27 January, 2013

An Unforeseen Payoff

He said, “You love me like my grandmother,” with his eyes showing a small gloss of water around the rim, while he laid his head in my lap. She was not his real grandmother, just a village elder who took him in when his mother abandoned him soon after his birth. This is probably the highest compliment I could ever earn and had never appeared until recently. Not that we did not have love before over these many years, but this one I really had to earn. My partner lately, instead of commenting on my change, has been doubling up on saying he loves me just to make sure I know it. The last two months were for me a bit difficult, and yet provided me unplanned expansion of my consciousness inwardly(anicca, dukkha, and anatta realized within myself). My changes over the years were really based on the desire to learn from him, a kind soul, who had evidently had a harder life than I. Fighting the need constantly to explain all my pains I started the path prompted by his love. I never quite knew the how it will all transpire. For me it took sitting down with myself over many years, seeing how I think and learning to love myself. I have had long-term relationships in the past, but always seemed to be looking outside of myself for solutions for my happiness. Tired of lining things up to secure happiness. And I learned that no one could ever live in another’s shoes.

It is true that there is never really a relationship with another person, it is more about your relationship to yourself. The other my prompt good or bad feelings your mind brings up, but they aren’t really responsible for how you feel. That is your clue to let go, and love them exactly as they are. Over the years I had to let go of my ideas of best to proceed with his education and just support him. Lately, he took on a research project for money, undercharging the other students who were his clients. I had to just let him do it, and sit back enduring his late hours and missed time doing things together.  Throwing out ideas of how it should be was my lesson allowing him more freedom to live his life.  Several wisdom things the last few months have come to him at his rate, and not by me telling him what to do when, with apologies sprouting forth. Today’s payoff came naturally with the spontaneity of the moment.  My partner was told a few years in Singapore where he meant my brother who said that I am much happier since two of us met. That unprompted confirmation by an independent source was a treat for him and also bond him with my family.

26 January, 2013

Waiting for that Door to Open

No one knows what is next. We think we do. We plan, line up a job, buy a house and car, buy insurance, and sit back and relax.  Relax what? We stop wanting?  Ya, sure! Advertisers see that fully stocked fishpond and grab the reels. They plant some more fears about how we don’t match our neighbors or their models and that our future does not match their marketing goals. I know because I used to be an art director of advertising for major companies...beer, hotels, gambling, and computers.

We really have no idea what is next, and can live almost all our lives thinking we do. Why is that? Because, we have planned it out all in our minds. The future never existed but we think it does. It rests solely in our pre-conceived ideas of it, so when one thing goes wrong we quickly get disheveled. This is not how it should beVenturing quickly into our well-known states of sadness or anger.  Funny fact is that few of us, when things go amiss in our plans really just crack up and laugh. We should, because most of our mental future plans are tainted with our involvement. We are not un-partial, bringing into every action our own unique history and conditioning. Then with no real answer seemingly as to why it is like this, we share our mood with others. If only so and so agrees with me on this, then I will feel justified and thus hopefully better.  I know I have in the past, often masking it with clever sarcastic humor.  Faked, and most everybody knows. Your body tells them so, way before you spit it out. Maybe when things don’t line up with our plans, as most things do in life ...we will laugh.  Or take a breath and even say we just ...don’t know. Then maybe that “door”  will then open.

21 January, 2013

Get Out ...Self

Lying down to sleep in the guesthouse, I collapse faster than normal. Rushing to a far off town to hear a speaker, I am away from my partner. The bed is a bit bouncy and soft not exactly the ideal bed for me, but it is what it is. Later, awakened by high heels clacking on the tile floors in the hall and the sound, not first identified as such jars me awake. Once fully conscious, I detect the quiet sound of older men with these women.  Quiet, because it is probably their last effort to find a mate at an advanced age. They can't fuck this up this time. These are not young men full of bravado whooping it up. I look at the time it is 2:30 am. I know too much now, and instead of letting my mind fill in more details decide to put on an ipod to hear a guided meditation by Mooji, to relax back into sleep.

Skating between consciousness for quite some time, mostly based on the bed’s poor state. Faintly, I hear a snoring.  It is my snoring, and I am leaving my body going towards the left in the room. I toss and turn as my mind wants to know what is going on. Noticing towards the right, in the direction of the door, I see ghosts moving. At first it scares me, but not conscious enough to move, I am forced to look hard, as my body is asleep.
It feels like the time when I came out of surgery, and could not wake up  out of anesthesia for over 12 hours. Who are they? Are they the ghosts of former guests, or a play on the noisemakers earlier? In total clarity, but still no less shocking …it is the character, that which I am or was(more correct), and the stories I carried about me. Obviously moving away from the tight squeeze that I had on them....escaping . It is a sign of freedom, and yet I am struggling in this dream state because it was everything I thought I was.

I woke up in the morning with a spaciousness I have never before experienced. A clarity void of internal struggles, of time, of location or of space. The self lost its stranglehold on my body, and there is some exhaustion from everything I held on to, as me in the past.  I am neither happy, nor sad having let go of all the need to try to please myself. It feels like sanity when compared to everything I believed I needed in the past. Mindfulness spouts more easily now, and equanimity is not like some far off ...ultimate.

13 January, 2013

Misery Can Make You Feel Alive

Pratheep Kotchabua 
MOCA, Bangkok
Just back from my 6th Vipassana and boy did it dig up a lot of self-created pain. The divided mind. One issue in particular which I won’t go into, because it is not really that important to explain my experience. Everyone has their own current problem they roll about in their mind, sometimes happy to gather up steam with normal every day problems we tack on.  I went sick with a bad sore throat, but with drugs to help that wiped it out by day three. There is not really a good time to do these, and you can also dig up enough pain to get sick while there, anyway. If you look for a reason to not go, a year can pass by without ever going. So, I went into the sit a bit exhausted and fought sleepiness in the morn and after lunch. I am used to this with my brain injury, pushing it beyond what I should, which usually brings frustration. I need more sleep to let the brain work properly with the new pathways it rebuilt to help facilitate these connections. New areas are taking over, not used to speech or movement. 

It was interesting to skate on the thin ice of consciousness while sitting, and would bounce back and forth. My arm would morph into a game board far from my body for instance and then catching it I would laugh internally while bringing it back. I would actually see the misery film projected outward that I could jump to escape my present task of body scanning. All the while I was stirring up my own hell with aversion to my problem, and then once bored with this flipped into craving food or sex or just a massage.  Both create pain in the body, which is a great mind-body link that you don’t have to intellectualize. It just keeps a subtle prompt to your source of misery. I spent the first 7 nights of sleep in nightmares of the unconscious unloading their tie-downs from freedom and my liberation. Several times, I thought I screamed out NO, NO, NO!!! both at night and while meditating but no one confirmed this when asked. Once seemed to be tied to the putting in of my stomach tube, so I could eat years ago in the hospital, which I took as torture after all I was put through, psychically... I presume. Yet was not presented as such, it came out as the unwanted chaos of my sister when she first had a schizophrenic episode busting the stability of her logic and brillance growing up when she helped balance out the up and downs of my father.

For those not familiar with Vipassana, you are watching(scanning ) your body for sensations: gross, subtle, pleasant or blank while doing sitting meditation for 10 days…working gradually as the mind gets sharper. It is not that bad, it is just work(awareness) and you get to see how you think constantly. The same patterns keep reappearing. 
What struck me is I created all the misery this particular time when I should have relaxed into a familiar setting with meditation. Am I that bored that I did this? Or no thoughts is not in my conditioning? I think it was just misery makes you feel alive, and being here out of the familiar aspects of home and friends with a new decision to make as I travel my wisdom path. I should be excited, because it is all new and not at all based on past misery…only thought to!

My reports are I feel more detached from my thoughts, a totally freeing experience. I have run into some Thai strangers who say I look clear and they could tell I meditated. Must have dumped some major misery. I am happy, but not elated...a relaxed joy pervades existence. Oh, and my problem never really materialized, perhaps it was a self-designed test?

A Real Experience of No Separation

Those that know me also know I had a near death experience and left my body and was happy to keep going....no pain, no memories(people and events), when a nurse noticed my eyes roll back while doing an emergency CT scan, and intubated me while calling my name to come back.

Anita was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and doctors told her family she was just hours away from death. It was at this point that she "crossed over" and then returned again into this world with a clearer understanding of her life and purpose on earth. This understanding subsequently led to a total recovery of her health.

Anita was born in Singapore of Indian parents, moved to Hong Kong at the age of two, and has lived in Hong Kong most of her life. Because of her background and British education, she is multi lingual and, from the age of two, grew up speaking English, Cantonese and two Indian dialects simultaneously, and later learned French at school.

She had been working in the corporate field for many years before being diagnosed with cancer in April of 2002. Her fascinating and moving near-death experience in early 2006 has tremendously changed her perspective on life. Her work is now ingrained with the depths and insights she gained while in the other realm. She works on the premise that our inner world (consciousness) is our primary reality, and if our internal state is healthy and strong, then our external world will align itself and fall into place as a result.

She is the embodiment of the truth that we all have the inner power and wisdom to overcome even life's most adverse situations, as she is the living proof of this possibility.
— Batgap.com

01 January, 2013

The Final Straw

In early at work cleaning up and getting things ready for a new day.  Acid Jazz, is playing on the music system, and after my first coffee… I am jamming. Up on a tall standing ladder the store had, where I often clean the upper windows, and ventilation fan from spots of dust so that they don't rain on expensive furniture fabrics. The doorbell rings and I crawl down the ladder to find who is there. For some reason, I am not disturbed being taken away from my work when not open for the day, yet. I see a husband and obviously his wife first in line, with the UPS driver right behind, anxious to drop packages off and have me sign. The driver’s are notorious for dropping by with damaged packages while you are busy, so you can’t catch and refuse them. And by the looks of husband and wife team, carrying their own box, this is not going to be fun start of my day.  I decide quickly to try as best as possible not to match others moods. Touching his shoulder, and greeting them with a friendly, “I know you are first, but let me sign so UPS can leave us alone in peace.”  Jeff and his wife Katy, smile sardonically, but I can obviously tell they are ready to pounce on me with their problem. In our narrow doorway, the heavy set UPS driver like a bull in a china shop bumps into them while going past and while leaving, after I sign.  Did he do this on purpose? So disruptive to any peace I am trying to bring to this situation, but at least that is one less thing to negotiate.

Even though I still closed, I invite them to come in, seeing Jeff’s eyes a slight bit teary with anger, and Katy is pacing behind. The first thing that strikes me is I should hug Jeff(but don’t), to help show compassion at this tipping point, before speaking to them. This is S.F. and most of my clients can handle it. Anyway, I could sense that Jeff and Katy’s relationship is more the problem than whatever product they are not happy with. One of the things I sell is high-end lamps with hand-blown shades, and I could see that they are returning one by the box’s label. Often times people ask me to describe the wiring pattern or whatever problem that they don’t want to hire a professional electrician to do, way beyond the scope of selling them the fixture. Well, Jeff did it the wiring right, but really Katy hated the non-returnable fixture she ordered. He was just trying to make her happy, and his embarrassment was turning to anger almost without him knowing.  The whole thing is unraveling in how they are presenting their problem, or my new problem when they open the box to show the damaged glass globes. What they don’t know is a business owner quickly learns all the tricks. He says, “Well, I got the fixture all wired and when Katy opened the boxes for the globes found them damaged.”  Katy is looking away sheepishly. Many times, when told the real truth, I work on making clients happy by putting a fixture on the floor and getting them what they really needed. First of all, the special ordered fixtures are not returnable, and second, I personally check all boxes before giving them to the client. This lamp is Jeff and Katy’s last straw, and it is fast becoming mine.

This dream came to me last night after that final body jerk when you fall asleep, and is not of real people but like many of the problems I have encountered in life. My compassion came through in this dream, as a first reaction, and maybe it was supposed to be directed at myself. Spurred by an impatient waiter standing by me, earlier in the evening when I just got the menu. This is hell for a brain-damaged person, and by me not answering he still did not get the clue, so I just deflected him to my partner to do all the ordering. I just stared in space and brought to mind that I will soon die, and this meal will never be that important.

My father one day, decided his final straw was the ugly 70’s wrought iron divider between our dining and living room had to go. The kids loved it because you could climb up it like a monkey. This wasn’t the reason…pressure, expectations and dissatisfactions with the world were. In a shocking display of aggression he went to the garage and got a small hand held heavy hammer in front of all the kids and bashed it out of the ceiling and floor anchors throwing out the front door in the yard. Not sure if he was drinking or not, but life with him had the same flavor. At first I thought that was cool, but still embarrassed by the whole scene. My father spent the next days, not apologizing but explaining why it looks better, while postponing fixing the holes from the damage…I think my Mom fixed them. 

I am still unlearning his way of solving problems.  Awareness is the key, and silence works well at the start of a feeling of frustration, because once you speak you are more apt to spiral into unwise speech. I will go on my first 10-day Vipassana of 2556 on the 2nd, just to work on the roots of frustration(weeding to put in mildy) ...based in my body, played out through my mind.
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