INSTRUCTIVE

First, the title is tongue-in-cheek.

And, I wanted to say that I don’t blog everyday. I blog when I think I have something to say, and I hope that it will be read. I very much appreciate those who follow. Thank you.

So, back to ‘Instructive’. Yesterday, I had to go to the doctor to have a lesion removed from below my right shoulderblade. I had to laugh, even the healthcare provider winced. It was a bit more than what they expected. She kept asking me if I was ok, and was I doing ok. I laughed and said, “Oh gosh, you’re killing me, you’re killing me” with dramatic effect (she had a nursing student in with us – so that made it more fun!) but all went well.

Two things occurred to me, and I shared them with my healthcare provider: 1) When you have sciatic pain from your hip to your toes every single day and have had for the past 17 years, pain is relative. It has to hit higher on the scale than what I already have for me to consider or bother with it. 2) My meditation is paying off in many expected and unexpected ways. I truly did not feel any pain even after the local wore off completely, I had to remind myself that I had sutures and to stop activities that pulled on them.

I began experimenting with a pain meditation just for situations like this not long ago. I took an A&P II class to refresh my perspective on the human body structure and then proceeded with the classes in pain meditation. For me, they are excellent help and I recommend trying that before you reach for pills. Not saying there is never a time to take pain medication. I do take pain medication. My first effort though is meditation. Meditation has side effects, but they are good ones – they carry over into everyday situations and broaden your perspective. If you practice regularly, you’ll find you are much less reactive, your problem solving skills broaden and your ability to assess your environment/situations heightens. As well, I find I am much less reactive to pain. When I experience it, the first place my mind goes (now) is to the sensation’s relationship to my body. I get a visual and the sensation seems to fade. Pills, not so lucky with those side effects and often cumulative and long term effects are not known. The type of drugs used for chronic pain were never really intended for that use and they won’t help your emotional control or sensation interpretation at all.

The more I practice, the more I seem to experience happiness NOT dependent on circumstance; the more ease I feel in my own skin. It isn’t up and down mood shifting. It’s a very pleasant, persistent steadiness.

My approach (this is the instructive part) was to refresh my knowledge of the human body. I think this is good for everyone, whether you are in the healthcare field or not. Everyone should have a realistic idea of how his/her own body is put together. You would not believe how that information can change how you cope with the myriad conditions that body can present. For me, when something feels painful, because of practicing, I get an immediate visual of my body and the part or process currently experiencing pain. The pain doesn’t go away by magic, but I seem to be apart from it. I seem able to understand it and refrain from absorbing it emotionally and getting stuck in it. I do feel it. It’s not a pleasant feeling. I don’t resist, lie to myself, deny, I just know PERIOD. I just know the sensation and I don’t continue on it. I commit to the radical acceptance of it and go on.

If you try this and it doesn’t work for you, what does it mean? Not a thing. No, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing it wrong, you might want to ask someone who has experience to help you. But, it doesn’t mean that you are failing; that your pain isn’t real; or that you aren’t cooperating, as we can sometimes hear from the medical community and other maybe well-intentioned but ill-informed observers. One cure doesn’t fix everybody. And, meditation is not a cure. It’s a help, an assist that I have found works for me beyond my physical circumstances. My aim in sharing is always directed at telling the story of what has helped in my situation, not proselytizing. If we put our story out there and the things that have been positive and constructive for us, you never know who might be saved a few of the more painful/aggravating steps to making things better. Keep sharing. Thanks for reading. Peace to you, Lilie

ASSETS

In coming out of my mental slumber, or on the awakening part, of my journey (laughing), I finally found the good sense to review, beginning with assets. What/who in my life was helpful to me, who/what was I helpful to? I put into practice skills I developed through meditation, taking inventory without judgment was a start. This, more than other skills, may ‘unstick’ you, move you forward in ways you never considered.

Rather than annoyance or anger at situations and folks, I assessed. If you have people close to you: relatives, partners, close relationships who aren’t (or haven’t been) supportive, don’t go to them for support. K-n-o-w that, and move on. You don’t necessarily have to confront or leave them. We all have strengths and limits. You – look to your strengths PERIOD. Refuse to rehearse old stories. Do what is skillful, helpful, useful.

Consider, first and foremost, you are your best emotional support. Learn how, get counseling, read, ask, research. Put together a plan that depends on you. The world does not alter, nor stop, because you have chronic pain/illness and you don’t want to be one. Family and friends are living, too. Situations exist and occur in their lives, too. No matter anyone’s commitment, love and support, they aren’t responsible for you. Consider that with chronic pain and illness may come the consequence of occasional self-indulgent thinking and behavior, you can change that. Do not act it out on those you love – well, on anyone. Again, assess, consider, change.

The more you are willing to find resources within yourself to meet your own needs, the more you are your own best comfort and, surprisingly, to others. You will find yourself connecting in ways that build and strengthen, endure and contribute. I found that gratitude thing, it gets stronger, as well.

May you have eyes to see, ears to hear. . the heart to change. Peace to you, Lilie.

POETRY

For Friday, I offer some poetry.

AWARENESS

Blood

on your. . .

on many hands

Ring the bell, sister

Ring it over

mountains

waterfalls

blue sky nights

no moon shines

on too many

Ring the bell, brother

gateless gate

open wide

make the sign:  hold the lotus

she blooms in mud

dense

dark

elements of all our lives

frog

on a lily pad

shares your skin

Ethiopian, silken, dark face

an empty bowl land

get out of your

mercedes,  the congo. . .

Agni’s coming, a hot wind blows

Ring the bell, my mother

my father

hold out your hands

cooperation is riches

compassion made an ocean,

deep and wide,

every drop – none lost

every living thing has eyes

Ring the bell, Thay

We are listening

Lilie Allen

Aug 29, 2013

MASTERY

Some time ago, I went to my meditation teacher for some advice.  I believed I was having some difficulty with a person in my life and just didn’t think I knew what to do.  So, I began my tale.  He interrupted me, not rudely, just asked me, “You have practiced taekwondo, haven’t you?”  Yes, I said.   “And, you have studied and practiced yoga for many years, right?  Vinyasa yoga, even, true?”   Yes.  I have.  “What are your practices like, describe them – taekwondo first.”  I did, in detail.  He said, “The same every time?  Taekwondo and vinyasa, the same every time?”   Yes.   “Are your masters good teachers?”   Yes, very much so, both of them.  “Why are your practices repetitive?”  To master our bodies, our brains with our minds.  To improve our reflexes, focus and concentration.  To improve speed and conditioning.  “Uh huh.  Yes.  So, when you repeat your tale of woe, what does that do for you?  What does it improve for you, what do you master?  Can you recall these wrongs with more speed, and conditioning?”   Hmmm. . .

“Perhaps, when these thoughts come to you, you could mentally practice your taekwondo, or your vinyasa – meditate upon those.  You might quicken something.  You might gain insight and mastery.  When you speak of taekwondo, of yoga, your face is pure joy, and your voice changes like love for a child, do you know this?  I’ve enjoyed the time we have spent.”

Yeah, got it.   Hope it helps you, too.  It took practice, it takes practice, but WOW it works.  Train your mind.  Peace to you, and thanks for stopping by.  Lilie

ANGER


When you feel anger, don’t dismiss it or shame it. Acknowledge anger as the message it is. Emotions send messages, information that we need. Anger can tell us something needs to change; anger warns of injustice. Anger spurred such changes as important as the civil rights movement. Anger in the mind of someone skilled at its interpretation: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So, we can practice being skilled, as well. When you feel it, realize it is a feeling, and that its message is that something needs to change, or to be addressed. Now, use your skillful mind to discern: what is your skillful, contributory approach? Practice, practice.

 

CHANGE

I’ve wanted to write this for a long time.  Haven’t quite gotten it to gel in my mind, so many loops to follow with this discussion.  Many years ago, the relationships in my life were, well let’s put it nicely – unsatisfactory.  At least, exploitive, if not downright abusive – and some were abusive, including physically.  Why, why did I have these relationships, these friendships?   With meditation, I began to feel and then to realize what my part was in all this.  I had accepted it.  I didn’t deserve it; wasn’t being punished; but, in some sense I was attracting this.   And, I realized I wasn’t good friend material at that time myself.

The first barrier was the past.  As it is with way too many of us, I grew up in a seriously psychologically and physically abusive environment.  The code of the family, then, was  that it was ok to hurt me – physically, emotionally, psychologically, and especially if it benefitted others.  I was expendable.   I didn’t ‘think’ then.   I agreed.  And, I was a child, so it wasn’t like there was much in the way of choice, at that time.  As I grew up, I still didn’t  ‘think’, didn’t review this attitude, or challenge its validity.  I did not act in my own best interest.  When I did question what my life had been, the reply was basically to suck it up, that was a long time ago, forget about it, or the really original – your past doesn’t affect your present, or your future – uh huh.

Using the traditional religious model of forgiveness, I failed miserably and was in turmoil.   With years and beginning a regular meditation practice, I realized it wasn’t about forgiveness it was about the truth.  The truth was, that I now had an accurate view of what my life had been and the present and future would be up to me, with regard to my choices of people with whom I would associate.    I decided to accept what was, as what was, and to practice discernment from that point on.   You don’t have to hate people for what they were  (or are), nor do you have to continue in the same dynamic.   Your forward movement in your own life, your investment in a more confident, skilled you concerned with healthy interaction to be the person y-o-u intend to be will draw you in other directions – away from what was.

With continued practice, I began to see what my strengths and interests were, and what my participation in my situation had been.     I applied myself to my strengths and interests.  I invested in me:  developing my mind and abilities.  I had the added incentive that I was now coping with constant pain.   During this part of the process, I experienced times of  being worried that soon, very soon, some of these relationships were going to come to a head and have to be dealt with.  I so did not want confrontation.   But, I was changing.  Interestingly, the more I came to know myself, invest in those insights that supported me, I noticed that my efforts at enhancing me were helping others, and connecting me with others in a very different dynamic.  Now, those dysfunctional relationships tended to drop away – no longer any interest.  I was no longer attracted to dysfunction, and dysfunction was no longer attracted to me.  No confrontations, no ugliness, those relationships just seemed to move farther into the background.   Is it always easy?  No.  Sometimes, you might have to speak up and separate yourself  and that does make most of us anxious.  I have also learned, if you continue in a sincere, disciplined practice, you will feel more confident in handling communication in difficulty.  And, you understand more fully (and accept) that you can’t control how the other person will receive or react.   In refusing one thing, you make space for another.

Rather than dwelling on what was, turn the image just a bit, see it from the angle that you have choices and you can begin making them.  A whole different dynamic based on who you want to be can happen now.  Pursue that.  It is worth your thought.  Thanks again for reading, for stopping by.   A day of choices awaits.  Lilie

SAY THE SIMPLE THINGS

Sometimes we’re too concerned with the ‘marketability’ of words and ideas, rather than taking an interest in their substance.  A pet peeve with me, lately.

So, let’s make this short and sweet.  Love yourself.  I don’t mean in some emotionalized, surface, affirmation-spouting demonstration.  I mean the deep and abiding love that seeks the best interest of the self which means the inclusion of the best for others.   The purpose of your life is up to you.  Find what you are good at, what you have interest in and pursue it to the very best of your effort, and go beyond.  Learn, learn, learn, make it a habit.  In whatever circumstances you find yourself, learning can always be part of it.

When you love yourself, you watch your ‘mental talk’.  You begin to make choices where you didn’t notice them before.  And, I have found, you encounter respect from others, often.   Those who don’t treat you with respect get less notice, and seem to drop by the wayside.  This, I have found, is due to the fact that you are managing your time, and you won’t have time for those who are working out their problems on others, rather than facing them honestly and constructively by taking responsibility for themselves.

Love yourself.  Begin now.  Begin tomorrow.  Begin.

May you make respectful choices all day.    Thanks for reading.  Lilie