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Muchness

More words…

Soon to come.

For a bit of a spell,

 I lost my muchness.

But… 

IT’S BACK!!!!

 

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40 days…

LENT has arrived!

Forty days meditating and fasting in the wilderness left HIM hungry. The Not so Nice One turned hunger into opportunity and tried to tempt and persuade on three occasions. Each temptation met rejection. Each persuasion met rejection.

Every year at this time within churches around the world, this passage from the Gospels is read and discussed. This year while figuring out what Lent means to me and how I plan to celebrate, three words, Contemplation, Action and Resolve have settled into mi alma and are now my personal goals for LENT.  Supposedly,  LENT represents doing without or giving up, a sacrifice of some kind, but it also represents a chance to deepen our faith, study scriptures, discuss, argue, about our faith, our church, goals and most importantly acknowledging spirituality within and amongst each other.

Contemplation-Meditating on scriptures, mindfulness and fasting (no alcohol, fish on Fridays)

Action-to give more of what I can which is volunteering and to put into practice the Four Agreements

Resolve– what was experienced after 40 days, what stays, what goes…    

 

 

 

 

 

***Photo taken from internet

On turning the big…

A major milestone birthday passed.

So major was this day that the words ‘anti-wrinkling cream’ and ‘Oil of Olay’ are now part of my vocabulary. ‘Life Style Lift’ would gladly join the ranks but plastic surgery costs let alone the thought of going under anesthesia with the scalpel standing by is-well- I’ll leave those three words by the curbside.

The milestone birthday…

Of course reaching this birthday is in itself a milestone. I feel fortunate, lucky and grateful, for many do not have the opportunity to live this long. Although celebration is in order, reaching this birthday also stirs the pot of regrets, disappointments and failure.

Yes, midlife does come with a price tag.

It serves as a thermometer to the highs and lows of life’s accomplishments or lack of. I guess the most important thing at this point in ones’ life is to concentrate on the GOOD, ignore the UGLY and pretend the BAD does not exist.

For me the GOOD is where the gratefulness and gratitude flourish:

-Finding out what I really want to do work-wise instead of sitting in my rocking chair later in life regretting not finding it
-Having a warm bed to sleep in at night with the security and comfort of two mini schnauzers and a tabby by my side
-Not going to bed hungry, having a roof over my head and not waking up to hunger out in the streets of NYC
-Being an Anglican-Episcopalian/ Roman Catholic/ Wanna be Buddhist –surprisingly it does work, just don’t let the Anglican/Episcopalian priest know about the Buddhism and don’t mention the Anglican/Episcopalian stuff to the RC priest

For me the BAD is where reflection comes into play:

-Not understanding or caring to understand the sometimes-psychotic nature of the interim priest at my Anglican-Episcopalian church
-My home living conditions-sometimes finding what one wants to do work-wise requires great sacrifices such as sharing a living space
-Not making enough money to buy that bread maker or take a trip to Germany or better yet BUY A GRAND PIANO!
-Feeling completely helpless in dealing with life’s drama
-Wanting to have five dogs and six cats but lacking the space or resources or better yet money for therapy to figure out where the desire to have that many animals comes from

“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on…”

For me the UGLY is where regrets linger and ferment:

-Not owning the condominium I so longed to purchase when the funds were secure and growing
-Leaving California
-The What if’s, Should haves, Could haves that refuse to go away and just die
-The why the hell did you allow this to happen scenarios and now you have no recourse dramas
-The, Why did I marry? Sorry M.
-The years lost spending time being angry with my dad, Noel before our reconciliation

“One of the happiest moments ever is when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change…”

Thoughts on meditation…

As I continue my meditation practice, I‘ve come across writings, chanting, music, attended meditation sessions and the 14th Dalai Lama (no, we have not met, just through his writings). Needless to say, I am in the Buddha zone of the most delightful kind.

Exploring Tibetan Buddhism continues to be an adventure in discovery, critical thinking and practice. As I read various writings and teachings by lay persons and lamas, I gain clarity and new perspectives. Of course putting what I’ve learned to physical practice is different than reading about it.  Words in print can be glorified, oohed and awed over. Trying to get them to leave the page is another matter!

The Eightfold Path is one of many tenets within Tibetan Buddhism and shares similarities, in a strange way, with the Ten Commandments in that both are implemented towards spiritual growth and an enlighten way of life. The difference between the two, in my opinion, lies in presentation and tone. The Eightfold encourages changes which strive towards enlightenment while the Commandments, command. Do good, go to heaven, do bad…well we know where that leads to.

I was baptized a Catholic, attended Jehovah’s Kingdom Hall while a Catholic, later confirmed as an Episcopalian and now meditate as a Buddhist (or attempting – after all I am in the beginning stages). And no, I’m not imitating Pi Patel’s religious dabble from the book but at times it feels as if curiosity fuels the skipping, stumbling and jumping down the spiritual journey path.

The Eightfold

  1. Right View-See things as they are not what you wish them to be
  2. Right Intention-commitment to ethical behaviour
  3. Right Speech-abstain from false speech, no lies or deceit, abstain from harsh words or slanderous speech or to speak maliciously against others, abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose of depth
  4. Right Action-abstain from harming sentient beings,
  5. Right Livelihood-no dealing in weapons, in human beings (slave trade/prostitution), raising animals for slaughter, working in meat and production and butchery, selling alcohol or drugs
  6. Right Effort-to prevent unwholesome states
  7. Right Mindfulness-contemplation of body, contemplation of feeling,
  8. Right Concentration-meditation

The Ten Commandments

  1. Do not worship other gods
  2. Do not worship idols
  3. Do not misuse God’s name
  4. Keep the Sabbath holy
  5. Honour your father and mother
  6. Do not murder
  7. Do not commit adultery
  8. Do not steal
  9. Do not lie
  10. Do not covet

Compassion…

Compassion is that which makes the heart of the good move at the pain of others. It crushes and destroys the pain of others; thus, it is called compassion. It is called compassion because it shelters and embraces the distressed. – The Buddha.

Practicing compassion on a daily basis is not easy and at times I wonder if it will ever be. I would like the practice of compassion to be infused within my being so it becomes like breathing -done without much thought, except when I inhale someone’s disgusting cigarette smoke.

But, every day experiences or situations where compassion is most needed, at times, is almost impossible to produce.

Situations like:

1. Dealing with emotional bats, otherwise known as emotional vampires-those lovely people who literally suck the marrow outta ya then fill the crevices with their overbearing problems. I prefer to use the term emotional leeches for literary visual impact. Bats are pretty cute while leeches, (those crafty blood suckers) are flat-out UGLY!

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OR

2.  Viewing yet another rape crime on the media and plotting with friends on how to introduce legislation that allows male castration as a form of punishment or better yet castration with a dose of Frank’s hot sauce after the procedure. Yes, compassion is not available at this time, only revenge on the p***s kind…now, what if the perp is a woman…?

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Yes, the examples are not nice but that’s the irony of compassion-it’s not meant to be utilized solely for the feely good things, the charities, the Hurricane survivors, the down on their luck person, etc.

For me, compassion does come easy when the situations or events fall under the feely good things. It flows endlessly, no questions pondered or second thoughts. But, place in front of me a complainer, an agitator, a supervisor who uses me to do his work while he sits in his office and watches movies on his NOOK, neglected animals at the hands of neglected humans, verbal bullies who hurt emotionally with words…this can go, but it stops here, and my compassion which normally resides in mi alma has conveniently moved to my foot.

Yes, the complainer may have painful things going on inside, the agitator may be acting from pain, the supervisor…well…the supervisor may feel his work is inferior and therefore engages in movie viewing on the job (while raking in a big salary) to pacify his deflated ego and now my compassion has moved from my foot to my stomach.

My meditation practice of Tibetan Buddhism centers on compassion, which is essential towards enlightenment. In order to put forth compassion unto others, I must first have compassion towards myself. There are a few things about me that do not permit my compassion. I can be a complainer, an agitator but not one who watches movies at work or neglects animals or bullies with words. If I disdain those traits in others, how do I deal with them within myself?

Right now, I read, I try to practice and hopefully in due time a teacher will find me and gently lead me on the correct path towards compassion.

**photos taken off the internet

Those who are full of themselves…

Full of themselves-to be full of oneself or one’s own importance-Word Reference Mine[1]

Those who are full of Themselves:

-are downright annoying if you are stuck in the company of one

– will make you meditate to Buddha for loving/kindness and throw in a prayer to the One and only if you are stuck in the company of two or more!

-are self-righteous and love to sit on imaginary pedestals of grandeur as the ‘ordinaries’ muddle about at their feet

– are the cause of severe trauma to the mind and ears for the mind will strain to dissect through the verbal bull and the ears will develop extra wax to block out the irritating shrill of their voice (this has yet to happen to me, but I thought I’d put it out there)

Those who are Full of themselves:

-believe they are the only ones who have talent of any kind

-believe the world centers on and revolves around their schedules, thoughts, needs, wants…

-believe their way is the way, the only way and the ONE’s way needs major adjusting

-believe they are the cream of nectar, do not smell and can wear the same underwear for days on end (not necessarily true, but who cares?)

Those who are full of them Selves:

-may lack self worth

-may be insecure in the most unhealthy way

-may be full of them selves due to the fullness of past abuse endured

-may NEED the most compassion, understanding and patience from a person who is not full of them selves can give

What the buddha…

‘Prayer is talking to God
Meditation is listening to God’-
meditation teacher from Introduction to Meditation

Buddha-w

The other night, I went to an Intro to Meditation class at the Tibet House in NYC.

The teacher, a commanding presence in a room full of ‘wanna be’ meditation practitioners, was straightforward in her lecture style, which began with an inquiry into students’ meditation practices. After listening to the different styles, breathing techniques and so forth, she proceeded to dismiss most of the students’ practices. In other words, their meditation practice lacked technique, structure or a teacher’s guidance, which would cloud clarity.

This was alarming news to those ‘wanna bees’ who thought they were meditating the correct way. Presently, I am a meditation explorer, testing the waters, dipping my big toe in anticipation of diving into this practice. I am as green as a lime when it comes to knowledge of meditation techniques and secretly aspire to become a ‘wanna be’!

The teacher wanted to know why we came to the intro on such a cold night. One student stated she came to learn how to gain more focus and control her wandering mind during meditation. The teacher prompted the student to elaborate. The student responded reflectively and declared her wandering mind interferes with her yoga rendering her attempt at advanced poses.

The teacher’s response to the student: “Let it go”.

Silence and static filled the room like a bad smell.

“Let it go. If you can’t do the poses, let it go. If it’s not enjoyable, let it go”.

More silence and I thought I heard some students gathering up their belongings and coats.

I finally got it.

The teacher’s ‘Let it go’, was not to be taken by its literal sense. The teacher wanted the student to see the pressure she was placing upon herself, by her own expectations. Instead of finding enjoyment in the movement of her body towards forming the poses, she fixated on attaining proper form as well as the expectation of the yoga teacher. The student placed all these constraints on herself and it interfered with the enjoyment of yoga for yoga’s sake.

“Let it go”, meant let go of the constraints placed upon yourself, let go of what is preventing you from enjoyment-not let go of the activity-unless the activity itself is not causing joy.

That made good sense to me.

So, I put into this into practice and found myself letting go, last night, during a running workshop. Yes, I caved in and with the flow of transitions guiding me, enrolled in a Beginner’s running group. The group meets Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings for training until the end of March.

I am not a night person and thought running at night would be disastrous.

It is not.

I am a morning person and enjoy the runs on Sunday.

I do.

The group is competitive.

I am not.

I am not the first to reach the finish nor am I the last.

It does not matter.

Running or penguin running for me is better than a glass of wine or eating a Nathan’s hot dog.

During last night’s run, the sound of my feet climbing the hills was mesmerizing as I felt the cold wind down my throat. I stopped to pet every dog along the way, even the French bulldog who got a little too friendly. I smiled at people and the heaviness of working at the shelter no longer placed pressure on my chest.
I reached the finish and stretched out the kinks in my legs.

Pressure, criticism, worry, doubts, contradictions or expectations were not riding my back with the imaginary monkeys.

I just ran like a penguin and it felt incredibly good.

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