Saturday, November 10, 2018

Self love

I am coming to know, albeit slowly, a lovely woman who has known Ram Dass for many years. As a younger woman it was while she was having lunch with him that she shared a regret; that she wasn't going to have a child. He was somewhat dismissive of her concern, saying that there is always something that we want that we can't have. That's life. It's challenging to be told this by someone, anyone, and yet it's the truth; the cold, hard facts.

In fact, it's not a new notion to me; my father said the same thing often. He, for example, could never manage to get himself a race horse that won races, but if this was the something he couldn't have, he was comfortable with that. He said something similar when our house was spared in the 1983 bush fires. At home with the idea of luck, he felt our turn of good luck had occurred at just the right time.

Occasionally, a family member buys a ticket in Tattslotto or at an airport to win a luxury car. I nod and watch as they buy the ticket but I have zero expectation of our luck being demonstrated in a winning ticket. You have to be in it to win it and all that, but I don't expect it to ever happen. I've no faith whatsoever in it happening.

My husband wanted to go to the Oaks this week and I said a similar thing to him. I've got four healthy and happy children, a new perfect grandson. I've had plenty of good luck in life. It would be selfish to ask for more, nice to back the winner, but small potatoes in the scheme of life.

It is the case that we all have needs and desires. There is nothing wrong in that but when our deepest needs and desires are not met we go looking for substitutes. That's what the human mind does to try to settle itself. It might be a new dress or a bowl of ice-cream; a bottle of gin; drugs. It can be so destructive and yet we do it in a bid at self-survival. If I can't have what I really want, then I need something to drape over all this emotional pain, is the way the mind loops and weaves; justifies.

Like any situation it pays to stop and think about what is going on. If there is agitation, and that's how I experience it, then pause long enough to notice the agitation and call it out for what it is. I don't mean to self flagellate here; on the contrary I recommend giving yourself some comfort at this point.

'There, there, dear. This is hard for you. I know this is very hard for you'. Take some deep breaths. Sit with the agitation a little and see if it might shift. In other words; pause; don't go into overdrive with the need for relief before you give yourself a chance to self-soothe.

Another way of thinking about this is, if your tendency is to do something with negative consequences to yourself, your body or a close relationship, what could you do instead that might turn you back towards a feeling of relief, of ease?

Self-discipline isn't a sexy message but in some ways it is necessary for every person to cultivate enough self discipline to not be self destructive.

Meditation is in fact a form of self discipline as well as being a form of self love. My training had an element of the boot camp about it, and I suppose, I survived and thrived to tell the tale. But, I don't recommend this way of going about self learning of the mind. I wouldn't recommend sitting through  very much pain at all; a tiny bit is inevitable.

Most importantly, I'd recommend learning to meditate and keeping up a meditation practice with a group, led by someone quite sweet in disposition who won't scare you or put you off. Meditation can be a heavenly experience when a guide can lead you to a gentle place; a healing place too.

The Buddhists are correct. In life, we all suffer, but then if we suffer enough we demand to know how to stop suffering. This leads to a spiritual life; backbone along with kindness towards self and others.

Oddly, this approach can lead you back to your desires and the attaining of your desires. Perhaps it won't be the version you carried around in your head all those years, but you won't turn on yourself for having those desires.

In time, you'll be quite comfortable in your own skin, taking responsibility for your own sweet self and that which makes you you. You won't be demanding, internally or overtly, that someone else make your life how you want it. You'll figure out how to do this for yourself. Don't expect all the answers today, just start walking down the path of being good to yourself in ways that you, deep down, know to be good for you.

Self-flagellation is not the answer. Leave that to someone more proficient with a whip.