Thursday, July 4, 2019

Time to say goodbye

This blog has been going for a long time. I still enjoy having a writing outlet but I think a blog with a particular theme might work better for me these days.

My interests in meditation, yoga and going deeper into the self are stronger than ever. It therefore makes sense to me to have a blog devoted to those topics, when I can get to it. It will be a fresh start. We all need to have fresh starts from time to time.

To anyone out there still reading the workings of my mind, thank you very much for your anonymous kinship.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Betrayal

It has been by way of my attraction to power exchange relationships that I came to eventually see that I am a 'Giver' who was therefore naturally inclined to a 'Taker'. But, it goes well beyond that scope.

I can see the dynamic present in my family of origin, where I allowed the situation to endure well beyond being a child whereby I gave of myself, making sure they were fine at every turn. The emphasis in my mind was my responsibility to them and not the other way round.

I only have one sibling and this applies to him also, perhaps particularly to him. In my 62 years on this Earth I only asked, for the first time a couple of weeks ago, for some consideration to be given to me on a very important matter. This put the cat amongst the pigeons in ways I could never have imagined.

They wanted to know if something had happened. They didn't use these words, but the subtext was, "You've never asked let alone demanded anything ever before. You've always given in for the greater good, done our bidding; never asked for equality. What's changed? What could you be thinking? You know that's not how this game is played."

It got, from my point of view, quite ugly; insufferably so. I had a point and I wasn't so inclined to let go of such an important point after one most unpleasant meeting, so I asked to speak to my brother alone a week later. By now, I was armed for his dirty tricks but mind blown nonetheless to see how easily he moved from one argument to the other according to my responses. Was he prepared to lie? Endlessly. Countless lies and underhand manoeuvres and manipulations; anything to have his way.

If you are a meditator you might know that the mind tends to open up after a while; that instinct becomes quite precise and tuned. I wondered, is there any chance I was adopted? Had I seen a photo of myself as a baby? Not one photo. There is a photo of me at around 1 year old but I had never seen a photo earlier than that? Is it possible that in the mid-1950s cameras were still not readily owned? My mind considered all sorts of scenarios because there had to be some other explanation than that I had been such a perfect Caretaker that I didn't consciously compute the dynamic for six decades.

In the exterior world, outside family, people can be hell bent to have their way, but you expect that. We have few expectations of relationships that are loose and distant. We don't expect the lawyer of an adversary to play fair, or I don't. There's no loyalty there, no respect; no fondness. So, we are ready for foul play; for ugliness; for greed and hostility.

Not that I play in that arena for a second longer than I have to. I hang out with sweet minded people as often as possible. I am not the least suited to hostility and conflict.

Even so, after all the writing on this blog and elsewhere, all this consideration of my nature and the pitfalls of that nature, and how to protect myself and so on, I never expected so called 'loved ones' to turn, bite and scratch.

I have had some time to digest it all; to consider my position. There isn't a chance, and I mean not the slightest possibility that I can see them as I once did. I chose to ignore all the disappointments of the relationships to that point because what are you going to do? You don't get to choose family and I certainly didn't choose them; didn't get much succor from the relationships but just flowed along without rocking the boat as steadily as I could. But, any feelings of fondness are no longer there. This is just the way it is inside me and there is nothing I can do about it.

In fact, there's a sort of little group text set up between the traitors and myself only in terms of my mother's care. My statements there are all factual, and only made when I think they might be helpful to her. That's the extent of it and so it will always be unless and until I have to make a factual statement relating to finances, which someday I shall. If they really misbehave I shall have to make statements via a lawyer, but let's see how it goes.

For a while there, I was shattered. Now, I am okay with it, so long as I don't have to lay eyes on them. It's all so difficult because I can't be guaranteed that I won't see them when I visit my mother and if I were to do so I'd be physically ill. I am trying to figure out how to sort this because I'd happily have my mother believe that all is well. Her mental faculties are failing her and the best outcome is for her to prattle on about them and for me to say, 'Yes, yes' as I do, her thinking all is well.

The good news is that I have been studying dharma wisdom for some time now and one of my favorite pieces of advice is to accept 'what is'. What happened is not what I would have wanted but it is what happened. I have no argument with the fact it happened this way. Would it have been wonderful to have a family of origin that was close and caring? It goes without saying that would have been lovely, but I no longer concern myself with the fact that this wasn't my lot any more than that it's somebody else's lot to lose something that means a great deal to them: a career, a spouse, a home.

There's no 'why me?' in this story. There is no pre-written plan for any of us. It just is as it is. It's about learning to let go; let go of all that is not serving you; to recognize when the time comes to say 'I did my best.' It is time to move on now without looking back.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The benefits of a meditation practice

Often, perhaps once a month, my husband will say to me how different I am now, and he attributes that to my regular meditation practice. I agree. Meditation has provided me with tools that I had not accessed any other way.

It's a bit of a farce really, all that money spent on medical costs and mental health costs, probably often legitimate therapies, but when you consider meditation is virtually free, save a small cost for a group meditation sit or a few classes to get you going, it has been most underrated as a self-help therapy.

Most people who are asked why they have come to a meditation class will say that their minds are full of thoughts. They don't want that. Or, they want to be less anxious.

Meditation is quite simple really. First, you settle the body. Once you begin to pay attention to your breath, the body gets that cue and begins to understand what you want. A body scan works nicely, perhaps starting at the scalp and letting go one bit at a time, all the way down to your toes. Insight Timer gives you a range of guided meditations to try.

Feeling grounded is good, noting where you feet rest on the floor. If you are experiencing anxiety, breathe into the belly.

Once your body is feeling relaxed, noting any painful sections and breathing into those also, letting go, letting go, you can move onto calming your mind, which in fact you have already begun to do, due to the mind body connection.

Become aware of the sensory world. What does it feel like to touch one hand with the other? Is it smooth or rough? What sounds do you hear, faraway or close by, inside the room or out? Perhaps you hear nothing. Enjoy the sound of silence. Can you detect a scent? Explore that. Be curious about the sensory world. Radiate in it. Notice bird song. Notice a plane flying across you. Bring your focus to the world that is often closed off from your awareness and enjoy that.

By now, you will have noticed thoughts going by, perhaps as fast as city traffic, or just floating by like a cloud. Take one mind step back and be the quiet, silent observer. What is actually going on? Did you notice every thought has a beginning and an end? Your own mind is fascinating if you pay attention for a minute of two.

Perhaps, this isn't a good time for you. You are sitting calming and blow me down some really most unwanted emotions are taking up your mind space. All emotions, in all their nuances, are normal. What is this emotion about? It has arrived with a message. What is it trying to tell you? Don't judge or belittle the emotion or thought. Don't drive it away. Give it the attention it seeks and it will go exactly when it is ready to go.

Allow your mind to float from one thought or emotion or sense. If things are too troubling in there, move back to the breath, or your feet on the floor or your shoulders moving further away from your ears as you relax. The sit is yours. You do what you need to do. Rest in your whole body sitting on the chair or lying on the floor or on your cushion.

Perhaps today you want to feel love and that feeling isn't available to you in the 'real world'. Take yourself to a place you love, the mountains, the sea, whatever pleases you, and remember how that felt.

Or, see in your mind's eye, the little girl or boy you once were, who simply craved some parental attention and care. Pour into yourself the love you want. Remind yourself that you are a good person doing your best. Guilty about something in the past? Remind yourself that at that time you did the best you could based on what you knew then.

There is no much richness in a meditation sit. Each one is unique and that is proven if you keep a meditation journal, although you may well find that certain themes keep coming up. Well, that's rich material for you right there.

If you need a therapist, and so many of us do at some stage to iron out some struggle, meditation goes hand in hand with therapy. It will enrich therapy. It will get you to revelations faster.

Above all, meditation will help you to see that there is a co-existing awareness available to us. We all go through really troubling situations but sitting behind that challenging state of mind is a still mind. It's always there and always available to us. There is more to life than what you see.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Going to quiet (or underground?)

There have been some decisions made in my family of origin that they didn't think twice about, in terms of the effect on me, or how I might feel about those matters. When I think about it sitting here at my lap top, why would they? It is completely normal for them, my mother and my brother, to go about making decisions without in any way consulting me, even when the actions they are taking might well have an impact on me.

It's so normal for them to do this, to treat me in a particular way, that even I was flummoxed when a panic attack, or some sort of extreme bodily reaction on the way home in the car occurred, returning home from visiting my mother. To put myself back there, it felt like every cell in my body was in overdrive. It was extreme agitation, brought on perhaps by the other fact about my relationship with my mother and my brother, that I have never spoken my mind. Whatever they do, whatever they say, I just agree. In fact, I think there has been a lifetime of even thinking I agreed.

It seems so late in the day for denial to lift, to be angry about the relationships, and yet the simple fact is that I am angry, and disappointed.  Sad. There's even a 'why me?' aspect to my feelings. Why couldn't I have a normal family?

I say this a bit tongue in cheek since there are so few of us in this category. But, there's also a serious component. It would be so lovely to arrive at my mother's house having not seen her for over a month, having been overseas, for her to smile and come towards me with open arms and ready to hug. 'Hello, darling, how lovely to see you.' It doesn't go this way. It never goes this way. Perhaps she will accept a peck on the cheek, but if you don't do that, and she doesn't really want it, there's nothing physical about the greeting, and I think that's odd.

Of course, this is the 'isness' of the situation. My complaining won't fix it. Nothing will fix it, but in the past few weeks this 'triggering', this reaction both physical and emotional, has me trying to understand my own reactions. Was I living in denial, or making the best of a bad lot, or have I been mothered by someone quite miserly in her affections and I just didn't want to face that fact?

It's a funny thing because my mother encouraged me to go to university after school, but she didn't come to my graduation, and a few years ago when she did come to the graduation of my Masters it was all about her; how long the ceremony went for and how tired she was. In fact, a photo my son took at the lunch right after the ceremony shows she looked very well that day, but there was no 'congratulations, darling' from her, and even though she is loaded I paid for the celebratory lunch with her and whatever children could make it.

I cannot ignore my filial responsibilities to my mother, and I do have to hold my brother to account for the financial situation that has accrued owing to his further demands on my mother, but my instincts are to honor myself at this time, and to go to quiet, in an effort to provide myself self care.

I want to believe that I can recapture some warm feelings towards my family of origin and yet I doubt that's actually going to happen. When the flood gates finally opened, they came off their hinges and may not be able to be repaired.

I was without boundaries. I was tossed and turned and I never insisted that they stop. Finally, I spoke up for myself with my brother but he's used to getting what he wants. I should fight for my rights but I so want to walk to away and be done with it. Honestly, I wish I could have stayed in denial.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Empty headed

I have heard people talk of spiritual homes and if there is such a thing, mine is on mountains. I thrive in the thin air at the same time as it slows me down. Life up there reduced to its bare essentials seems right to me. Most importantly, what happens to me is that I become like an animal. I just am. Very little thinking goes on.

When we were training back at home for the adventure we went on, I often found that my head was filled with unpleasant thought. I thought  of it at the time as toxicity. Technically, the challenge of the training should have emptied my mind, but it rarely did.

On the adventure, it was a different story. My mind totally emptied such that when people express their admiration for what I did at my age I tell them that it wasn't me that did that trek. I really wasn't there at all.

I have a few specific memories. Perhaps with two, maybe three hours to climb to get to the Summit, having no idea at that stage how much longer it would take, I became aware I was walking alone. A Sherpa wasn't that far behind me and later he was in front of me, so technically I wasn't walking alone, except to say that is how it felt. I had a safety valve but also the feeling that I was in the wilderness alone.

I felt invincible. I felt like a machine that simply has one task: to put one foot in front of the other. I'm not inclined to tell myself 'Good job' but it was at the moment of the rocks being sort of wide and flattish that the thought came into my mind something like, 'Nothing can stop you.'

On the way back to the bus on the final day, maybe 3 hours walk, I purposefully stayed about 30 seconds behind the main group and a minute in front of the final group. In this blessed space I could feel alone but supported; a creature walking through the Andes aware of my feet, the gushing water beside me, the sound of the water rolling over rocks, and the sacredness of being there. I was in my bliss state. So alive!

To change the subject somewhat I just finished eating lunch listening to Shirley MacLaine being interviewed.  She made the statement that her greatest teachers have been the people who hurt her the most. This resonated with me.

I always knew in my bones that when I was exploring the BDSM space that it was a scary place to go. Yet, I felt absolutely compelled; drawn to it like a moth to a flame. When I was deeply hurt in that arena I needed to know why these were such open wounds and why it took so long to heal. I also felt compelled to understand this.

In this way, it was all quite inevitable, necessary and productive. Through the emotional pain I explored the wounds and healed. Without the pain I would have been hurt in some other way, or else I might have had to live with the wounds forever.

Fortunately, I am strong and not silly, so the pain was contained. I listened to my intuition. I never went further than to investigate the physiological responses and the emotion responses, although there was plenty of looping; repeating the material enough times until the wound had completely healed; almost as if the wound needed to be dressed again and again until the seeping stopped.

I wasn't meant to think much; as little as necessary. This is what makes the mountains so appealing. This is what made the doll state so luxurious.

My confidence in the ability or desire of man to engineer this state is not intact. Possibly, I just didn't have a lot of luck there, but more likely I think is that there are next to no men who are that steady. I don't say that in a critical way entirely. I just think men become overcome with their careers and their place in their world and the state of the world. It's almost an impossible thing to ask, I think. So, I have no expectations and I've made my peace with that.

I engineer those experiences now for myself. I empty myself of the contents of mind and I float in my bubble of bliss, as often as I can. It's finding happiness (happiness? perhaps 'authenticity is a better word), again. It's all good.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Suppressed Emotions

In the past year my brother and I began to share observations and memories about our childhood. He'd remembered more than me, but I had done more research than him, and together we began to piece together what had happened.

In the end, we realized that we had been searching for what had happened, when in fact we needed to look at what did not happen. What didn't happen is that we were able to be our authentic selves with opinions and feelings. We had both quickly realized at an early age that having feelings, unless they were to say how wonderful things were for us, was not going to be well received, and was going to cause our parents great angst. We obliged by keeping our internal world very well masked.

I told him something last night for the first time and he told me something that he had never told a living soul, which is amazing because he is joined at the hip with his wife. I can't share here but suffice to say that we both had beliefs that make clear that we felt completely alienated from our parents.

So, that's where we are. Now, where to go?

For my brother's part, he has reinvented his life. The music that he loved but went completely unappreciated by our parents is a big part of his life now; so too is fitness, health, and well being. He plans to live every last day.

For my part, I have to get into all those suppressed emotions. This is vital for longevity. Suppressed emotions are known to lead to illness, so this isn't some fancy notion of mine but more about survival, as well as contentment.

I am a capable person in many ways. I have proven that. But, I know I haven't met my potential. I can feel disappointed with myself and I can feel like I am on the inside looking in. You would not likely pick it up to meet me but I can struggle with self-discipline, with assertiveness, with my feeling states. This is all very common for someone who has experienced emotional neglect as a child. None of these feelings are remotely new. I have lived with them all my life.

Since taking up the Meditation Teachers' Certification course I have been meditating in a new way, with full appreciation for my emotions, and I journal about that, as required. I love leading meditation groups where I introduce this idea to them. Even if you have cancer and are scared, getting in touch with that fear in a meditative state isn't as scary as it sounds. When you face your fears and bring up other suppressed emotions, the body appreciates that. It is part of healing and courage building.

I think I have an ongoing emotion of being lonely, sad. I know that it is best not to rely on another person for my happiness but I do miss my husband and the bond we had. His trading keeps him up at night nearly every night now so we aren't often in bed and awake at the same time, and in any case, he is profoundly asleep when he finally comes to bed, very overtired. So, I feel sad about this state of affairs and conscious that there is not much I can do outside of holiday times, best taken thousands of miles from home and his screens. The difference between home time and holiday time is like night and day.

I feel abandoned. I'm told that's silly, but I do feel abandoned. That's the truth. Yes, maybe it's true, probably is true, that some cancer type therapies, as in supplements, affect his libido, but in all my years on the planet I have been a sexual creature. I miss that state so much.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with my grandson and my daughter and we ran into old friends; showed the lad off. It was an afternoon filled with so much joy. I felt abundant joy. I absolutely adore him. It's a love I didn't truly expect to feel. Sure, I would love all my grandchildren, that's always been a given. But I simply love every moment of being with the little thing. He fills my cup, that's for sure.

It's harder than I ever knew it would be to come out of denial. All those years I held to the story we'd had a happy childhood until it all came flooding back in a whoosh. I barely knew my father. He loved me, absolutely, but he only really wanted the company of my mother. It's just the facts of the matter. He never expected to be a father, was a relatively old father, and had no parenting skills. I loved him and he loved me but we were worlds apart and never bridged the gap. That's the way it was.

So now I go about getting in touch with my true nature, as they say. No more painting a pretty picture of the past for myself. We keep the pretty picture for my mother, of course, because that's the picture she has always seen. But, my brother and I know what we know now. Thank the Lord we've been each other's witness. It's all about moving forward now, finding a place inside ourselves where we may be comfortable, at last.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Emotions

If I hadn't been to meditation retreats, or started Meditation Teacher training, or explored the BDSM space, I doubt I would know much about emotions. Well, that's not quite right. I bought a book called 'Emotions' in 1981.

I was first introduced to the idea of suppressed emotions causing cancer several years ago on retreat and I've mulled it ever since.

Recently, I have also considered the idea of creating good and happy emotions. This has been found to be one of the many things people do when they have a radical remission from cancer.

Articles I have read have suggested releasing anger by writing; a journal, a blog, a letter you never send. Or, exercise. Or, do chair work. In this case, you'd put a chair in front of you and speak to the invisible person you are angry with and tell them how you feel, and why.

Personally, I experience anger towards those very few people who make promises to me, or commitments, but don't follow through. That definitely makes me angry. I stay calm for longer than I should. Patience only goes so far before it feels like a waste of time. You can feel a bit of a dill when someone makes promises but doesn't keep them, over and over again.

Eventually, I say how I really feel. There is fall out, hurt feelings, but to hold in my anger after being remarkably patient for long periods of time would undoubtedly be detrimental to my health. Instinctively, I knew that I had to say what I felt because I was just too uncomfortable in my mind and my body keeping it all held in.

I attended a meditation retreat this past weekend and I used a receptive method of meditation to simply allow my thoughts and feelings to reside and be front and center. After each sitting we journaled what we remembered. I noticed on the last half hour sit that my mind's position had mellowed, but only so far. Promises made still hadn't been delivered and I was angry about that; about being taken for a fool, or being taken advantage of as the empath that I am, with an abundance of desire to create a pleasing state, no matter what; to put happiness first.

People tend to think of meditation being creating a state of calm and bliss. Sometimes. Sure. But, without allowing the mind to be receptive to thoughts and feelings, you are missing out on the opportunity to know the mind and to get at repressed emotions; lethal to your health.

The good news is that once repressed emotions are expressed the mind and the body heave a sigh of relief; abnormal levels start to come back into healthy zones. The mind settles more and the opportunity exists to problem solve in a normal and rational way.

It makes sense to almost everyone, I am sure, that elevated emotions, serve our health well. This is where metta meditations serve us very well. To sit and think of one's loved ones, to cast one's mind over a sense of care for the World, to recite a loving kindness mantra, to have one's heart swell with loving feelings is not only lovely but also wonderful for the mind and body.  Singing, dancing, laughing is all highly recommended.

This is where my life gets stuck. At home, there is a lot of expressing emotions, though rarely mine. I listen and listen, trying very hard to 'observe, don't absorb'. This opportunity to vent is not afforded to me, since regular rants would be most uncomfortable for both of us. I tend to sort my emotions out myself. Every now and again, I disregard these unwritten rules and let it be known exactly how I feel. This is my life saver; perhaps literally.

It is interesting (to me) that I dwelled in the space of metta meditations for a couple of years, really building up 'feel good' and healing emotional states. Once that was in good shape I needed to work on the repressed emotions. This has accomplished two things:

- I needed to acknowledge that my mother was fundamentally absent in my childhood. Once I acknowledged that,  and the damage, I had made space for forgiveness in my heart. I feel very close to her these days.

- I needed to acknowledge my personality - an empath who has a deep need to bond, who has a strong internal critic and a strong need to please. I have been, without doubt, prey to the Narcissist who wanted a devotee, happy to be led, such that he could pretty much do as he pleased.

Older now, I have no interest in this game. If you make me a promise, keep it, or experience my expression of my deep disappointment. No more excuses. No more repressed emotions. Say what you mean. Mean what you say.