Attachments to rituals and thoughts on the pandemic

 

Attachments to rituals.  I’m looking at that right now.  Grabbing my cards at 2 am on a Saturday night to help with a decision.  That’s going to help me to get to sleep.  Wait.  What am I writing about?  This coronavirus scare has my energy off a bit.  Should I buy more toilet paper?  (just kidding). No that’s not the problem, although my gosh one does begin to wonder if the stores don’t restock what a mess it could make of things.  Yeah, let’s not go there.  It’s the gym, you know?  That’s what’s got me out of bed so my mind will shush up about it.  As the fear began to loom about the virus and with a strong desire to do my part for my fellows, I skipped my gym time on Friday.  Yet, today I dashed in after notices on the gym’s website that they are taking all these precautions with cleaning and providing extra wipes and sanitizers.  I felt guilty doing it but I was craving cardio and did a vigorous hour on the spin bike.  The crowd at the gym might have been a bit smaller than usual today, but not that much.  YET, now the governor of our state has closed all the schools for 2-weeks.  The gym did shut down certain gatherings and is limiting the number of members allowed in classes and our library has canceled all group type meetings and activities for 2 months!  I’m taking my temperature each day.  I felt like my luck was being pushed by getting a few more groceries the other day.  I’m rationing the stray cat’s food (there are 5 of them!) and find myself holding back from eating what’s in the freezer and cupboards.  Hey, and that’s a good thing.  I’ve gained near to 5 pounds over the winter.

Yeah and now I’m looking at giving up my gym time and cringe when envisioning . . . well, let’s say that its likely to be another damn test in letting go and non-attachment.  Contrast that with the PBS Evening News weekend edition report from Italy where some people are dying in their homes and they are being left there due to fears of collecting the bodies and spreading the virus further.  Many older adults are being triaged and not treated due to not enough respirator equipment to keep them alive.  The entire country is being told to stay at home unless an emergency and the police are enforcing by violators being jailed or fined.  Imagine being given a citation for being out of your home.  Intense and really scary!  And then there’s me boohooing about missing my workouts!  I feel ashamed.  Like many people are doing, however, there’s that part of the mind that says, nawh, that’s not going to happen here; everywhere else maybe, but not here, not us, not me.  

I’m certainly not alone with this struggle right? Now I want to delete this blog feeling ashamed to even be writing it!  But, full disclosure.  I just completed a 40-minute vow meditation — vowing to sit in complete stillness without moving at all.  In this deep metta-meditation,  the concentrated focus involved in not moving a muscle, and the tonglen (exchanging self for others) were all offered (the merit and energy) for any and all who may be in fear or in any way suffering especially in relation to this coronavirus.  Point being just had the thought that maybe tonight’s earlier meditation will balance things out with my selfish gym concerns.  Who knows.

Lifting weights 3 times a week in a group choreographed releases is addictive!  But if I spread a virus as a carrier without knowing (they say you can have it and not know it), then oh no!  I better not go. Right?  I take my temperature every day and feel fine, but still . . . right?

Anyway, do you get the feeling that the authorities know more than they are telling us about the virus?  I watch the news but still feel there’s something missing there.  Here’s a gross report.  One TV reporter said that the virus came from bats and then tonight I read about it originating from snakes.  Ugh. Let’s let those thoughts go; shouldn’t have mentioned it.

Stress is not good for anybody, right?  Therefore, I must stop stressing about this question and my attachment to the spin bike and the weight lifting classes must be handled.

Right; well then.  A quickie. Turning to my cards.  Yes or No spread.  Is it in everyone’s best interest, including my own, if I avoid the gym until they sound the all-clear?  Yikes; That could be months!  There go my mental withdrawal symptom alarms at the very thought of that!

Such an oxymoron, right?  Going to a gym and working out is supposed to be a healthy thing to do!

Right.  Anyway. The cards.  Okay. Here we go . . . No, let me add timing to this question.  I will ask for one week and then decide weekly thereafter.  Here we go . . .

The revised question is this:  Is it in everyone’s best interest, including my own if I do NOT go to the gym for one week? Yes or No? 

Alright.  It’s a YES.  Ace of Swords, Three of Cups, Ace of Cups.

(Ace in the 3rd pile of 13 cards is the strongest indicator of YES and the Ace of Swords in the 1st pile of 13 adds to it.

The middle pile of 13 cards displays the Three of Cups which adds to the meaning.

The first impression in seeing that card was about how being with the other women (oops, guys in the class too) lifting weights to music week after week is group power and fun.  And there’s the community and bonding stuff going on.  I see this card as a validation of the question that is being asked… women lifting cups, bonding.  Me lifting weights and doing the same at the gym.  Get it?  It’s like the cards are telling me that they hear the question, loud and clear.

But with this decision, the Three of Cups card also indicates that there are joyous possibilities that can come from my withdrawal. I will find a way to do cardio and increase at-home yoga to not lose my fitness level.  THAT will be a challenge but what can I say?  I may actually really enjoy that — yeah, well, keeping an open mind, I will re-asses in one week.

Done and done!  Right now I’m going to say that I’m going to bed.  My mind will shut up now.  The decision’s been made.

My heart extends to all who are suffering from the effects of this pandemic.   May you, reader, be safe and protected.

PS —  image at the top of this post was a random photo but that looks like one of our group power moves, actually chest press is my favorite and my bar is loaded with 3 plates too and we lay on the bench just as the people in the photo; probably my 3 plates are not the same weight as the people in the photo but looks the same anyway… yeah, it’s late and I’m not making sense now.  Goodnight; didn’t intend to go on and on so long.

 

 

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Integrating Spiritual Experiences into the Personality

Integrating Spiritual Experiences into the Personality

Integrating Spiritual Awakenings into the Life of the Personality

Do you see what’s going on?  I mean really? There’s a burning desire within me to write about this maybe because until now I only partially understood what’s been going on.  Maybe that’s what you are (or have been) too and that’s why this post.  Let me give a few examples of what is intended.  Let’s say you watched all three Lord of the Ring movies.  But even if you haven’t, hang in there, okay?  Remember how Sam, Frodo, Pippin, and Merry came back from their adventures returning to the Shire and the looks they got from the hobbits from those who never left?  Remember how Frodo and the others looked at one another?  They had to find some way to come back now after their long journey and live normal lives.  Right.  See where I’m going here?  Integration back into the work-a-day world with others can be difficult.

My gosh, I’ve written about my difficulties with that for years but wasn’t fully aware that its a process now in which many others are also struggling.  Increased sensitivity to sound and noxious energy is one part of it. Yet the other part is continuing to meditate in the world of men and beasts after being in true solitude and withdrawal for an extended period.

Some people go on retreat, some for as long as a year.  For myself, it was a much longer period of time overall.  Not that I didn’t have to deal with real-world concerns in spurts but for the most part, I do recall at least 2 solid years of meditation throughout the bulk of the day.  I was, for all practical purposes, withdrawn from the world of the ego/personality and spent a good deal of time in states of . . . well, let’s just say in states in which the self that deals with earth living was out of the picture.

I pictured myself remaining in that state until the end of days.  Yet, the personality/ego needed to integrate all the spiritual meditative states and bring them right into the face of loud neighbors, barking dogs, mean humans and the whole gambit of aversions.

My meditations took on a new format at that point.  My mind was being critical, judgmental, aversive, impatient, intolerant—you name it.  Woah, my spiritual practice took a huge hit!

I began to really dislike myself and felt like all my spiritual work was destroyed.  My mind, in meditation, was running in 10 different directions and it wasn’t easy to pull myself together, so-to-speak.

At that point, thoughts of becoming a nun of some type or other or hiking the Appalachian Trail on a permanent basis were prominent.  I began to resent my family to whom I came down of the mountain (literally from the high Country of the Appalachians to the flatland) to serve.  I wanted to go back, desperately.  I didn’t want to integrate.

Many times when my energy tangled with a difficult human I’d find myself really angry at myself instead of realizing it’s okay to stand up for one’s self in a way that is direct and at the same time kind.

My point in writing this is that people who view themselves as on a spiritual path upon which they might have had profound spiritual experiences feeling great love, peace, and unification/oneness in meditation or on retreats should give themselves a break.  Like Frodo and the others and even like Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, it’s a path and may take a while to come back to this temporary earth home after having really gone HOME.  No matter if that going HOME was brief or for years, it is my current understanding that our job now is to apply what we experienced to our ego/personality and integrate that within the earth world.  It’s a journey and self-acceptance is a huge part of it now as we pull the mind back into the unity consciousness it once knew.

Memories will arise triggered by life experiences and people outside of times of spiritual withdrawal and we can watch the mind and learn about our patterns and tendencies.  In that awareness, we can diffuse their energy.  But it doesn’t mean we’ve lost our prior spiritual state, nor does it mean we have done anything wrong.

It’s just a deeper level of spiritual awakening and not a failure in any way.  That’s what I’m trying to convey.

I hope these views and opinions of mine will find their way to those who might be able to understand and benefit from this little post.

Life – Is it one unchanging moment of happiness?

Unchanging HappinessIs it possible that any moment in our life would be one that we would wish to have unchanging, remaining the same for eternity?  We do this with life maybe subconsciously but we seem to continually be leaning forward to try to achieve that unchanging and happy moment.  Here are some thoughts about that from my view.  My life does not seem to be one unchanging moment of happiness.  That’s likely true for you too, right?   No matter how we try consciously (or subconsciously) to achieve a continually unending moment of bliss, we know it’s not possible.  Yet we still try for it.

What to do then?  We can pull back from striving to reach for that unending happy moment and instead make peace with this here moment no matter how it appears for us.  How?  By believing that this moment is more than enough.  Its not that difficult really.  We can do it by developing stability and the state of wellbeing with intentionality. ( Fake it until you make it using the tool of meditation. ) This then is the gateway to freedom from the suffering that consumes us due to yearning for some other moment (s).

It is to our great benefit to have the kind of confidence in our overall life that any moment has, contained within it, the seed of freedom from the suffering that yearning creates – said another way, enlightenment comes from making peace with the human condition. 

When we don’t argue with the way things ‘are’ and when we don’t make life wrong by believing like . . . “it shouldn’t be this way” . . .  and when we can make peace with life in such a way that we do not become tired of life or weary of the trials that are natural to this dimensional reality.

Let’s face it.  Life does turn sour on occasion or as I have heard it recently referred, “. . . when life turns rancid.”   But what I am referring to here is that to make peace with life and its many ups, downs, and experiences keeps us out of that kind of yearning that causes our unhappiness.

Psychologists tell us that even if we intellectually admit that difficulties in life happen and we concede that trauma does occur in life,  when we bump up against such energy there’s a part of the mind that is incredulous–its doubtful about it’s happening.  And in that type of unacceptance, we suffer even more.  In Buddhist thought, this is referred to as ‘the second arrow’ if you are familiar.  Double suffering is another way to say that.  There’s a part of the mind that cannot conceive that suffering can occur in our life! And want’s to deny that it shouldn’t be the way it is.

We set ourselves up when we try to reach out to find that which we believe will complete or fulfill our hearts.

The fact that we think our heart is lacking that which something outside ourselves can provide is the first step in the confusion about all this.

Whatever we reach out for in order to bring the heart to its fulfillment it (or to complete it) will eventually disappoint us.  Clinging or grasping for what we think we don’t already have can never work in the end.

Imperfection, disappointment, anger, even hatred energies exist in this realm and are woven into the fact of being human.  It’s just how things are on earth.  Yet, remember, as you just read that last sentence, there was likely that part of your mind that disbelieves it.  Or believes those energies bump into others but not myself. 

Stress occurs by not making peace with that way things are and resisting or arguing with it all.  I often quote this phrase, “Whenever you argue with life, you lose.”  Meaning you suffer.

My final thought:  All difficulties or suffering bring opportunities for growth and insight.  When we understand life in the ways I’ve written about here, we develop wisdom.  Then the mind feels strength, energy, freedom, detachment and becomes devoid of craving and the sources or causes of suffering.