Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ode to the Silence

Come to me oh strength. Come to me oh power there. From the Earth and from the Air. Fires burn and Waters flow, deep deep down, to and fro. Before me does the river flow and with it do my worries go. Around the bend and back in time, the past is washed away with rhyme.

No moment but this moment, the river carries me. Seeing life for what it is, I choose to let it be. The Wind sweeps through, erasing me, freeing me of doubt and care. Opinion-less and open now, freedom found within the Air.

I know not the mind or soul of others. Not even that of Earth my Mothers. I close my eyes and I do rest, let nature do what she does best. What is to come, no one has guessed.

For in the darkness power came, it flowed in me and burned my veins. Eyes open now to darkened void. All I thought I knew, destroyed. And somehow, I didn't mind, for this deep silence seemed quite kind. And then a peace I'd never known, it came to me, it had been shown, the path to power, light and truth. It lies not, within youth. Cling not to that which time has passed. For peace has come, it's here at last. Happiness you will not meet unless you start right at your feet. Walk the path that does lead inward, through your mind and through the blizzard. Happiness is at your center just let your heart be your minds' mentor.

Don't indulge in what does hurt. Set it aside and you'll find mirth. A joy unparalleled by time, it gains momentum in the mind, the source of which is within mine.

So echoes now the spoken rhyme, it's brought me back and just in time, to live once more, to die again. I'll return someday but don't know when.

So does the cycle move me now, it lifts me up and shows me how...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Non-attachment is the practice of recognizing and letting go of our emotional attachments. There's much confusion to be had, as at first glance it sounds as if caring itself is attachment. It's more and less complicated than that.

I no longer want to suffer. Sounds like a statement we'd all agree on but we create our own suffering time and again. I've indulged in angry fantasies for most of my life. I've filled my mind with thoughts of revenge, none of which have I've acted on. I built up the anger, embraced it. I kept it to myself as if something to be proud of. It put me on a pedestal and made me a victim. Only in my mind did I have the power to crush those who hurt me. The power to destroy the 'obstacles' before me. There came a time when the pain was too much to bear. I was powerless and the reality of that overwhelmed me. I could no longer deny that I was not in control. I couldn't take it any more, so I told myself to let it go. To not be upset with powerlessness. To accept it. Taking that attitude toward a major event in my life made it easy to see how useful it was regarding everyday things. I'm not in control of how full or noisy the bus will be. I have no control over what job I am offered, beyond doing my best, the decision is not up to me. I can't make anyone love me. I can't make them spend their time with me. Then what can I control? What amidst this chaos can I influence at all?

I can influence myself. The one thing that's always constant in an ever changing world. My consciousness exists and at its core is potential, at its core is pure awareness. It's this force within me that makes experience possible. I am the vessel and my mind the aperture, adjusting here and there to zoom in or zoom out, to let in more or less light. At my core is stillness and it's not sad or meaningless. It is filled with bliss. Bliss is an appropriate word. I'd never quite understood it before. I've felt the bliss of letting go, of wanting nothing and loving everything. I found this while doing research into non-attachment.

"This is why meditation is good practice in non-attachment, because to do something boring, you have to become unattached to the ideas about boredom, suffering, discomfort, entertainment, what's interesting, and so on.

When you're meditating and you get lost in a little imaginary conversation with someone, and then you realize you have stopped focusing on your mantra, you don't want to stop imagining this conversation right in the middle of it. You're attached to the conversation. But you pull your attention away from it (detach) and return to your mantra. Over and over again."

This was particularly meaningful to me. I felt changed as I read the words; "you have to become unattached to the ideas about boredom". I felt the ideas I held about boredom slip away. I recognized then how much of an obstacle the idea of boredom has been to my meditation. By not forming a concept of boredom, but dissociating from the idea that to sit and do nothing is boring I've recognized that doing 'nothing' leaves plenty of room for 'something' to happen. Even if that something is as simple as feeling my heart beat or body breathe.

You don't have to meditate at all. You just have to be aware of your thoughts. When you feel your emotions take off on a tangent as you follow a series of thoughts, become aware that you've been lost. You've stepped out of your surroundings and into your mind. Come back. It may take time to recognize, but most of the day dreams we have serve no useful purpose. Honestly. Just cut them short mid-sentence. You may feel compelled to complete the thought you are having but don't. This is how you practice both mindfulness and non-attachment. It's calming to step out of our mind and into the moment we are currently living.

Think on impermanence. Any and all feelings I have will pass. Any fear and stress, embarrassment, sorrow and joy. It all passes by. Yet while in the midst of feeling bad we tend to think it's meaningful. We're determined to ask why, and give blame. I'm nervous for my interview. I'm embarrassed by what other people think. But that's not exactly true. They may seem to be the cause our feelings, but it's our perspective which determines how those things make us feel. Other people face those same things with ease. They're human too. Their lack of fear does not stem from some inherent quality which they possess and you do not. Attitudes can change. Our minds can evolve.

If my happiness depends on the world working in my favor then I'll always be disappointed. Tossed and turned by unseen forces. Instead I've decided to look at the world without expectation so that I may appreciate all it has to offer. When faced with pain, uncertainty or disappointment, I will think of my body. I'll think about how great it is to live.

I strive not to be excited or disappointed with my job, my health, and my relationships. I'll appreciate good fortune, but I'll wait until it happens. That's how excitement and mindfulness differ. Excitement sets you up for disappointment, it colors an experience you have yet to live.

I want to see the world clearly. We all like to think 'we have an open mind', but there's so much we unknowingly cling to. It's not difficult to recognize how we're attached to possessions but it's difficult to see how we're attached to ideas. We often cling to the opinions we've formed of ourselves and those around us. Of the world itself. Defining the world through having opinions is meant to bring us comfort for we're fearful of uncertainty. The 'comfort' they bring us pales in comparison to the peace of acceptance. Opinions separate us from the world, they dull our minds and put limitations on what we're willing to experience. By accepting uncertainty we're more likely to both see and seize opportunities which may have gone unnoticed before. We can no longer say "I'm not that type of person" when we cease to judge ourselves.

I don't want to spend time guessing how a new experience will feel. I want to live in this moment and have no expectations, no preconceptions. I want to surrender to my complete and utter ignorance about the future and the nature of reality. I am The Fool as they say. Such as in the Tarot, the true realization that you know nothing, the abandonment of old ideas. The beginning and the end, for it is consciousness itself that lives, all those thoughts, those ideas, nothing but shadows.

I want to let go of opinions. I want to live and experience life. I want to recognize and be aware of every little thing that has a positive or negative affect on me. I want to know why. I'm on a noisy crowded bus, I feel bothered, but why, because of my desire for the circumstance to change. Because the circumstance in which I find myself isn't as easy and predictable as I would like it to be. What's causing me to suffer then, the noisy people on the bus or my desires about  how I would prefer things to be. I rarely have the power to change every detail of my surroundings but at any given moment I can change the way I think.

In nearly any situation it's my mind that matters most. My mind that guides me to experience something as good or bad. Reality can only be seen when I seek inner peace. When I accept the moment as it is. When I cut myself off mid sentence during those imaginary conversations and return to what is happening.

Feel yourself now, breathe deep, and know there is no moment but this one. There is no fear to be had. There is simple beauty and contentment now, whether you're at home or at work, alone or with others. There is stillness within you.

Friday, February 3, 2012

We forgive for ourselves...

I was originally inspired to write by Raptitude. Here's something David Cane wrote that I want to share. It's from his post 7 High-leverage life skills they should teach in grade school.

3) Forgiving

"After all this time, all its coverage on Oprah and in religious texts, forgiveness is almost uniformly misunderstood. It does not mean you are okay with what has been done. It doesn’t even mean it doesn’t bother you any more. Forgiving is deciding you will no longer attempt to justify hate or anger, because you know they are damaging to you and your life.

Those feelings will still appear now and then, maybe always, but to forgive is to decide you are done indulging in them. That means no more revenge fantasies, no more nasty remarks. Finally it can begin to recede in your mind.

I’ve experienced a lot of resentment in my life. I’ve mulled it over, wished, fantasized, rehearsed confrontations and diatribes in my head, but I have never once found any true benefit to justifying resentment. All of it is out of control, all of it is painful, all of it is addictive.

There is a comforting feeling in hatred. We imagine it protects us from getting hurt again. This fantasy gives us a spike of relief when we feel powerless, but there is no real power in it. It’s as helpful as thinking about food when you’re stranded on a remote island. Resentment feels good in a bad sort of way. It’s pure mental junk food, only it makes you powerless instead of fat."

He does a great job of pointing out just why resentment and anger are damaging to us. It's clear when you read this that forgiving is not something you do for other people, but something that you do for yourself. If you think withholding forgiveness in some way punishes the person, think again. Whether or not you still hold onto the pain and the anger, they have the power to forgive themselves and move on. Do it for yourself. The pain may come now and then, but don't indulge in fantasies. Don't think about revenge. Make the decision to move on. No one expects you to think it's okay, or to never feel hurt again, but continuing to act on the pain, and to occupy your mind with resentment will only hold you back. More importantly, it doesn't lead you away from your suffering but towards it.

For me this is key. My partner had multiple affairs and that betrayal will always be with me. For months while we were together I had angry fantasies and diatribes as David describes them. I'd see myself arguing and yelling, I'd have the conversation over and over again in my mind. It became so exhausting that I had to take hold of myself, reach down deep for will power and say every time it came to mind "I've thought about this a thousand times already and these thoughts alone are powerless". Eventually the anger and resentment had faded. Though the pain never left me until I left him. Forgiveness isn't about looking the other way, being passive and accepting 'injustice'. It's about doing what you need to do, to no longer indulge in the pain and the anger. Sometimes it takes a life changing decision. Do what you need to do to be happy.

Next time you're in this situation make sure to ask yourself if the decisions you're making or considering are leading toward or away from suffering, toward or away from revenge. Feeling bad about yourself can feel like revenge, giving yourself permission to feel bad and blame the world is just another way of indulging in resentment. If you want to feel any better, you need to take responsibility for how you feel and continually make choices that lead away from negative emotions. Though avoidance isn't the key. Acceptance of the negative thoughts and feelings will help you dismiss them. Acknowledge them but let them go as best you can. If it can't be over come by mind alone, then look for a decision you can make that will change things for the better.