WEIGHING WORDS

When it comes to writing for my blog, I sometimes feel stymied – thinking about the subject that is my interest, well, everything that can (or should) be said, seems to have been.

Meditation is my interest, passion more likely.  And, often, I see that treated as the latest hip, slick and cool thing to do, or to claim one is involved in.  There are all kinds of challenges, retreats, spas, etc., all having the latest take on meditation and very, very expensive -guessing here that this would be the benchmark for how valuable it is – not to me.

Nothing wrong with making a living, but it does seem, to me, these days that every idea, every word that comes out of anyone’s mouth is fodder for a new enterprise.  The first consideration – how much can we charge, how much would people tolerate paying?  How and to whom do we market?  It sickens me.  I see meditation often marketed as an opportunity for greater prosperity – do this, this way and you’ll be a millionaire in a month.  Oh, please.

What about, learn to think, learn to think for yourself what your own thoughts truly are and feel better.  What if learning to think and know your own thoughts allowed you to be more at ease in yourself and in your relationships.  What if you had more of you, a deeper, more centered you in all areas of your life.  That’s the meditation I’m talking about.  I have no concern or intention to turn anyone into a millionaire. Billionaire is the target now, isn’t it?

It’s a simple process, a simple truth – doesn’t require a commitment to a lifelong guru, surrendering your will or identity to another person, which I AM NOT a fan of AT ALL.  For me, meditation was the open door.  It was my way to living a full, open life.  I had great difficulty coping with, let alone trying to conquer, chronic pain.  I didn’t want the current western medical model:  antidepressants, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs, etc.  I wanted a clear, strong, creative mind.  I didn’t want to watch $$ flying out the window pursuing every silly, snake oil idea out there.

I found meditation.  Practiced, studied, practiced, took classes online, went to classes, studied some more, practiced, read every book I could find and got results.  My results were surprising to me, initially.  The first, I realized I was experiencing moments of inner peace – I hadn’t had that before.  And, then stringing together, more and more spaces of time spent in true happiness – regardless of my current environment or situation.  I just felt enough, equal to the challenge, whatever it might be.  I lost my worry.  I became better at planning, but lost my worry.  I’m not looking for him, either. . .

Anxiety was the next to lose it’s grip.  Oh there still may be triggers, but they don’t get a hold anymore.  They are recognized for what they are, and seem to fade out.  How does that help chronic pain?  Well, my pain did not go away.  But, I have more energy and more ability to manage the pain.  It is there, I’m aware of it, I don’t deny it, but it’s just there period, that’s all.  It is a reality, just like having blue eyes – but you don’t spend all day thinking about your eyes.  I have more success planning and using my energy to its best effort.

I see so much potential for meditation – of course, there have been many cultures who have known this for thousands of years.  I want to see schools able to offer meditation – it’s good for any person, and I think would be excellent for the bullying problem – bullies and the bullied, alike.  I’m not teaching a system, a religion, or even a philosophy – My goal is to teach others what I have learned:  Your mind is your own, and the thoughts you hold are there because YOU thought them, and decided to keep them and make them your subject – it is that simple.  Learn to know your own mind.  Learn who you want to be.  Learn why you allow some thoughts to continue and whether that is useful to you, or not.  Learn that you can change at any moment, and then change again.

So, let’s weigh our words.  Let’s look at the profit in our words as the ‘prophet’ in our words first.  Weigh them in your mind, are they useful?  Are they helpful?  What feeling do they promote?  It’s up to you.  Thanks so much for reading.  Lilie

THE ZEN KOAN: GOOD NEWS/BAD NEWS

Many of us have heard some version of the Zen koan dealing with what constitutes good or bad news.  That has been a delight and a stronghold for me.   To me, news is news – the good and the bad, you must sort – and you will.
So, the news.  Since September, when I took the first of two serious falls, I have had trouble with my legs – extremely painful and limited in walking.  Normally, I have pain in my left leg and some trouble walking due to post-herpetic neuralgia of the L5-S1 nerve roots.  In March, I fell and broke my right leg.  It healed well.  When it healed, they wanted to take another look at my spine (I’ve also had two spinal surgeries – for a different problem), to make sure my fusion, and no other structures, had been damaged.  Then, we would form a plan as to how to deal with this increased pain and limitation.  It is good to know, no damage to structure.  It is a challenge to know that this is the result of the virus attacking another nerve root – this is now L4.   And, nothing can reverse this, at this time.
Among the choices, I have chosen to accept using a wheelchair at this time.  This way, I can still go on ‘walks’ and ‘hikes’ and camp-outs and all the things I love to do, without worrying about keeping up, and it’s such a good feeling to get out and not be isolated.  That’s the killer – the isolation.   I’m opting for a wheelchair, crutches and a scooter.  I am thankful that my insurance will help with some of this.  I am also thankful for incredibly gifted and compassionate healthcare workers and for those friends who stuck with me.  I know they have busy lives with challenges of all kinds of their own.  The visits, the calls, and the concern, keep you going – we all know that.  Not being excluded because you aren’t ‘the same’ anymore, keeps hope alive.
And in respect for honesty, that has happened to me and I’m being honest with myself about the grief and hurt it did cause and getting past it to the wonderful things that await.  It hurts to be rejected.  It hurts to find out those you thought friends, were otherwise.   Tell the truth, grieve it and realize what’s right in front of you.
I will have stronger arms, good thing – my orthopod once called me “Olive Oyl” lol!   I can’t be anything but happy.  It’s a door opening, a way around, a new chapter.  Zen koan:  Good or bad news?  Honey, it’s always going to be what you make it.
Again, thank you so much for all those who continue to visit though my posting is very erratic.  I enjoy your posts, your words and wisdom, as well – so keep up with that.  May you be present in every moment, may your challenges open to you new ways, new friends – new life.  Be there for each other.  Community can be present where you are.   Lilie

SANTA CLAUS, OR BROTHER’S KEEPER?

I’ve been thinking about this, and thinking about this; well, I have to weigh in.  I’ll tell it through my own experience, you’ll get the gist.
Many, many years ago, I was a supervisor in a medical support position at a mental health care facility.  The facility had a locked ward.  I was one of very few support staff who had to make trips to the locked ward.  We had a protocol.  Normally, I followed it carefully.  I believed I was following it carefully this day.  I approached the first door, waited and was ‘buzzed’ into an anteroom.  We were supposed to wait for a few seconds, then the second door would open.  I would look both ways, toward patient rooms, and toward the dayroom, then cross when no one was in that short hallway.  This day, I believed I was being careful.  But, I crossed the hallway and someone was behind me, surprising both of us.  The man grabbed me, from behind, around my neck and above my waist, he had me about two or three inches off the ground.  I was immediately afraid, and then kind of pissed off.

I looked toward the entry to the nurse’s station and there stood a young resident.  He moved into the doorway and began talking to the man who had hold of me.  He spoke in a neutral voice.  Something about this young resident’s expression hit me with more impact than being yanked off my feet.  I suddenly felt terribly sad.  Yes, this man could hurt me, that’s very true, and that didn’t leave my mind.  But, I knew he did not mean to.  As the resident spoke to him, I could feel his fear and confusion.  He was afraid of me.  I had surprised him every bit as much as he surprised me.  He was not seeing me, but some delusion which was, at that moment, his reality.  I was inside that delusion and he was afraid of me.  He was talked into releasing me, and he did so without harming me.  I felt sickened at heart, and terribly sad.  I knew, the reality hit me – no going back.  I knew where I was and what I was witnessing, it changed my entire way of thinking.   This man with promise, hopes, family and friends was betrayed by the very organ we believe defines us, presents our identity to the outside world – his brain.  I could not imagine what that would be like.  To be one kind of person, to think of and see yourself as one kind of person, and become and do things that are not within your experience of yourself.

 
In the following couple of weeks, an incident report had to be filed.  I was questioned, interviewed, etc.  So was the man.  He didn’t really understand what he had done, he knew it was something that he was ashamed of.   He didn’t want to look at me.  I just felt sick about the whole thing.  No, he shouldn’t have attempted to harm me, but that isn’t what he was attempting to do; however, that’s what his action could have resulted in.  He shouldn’t have been in that position.  And, he was going to be put out on the street.  What then?  Didn’t anyone ask that?  No.  Because it was about cutting funding for mental health services.  That’s just a luxury item, right?  We don’t want to pay for that for crazy folk, do we?

Unless you are the one experiencing a psychotic break and/or schizophrenia, I don’t think you can explain it to anyone – I don’t think mental health care providers can.  It’s a terrible and devastating illness, creating destruction all across its path.   There is more hope now for people, but it really depends on a great support system, and money, money, money for care, much care.  That’s not the story for most.

So if you want to demonize, vilify, there it is, you certainly can.  But, if you are interested in the truth, if you believe the truth brings healing and opportunity to educate and prevent, you’ll have to look a little deeper, past the easiest reaction, past the seduction of the media and their agenda to keep a story alive no matter how skewed or misrepresented, no matter that it engenders fear, suspicion and hatred.   There is enough pain here to go around.  All have suffered.

Unless we look at this situation for the truth it offers, and begin there, it is going to continue to happen.  We need to know what our state laws are regarding mental health issues and the reporting thereof.  We need to know how to enhance those laws for the protection of all.  Mental health is not a luxury item.  And, ‘no’ Virginia there is no Santa Claus, but  ‘yes’ we are our brother’s keeper – help comes when we acknowledge and provide it – even if a person can only look at it from the point of their own self-interest.

By no means is it my intention to make less of the suffering of all the victims and their families.  My heart is sick for all concerned.

Thank you for stopping by.  Lilie

A LITTLE RAMBLING

We have certainly had news at our house this week.  I’ll bet there are others who have also had their challenges.

My husband is doing well.  It is nice to be able to talk openly about his MS now.  It is good for him, as well.  The heat is very hard on him and, as a carpenter, that wasn’t going to make it anymore.  So, he’s looking forward.  My husband has always been quite an inspiration to me.  He doesn’t think negatively.  It isn’t that he thinks positively (and here I’m laughing a bit).  Skip just doesn’t think negatively.  His positivity isn’t a reorientation of his thinking, it is the way he has always looked at life.

In 30 years, we have had joys and sorrows.  Skip seems to look at all the same way – with hope.  It’s what is of the moment; and he knows that moment changes.  He’s been a person courageous and willing to change, willing to adapt.  A hard worker and appreciative of his woodworking skill, he has used that well.

I believe the most important thing I have learned (and continue learning) from Skip is forgiveness.  Again, not a reorientation of his thinking; it wouldn’t occur to him to hang onto something about someone.    A well-grounded understanding of human nature, and not much ruffles feathers.  I had to learn that, practice it.

‘Lightening up’ in our thinking, being that mindful observer – taking a step back, assessing before making the decision how, or if, to act, that’s what makes the difference.  The old adage, “sleep on it”, very good advice when possible.  Thinking, contemplating, patience.  Taking oneself out of that reactive, defensive posture, so that you may see clearly your opportunities and choices, and not be so invested in what someone else has done or said, but in the person you have decided (daily) to be.  Then, your thoughts and actions become habitually directed toward that goal.  This is what I see in my husband.  The ability to maintain his center, and from that forgiveness just follows.

Each day I’m thinking of those who thoughtfully visit, and hoping that your needs are met, that your present moments are those of  hope.  Thank you for stopping by.  Lilie

WHEN IT’S TIME TO GO

Today, my husband retired.  He’s a few years short of retirement, but he has MS.  I haven’t been able to tell anyone outside of family and some very close friends because he would have lost his job.  He is in good health, has been on MS meds now for about five years, (has been diagnosed for 20) but he worked in construction and doesn’t need to be doing that any longer.  So, it’s a time of transition at our house.  Fortunately, we have each other and some good tools we’ve both learned.

It’s a time of excitement; it’s scary and there is some sadness.  We think of all others in similar situations and we send our intentions for all to have their needs met.  And, it is our intention that we may always be ready to meet the needs of others in whatever way we can.

We are very grateful for all we have:  friendship, love and support – particularly.

May you be well.   Thanks for stopping by.  Lilie

WHAT’S YOUR HOPE?

The past few weeks have been busy in a learning sort of way.  I like that, even when that learning comes by sadness.  We need to know we can feel that, and make it known.

First, I noticed on my facebook page that someone had put up a message saying he/she was upset about people who abandon longtime pets at shelters; how cruel it is to leave a pet who has  been with you so long.  That touched my heart, and I felt sad about that, too.  Then, something happened –

When my friend, Jack, was dying, we went to visit him.  In the bed nearest the door was a man who had just been admitted to the care facility.  He was nearly blind, and this would be his last place.  We had brought our dog with us to visit Jack.  He liked her and she seemed to brighten him.   The man in the other bed wanted her to visit him, as well.  So we let her go over to him.  He said, “I had to leave my dog.  I had to leave him.”  He was trying not to cry.  I don’t think I’m going to forget hearing that.   The employee we spoke to said he had no one.  And, as obvious, the dog could not come with him.  We left shortly after that, I was having trouble not crying.   We had a 53 mile drive ahead of us, I cried most of the way home.  I’ve seen a lot in my life, and I don’t cry easily, even when I feel something deeply.  This, well. . .

Do you see the thread here?   So, it’s a good thing there are shelters.  I know, in another situation, an elderly woman had to go to an assisted living facility, her neighbor took her dog and he takes him to visit her.  He had a dog already, but he took this one and they both go with him everywhere.  You see, he saw that need and was in that moment to respond.  Let us hope we will have clear vision, and be in those moments so, when we are able, we will respond to need.  The many ways we can respond to suffering, when our minds are open.

Two things I learned from this:  How easy to judge when we aren’t exposed to a wider story.  How easy to miss a need to which we might have been able to respond.  Oh, that judging thing.  It sneaks up on us.  We have to keep learning and reinforcing, don’t we?  We have to teach others, too. We have to notice our thought life, continually.

Then, just recently, I had my moment of  being judgmental, in nearly the same way without even realizing it.   We are having fires in our area.  I had been listening to the radio about all the machinations that go with fires, including the fact that now animal rescue folks were having to get prepared to receive abandoned animals.  I came into a friend’s home loaded with outrage at people who abandon their animals in evacuation from a fire.  I was angry about that.  I wouldn’t do that.  My friend (she’s very wise) said to me that nobody wants to abandon their animals.  But, animals often run and hide when frightened.  They can’t always be found.  You have to make escape possible, and hope you will find them again.  It took my breath away – thinking about having to go through that – it took my breath away.  I thought about my situation.  I live in town, not out on a ranch, or remotely.  My dog isn’t out in our backyard without someone watching her.  She’s in the house quite often, right where I can easily reach her, but it could happen.

Do you see?  Suffering is already present, and we then add to it with judgment?  We must change.  I am thankful my friend was willing to answer my judgment with information.  It has heightened my awareness; not only to judgments and attitudes I hold, but to wanting to clear those so I can be more present to be of help, to know when I might offer, or respond to a need.

Last one, a person posted on facebook a derisive remark about  those on foodstamps, comparing them to the signs you see in national forests about not feeding the animals because they will become dependent.   That was sad.  I have known people who,  for many, many reasons,  wound up in need and had to rely on gov’t aid.  People whose family members became ill and they had to care for them; people who went back to school to get out of minimum wage jobs; people who had illnesses that became more prolonged than jobs or personal resources could tolerate.  Suffering upon suffering.  Let it not be.

These are my most fervent hopes:   that I will try to continually examine my thoughts;  be surrounded by folks who can “school” me;  that I’ll see and hear my judgmental self when she shows up, and get the point; that I’ll be willing to change; and, I’ll be open to seeing a need I might meet, when judgment has fallen away.

I know you must have hopes, too.

Thank you so much for stopping by.  Lilie

I’LL BE THAT

I thank everyone for their kindness, thoughtful words, and their insight at the passing of my friend, Jack.

I am hoping that I will tell his stories, and remember.   The most important remembering I want is to live the things about him that I so admired.  I think that just may be the reincarnation thing.  When we see certain qualities in a person, admire those qualities and live them out in our lives; well, that person lives on, and on.

When we admire courage, compassion, acts of kindness and interest in others, passion for social justice, and we have the courage to stand up and say, “I think I’ll do that.  I’ll be that, I’ll be kind.  I’ll wait and see before I speak.  I’ll forgive first.  I won’t allow the injury or oppression of another by word or deed.  I am here for all that.  I’m here.”  Well, who knows what good could come; how far that could ripple  We don’t have to wait for the people we love and admire to pass, we can accept those qualities right now.    It’s their gift to us – right now.  I have this feeling that if we do that, when we do that, there might be another person watching who decides to become that, as well.   Pretty soon, you have a world full of people becoming compassion, kindness,  and love.    We are assured the people we have loved carry on.

I’ll do that.  I’ll be that.  The best I can, I will.

May you be the fullness of all you have admired in those you love.  Thank you for stopping by.  Lilie