27 July, 2013

Unbinding, For a Start

Some Sri Lankan's can't swim. Maybe they never want to leave.
While in the process of healing it became obvious that I had to work on healing the dark parts of my soul, so that I could possibly help others as well as myself. And one good way would be to share my story in a public venue. I tried a little, back when I volunteered with post stroke therapy in a hospital in the process of answering questions of those curious.  A few patients and/or their families were appreciative, but after a while I began to see clients and almost immediately tell who do will do well and who would not.  A mixture of both their ability or inability to accept this new change and who came or did not of their family or caregivers. I quit when it became painful to see. But I did some winners and great families step up like mine did. Meanwhile, I raised my own standards, as more personal flaws became known to me, and set off working on them. 

Just a little history to point me the need to tell my story, and points to interconnectedness of people where a single incident of delight can trigger others.
I was in a jovial mood after Sri Lanka(thinking of seeing my partner after a 2nd trip solo) and making connections both with the security and a man who both happened to see my Buddha amulet once I took it from out of my shirt to show that it was no weapon when I was individually patted down. All the security were very happy to find out I am Buddhist(or more correct, I try to follow the Buddhist path), and then I showed them on my phone a photo of me when I ordained in Thailand. Instantly, I felt like I just got accepted into a big family, and everyone came to look. One gentleman who was a witness to this as well, wrote on a card of a monk and temple I need to go and meditate in when I return.  As well, when I arrived there three weeks earlier, the staff of Sri Lankan Airline's offered me a ride in their van to the local bus stop, even though the bus stops there, just a friendly goodwill offering to beat the rain that was soon going to follow. The new airport in Hambantota made me really not want to leave, I guess because more goodwill incidents kept happening.

All these special moments really do make one happier, setting off a chain reaction and thus when I arrived in Bangkok I was caring their good will in my heart. I chatted up one man waiting in the skytrain and he ignored me(possibly language reason), then quickly on to another who was Sikh trying to use a famous voice(Snatam Kaur) as a way to break the ice. There was no wall of separation between us as with most strangers. Yes, of course he had heard of her and seen her sing live. Although she was not needed, this particular gentleman had a clear heart and thus launched us into almost an hour long conversation. And this is how I return to the need to share my story, which we had talked about on the ride. He planted a seed. That it is and was unique enough with my near death. I am guessing he was a Dr, and a speaker who flew there for a talk that he was giving. I said that I am still trying to figure out which points to bring up that would help others grow in their own life. Here a few ideas of what I may discuss in my "broken voice" that will hopefully not convey pity but fearlessness in the near future.

Wewurukannala Vihara Temple
WAS ONCE'S Healing Hints:

— There are no guarantees in life or birthrights for that matter.
— When bad things happen don't compound them by taking on blame or assigning it to others, for that matter. Still working on this one.
— Turn “why me?” to “why not, me?” That took me at least a year!
— Raise your goals. When don't meet them, use them to inspire you for the following day.
— Believe it or not…you may have to use “making others happy” to access your own healing. That will become obvious with time.
—Examine your thinking at every level, even a slight negative mind state will become a cesspool of misery. (This lead me to meditation)
— Relaxing is the greatest skill you could learn in this lifetime.(learned from an ex-monk)
— Fall in love with your illness or disease. If that doesn’t work then fall in love with the wisdom you have gathered from it. I got to that point in a few years, that I now longer wanted my old life back.
— Be grateful for those that reject you, but be forever indebted to those that stick around.
— Admit your failures or laugh at them.(Jump start it by laughing at your past egocentric perfections)
— TRY EVERYTHING, it will eventually trigger the hope energy to blossom, and give you more reasons to continue thus allowing more healing. Let go of things that “should” work, and move on…we are each a unique being with a mish-mash of life experiences.
— Stop comparing yourself to others perceived as “bette” than you and actually see how lucky you are. You obviously are still here because you have more to learn before you die.

— No one will fully understand your suffering, flip it ...try to understand others suffering or just be quiet and observe.
all four photos were shot by my partner, soon to be my husband

21 July, 2013

Did You Take a Photo of It?

Thai street food for our dinner, old photo from past

Enjoying a dinner last night at an organic restaurant as a birthday gift from a friend and our main courses arrived. They were beautifully presented. He then said, “Take a photo of it,” since I had my camera with me.  I told him that my partner, who he knows as well, told me that to take photos of food when people in the world are starving is like bragging. Perhaps, in reflection, it would be like photographing all your money. 

My partner, as I have mentioned before, had a very tough life, dumped with some poor village elders who hardly had enough to eat themselves. In addition, he was nude until about 4, since they had no money for clothes for him. Food was scarce and they ate anything they could find, insects, snakes and rice rats were normal in their diet. Compassion for others grew out of his own suffering, his adoptive grandmother’s teaching and being born Buddhist. I then quietly reflected on the compassion I have learned from him, especially now since very shortly I will engage a lawyer to get started on finally marrying him. This is after 12 years and two honeymoons based on our own celebrations, and even having rings since 2008. Now, I have to prove that we have a relationship and have love, and we been evolving for as long as it has which to me sounds truly insulting. I will have to produce old emails, photographs, plane tickets and sworn testimonies from family and friends to prove its validity… and some cold hard cash. To do business in this world there are funny laws, and love really never comes into it sadly. It is all about money, not compassion. If I can’t take my own experience as use to strengthen my own compassion then really my life and struggles will have no purpose and I have learned nothing. And I can’t just let the perceived pressures of this process have any bearing on our relationship. Because he is worth it.
embarrassed by hard times

16 July, 2013

Turning a Little Against the Flow

After temple with the nuns the night before, I felt connected yet knew the following day could have easily been spent in trying to avoid self-pity. It lead to a hard night’s sleep, and was that not really nourishing. Just gives you a real clue as the mind-body connection. I am pretty much familiar with my moods, so I knew the best defense is to do something totally spontaneous. I looked at a non-dual site on the web in near-by city and I saw an event happening the following day. I went to bed without committing doing it, leaving it as just an option.
I got up early since sleeping in wasn’t on the menu and did an hour of yoga alone(my partner is still 8000 miles away, and planning on marriage now that the law normalized) finished in time, and jetted out the door to that event with no knowledge of what I was getting into. Risk is only based on the mental blocks to change and the unpredictability of life. Sheesh, I already lost a good portion of my brain so this was chump change of a little cash and an afternoon. I arrived on time, and met one of the people putting it together, then the man who conducted this event(did not know at the moment we met)it was looking to be a small gathering. Of course the awkwardness of fear was subtly boiling in the background of my mind, but I drove a long way, and it just silly to back out. I was beginning to just relax because letting go is just that. And I can pretend with the best of them. I was lucky to talk to a woman who sat beside me, who graciously offered some of her iced coffee, and I got the feeling that this will be O.K. I am always aware that in groups of new people my speech is all over the place, but nobody knows me. As usual most people are too afraid to ask what happened so I have to spill it out someway that I have a brain injury just to get it out there as why my speech is awful. This commonly happens at inopportune moments, and the frustration often shows. In a perfect world I think would start any meeting of people not familiar by standing up and spilling the beans so that there are no questions. Maybe once I will try this, and I think my frankness with strangers will enlighten them as much as it will allow me to let go.

Now, I can’t really do justice to this teacher’s method but it was based on awareness in the presence of others and the world, rather than on the cushion meditating with closed eyes. He had us pick randomly others to gaze into their eyes for like 5-10 minutes, and talk about the awareness we were feeling, to get us all used to each other and to bond the 26 of us. Personally, talking while gazing there is something that will give with this brain injury, so I was reluctant to speak. For most people, including myself, one let’s go of the fear of being so exposed quickly. I was very happy that the man who expressed the fact he probably not be able to stay feeling very challenged ended up staying the entire day.

As the afternoon progressed, it became obvious that the two gazers lose their mental images and quickly deal straight heart to heart. Mirroring the others breathing rhythm and tuning up each ones emotional state, which points to why I and the other man stuck with it. It also pointed to the interconnectedness of all humans, and led us all to simultaneously bond. Oh, by looking in each other's eyes, you can balance the hurt and difficulties that we all share even though based on totally different circumstances. And when we gaze at someone more adjusted you can then actually get some power from the other to deal with your own stuff, non-threateningly. There are no vampires sucking blood. It's a no bullshit way to instantly build a connection, all guided with this teacher's knowledge. Ironically, this is what is what I purposed to a friend a few months ago that we should stop getting together as two bubble heads talking about ourselves, with the hopes of having some gasses escape and instead meet and not talk, and just let our hearts speak. 

By the end of the 5 hours when we had looked into most people’s eyes we took this enhanced state outside for a walk around the neighborhood. It felt like walking meditation that instead of looking 5 ft ahead of you on the ground, you examined trees, flowers and bushes. A half-hour of it was kind of magical, but hunger took the forefront of mental state and I found some blackberry bushes and plum trees on vacant property to forage. It had been about 8 hours since I had my morning vegetable shake, and my stomach was growling. The day’s experience was very interesting, especially seeing the fear creep in and disappear out the same mind, allowing us to enjoy the closeness and meditative qualities. 

11 July, 2013

Are You Trying Too Hard?

I sat down to meditate an hour with some exhaustion showing up. My eyes teared, not out of sadness, but out of tiredness. Am I tired from the day, or from trying too much? Certainly with a brain injury, exhaustion can show up at any time, but for right now what came to my mind was just the fact that I am trying too hard. I want a payoff for suffering, I guess. We all try too hard to be something we are not, from something as simple as make-up or smiling to someone we expect to influence positively. I think at times I am trying too hard to be wise, knowing in the back of my mind that if I relax any thoughts of doing or pursuing this path…. I will just rubber band back into ignorance. I do know that not imbibing in alcohol has been as natural translation of the manifestation of wisdom. That came out not of doing or trying to be better than others. Surely, trying will still come up out of my desire to be more aware. I must not expect any trying to manifest in happiness even when it is subtly masked as an undercurrent of wisdom. I know I am trying too hard to wash out the bad experiences in my life that made me into who I am…. or at least expose them in the hopes of beginning a new happier life. 

I have recently restarted my Mozart Brain Lab, because we did my sessions too fast in the past, and did not see much improvement in speech. In reflection about this, I said to a friend recently that if I never get any better in speech, I am totally fine with it, because I know that it will not change my life. I am not thinking the same way about my wisdom goals, because I am still expecting it to change my life. I want something still, and hence I am trying too hard. Am I dressing up desire to play itself out as a dance of wisdom? Certainly this wisdom path has brought out my natural ability to help others ten fold, but also exposed the selfishness that came out of hurt and difficulties. I know I can’t expect my life to really have any more meaning to me or to others…it just happened and will continue its normal course…with wisdom or not. I am just a tiny bit more aware, and that is about it.
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