21 January, 2008

Fixing Things

I had friends over for dinner Friday, and I just sat back and let them talk, as it so difficult for me. They were both very entertaining, so it was easy to sit back and cook and make this happen. I like to get two friends from different circles to meet, as it is a reflection of my diversity. The following day, I drove to the beach to cliff overlooking it to meditate for two hours. It was a beautiful calm day, so it was not too cold. I would break every so often to drink tea. In the middle of one meditation a furry puppy just jumped into my lap content knowing I was so peaceful. I was not shocked or surprised, I opened my eyes to his female owner yelling, “NO!” I opened my eyes and said, “he is just a puppy and yet he knows I won’t hurt him, give him a break.” He stayed around, making sure he was safely under my arm. When the owner relaxed, then the puppy left easily. When I was done with my two hours, I felt so much more relaxed. I have quite a few things on my mind, and they were just released from the worry mode. I was lucky enough to have friend over that night for dinner, and he was so kind as to show some techniques to photoshop my photos to look as good as they do on the camera. The sky on this shot was this spectacular that night, just before a cold front came in.

17 January, 2008

Bridge to Nowhere

Now that I am well, I forgot how great health is! I finally saw the film, The Lives of Others and found it brilliant. The Actor, Ulrich Mühe who’s life mirrored the story has since died of cancer. I can’t think of a better way to end your life after such a great performance. So, I reluctantly had to let an acquaintance/friend go after years of watching him repeat the same mistakes. I know I should be more forgiving, but with all his years of therapy he goes home and returns to square one. I told him that I will pullback until he makes a mature change in his life…even if it means just awareness. I have tried to lead him by the hand to show him the many ways I have found to change my life, but when he says that only I can change, because that how I am. I have often told him, I don’t share with him my bad days, or the days where it takes every ounce of me to get up and try again. Sadly, I can’t continue a friendship, when it doesn’t mature like life. I do wish him well, and will help when he ready to change as I have not abandoned him. Sometimes, life happens at its own rate, so you just have to stand back and watch. I really think there are more people I can inspire or help in the meantime. Recently, I took an older lady to coffee as a treat, and ended up fixing things in her home she needed done for a low price the same day.

09 January, 2008

Personality Test

I think our personality is based on all the relationships we have in our life in the past. So I am guessing that it is probably important to surround yourself, from now on, with people who treat you with respect and you can learn from. Now that does not mean people you can get something from; that would be twisting my idea. I think back at several people that keep on inspiring me who have played important roles in my life. They also make it known that they care for me, by either actions or words. They also throw some humor in my life, sprinkled with love. So now, I have to work on doing the same for others hopefully. I also am reminded of people that have played a negative impact on me in the past. They, in turn, made my personality a thing to work on…once I realized how it affected my relationships. At least I had the sense to appreciate where I have come from and where I am going. This post is dedicated to the Boy Scout, Mohammed Jaisham Ibrahim in Maldives who used his good instinct to save the President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom's life in a knife attack. There is good resting in everyone’s soul. Use your instinct.

06 January, 2008

Diving Out of the Hospital

I am still fighting bronchitis I got at the Vipassana and now I am convinced I am aspirating at night. This will make it nearly impossible to heal unless I get some powerful anti-biotics, because the one I am taking is not doing it. Meanwhile I am light-headed and today after seeing the film "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", I nearly fell down while walking down stairs. I am losing my balance with the congestion and even though taking a decongestant it just doesn’t seem to be working. I have been wanting to see that film since I heard it was being made, as it, in some ways parallels my life. The big difference is I was able to far surpass my original diagnosis of not being able to ever walk, talk, eat or communicate. I was far luckier than he(Bauby) was, and my brain stem injury healed way quicker than anyone imagined. I do have to thank those around me. My Mom saving from a tracheotomy, and my brother being smart enough to get me paper and a pencil and later a walkman. I remember with no voice, full of tubes and eager young MD’s coming into the room and saving they just have to do this one small cut and it will heal and can be reversed. I was shocked, because I thought the trama was over with the damn stomach tube which was no piece of cake. Back to the film, it is interesting how the human body/mind can compensate if you just let go of outcome. He slowly enjoys the subtle beauty of life seen through one eye, and communicates his rebirth through a book about it dictated to his secretary. There are some great moments that remind me of my own hospitalization, and the awkwardness of other people trying to talk down to you. His memory and imagination bloom when he finally accepts his fate. Allowing him to imagine what he wants, sometimes a great meal, in near perfect play like reality. I almost forgot my 6 months of drooling until I saw this film reminding me of my dignity being compromised way back then. I remember a Dr. chastising me for drooling all through the neuro rehab, so I just hoppled out the door outside. I laid myself outside in the sunny grass, listening to Meshell Ndegeocello wondering into dream space in a nap escaping my hospital confinement. Go see this film, because it really heralds what is good about life, before the hospital staff finds you.

01 January, 2008

The Silent Treatment pt. 2

On the fourth day is when the deep surgery into your body happens while meditating on equalizing the painful areas with the plain areas, just observing. We were told to start at the head and going down slowly to the feet and back up. I’d find that the painful areas when scanned hurt, and once you are past scanning those, the pain goes away. For sure this is difficult mental work maintaining in meditative state, all while being in pain. But when doing it, you learn things about your body you never knew. I found that I got feedback, although not as strong, from my left numb side. I felt nerve connections happen at the skin surface level like mini lighting bolts. I could sense the blood flowing with every heartbeat through each limb to the end. Even as small to the capillary level as they would swell. It made me want to scream like Gene Wilder in Young Frankenstein, “IT’S ALIVE!” All these new different sensations made the pain work easier. Plus a little humor never hurt. I did find it easier to scan my body from head to feet and back simultaneously left and right, which was introduced from a teaching on the fifth day.
It was that night when I returned to bed, I felt that my head was burnt. I thought it was from the hot shower as I took, but later realized it was when I was attacked by the virus. So the days kept on this same idea, and time seemed slow and fast. Slow when you meditating, and you are inching for it to be over, and fast when you are listening to the evening summary and dharma talks. These were very good and even funny at times, so I looked forward to them. Most breaks were a walk outside to stretch, all men together acting like they are alone, withdrawn inside. I found this interesting to be close to straight men while meditating, eating, and in breaks. It allowed me to me to see they suffer as much as us gay men…..surprise, surprise! I did see a friend from my temple, and we would occasionally crack a smile against all rules at the intensity or absurdness of this all. Neither of us knew the other would be there. When I left, I left him my cushion and a promise to talk about the experience after he returns. I would avoid any eye contact more with him, so we would not bust up in the typical funeral parlor way in the midst of such serious participants. I know that the more you withdraw inwards, and maintain noble silence the more work you get done and maintain heightened sensitivity.
All the while, I am thinking that I have already had a very unique near death experience that I can guess most others had not had. There was one man in wheelchair, and every time I saw I him, I kept reminding myself how lucky I am. I was taken by this lonely punk with a blanket who refuses all cushions and sits down on the cold floor with bare feet. I just imagined a proud person in search of love of himself, and I found him an interesting character. One day, when it was sunny, I saw him asleep in the grass curled into his blanket and was pissed I did not have my camera. The sixth night I saw him staring into the forest in the cold rainy night near his cabin. The following day he was gone like a dream. He allowed me to spin a few tales in my head of what he is all about against all rules.
Then things got harder and harder from the sixth night on, with a fever and knowing I had no hot tea in my cabin. Walking back after lunch to my cabin drinking ginger tea mixed cayenne and honey, halfway back, I was done with it and just sighed. I knew that this virus had got me and was creeping quite heavily into my body. One guy who had always carried a thermos, wrote a quick note to me and gave it to as I walked to the bathroom to brush my teeth. Surprised when he gave it to me because it is against all rules. It said, “I have a hot water kettle in my dorm always on and you are welcome to use it. Forgive the intrusion. I saw you carrying the empty mug, so sad.” I said, “Cool!”, my face brightened and concluded with “Namaste.” Then I thought, that I could not really ever walk into his dorm, as it would show some communication going on and we get caught. Honestly, seeing him I would show signs of gratitude like a smile and a slightly red face.

So how do I sum this all up? Working on the cell level to where thoughts and feeling originate and decisions spring out of, is brilliant. Buddha did come up with a real way to work from his own meditation. To have us work on our individually created misery at the root level. I can't believe this survived intact in Burma for 2600 years. I did miss the good final days of fine-tuning, so I have to return for another 10 days. This was, of course, way harder than my hospitalization and even the stomach tube insertion, but I would do it again. Why, you ask? Because it showed me the power of the mind when it’s concentrated. This will provide me with more power in my daily practice of eliminating anger, craving, and aversion. I drove home with a fever, heightened sensitivity to sounds, tastes, and noise. Best of all my 10 yr old shoulder injury which was causing me pain during the work, was freer and pain was gone. This made me think. That we take our personal hurt and pile it on, adding to our actual physical pain. We cause so much of our pain with our mind, the same mind that can get us out of it.
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