03 December, 2015

WhenYouStop? The practice

Awaking at 5am, I sit for an hour in silence and go back to bed after at 6am. I find it interesting that the dreams after sitting are fun and relaxed. One must churn out the burning annoyances that we often keep holding on to. It is sometimes a challenge if I get to bed late, but always find it fruitful over the course of the new day. It brings such ease in life which more than makes up for the supposed inconvenience.

I have written about my dreams during a long sit, and because one is scanning and it pulls them up from body level to mental awareness, where one finds them dumping out more easily at night. My practice to date, tells me I do not fully feel …I am there, yet know when internal wisdom prompts me to sit or look more carefully as to what or who is bothered.

Tipped off by another wisdom teacher, Sadhguru to say when I sit or any time in the day when I can remember, while breathing in, say silently: “I am not my body,” and when breathing out, “I am not even my mind.” Also trying to scan my body when I am discontent, for whatever reason.

With all this, I am incredibly grateful to have my husband remind me whenever I show anger or change tone and pulls in some of Buddha’s wisdom he has absorbed being a Thailand-born Buddhist. We often do Buddhist prayer to access our own wisdom similar to Buddha, at night before bed. A short version of the salutation to the triple gem prayer said in temples in morning and evening chanting. Just this little bit of intention helps to gain more peace in sleep and our harmony. 

I also try to sit evenings after dinner or before depending on when we eat, in an effort to clear out the day disappointments and let go even more. As my husband often says, “No Buddha or any gods will produce something for free with a simple prayer, you have to work on yourself to accept things as they are and change yourself.”

One more thing, a near death gave me a taste of something 20 years ago, and even after some resistance to what happened, I was significantly mentally and physically damaged(changed) and found I had no other choice. If what I truly wanted was happiness I had to lean towards wisdom and self re-discovery. Dropping alcohol and many untruthful acquaintances/friends along the way. And now there is no turning back, losing more of what I am not. So there is no WhenYouStop, life is the practice.

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(came sooner, April 2016!). 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. Although Geonka, said to disregard dreams as subconscious helplessness,  Day 9 night dreams to me 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, so I could continue moving part by part observing sensations. My body/mind knew wisdom could be found there, which also pulls you back to sit more. 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. 

24 April, 2015

Sri Mooji Dissects "Who Am I?" in English/Italian

A very beautiful pointing to one’s pure awareness. Start at 4:20 and ends at about 44:00 for this one Italian woman for which we can all experience and perhaps learn...bit by bit in a great loving explanation. I advise earphones, for those easily distracted.

Escaping the personal identity. 
“To be a somebody is a burden”

14 April, 2015

Choose Acceptance with Any Loss

We all have seen some miraculous example of some disabled person doing extraordinary things, like running a marathon with one leg or like when I saw a boy with half of his brain(removed) learning to swim after his operation. How does this happen? He or she accepted their loss of whatever and moved on. This can even happen when you lose family and dear ones who pass, whether expected or unexpectedly. This is not to whitewash any grief that happens in the process, many times never seen by others, carried heavy in the heart for a long time. Once you realize that you really have no control in life, and that once you fully accept a death or a personal loss about your own health, you become free of the grief that you seem to be hooked on. Even a sense of ease comes when it appears that you have forgotten that grief. Often times it comes in small doses at first, unknown consciously until that begins to overpower the grief that you once held, when it gathers enough steam.

We have the power to choose acceptance earlier, if that is what we truly desire, without confusing it with not honoring those things we have lost in the form of guilt. This guilt that we feel is more about trying to maintain the grief, in feeling form. We get hooked on feelings and it is harder to let go of a feeling than the actual person or idea that we carry around with us. Often times waiting for exhaustion to dictate a move to change, instead or when people get sick of you. One has to look very deeply at what we truly want and that is happiness, which will only comes with acceptance. It may take time off from work and life to let the loss settle completely in meditation, instead of stringing it along to explode in unexpected moments. Then it will allow you to honor those that passed, too. The sooner the better when you consider how short our life is and the fact that you will have to...anyway.

20 March, 2015

Your Friends Disappear

Death Valley Junction
Like a 48 hour TV mystery, you’ll find on the spiritual path that most of your “friends” disappear, and it’s not because you are trying to convert them. The real meaningful ones will stick around, but for the most part …the rest won’t be calling you. I think it is mainly caused, in my case, by no longer drinking and being married with my partner, and most conversations would include what I am up to at the moment, which is my spiritual path. Unprompted, A few good friends who stuck around have even mentioned that my change is positive. But the rest don’t want to hear about any exit to the mundane suffering that we all experience.  Two good excuses, “Only you could do this.” or “I should do this,” while they are looking down while playing a game on their IPhone... when I'm speaking to them. This means they will never even attempt to meditate, because it doesn't immediately satisfy. I have mentioned before that I saw the cloud lifting with awareness heightening within my first year of casually meditating.
Mona Caron Mural

Surely, you’ll make new friends who you meet because of your change, and gather new acquaintances familiar with your particular “brand” of path(often called Sangha, in my case). Depending on how far along you are… you will also notice that even these new ones don’t need you so much when their own wisdom blooms creates a relaxed attitude around not clinging. Meaning not clinging to anything including any friends. All this might seem disconcerting at first, but it is positive maturation that will immediately become obvious when you no longer are invited to parties and social events where people drink. It will help you stay on the path, instead of being tempted every weekend to make one giant leap backward….which can easily happen with only a good bottle of red wine and loose lips over a casual dinner.

16 March, 2015

24 February, 2015

Sharing your Misery

Certainly, I like so many others… I suffer. Sure, I have real good excuse, a brain injury with a speech disability, combined with being gay. One of the problems, I had in the past was sharing my misery with others. Not completely wiped out, but with constant awareness I have managed to keep a handle on it. I think it has come a lot easier now that I finally married my partner of 13 years, and our long separation has ended. Frustration is a communicable disease. Also, if I get enough sleep, which us brain injured lucky winners need to have to keep the good parts working to their full advantage.

Sharing misery can slip out in even a casual greeting, first contact with others, and it doesn’t necessary have to be a vocalized action and come from not being present with others in a positive way. With my brain injury, if I am involved with anything else, from a simple door opening to signing in with a code, then any interruption is felt as interference to task at hand. Often people don’t know how severely this affects brain injured people, but my point in not to make another excuse. This is perhaps a way to doubly make sure to present a smiling face even when the brain is saying, “what’s this?” I figure if I re-condition the brain, whenever I am aware, by smiling, joking positively…or even stopping what I am doing to engage even when inconvenient or disruptive.

Many times in the past, I have shared my misery in a negative joking comment, never knowing I was leaving a black cloud around me thus creating more misery. I have often made fun of fake positive people to the point of stirring the “shit.” I, of course learned this, but that is not an excuse at my age. But, it may come to this extreme measure to change the brain. And it finally produced an example yesterday, when I spoke to a fellow yogi going to class who had never heard me speak. She was amazed I do what I do, because what she has seen or felt of me was always positive. I have also seen wisdom teachers who say that if we always see what is wrong with the world that we can’t change, we become more of the problem than the solution. We will also attract negative, more than positive people.

I am very fortunate to have a smiling partner who could see my intentions even when I was not always positive in nature. He inspires me to change, too by not allowing me to maintain any negativity.  Now a joke with us, as my moods, are fast to exit, because the mind-body knows that to maintain creates...yes, more misery. With my meditation too, I have seen what well-worn paths in the brain drive me to deviate from positive. “Don't go there, fool!,” I remind myself. In my case with aphasia, it may be doubly hard, but this never takes into consideration the many difficulties others face in their lives. Which leads me to compassion for others, while having compassion for one self. I want to experience a beautiful world, which in so many ways I have, and now want to share with others in a smiling, positive manner…even when it may seem fake, once in awhile to me.

02 February, 2015

A Near Death Re-Examination

It has many years since my near death experience, and it’s now going 12 years of a spiritual path of slow change and with this I have some insights. As I recalled in my first post on this blog, I now know it wasn’t really “me” who left my body: feeling no pain, sensing no worries, and no connection with my life in my body…it was my consciousness or awareness. That is why there was no pain and no memory of life connected to my body as it tried to merge into universal consciousness or love. This was the “light source” seen as a target to move towards, often feels like warm hands beckoning you closer to the light. So this gives me the idea that “we” will all meet again, in our awareness upon death, but without any of investment in our respective personalities. If I settle down a little more into awareness with daily practice, I can start letting go and the wisdom eases in my being, naturally. A little doing is involved in the form of bringing myself constantly back to awareness, when my personality/ego notices and makes a move to be seen. We know after a years in our personality we know where this leads us. Into past or future, two imaginary places far from presence.

14 January, 2015

Ungobackable: Drinking Alcohol

After coming back from a fun road trip with my partner showing him the southwest desert one thing stood out from the trip beyond the normal beauty and good times with family. That is the firm commitment of not drinking alcohol that I took up, 3 years ago. There were many times when he had a glass of wine, wine which I like so much, I could easily have said yes, and no one would say anything. I would smell his glass, to enjoy the bouquet, but would and could say, “No, thanks.” I could also see where any alcohol infers that one is not comfortable with life… as it is. And my own personal observation that “wrong speech” is easier to slip into when one is relaxed with alcohol, in my case. The added benefit of a clear mind in the morning, and less sinus! I feel I need to convey that alcohol has never really been a problem with me, except the usual early 20’s party phase of life. Alcoholism has been someone else’s problem, but has been the spice element that leaded to a difficult childhood in my case. Certainly, this has been a factor who has stayed my friend, but this would happen anyway as friends fall away naturally as you mature as with any wisdom path. I am firmly grounded in my intention, and it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice, thus saving me money and headaches while providing an easy entrance to meditation with more time freed up to do so. It also becomes obvious with practice and time that the precepts aren't just rules, but more of a way to direct one AWAY from more suffering. A wisdom intention becomes stronger, I have a clearer direction, finally. 

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