Monday, January 18, 2010

Regarding painful thoughts

So, in the past I have mentioned using Byron Katie's process, called "the work", to question and explore my thoughts. I would like to be more clear that the kind of thoughts I am currently questioning are the thoughts that bring me pain. I don't mean every thought that comes to my head - that's just more than I could possibly handle right now. I working on noticing which background, nearly subconscious thoughts bring me what I've learned to call dirty pain. Dirty pain, for me, is the kind of pain that comes from believing untrue thoughts. Believing lies, in my life at least, equates with dirty pain.

I'd like to give an example. This is a very deep and personal example, so I ask that you please by gentle in your comments about this.

I've been noticing that I am feeling a lot of sorrow today. Some of that is very clean sorrow/pain - it is the pain of remembering that my Mom is no longer here in the flesh. The pain of her not being here - outside of any thought of what her not being here means - feels like a very true, clean pain. The grief in me was stirred up by a very sweet and joyous occasion. Yesterday, three of my very dear friends came to my house for some brunch, deep conversation, and tarot. One of these friends, who has not seen me for several months, noted how much softer my face looked and remarked that the tension in my forehead has released (at least to an extent!). I believe this is a product of my letting go. My dear friend mentioned that the overall effect of this softening was that I looked "10 years younger" (so, late twenties instead of thirties). I remarked how this was just my genetic legacy and showed them a picture of Mom at about 62 or so - she looks about 45 or 50. Part of this is just how young baby boomers look in general (at least in comparison to our cultural story about what certain ages look like), and some of this is just a peasant combination of English peasant/pioneer hardiness and Danish regularness of features.

Anyway, I kept a picture of Mom on the table while I read cards for my friends. Mom in the flesh would not be comfortable with tarot cards, no matter how feminist and empowering (and they are). However, I get the strong feeling that Mom in the Spirit was just fine with my friends and I using the images on the cards to make connections and find ideas to make our lives richer and more meaningful. One of my friends noted several copies of Dialogue sitting out and asked me if I had been Mormon at one time. I indicated that I had and this was a great surprise to her (and here I thought my heritage was obvious). I told her it was a long story - but it was a long story I never ended up telling (and I will tell another day, I think).

Later last night, while I was in the bath, I started telling my friend my story in head (I talk to people in my head a lot). And while telling the story to myself (in the guise of telling my friend) I had some realizations about my parents that I hadn't had before. I felt faintly Mom's presence and she asked me if I was glad that she had passed away. I said yes and no. I am so deeply grateful that she is so much happier now on the other side. Everytime I feel her presence she feels so much more joyful and peaceful. If death was necessary for her to feel that peace, then I believe her death was a good thing. On the other hand, I miss feeling her earthly, physical presence. And I relayed to Mom the experience of dressing and preparing her body for burial. The cancer had so ravaged her body that it was almost unrecognizable to me - it was as if I was dressing a stranger. And then I smoothed her hair. Mom's hair had an unmistakable softness and silkiness - like a newborn baby's - and that texture in my fingers confirmed for me that this body was really her body, that her body had really stopped working completely - had given up her ghost/spirit/soul. I called my sister over and she stroked Mom's hair, too. And we both just cried and cried. I told Mom that I missed stroking her hair, I missed rubbing her feet and her rock-solid shoulders, I missed feeling her hug me in simultaneously hesitant and ferocious embrace. I told her how much I regretted that our relationship when she was embodied was not as good as it is currently. She seemed to be there, hearing me and acknowledging my words. And then she was gone.

So, all of today, there has been this deep sorrow in my heart. Good enough. I am trying to learn how to "let myself feel" instead of "making myself feel better" as a dear long-lost high-school friend and a current much-beloved counselor have encouraged me to do. I've felt compelled to bring my hand to my heart all day to support the sorrow I feel. This is all good, all clean and real.

But I also notice a creeping tension - as my mind tries to fill in all kinds of reasons and justifications for the sorrow I feel. For example, I notice nonverbal thoughts that carry the meaning of: "I'm feeling this pain because I haven't accomplished what I needed to today" and "I'm feeling this pain because I forgot I was doing laundry and the wet clothes just sat there for hours while I fussed with files" and "I'm feeling this pain because I didn't fuss with the files long enough and there's still an entire box left to sort through and the house is filled with dust and dog fur and even though my dear friends said they loved being in my house and experienced it as a joyful home they were lying to protect me because they were really disgusted by the clutter and the dirt and the yuckiness of it all." Etc., etc., etc.

My dearest readers, these are the thoughts I am working so hard to unpack, to tidy up, to dust off, to clean up, to challenge and to discard/compost/let go of. It is not my home that needs clearing, it is my mind. And so I write this post, I write down these stupid, awful,  painful thoughts. I don't want to be void of thought, I want to challenge these false ideas that give me dirty pain. These false ideas that my brain so helpfully supplies me to explain why I am feeling pain or sorrow at any given moment. When, in truth, when I examine reality and inquire as to what is, I'm really feeling pain because I am feeling pain. There doesn't have to be a cause for how I feel (though I have a sense that the sorry I've felt today is part of my grief breaking loose and working itself out). There doesn't have to be a reason or a rhyme for of the "this" that I experience moment to moment. There is just me, in this moment, feeling some pain. And also some hope. And love. And contentment. And discomfort. And even joy. There is just me in this moment, be-ing. The more I question my thoughts and my mind, the better able I am to be here now, alive, whole, holy. What else is there, really, to do with this one precious life?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Not sure what to call it post

So, this whole losing attachments and not stressing about those darn "shoulds" is awesome.  As I mentioned last week, our holiday celebrations were much less stressful this year because something in me let go of how the holidays "should be" and enjoyed how they actually were in the moment. And now we have had a massive b-day party for both boys and that was also more awesome without expectations. Brief explanation - E's b-day in 1/3 and M's b-day is 1/9, and we often give them a shared party. Yesterday we had almost 30 kids between the ages of 5 and 9 in our house. There was a magician, there was cake and balloons, there were treat bags. There was just a bit of chaos. I don't do well with chaos and yet it was okay.

I had dreams of setting up a table so the children could make crafts (wizard hats and magic wands) but never got organized enough for it. I was so lucky that my friend Alyshia decided to come to the party with her daughter and then helped with corralling kids. The party was so much easier because of her.  The children really enjoyed the magician, Christopher - much laughing aloud.

Normally, the fact that things did not quite happen as I imaged they would leaves me in a ornery lump. This time when I had little swells of guilty "I didn't plan things well enough" and "it was too loud" feelings they disolved almost before I could attach thoughts to them. And when thoughts did attach, I was able to understand that they wer just thoughts, not reality.

A big part of this release is due to thinking about Byron Katie's inquiry process. I love the way she approaches the "shoulds."  You know, like, "It should have gone this way," "I should have done/said/thought/been xyz," "S/he should have blah, blah, blah."  Katie often responds (as part of the "is it true" part of the 4 questions), "Oh really? What's the truth of it? What happened?" So, for example, "I should be patient" is not true because I am not patient. If it were true that I should be patient then I would be patient. And I'm not. So there. ;)

Another thing I noticed at the party was how certain kids were very honest about it being too loud for their comfort and asking very directly to go to a quieter place in the house. I love that! Part of my recent self-realization is that I don't deal well with loudness or multiple streams of information. If more than one person talks to me at once I can't hear them and usually I get nervous because I don't understand what is being said. But when I really acknowledge that I cannot comprehend multiple streams of info, then I let go of the expectation that I should be able to do so, and the stressy-ness of the situation decreases. I can then simply say, "I can't hear you when you talk at the same time. If you want me to hear you, please figure out a way not to talk simultaneously." Ta-da! Magic.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Random Thoughts for a New Year -

These are thoughts I texted to myself on New Year's Eve while the kids were playing at dinoland at South Towne Mall.

(1) Inner lizards vs wise turtles. Managing energy. Confusing inner conversations for actual convs. Is it pos to c things as they really are?

So I got the inner lizard idea from Martha Beck but she is not the only one who uses the analogy. In a very brief nutshell she talks about the reptilian brain and the ways you can get hijacked by your amygdala and suggests creating a persona for that inner danger-search-and-avoider. Lately I've become more and more cognizant that when my inner lizard starts freaking out it takes on the persona of actual people, like say, my boss. And my inner self with argue with that boss-impersonating lizard. And then I unconsciously act towards my boss as if that conversation actually took place. Ridiculous! My boss is nothing like my inner lizard. I do this to Dr C too and he is so unlike my inner lizard. So I'm thinking of creating an inner-lizard persona, if only to keep my silly memory from thinking that inner conversations are really outer conversations.

Wise turtles is from Kung Fu Panda. The thought that keeps coming back to me is giving up the illusion of control. I have placed several turtles on my computer at work to remind myself that, although I'm supposed to "keep control" of my hearings and witnesses, I don't have actually have any real control over other people or the cussing computer programs I work with. Does it say something about me that my persona for my wiser self is reptilian?

Managing energy is an idea from the January issue of Body & Soul. I don't recall the article name right now (maybe I'll add it later) but the idea was that while in the past we may have needed to manage time, at this point with the proliferation of e-connectedness, what we need to manage is our energy. I focused this past week at work on taking time when my mind and spirit were lagging to take a break - a physical and mental removal of myself from what I was tired of. I am usually the type to push through a tired spot - "keep working!" - but this plan seemed to work better. My energy was better sustained throughout the day and I actually had some energy left over when I came home, which was awesome because I'm really tired of giving my best energy to work with little left over for my family.

Is it possible to see things as they really are? Probably not, but I just keep trying to pull away illusions and self deceptions anyway. :)

(2) Peaceful holiday-new years-tarot-heiro & m-2 wand sucess? Do I want more? Sense of sucess yet not as much as thought would have.

This year's holidays were way more peaceful for me than in years past. Nothing has changed but me. I'm actually tuning into my calm self, activating my relaxation response and engaging the parasympathetic system. There have been days that I have literally not wanted to get out of bed because I have been feeling so peaceful, calm and good and I really want to stay in that place. It's similar to "the temple feeling." (You Mos know what I mean) The wonderful thing is that when this response is engaged for me, expectations and feelings of not meeting those expectations slide away into virtual nonexistence.

So, I did a tiny little spread for myself (in the bathtub!) close to New Years. I pulled the hierophant, the 2 of wands, and death. This is the deck I used.  The hierophant stands for me I assume, since I am both a teacher and a judge. In fact, just before I became a teacher and a judge again, I took a class from Margaret Ruth and every single spread for me had a hierophant. Every single one. So, anyway, the 2 of wands in the deck I was using features a successful man dreaming of more ventures/adventures. And I ask myself if there is something more that I am looking for in my professional life? I really like what I do - I enjoy being a judge and feel I am reasonably accomplished at it, plus, I'm beginning to feel competent as an instructor. On the other hand, I've had tiny little yearnings to do a small something on the side - like reading cards for people. And the death card was really lovely - I've been feeling my anxious, tired, ornery self slipping away for months and, though I love her, it is time for her to go back into the cauldron and be reborn into a hopefully healthier self.

As for not having as much success as I thought would - I am not the lawyer I dreamed of being when I went to law school. I have not accomplished as much as my dear colleagues. My mind is somewhat distressed by that but my soul is content. Yay!

(3) Do really need to be Bigified? Or happy where I am? How nice to be ocassionally calm & not fret over unmet expectations & unwise hopes for per

Biggification is a Havi thing. I've been attracted to sites like hers for awhile so it leads me to wonder if there is something in my professional life that wants to grow. Or maybe its reflective of my desire to grow spiritually. I am very happy where I am right now - I am emotionally and energetically healthier than I have been in over a decade. Which is awesome.

Per = perfection. I kindly and graciously wish that death comes for my dreams of perfection.

Well, that's about it for now. I'm recuperating from a cold and don't want to push myself too hard. I hope 2010 is a wonderful year for all. My our dreams of peace bloom and grow. Or grow and bloom. Wev.