets stronger. I can spin on whether “I” exist at this moment, and with no contact, whether there was ever a “Was Once.” I do know once I pass from this life in this body, besides the first year of family and partner exhibiting some grief and sadness, it won’t really matter …which will play into the ego’s fear of non-existence. Curious, if that was ever important.

I know a couple of servers who will be there, and they told me that anger usually rears its ugly head with men who sit their first 20 days, and they jokingly said they will move my shoes, or mess with my meals just to see how it will play out. I have learned a lot about myself serving, in fact far faster than sitting a 10 day course, so this all will hopefully give my partner more to marvel at as I dump even more anger. He is has been kind to mention unprompted that he has seen a huge change from when he first met me 14 years ago, which is contrary to most people as they age. Knowing I need more maturation, I have working towards this sit and not to hand a badge on my wall of more suffering. Something inside is driving me which is exciting.

05 July, 2015

No Rebirth, No Ghosts, and No Gods

With a re-examination of what he was taught or had passed down to him, and the new freedom to learn; my partner explained that there is no rebirth, no ghosts, and no god(s). He now believes this and that those are only taught to control people. He went on to say that this is about it, that is ...one life and by walking the Buddha’s path of wisdom we can make it easier for yourself and others. Free-thinking is a new idea for most Thai’s, caught solidly in the black & white dictates of society. This happened at his own time, and he still hangs on to some ideas to loosen later when he learns more.
This is a sign that he is slowly adjusting himself to American culture while reserving the good parts of his culture. It is hard to qualify our culture when it is mainly a potpourri of many others that are quickly displacing our English/Christian beginnings that formed the society. So, I have not given birth to a monster by our marriage and his move here. His comfort with the solid love and caring I have provided for 13 years helps, when he feels strange in this new land with others. With my practice and meditation, he in turn feels like he provided me with some inspiration, as well. Especially, when I show any anger, even though more than half incidents come from my brain injury and aphasia. As he jokes, “Ghost In!” even without me saying or doing anything. Just being...grumpy.

16 June, 2015

Exploring the Self in Travel

For many years I would leave the comfort of my home for Thailand to spend some time with my partner. Most of the time he worked, with the exception of my first long term stay, over 10 years ago or went we traveled together. So this left me time to walk about and photograph, meeting people along the way. For me the interesting part, is almost everything about my history and life in the US became like a faint dream. Thus, it would feel like non-existence, especially when I went on walks alone while he worked. I could ask myself, “Who am I?” and alternate between that and wondering about making up my whole existence in fantasy. Also if I did not speak no one would know about my brain injury or question my speech. My home… in own way, contains worries along with the history and everything leading up to it. It was pretty easy to let go with a good friend staying there and taking care of things. With my computer I could interact with family and friends while home, but I made the conscious decision to carry just an old cell phone, and not be totally connected all the time. This allowed for even more spontaneity in the days, leaving me to return only when my partner came home for dinner, many times eating after a evening run.  A few times, I would take off later while he slept to scout for some night shots if he was really tired and I felt inspired. Allowing me to unload past conditioning and the story of me based on location. I am not really scared, walking around at night, since I can feel my surroundings, danger will give you a warning most of the times alter before any incident.

05 June, 2015

You Should Care about MES AYNAK, amazing Buddhist History soon Destroyed by Chinese Open Pit Mining

Mes Aynak, a magnificent Buddhist city, is the most important archaeological discovery in a generation. But it is sitting on a vast copper deposit and is about to be destroyed. — theGuardian UK

Please contribute to raise awarness
to the Saving Mes Aynak film site:

11 May, 2015

Tricked Out of Wholeness

One of the biggest fears people have is in the case of an accident, or your body has illness or any life-changing event…they will be rendered useless by not being whole. This fear is based on a delusion springing out of their mind, and I was just one of those people until my brain injury provided necessary actual life experience to bust it all up. With this comes the flood back of new fears once the dust settles to fill this huge hole in your ego's assemblage. And that also is not seen at first, because it happens naturally based on your individual conditioning. I had a new fear arise out of complications of communicating by telephone around a particular screw-up around health care of not my doing. I found in naps and at night I would cry out, “No, No, NO!” while having wild dreams.

Yet , I had not encountered what I feared, yet or even close. It was totally silly, and my guess it was based again on not having a clear enough picture of my future. A future that is based solely on thought, since it has never was experienced or will be, since life plays out what it has in store for you later, unattached to any ideas you carry around. Many times you will see that these fears have a similar root base that plays out like a broken record over and over, again. So before you get hooked on a fear, just sit back and watch the mind at work and see what really, is the problem. Perhaps, you get into the bad habit of linking multiple imaginary fears as the mind spins out of control?  Our mind likes to do this, a habit of thinking and not just existing. So, close your eyes, breathe and relax...watch…you will not see the world collapse in blazing glory. “You” are whole now and even when life throws a wrench(any wrench), despite what you may think. 
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