29 September, 2012

I Can Breathe, Again

I tried mediating after we came back from a film, my partner had crashed, saying wake me in 10 minutes to run. The AC was blasting and I settled in on my pillow on the floor, setting my alarm for an hour. Watching my breath, and with-in 5 minutes I could feel the hair on my arm stand up. Was it because of awareness or some follow-through from the movie we saw that touched my heart?  Earlier, I lost my breath with the emotions I felt, but was rudely assaulted by the heat and sun of day after the theatre. Weaving through busy traffic we took off to find someplace to have lunch. I put my finger to my heart, it is right there, noting. I wanted to sit down and cry, so inappropriate for where I was.  I am stumbling, he says, “watch out,” cars are coming from everywhere yet no one beeps, and 5 kids all less than 6 years old are playing in pond within a half a meter by railroad tracks right our feet. The guards on rail crossing come down and we stop for the train, just in time for me to get my breath.  I don't hear the warning sound, but can see the red blinking lights. The kids don’t register us being right beside them, am I alive? I look at the passengers in the train as it goes by, and they don’t connect with me either. Where are they going? I attempt to smile, but the heat is unraveling me.
Back the breathe, I found myself nodding off. “Damn, I getting old and need a nap everyday with this injury.” I know frustration appears faster if I don't listen to my body. I abandon the sit, and crawl in bed with my now sound asleep partner. I sleep for an hour, fully dressed. Who can wake someone when they obviously enjoy sleep, after that totally frustrating Friday, where he left in rain, walked through floods, slipped and fell on the way to work. He came later that night with packages of gifts for his Mom to mail. I could feel his near defeat from the day, but luckily had fish dinner all ready for him with his favorite vanilla cream puffs for dessert.  I held him and he showed me his wound from falling, and he wanted to cry but wasn’t really able to admit the defeat. Then a small animal cry bounced out at the imaginary bully in charge of life. I massaged his wound with pain cream, and let him unwind after a shower. He will do what is necessary, he made it this far against a lot of odds. I watched him eat, and he offered some food. He is always thinking of others. “No, Thank you,” I say, thinking that I bought this food for him, I wasn’t thinking about me at the time.
I turn off the A/C, it was getting too cold for me, and I wanted to hear him breathe. He awakens, glances at his watch, and moans but loving his nap he just throws back the covers as the heat re-enters the room, and mentally dives back in. I’m awake right now, with the hall sounds of packing and cleaning of another apt, but done in polite manner. It is quiet, and dark with the sun already packed up and I want this moment to last. He breathes peacefully, piano music is playing softly by Einuadi. So it seems foolish to join him in sleep, when I feel the love we share. He can sleep as long as he needs. He needs to unload yesterday. When his cell phone chimes a cute Isan tune, he just rolls over and puts his arm on my chest. Two hours later, he wakes up and says, "When you go to Myanmar for a month, I'll be so lonely," giving me a squeeze.

25 September, 2012

38 Days of Brain Surgery in 2012

"Consciousness is really just the
by-product of a piece of meat."
Tim Freke
Well, I finally got selected for a trial to help correct my strokes defect via brain surgery. It may sound a bit strange, but the doctors have been exploring how best to reconnect the brain following brain damage for the past 15-20 years. The easier the brain can rewire broken connections, the easier and shorter the recovery time. So what they do in a brief layman's explanation is drill into the brain near the dead tissue and carefully extract it, then when that is done... they add some of your own stem cells. They are located up near the bridge of your nose that they can by needle tap into and access some. Then taking a small amount inject in the cavity from which they removed old brain cells to hasten the reconnection across opposite sides. Information does not travel well in dead tissue. My areas are bi-lateral and about a 50 cent piece size in diameter. After they add a small spray of your stem cells, they then close up the hole, just after they gently and I mean gently, suction out any air left in. This makes the pliable brain nearly join where the areas where removed. Later while I’m recovering, the doctors examine the dead tissue to see, much like a tree ring in reverse, just how the brain died during lack of oxygen. And being only a small hole in head on both sides heals naturally pretty fast, as opposed to opening in a large area.

Now, they have figured that the brain will connect way faster, so that in about two years I will be able to speak better as tones and word finding will all interweave again. Great, I’m using my suffering for science, finally. And if you believe all this, then I have swamp land in Florida to sell you before most of it is victim of global warming, but really it is not far from the electrical rewiring they are trying to do now to connect dead areas and get people back to walking faster.  Actually, the 38 days of the brain surgery was in 7 months this year of silent meditation in 3 ten-day increments, and one eight-day course. All of these are 10.5 – 11 hours of meditation per day, with noble silence. No other work besides watching sensations and managing mental and physical pain which comes from sitting not moving in one hour increments, three separate hours per day. Seven and half of those hours were spent in cells providing a faster download of the self-created misery of how one spins. Now that is where the real brain surgery begins to get back out of the hole one digs for oneself. 
The beginning of this year I would never have thought to do this but as I completed my second Vipassana 10-day course in Feburary, I could begin to see the unraveling of the misery I formally based on exterior circumstances that I have encountered in life. Often supplemented by downloading in vivid dreams. This past 10-days in Thailand, I got a real taste of my own self-defeating wizardry with the bodily pain created when I was short a pillow to lift me higher in meditation. Usually a simple fix, but the pillows were all taken early on by the others, mostly Thai’s. I would not ask them to give any up, as that would be unheard of. My problems were not apparent in the first 6 days. The first two days I was just kind of tired, but that balanced out fast, and with the luck of the nearly constant rain that kept the heat down. I was moving into subtle sensations, both in the hall and in my cell, when day 7 in the hall, I could feel pain in my right knee and hamstring as my single foam pillow they use that would sink down with time under my weight. This was during the 1 hour when you can’t move, which you do three times a day. I knew it was because of the lack of a bit more height to elevate my hips above my knees that it started the pain.  I could avoid this in the cell by sitting on the edge of the large pillow and puttting my folded legs on the chilled terrazo floor. Very few Thai’s would use the cells with their fear of ghosts, and the bats that cleaned the halls of bugs.

Dhamma Kamala
On day 8, this spurred on a interlinking of self-defeating spirals on why even bother with life anymore, my strokes had taken the best out of me, blah, blah, etc. That gave me a real taste of how I drive myself crazy that was probably learned in childhood with the alcoholism I was surrounded with. Now to break this pattern of thought, I had to first see what it does to me, then take the seeming reality apart from my physical pain and examine it. I first decided that the exhaustion has got to end because I do like meditation and to laugh at it. I wasn’t disabled by the pain if I did not let it disable me, just had some swelling that I could massage away later before bed. Combined with taking the small pillow in my cell and just bumping my hall pillow enough to relax my knees. But all this was like brain surgery to dissect self-created mental pain with awareness. And now If I can refer to it when regular old existence pulls the same trick, because I have not fully dropped it. Next, I will try to undo my keen visual sense I developed to unable me to not hit things on my left when I lost my proprioception. This does not let me calm down my nervous system when I look for clues in others and am visually aware as to where I am located in space. It is like being in “flight mode” an unable to relax in public when moving. Ahh, it makes meditation so much more “my activity” as my partner puts it. He likes the beach better ...lucky him.

10 September, 2012

Do We Really Have a Choice?

There are quite a few things in life I have encountered where I definitely had no choice in. These include being gay, my brain injury, being numb on half my body, my successes in work and failures in life or even the parents I have. But give me a choice between that which occurred, and the potentials that are out there, I think nature is right on track with what I need to experience to access some of the wisdom that I so desire.  I feel pretty lucky that I wasn’t given my choices before they happened, because I used to imagine a stroke as the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Well, I've had two strokes at the same time, and still have the ability or not to make foolish choices. Off for another 10-day Vipassana, here in Thailand to further unravel the self and fully arrive here in this humidity.

04 September, 2012

Here, I am NOT

I fell asleep in the afternoon, waking when my partner knocked at the door with dinner in hand, although he has keys. My dreams were crazy and I was disoriented( no pun, intended), working hard at trying to figure where I am. I was moving to open the door but the dreams had not quite subsided. The mind said you are awake now, but my subconscious was deeply attached to the dreams. The body was still asleep on the bed. It was not like waking after my coma, which is more like a fade-in. It just felt like I needed cold water splashed on my face. 

When the body settled in from the jet lag, I felt the distinct feeling that I never left when walking around. A whole lot has happened in the time I was away that helped to drop the torment I placed UPon myself. I capped “up” because it is felt as concrete mental doing that I unraveled some. When my partner quizzed me about why I looked younger this time. Even though I eat well, with green shakes in the morning, I replied, it is primarily meditation and yoga that facilitated a little bit more of letting go. This is turn, gives way to a bigger smile, and an overall relaxation in the body. Who knew a willingness to die could be so delightful? I look forward to my ten day Vipassana here so he can see the effects first hand upon returning and mind settling. We made shake and tapping our glasses together, saluting to our health.

The first day out, I was out in a store when two young men and I both approached a check out counter, and they stepped aside, to let me go ahead in line. I smiled and motioned go ahead, thinking that the kindness needs to rewarded on the spot. I am nothing. This Thai etiquette has a long history taught by parents to their children, that elders go first, in more ways than one. We have less time left.
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