Staying Awake, Alive & In The Moment, Even in Times of Uncertainty

Three very memorable lessons from my morning (reading and mediation) ritual today.
Live Like This
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Act, speak, write and create as if it were your very last day. Your last moment here. Create from the heart as if you are expressing yourself for the last time. Like this is it. Make it all matter.
Listen: Tara Brach Accessing Innate Wisdom
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Let Go of The Controls
Stay open to the impermanence of life. To all of the change that is happening around you. To the fact that everything is constantly evolving.
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Discipline yourself to wake up out of the trance-like “thought” and come into your senses, awake and aware of this moment right now. Stay in touch with your aliveness. Open up to the space between your thoughts. Inhabit the pause, the silence between your monkey mind chatter.  Learn to tolerate the groundlessness & uncertainty of life. Let it all happen, even in times of maddening uncertainty.
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Stay Amazed and Astonished
Life is nothing short of a miracle. This is something to remember when you are busy managing the mundane. Never forget the miracle of being alive right now.
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Expanding Our Minds & Paving a Path to Freedom

I had so much, but felt so little.   I think it was a deeper desire for more meaning and joy, for I had become numb, deadened and desensitized to my life. I wasn’t depressed, I was discontent.  It wasn’t that my life was bad. I would have some nerve complaining about anything, considering those with real misfortunes.  My life was just too predictable in an annoying way and I had way too many people leaning on me for support. To top it all,  I was reliving the same problems over and over and over again, applying solutions that didn’t work.

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I felt tired, disillusioned  and quite unfulfilled.  Everything was on replay. The things I collected, now collected dust and took up too much space – books, clothing, furniture – the clutter of “cherished” memories – did nothing but confuse me.

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At the very same time, my parents, in their 70’s, living in a pretty remote part of Florida, were in need of some help. Their health was degrading. Actually, their lives were falling apart. The house in need of growing repair.  It was May when I got the call. Mom developed stage four lung cancer and dad,  tormented by anxiety and fear, slipped deeper and deeper into dementia. He was frustrated, angry and confused as well. They didn’t want anyone’s help, they didn’t want to see that they could no longer take care of themselves.

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Every single day brought on a mini disaster as they continued to try to do the things they use to be able to do.  Fires in the oven, crucial medication missed, terrible falls in the middle of the night and countless visits to the emergency room. I dreaded every flight I took to see them.

I witnessed first hand what people do when they hold on too tight, when they cling to the past, when they shut down, when they isolate themselves. They were terrified to the point of paranoia.   They became delusional and just couldn’t and wouldn’t accept the inevitable – that everything eventually breaks down, fades away.  Everything in life is impermanent. We die a little each moment, with each breath we exhale. This is a part of the process of life. It is also why we must hold life preciously in our hearts, while we have the time we do.

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Time does not stand still for anyone and while I was extremely sad,  I am grateful that I was able to comprehend the lesson and the wisdom in my parent’s painful decline. Clinging to what once was and wishing things were different does us no good and only has us suffocating and suffering more.

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It was with this that I made the non-negotiable decision with myself, that I wanted more joyful moments in my life while my vision is not blurred with cataracts, my hands can still lift a pot to cook and my legs can carry me for long walks along the shore

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We must be grateful for every second we have now and every gift of a moment we have from this second forward. We must learn, adapt and find new ways to stay relevant and useful. Purposeful while doing the best with what we have.

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At the same time that I was keeping my head above the water with my parents in crisis and my freelance work, my husband, my darling, told me that he never took the lithium he very so needed to keep his bipolar illness at bay.

In and out of hospitals for much of our marriage, it was one roller coaster ride after the next.

The meds seemed to help keep him balanced, or so I thought.  It was the last draw and he lied to me and that hurt very much. He began self-medicating with drugs and then alcohol and then God knows what. Anything to soothe his mania I guess. He was trying to  help alleviate the heightened anxiety.  All of this crazy behavior around me was pushing me further and further into disassociating from all of my emotions.

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I did not want to accept the reality of all of this pain. He too, may have been on a path – while I was choosing to discard of  anything that no longer served me well. He may have been seeking the same, using different tools, a different approach. Somewhere along the way there was a huge disconnect. That’s the trouble with chemical imbalances and mental illness, you never know what’s real or what’s just a troubled mind gone off on a really wild tangent.

So, the only question to answer: What do I do now?

Forgiveness first, self-care second. I’ve been exploring the wisdom of Buddhism, the secrets of the Kabbalah and enjoying the calm and mind-clearing benefits of meditation and yoga. I am doing more of what I enjoy doing. Swimming in the ocean, bicycling, Soul Cycle, exploring new places, reading, long walks, dancing and time with my daughters and friends.

So far, I have come to understand and respect, that by becoming more curious about myself and how I think and in turn expanding my awareness by building my propensity to be mindful, to forgive and to give with loving kindness.  I feel healthier and more energized. By asking What am I to do now? What is the right thing to do next? I am guided by my heart and values that I hold dear.

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With the current state of world affairs, I have been questioning just how sane we really are. Frankly, I am frightened of what’s to come and the media loves it that way.

My biggest concern is to have a strong enough mind that I don’t become brainwashed by all the bad news. I have always wondered how people followed someone like Hitler, let alone Trump. This truly concerns me. Reading books about the holocaust like Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor Frankl and watching movies like Schindler’s List and Life is Beautiful, I still ask myself, how do these atrocities happen?  I have become so concerned that if the world completely fell apart, I want to make sure that I have a strong enough mind and spiritual base that I do not follow the herd.

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This herd mentality is something I know I desperately need to avoid. I need to seek a more meaningful understanding of life, so that I can strengthen my mind and continue to think clearly. So that I can better understand the truth and the purpose of living and giving with intense gratitude each day. I know that clinging to fear of falling prey to stronger (albeit: unhealthy) minds. My mind should never be controlled by outside forces, including fear.

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More Beautiful for Having Been Broken & Being Seduced By Our Own Storylines

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending broken objects using gold or silver epoxy. The Japanese believe that when something has suffered damage and has history, it becomes more beautiful. 

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I’ll never forget the first time one of my twin daughters had her heart broken. She was all of 16 and completely devastated. I remember her face as she curled up in my bed, in physical pain, her head in the pillow and eyes swollen with tears, hand on her heart, she said, “Now I know WHY they call this a broken heart,” “It actually feels BROKEN in my body.” Shattered like glass.

Adapt

After someone breaks up with us, we can feel very, very lonely.  Abandoned, rejected, thrown away. What are we do to with this deep seated pain?

I am studying Pema Chodron’s Heart Advice For When Things Fall Apart.

Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in. It’s restless and pregnant and hot with the desire to escape and find something or someone to keep us company. When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down. 

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An inspiring tale of self-discovery, I have read The Alchemist.

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Next on my reading list. . . .

The Middle Way & The Manual for The Warrior of The Light

Paul Warrior

Generating Good Vibes & Why You can’t afford Another Negative Thought

This is probably TMI and I never told anyone outside of my family this, but here you go. . .
I have been emotionally drained this past year (wait, my entire adult life) with a very unstable ex-husband who is non-compliant with his medication. The father of my four darlings, this charismatic dude is lashing out and vibrating at a super, super, super angry and rage-full frequency.
He comes with the complete package – bipolar, borderline personality disorder, substance abuser and quite frankly a big, no, forgive me HUGE pain in the ass. Yes I knew he had this disease and yes it has been an extremely rough road, yes we had some great times in-between, but the biggest problem I have right now is he is displacing his pain, resentment and rage on his  own grown children.
Thank God they are strong enough to see through the manipulation and self-pity.
Look, I know he is sick and yes I have been compassionate, but as anyone involved with someone who has untreated bipolar that is exasperated by drug and alcohol abuse will tell you – it is just horrifying to see someone self-destruct when they know very well that there is medication and healthy ways to manage this illness. To make matters worse, he had an incredible nine years of wonderfulness in-between episodes. I am grateful to have had that time with him, BUT. . .
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I just see way too many people with manic depression and mental illness struggling to take care of themselves while broadcasting their lives on YouTube and blogging about their daily challenges. It seems extremely selfish for him to at the very least try to commit to lifelong mental health.
What a beast of a disease.
So, I search for solutions. Not for him, for ME now. I am done with trying to fix someone who doesn’t want help. Disease or no-disease, there comes a time when you have to protect and care for yourself. Shout out to all you amazing caregivers out there.  I feel you.
Where do I begin?
Right now I feel like I need to wash, no SCRUB off the toxic and at least try to vibrate on the highest level I possibly can.
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Help. I’m looking for the blessings. Sure it could be worse, but damn.
The quote that keeps me hanging on lately –

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. 

Please someone help me see the possibilities.

Rule #1 Stop doing things that don’t produce results.

Energy
I use to smile a lot. I smiled because I was genuinely happy inside. Then somehow life started to feel like an uphill battle, a long, arduous climb. The thing I like about smiling is that if feels like the boldest statement you can make, without saying a word.
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Strangers would comment about my smile. Out of the blue, I would be walking down the street, on the train, at work, “what a contagious smile you have”.  Great smile, they’d say and they’d smile back.
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My smiling days. It felt like my energy was pure & protected from the pains of the world.

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I remember once my father asked me when I was smiling one morning “what the hell are you so happy about?” It was as if he was accusing me of being phony, fake, a poser. It crushed me for a while. But I kept on smiling.
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I want to get that great big beautiful smile back. I want to FEEL the way I did when I didn’t know much.

I want to dance, sing, celebrate, love, kiss, hold, run, laugh, swim myself back to that state of being – that sweet inner bliss –  for no apparent reason I just glow.
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I understand it’s about raising your vibrational frequency. Or at least that’s what the people say on the internet :). Look, there is even a vibrational emotional scale that someone put together. I have no idea if this is true, but I know I want to be in the blue/violet zone even the turquoise.
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The funny thing about those smiley days,  it wasn’t as if my life was any better than it is now. Perhaps it was full of what I perceived to be more promise and hope. There were dreams, visions and ideas. Sometimes, I think it’s about getting back to your original story line.
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How to Re-energize My Life & Produce Some Damn Good Vibes

So the story goes that watching my thoughts can lead to better emotions which will then dictate improved behavior and possibly upgrade my vibrational frequency.
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My plan? 
Stay away from people who are low energy, negative thinkers, complainers, whiners and of course just downright mean. Mean people just suck.
Track my emotions during the day and use them to inform me of what I need to fix.
Also, do more to improve and increase my vibrational state –
Meditate
Listen to music
Drawing & painting
Dancing
Outdoor Bike riding
Cycling
Long walks and hikes
Watch inspirational books, movies
and listen to some of my favorite podcasts and spiritual teachers
Use aromatherapy while sleeping and at the desk
Stay outdoors, one with nature, as long as possible
Swimming the waters
Living in a state of appreciation
Dedicate myself to doing what makes me happy & relaxed.
flow

Using Your Anger to Illuminate the Fundamental Truth of Your Self-nature

Most people – “the good vibes only” people in particular – tend to shy away from and may even passive-aggresively shame people who come to the party of life angry.  No drama here. No conflict. No, no, no. . .they will have none of it.  Confrontation just freaks them out.

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I’ve come to know anger on a very intimate level. We’re like BFF’s and believe me you, more recently in my life, my anger has served me well.  It has acted like a guiding light, helping free myself from the pain, guilt and shame I’ve been lugging around for years.

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One of my first really angry memories involved being bitten bloody on the arm by my raging cousin Ralph. Oh what a misfit he was. A terror. It hurt like hell. A big imprint of his huge buck teeth piercing the broken skin on my upper arm. It was a typical Sunday dinner at nanny’s house. Steaming plates of pasta and a big loud Italian family, all talking on top of one another, no one listening, ignoring the children, the women complaining and the men, oh the bravado and machismo. A scene out of . . .

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I was so enraged that I ran up to the dining room table and decided to let all of the adults at the table about what happened. I yelled at the top of my lungs, “YOUR SON JUST TOOK A BITE OUT OF MY ARM, HE IS AN ANIMAL.”  And in less than a split second everyone at the table began to laugh out loud at me. The table was rolling with laughter. I was astonished.

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Ignoring anger, any type of anger, whether it is yours or someone else’s, is not a strategy, period.

Pretending your not angry, “working out” your rage at the gym, downward dogging that dreaded pain and/or massaging your mind with positive affirmations will only create a deeper harbor for anger to anchor itself in your subconscious, and those are some deep and dark waters my friend.

I have been accused of being angry most of my life. I have damaged friendships, relationships and have gotten shunned by almost every member of my family for being angry. We are all good now, but it took a lot of deep digging to find out why I was a rage-full mad woman.

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I have come to learn that anger needs some proper investigation on a regular basis because it is a sure sign that something in your life is out of alignment with what you value and an indication that you are in need of some loving care.

Fear

 

It’s a red flag that your needs are not being met. And damn we have to meet those needs. Anger actually is a powerful emotion that protects us from feeling hurt and hopeless. Maybe even powerless. Feeling powerless is about as low as  you can go.

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Anger can be a very necessary emotion which will let you know without a doubt when you are feeling threatened and vulnerable.  When we approach anger with curiosity, when we ask ourselves “why the hell is this making me so angry?” when we take a peak at what is behind the anger curtain, the root of the problem, we find that we may be feeling hurt, betrayed, disappointed and disillusioned.

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It is to this place we must go, to the pain behind anger, with open arms, where we feel ourselves turned inside out, where we feel raw, bloody and wounded- that is what is underneath the anger. If you really want to become less angry, this is the bleeding wound that must be healed.  And you can’t rely on others to rub in the ointment and wrap the bandages. Oh no, this is an inside job.

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So if you struggle with a low tolerance for frustration or someone tells you that you need anger management therapy, try a bit of self-care.  Investigate that anger. Get up close and personal with the pain.

From Uprooting the Seeds of Anger

We might explore this possibility by asking ourselves about where our anger really comes from. What is the other side of anger? Fear. We can’t free ourselves until we work through both our anger and our fear. And what is the cause of fear? Ultimately, it is the fear of nonexistence, death, the fear of losing ourselves and being forgotten. But a fear of death translates into a fear of living, because impermanence is itself a fundamental condition of our lives. In this fear lie the seeds of anger.

So now, how do I deal with angry people? I realize that hurt people hurt. I approach them with curiosity. What is behind that big, bad bark? 

For myself, now when I get angry, I know how to soothe myself (a very good thing to learn how to do by the way). I take to the waters and I meditate.

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Now I know. . .

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That Which is Rendered More Real

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Could it be that our modern life is not good for our mental health?

There is an alarming global epidemic of anxiety and depression on the rise. According to the World Health Organization, close to 800,000 people are committing suicide every year (incredibly, this is one person every 40 seconds) and many more are attempting suicide. Sure, life can be pretty damn difficult, but suicide?  Wow. I hope you agree that this is some kind of world-wide cry for help, something must be done and this is an incredibly frightening sign that there is a real need for an awakening, a shift in our cosmic consciousness.

Mysterium tremendum et fascinans

Numinous

Venezuelan/American, filmmaker Jason Silva, described by The Atlantic  as a Timothy Leary of the viral video age begs the question, in an age of tremendous technological innovation and scientific advancements and with so many people moving away from traditional religious affiliations, how do we connect ourselves to a bigger meaning? How do we commune with something more real than the doldrums of every day reality? Something grand and awe-inspiring that fills our soul.

You see, as a child, I thought it was “church”, a place to at least attempt a holy communion with something bigger than myself. Now, as I am older, it is nature, meditation, dance  and cherished moments with people I love.  For some it is grandmother’s medicine, magic mushrooms and perhaps a heroic dose of LSD.

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Perhaps all of those poor souls fed up with their human condition, need more numinous moments in their lives. Maybe they need more shots of awe.

To Render a Holy Moment with Me

I, personally, haven’t had that many moments of psilocybin-induced cosmic communion –  glimpses of ecstatic illumination – but I do find myself feeling more & more connected after meditation and doing things like yoga.  Jason Silva on the other hand takes the question one step further as ask just how might we turn our passing illuminations into abiding light, rendering ourselves holy.  Whoa.

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In his video “Beyond Anxiety & Depression”  Jason believes that perhaps we, as a society, need a replacement to what religion once provided us. We need a cognitive reframing or possibly a psychic transformation. Oh to commune with the cosmos in order to impregnate our lives with meaning & signification.

To serve and savor the world.

I am fascinated with the idea of finding ways in which we can achieve those moments of awe-inspiring, mind-blowing moments of altered conscious states without drugs. A healthier way to reach new heights of clarity. Call them Eureka moments, a-ha moments, epiphanies, whatever — where everything seems to come together. When inspiration strikes and changes everything. The belief-

“If you can look at reality differently — shed your preconceptions and filters — you can change your life, you can invent something, you can make new observations, you can do things you were afraid or unable to do before. You have better access to the full spectrum of what exists.” Read more about Holotropic Breathwork here.

A More Painful Catalyst of Awakening

There are plenty of ways to wake up from the dreadful daze of an unfulfilled reality. Heartbreak can really shake you into a new more painful state of consciousness.  On my quest to mend my broken heart, I’ve been reading a lot about love. All the different types of love and more specifically unconditional love.

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Unconditional Love: How to Give It and How to Know When It’s Real

I may read back on this years from now and find I have a different point of view, but for the time being, I think this whole idea of unconditional love is nearly impossible for mortal beings. Even the grandest of caring mothers.

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The truth is you can only love people as much as they are willing to be loved.

I really dig the way Teal Swan explains why unconditional love is so damn difficult. Her challenge, to try to give love for a day to something, anyone, a child, a pet, a plant for just one day is incredibly hard. A worthwhile listen right here . . .

 

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I am re-reading When Things Fall Apart from Pema Chodron’s because I want to make sure it all sinks in deep. I need this wisdom.

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The wonderful illustrations in this post from the talented Chiara B.

Blind to the Beauty of This Moment

Distraction is the main problem for us all – what the Buddha called the monkey mind. We need to tame this little monkey mind. Tenzin Palmo

As entertaining as it can be, please don’t feed the monkey mind.

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When we are unaware that we are unaware.
Then we rush and ramble through the day, doing the “important” and the urgent, going after the goals, just killing it, aren’t we though?
Both numb and dumb to the fierce and wild beauty of the present moment.
Asleep at the wheel.
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Not taking notice of our surroundings, the people we are with and even our own presence. Too busy snapping instead of savoring.
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Oh to be mindless,  as we let the monkeys swing from vine to vine through our head. Pulling us from thought-to-thought with our every emotion.  The seedlings for anxiety and panic.
So disconnected with life smack in front of us – to notice the simple and ordinary joy of the day or the pain and suffering of our brother nearby.
And those seemingly little blessings that are happening every moment for our benefit? Wait for it.
Your mind just can’t be here, there and everywhere, yet this is how we go.
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To be painfully and gratefully aware and awake with appreciation.  This is how we grow.
Inspired by my mother’s doctor who removed her cataracts today. Cataracts are a clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which lies behind the iris and the pupil. Cataracts are the most common cause of vision loss in people over age 40 and is the principal cause of blindness in the world.
Overtime, like many people, mom got use to seeing the world in a blurry, shadow-like haze. In faded color instead of technicolor. It happened gradually over time. Let us not get use to going blind to the beauty of this moment.
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In Omnia Paratus – Ready for All Things – Self-Awareness & Other Life Advice My Mother Never Told Me

I strongly believe it is everyone’s responsibility to create a firm daily devotion to committing oneself to life long learning and the continual development of waking up with honest self-awareness.

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This morning I was thinking about some of the teachings of spiritual catalyst, Teal Swan, specifically her guidance about the importance of having an emotional wake up call.

“Our emotional selves are children. And they never grow up. We just learn how to parent our emotional selves better.”

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Yes my parents gave me good guidance, but they couldn’t possibly have told me everything. Here are a few lessons I am learning along the way . . .

  • This moment, right here, right now is the only one you have. Feel it, see it, taste it, hear it and take it all in. Be here now.  The book by Ram Dass

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  • Hold sacred an unconditional, nonjudgmental relationship with reality as it is right now.
  • omnia mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis All things change, and we change with them.  Adapt every day.
  • Trust your basic wisdom.
  • Everything takes time. It’s okay to live life on your time. You don’t have to run with the herd.
  • Watch how you talk to yourself. Realize when you are too self-critical. Stop the pattern. Break the loop.

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  • Do not worry about how others look at you, what they are thinking or whether you fit in.  Being “normal” will get you nowhere.
  • When all else fails, be kind.
  • Again, try to be gentle and soft with yourself and with others.
  • Stop pressuring yourself. Rushing anything simply ruins it. Slooooooowwwww down.

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  • There is rarely ever anything to be nervous about.  Face what you think makes you weary.  Get curious about that.
  • Remember you are a miracle. Nothing short of a miracle.
  • Time is precious. There is none to waste.

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  • You have what it takes to try anything you want. There are many options, choices and directions you can go.  Experiment with your life.
  • You are dying with every single breath. Appreciate every single moment. Even the most annoying ones.
  • At any given moment, everything is always as it should be. Acceptance brings serenity.

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  • You can not control everything.
  • You must control the way you respond to others.
  • Get to know what triggers your strongest emotions. There’s the work that needs to be done.

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  • At any given moment, you will know the right thing to do.
  • Be thoughtful about everything, even if others are not.
  • You don’t have to be larger than life, famous or popular. You simply have to play your part in this wonderful life to the best of your ability, every day.
  • Do something ridiculously fun every single day.
  • Whatever action you take, whatever word you say, make sure it decreases pain in the world.
  • People may disappoint you if they aren’t working on themselves. Forgive yourself for being impatient with them. For they no not what they do.
  • Anger and resentment are poison and will manifest into physical ailments. Let go everyday. If you feel yourself getting overly heated and enraged, step away for awhile. Retreat, think, respond.

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  • Your emotions are important for they tell you what to do. Yes, some of them are signals, but they are here to guide you, not take over your day and life.
  • Some emotions are false, yes they are you, trying to protect you, but don’t fall prey to every single one, over reacting to situations is usually related to an over sensitivity to past trauma. The problem arises when you start to react in a bigger way than justified. Read: How to Stop Overreacting.
  • Stop making up doom and gloom stories about what might happen in the future. Not everything is going to be a disaster.
  • When in doubt about what to do, do something good. Good for you, good for others.
  • Open up your heart, be real, be vulnerable. Life is not meant to be lived in the safe zone.
  • The painful moments are the lessons. Move through your problems by facing them for they will tell you a lot about yourself.  What haunts you must be addressed. Release your tendency to run away, to seek pleasure before pain.

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  • Have an unconditional, loving relationship with the world. There is no escape, no exit. There are lessons to be learned every day. Everyone you encounter is your teacher. Pay attention.  Pema Chodron.

I would love to know what lessons you learned on your own. Share below in the comments.

 

 

 

To Die To Everything of Yesterday

To Die To Everything of Yesterday
To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigour and passion.
It is only in that state that one learns and observes. And for this a great deal of awareness is required, actual awareness of what is going on inside yourself, without correcting it or telling it what it should or should not be, because the moment you correct it you have established another authority, a censor.
From the teachings of  J. Krishnamurti 
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Shedding Some Light on Just How Damn Annoying Life Can Be

Life can be so absolutely annoying when things don’t go as planned. Come on, don’t you agree? It’s all quite amusing how we think just because we set these great goals and go after them with all our might that everything is going to open up for us.
Sure I’d like to believe that life is happening FOR me and not TO me (thank you very much Tony Robbins) and that I am not a victim of circumstance, but the truth is life is very very complex and a lot of stuff just happens that is way out of our control. Things we don’t understand, that nobody understands, and then to add insult to injury,  we take this shit so personally. It’s a mystery really.
Just for Now

Working with The Monsters in Our Mind & NOT Becoming a Fugitive To Our Fears

On my future read list “The Life of Milarepa Read on to understand why.

I like to read like three books at a time, maybe more. Right now in the morning, I am reading Pema Chodron’s  When Things Fall Apart 
I don’t want anyone to know that my life seems to be continually falling apart, so I covered the front of it with a sticker from Spoonbill Books, one of my favorite stores in Brooklyn.
Chapter 19’s a trip wire.  “Three Methods for Working with Chaos” Pema outlines three methods for relating directly with the most difficult circumstances of our lives as a path of awakening and joy.
Method #1  No more struggle
Method #2  Using poison as medicine
Method #3  Seeing whatever arises as enlightened wisdom
These are methods for working through the most painful moments in our lives. Method #3 according to Pema reminds me of Inviting Mara to Tea, in other words, inviting what scares us to introduce itself and hang around for awhile. Sounds like a fun Sunday right? Yeah sure, but that’s how we grow.
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Quote from the book . . .
As Milarepa sang to the monsters he found in his cave, “it’s wonderful you demons came today. You must come again tomorrow. From time-to-time we should converse.”
We start by working with the monster in our mind.  Then we develop the wisdom and compassion to communicate sanely with the threats and fears of our daily life.
What I found absolutely fascinating was the image used in Tibetan Buddhism for working with chaos, the charnel burial grounds. As Pema explains, in Tibet, the charnel grounds are what we call graveyards.  The American Indians seemed to also have the idea. . .
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Now, the bodies were not under a nice mowed lawn with little white stones carved with angels and pretty words.
In Tibet the ground was frozen so bodies were chopped up after people died and taken to the charnel grounds, where the vultures would eat them.  Some would  be asked to meditate at the charnel grounds to understand the circle of life, complete with death.
Death, probably our biggest fear.
More practical ways to understand more about leaning into fear from Leo at Zen Habits.

On a more pleasant note. . .

wonderful

When we Don’t Grow Emotionally

My daughter recently called me emotionally immature. She said it in such a loving way, but it stung none the less. When we moan, groan and whine when we don’t get exactly what we want, when we want it, how we want it. This usually happens when we are not at our strongest, when we are frightened perhaps?  Maybe we are tired, hungry, angry, lonely, scared. Who knows?  But it is then that we can take every disturbance and interruption  so damn personally don’t we?

For Example . . .

Meditation today on the beach was almost ruined by an awfully noisy and very annoying beach tractor circling around me. Trying to find a quiet place to close my eyes and be “in the moment”, this guy just wouldn’t go away.  He kept moving closer and closer to my towel. I tried to meditate in spite of the loud motor drowning out the peaceful sound of the ocean waves.
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Just keeping focusing on the breath. Just accept it, I kept telling myself.  My mind fluctuated between just go and flow with it . . . all the way to . . . WTF, I just can’t get this time back. It was torture. It almost felt like he was doing it on purpose.
I actually started to tell myself that story.  “He’s purposely trying to ruin my beach meditation and Sunday swim.
Now, why the hell would I take this so personally? As if. But don’t we do that often. When things don’t go our way. When people annoy us with their absolute nonsense? When things don’t go as planned. When we are really disappointed.
Only after thinking more clearly did I come to the realization that this man has an actual job to do – it has nothing to do with me.  He gets paid to clean up the beach so people, like myself, can enjoy it. How about asking the question “Why am I getting in his way?” Always thinking about me. It’s all about me. Blah, Blah, Blah.
A poem by Dana Faulds
Let it Go
Click to read Pema’s book

Thoughtless Action

What has made matters worse, is how hard I actually try. It amazes me how I try so hard to make everything in life exactly how I want it to be without ever thinking of the possible effects my decisions might have on future outcomes and on those around me. I spend my days running from pain, chasing pleasurable moments and trying to get some “me” time, planning, scheming and doing all of the special things that I want to do.
Hard times

Leaping Before You Look

How I absolutely leap before I look and act so impulsively based on what I want for myself. I want more money, so I take on more really difficult projects without even thinking about the actual time, effort and energy these projects will take. Then I kill it by overpromising and ultimately under delivering.   Just wonderful.  So many great intentions failed miserably because I didn’t take the time to think things through.
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Becoming More Discerning

For example, if I am feeling the slightest  bit lonely and I want more friends, I open myself up to meeting and embracing anyone that comes into my life instead of realizing the value I will bring to the relationship and how much more discerning I need to be about who I choose to spend my time with.  I think we all do it from time to time. I act more out of FOMO instead of becoming more self aware of my actual needs from a true friend. This is probably why friendships can disappoint us.

What’s this About The Importance of Self-Value?

If you have any interest in the possible healing powers of Ayahuasca, I strongly recommend you check out The Last Shaman documentary. You can watch it on Netflix. It got mixed reviews, but it was absolutely eye opening in many ways. I have always wondered about the powers of “grandmother’s medicine” but frankly, I prefer meditation as my medication.
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Oh, side note: Ayahuasca is an hallucinogenic drug concocted by chopping and boiling Amazonian plants known to indigenous people for a very long time. The first western knowledge of ayahuasca was by a British biologist in 1851. The principal ingredient is made from a vine, Banisteriopsis caapi, (‘vine of the soul’ or ‘vine with a soul’); a second key ingredient, is either chacruna (Psychotria viridis) or chagropanga (Diplopterys cabrerana). Ayahuasca contains a powerful psychedelic substance DMT (N,N-Dimethyltryptamine). Drinking the brew induces an altered, hallucinatory state that lasts up to eight hours.

And More about Self-Love

And what is it about the devaluing of oneself that serves us? Why do I not think about becoming a bit more compassionate and self loving? Why don’t I focus on this more. Wouldn’t I be more of a delight to be around if I sometimes took care of myself first?
If I took care of my needs and came to the party called life with my best dress on?
The one I thoughtfully chose to wear? Why not spend a bit more time on me? Does that seem to selfish? Perhaps we tolerate so much of others nonsense because we are not self aware enough to know what we truly value in ourselves and others.

Decreasing the Pain in the World

I find the more I open up to listening and learning from others, the more thoughtful I become. It’s like building a better brain by borrowing from others curiosity, understanding and deep research.
I am listening to James Altucher interview AJ Jacobs and the two of them brought up a great point about how we might focus our actions – actually become more thoughtful about whether our actions are increasing or decreasing the suffering in this world. Big or small, every action you take can either add to the pain of others or make life easier.
Listen to James Altucher’s Podcast, an interview with A.J. Jacobs The Intersection Between Discomfort & Curiosity.
Quote

The Habit of Employing Self-Deception

People have a habit of inventing fictions they will believe wholeheartedly in order to ignore the truth they cannot accept.

seneca
So much of my own suffering has come from shying away from reality, from protecting myself from the hardcore truth of the choices I’ve made for my life. It seems the more I run from my heartache, my soul ache, the more I continue to distance myself from the painfully honest truth. It’s a strategy for self-preservation actually, but a very bad one at that.
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I have found that I have spent most of my “waking” life quietly buried in a fantasy world of make believe and pretend.  Buried in being busy, buried in too much work, buried in striving for my “goals”, buried in trying to fix hurt people. Bobbing around in a bubble. Sometimes for a time it actually worked (like a band aid) but more often it didn’t.
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Hoping, wishing, praying and becoming more and more determined to try to change those around me that didn’t want to change so I could manifest what I wanted without first seeing and holding the absolute truth about them. How selfish is that? Fighting instead of facing, without knowing the tools, talent or skills I would need to create a better reality, one, I probably didn’t even know I wanted (or needed).
Illusions
This way of living is reckless and irresponsible and will one day come to bite you in the ass.  Yes it can protect and shield you for a time and from the pain, but the cold hard fact is reality is your best fucking friend.
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I have also come to understand this behavior in myself is just another form of manipulation. When I don’t see what is truly in front of me, what is absolutely factual about any circumstance and I slip on those rose colored glasses, pretending that everything is fine, this is when I find myself in the most agonizing of circumstances.
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Whether it be the promise and potential I see, the possibilities in others, the “magic” of a truly desperate moment or the belief that I can do something I haven’t really trained or practiced for, it really doesn’t matter. The fact is I am not prepared to deal with the deep dark core truth. It’s so, so, so frustrating.
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When I convince myself that things are different than they really are, I struggle in that denial, trying to fit pieces of the puzzle in places they don’t belong. It’s maddening really.
fantasy
The more we bullshit ourselves into believing that we can do anything without absolutely accepting
  • where we are
  • what we have to work with
  • who is within our company (including our crappy-ass selves)
until we are truly accepting of the actions we have taken & the choices we have made and the distance we have to really go, we will stumble, fumble and fall.
One must start with the unquestionable truth of what is really happening in their lives before anything can get clearer.
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Stay awake, aware, alert and alive. Always.

alice