Friday, November 18, 2011


Lately it seems that I am receiving the same messages from different sources.  The themes seem to build on each other.  I'm not saying it's a conspiracy or anything, but...
Yoga theme on Wednesday?  "Soften."  I was feeling pretty solid and clear, so the idea of softening to the world around me seemed like a nice bit of icing on my otherwise calm state.  I should know myself well enough to know that any state I'm in is subject to change multiple times over the course of days.  I'm convinced my core is just working through some "shit," and that eventually this will move out of my way if I'm conscious of it.  The stuff we work through not inherently bad, but it is inherently real if we are believing it.  I don't mind moving through.  I mind getting stuck on something.

Some messages headed my way this week from a variety of sources:
1.  "To use a metaphor from the Buddha, the unavoidable pains of life are its "first darts." But then we add insult to injury with our reactions to these darts...When you throw second darts, you are the person you hurt most. The suffering - mild to severe - in second darts is truly unnecessary. As the saying goes, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional." --Rick Hanson
2.  "If we can stop locating our sense of self in the relentless surge of the monkey mind's slapdash chatter, we can be fully attuned to the life that's right in front of us. Only then are we able to want what we actually have...Here's the logical conclusion: It's downright stupid and self-destructive to keep infecting our imaginations with pictures of loss and failure, doom and gloom, fear and loathing. The far more sensible approach is to expect blessings." 
--Rob Brezny
3.  "Without realizing it, we continually put up protective walls made of opinions, prejudices, and strategies, barriers that are built on a deep fear of being hurt. These walls are further fortified by emotions of all kinds: anger, craving, indifference, jealousy, and arrogance.

But fortunately for us, the soft spot—our innate ability to love and to care about things—is like a crack in these walls we erect. It’s a natural opening in the barriers we create when we’re afraid. With practice we can learn to find this opening." --Pema Chodron

My take aways?  
1.  Accept the pain, but don't exacerbate it by dwelling on it.
2.  You may as well expect good things to happen to you.  
3.  There isn't any room for walls in wide open spaces (paraphrasing Buddy Wakefield on this one).
4.  The moment we soften, invite the vulnerability and fear in, that is the moment we are real, and we can face what is in front of us without artifice or irrationality.

Sometimes, really, it just takes these reminders of shared humanity, of gentleness with ourselves and others to diffuse a situation, and provide a reminder of what we're all doing here together.

Monday, November 14, 2011


This month's funk began benignly enough, as they often do,  on the heels of some excitement, and then slowly became less and less benign.  I moved from what I thought was a fabulous purge of energy and the slippery slope that is depression.  Crying, for me, is productive.  A need to curl up under a blanket without even the energy to read a good book?  Ambivalence about what I'm eating?  Not so much.  A much more interesting exploration of this phenomenon was illustrated beautifully on a blog recently (  Absolute brilliance and worth the read (and re-read) if you have a moment or two.

Anyway.  I'm not depressed (I was for a couple of days...a week?).  I'm now recognizing that I'm just in a bit of a lull, and I'm a little bit tired.  There's a lot of flux and uncertainty (You know that moment when you realize that you can do and be anything in your life?  Sounds great in theory, but the reality can throw one for a bit of a loop).  This is both a terribly exciting time and a terrifying one, alternately.  How I respond to this period of time is all about where I place my attention.  I found myself dwelling on things that had nothing to do with me or my reality in the last while.  I described what I'd like as my "ideal" life to a friend of mine recently, and she said, "I think you just described your life now."  Well, I'm a slow learner sometimes, and it took a few more references and allusions to bringing my attention back to what was/is real before I caught on to the fact (just today) that, indeed, I'm exactly where I need to be doing exactly what I need to be doing, and really, it's pretty lovely.  I don't plan on doing it much longer, but right now it's all I need to be doing.  Right now is a pretty nice space to live in.

Yoga, of course, three classes in a row was a reminder that where we place our attention is what we get more of.  (And, indeed, the dark thoughts, the monkey mind, the self-doubt was certainly feeding on itself and replicating itself exponentially).  I know this on a conscious level, but sometimes I let my mind just go where it wants.  Sometimes it works, but at others, it's simply ridiculous.  I do laugh at myself at these moments, but more often than not, click the tape right back on and keep listening.  Friday evening's yoga instructor said that as he was sitting down to meditate, he had a thought, then said, "It would be so nice never to have that thought again."  And, of course, it was the thought that swirled around in his mind for the entire session...and he said, "I realized I had no control of my own mind."  My therapist also mentioned that maybe I could consider that I don't need to figure out things that have nothing to do with me, or my "right now."  NOWNOWNOWNOWNOW.  Hmmmm....

A couple of weeks ago, two of my students asked me the meaning of "etc." as they had seen it written many times.  I spelled it out for them:  et cetera.  They looked at me and laughed, then told me they'd been reading it as an acronym for:  End of Thinking Capacity.  Now, when I find myself trapped in monkey mind, I simply say to myself:  et cetera.  etc.  Indeed.  No more capacity for those thoughts.

Right now?  I have some work to do.  Right now?  I wish I could see the people I love more often.  Right now?  I know that everything will always be in flux.  And right now, that's just fine.