Sunday, January 28, 2018


I was born with an extra dose of empathy for the plight of others. Of this, I am certain. My early life was lived out among the downtrodden. Whether they saw themselves as such I cannot know, but I felt their emotional pain. It was incredibly difficult to live with it, hour by hour and day by day, but I had no choice in the matter.

I suspect that I was seen quite simply as a shy child, an introvert. There's truth to that. Whenever I could I stayed in my room, surrounded by books. When I did venture out of my room, except of course to go to school, I went to ballet lessons and piano lessons. My body was more nimble than my fingers and it is dancing that became my true love.

If you think about it for a moment, these are fairly solitary activities. Of course, ballets have many participants but in your body it is just you dancing in sync with others. At the piano, or any instrument, you must delve into your inner life if you are to play well.

I know this not from experiencing it, since I was not a talented piano player. I know it because when my daughter was playing her flute, which she did very well, I sat in a few times as a musicologist took her through pieces of music in intricate detail, perhaps alerting her to a string of notes relating to a caged bird. It was then that I realized that music was so much more than the notes played well. Music comes from the soul and instruments must be played with the soul.

Back to the discomfort of living with those in emotional distress. Each night when I went to the kitchen for my dinner, a dinner not prepared by or eaten with my parents, I had to pass by people, men and women who were drowning their sorrows in beer. I felt that sorrow. I'd feel it like I was feeling sorrow myself and this was very difficult. Obviously, a child does only what one can do, and thus I built a defensive wall that would keep out the sorrow as much as possible. I tried not to look. I smiled and said hello in as disengaged a manner as possible.

The day came when my family was moving on. The establishment was closed. The door bell rang and I must have gone to the door to answer it. Standing there, tall, sad looking and carrying a satchel was a patron I recognized. I told him I would fetch my mother. I returned to the door with her and I heard him give her his best wishes. He wanted to thank her for her kindness over the years.He said that he would miss us and being able to frequent the business daily. I felt his pain. I felt his loss. I still do.

This capacity to feel other people's emotions can make crowds very difficult, going to school to volunteer very difficult. It can make making the right decisions in life very difficult. I have far too much empathy. It is my heart and not my head that wins. A psychologist would definitely identify this as a problem. The heart and head don't have to operate in a 50/50 way, but too far in either direction is a problem. I know this.

Every now and again, I find myself actually saying out loud to myself words like, 'This is a test. This must be a test.' I say this because my empathy fails me in the moment and I wonder if this is some sort of fault in the empathic system. If I have such a healthy dose of it, why can't I feel anything? Why has my empathic system, my heart, shut down?

Lately, I have been very very quiet. January in Australia is slow anyway but I have done little more than read and write, walk, yoga lessons, cook, meditate and breathe deeply. I water the garden and indoor pot plants. I sometimes nap. I do the laundry and such. But, it's the smallest of lives, deliberately small for now

It's like I am saving energy for listening and noting. It is like I am being observant to hear the beating heart, my beating heart. It's some sort of shift which I am not truly aware of in the mind space. I do wonder if this soul of mine, a timeless soul, dwelling within this particular body form, is insisting that I take this time to listen to my own heart; to tend to my own heart.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Thinking is so boring

For several years I've liked the image of the blue sky when thinking about the mind. Clouds come when they are ready and go when they are ready. No matter how many clouds are on the horizon, underneath is the blue sky. Blue sky, of course, is the still mind, the constant 'I am' that sits behind all emotional disturbances and turbulent thoughts of the mind.

Lately I have been enjoying the image of the water. No matter how many waves unsettle the water, underneath the water it is still.  To dive into the deep waters is to take a rest from the mind that wants to keep the ego always present.

To dive into the deep waters, into silence, is to stop for a time the incessant nature of the mind to think thoughts.

Without thought, stories running through the mind, there are so many gifts. The body calms as breathing deepens and slows.We have access to, for a few minutes at least, a higher form of ourselves.

Sharp noises soften. This has been my experience for the past several moments as a high-pitched drill can be heard close by.

The heart softens. Unconditional love can be felt, a connection to all beings, and self love too. There was a whisper of a settling thought that I noticed float across my mind. 'There, there, dear. You've woken unsettled. Just let the thoughts go. Thoughts are so boring.'

My mind becomes aware of what it hears. The drill has stopped. A plane is overhead. A bird sings.

Peace drapes over me like a black cloth.

The drill starts up again but it feels further away now. It is noisy outside illuminating the calm inside.

So lovely to know that with practice we have access to the still mind at a whim.

It could be said that a person seeks to reach a spiritual space. This implies a very long journey and a great deal of work with no guarantees. It is better I think, far more attainable, to simply settle into silence for a time. No need to call it meditation. Just give the mind a rest. That is all.

Close your eyes now. Breathe slowly and deeply. Let your body settle. Recognize that to not think is so delicious. In this moment, Now, there is nothing to fear and nothing to worry about.

Notice that in the peace, unconditional love makes an entrance. There is a sense of weightlessness. The heart opens. This happens very naturally in a still space. The ego realizes it has been relegated to the back seat. It sits quietly awaiting opportunities to take the driver's seat, that it knows will surely come later.

Restored, you can proceed with your day. With this little look into a peaceful mind, you will of course visit again, and again. The ego has a true competitor now.