I have been listening to an audio version of The Power of Now. It is one of those rare books that can change your life if you let it.
Just yesterday I listened to the author explain why the statement "I think , therefore I am" is a fallacy. It is not because we think... It is despite the fact that we think. But we do not know this.
Even after a few years of Buddhist study and fledgling practice... I know this concept has been presented to me, but I can't say I ever did more than intellectualize it. Somehow, Tolle's delivery helped me to internalize it... to experience the truth in the words instead of simply going through the physiological process of hearing the words.
Lately I've felt that this blog is just a historical record of my noisy, complaining and self-indulgent mind. I've felt that something was in my way... that though I've been sincere about my desire to practice and grow in that practice, something stopped me from going deep. Something stopped me from developing the consistent discipline of daily practice.
Perhaps it was because my noisy mind was in control... it presented itself as something that wanted to achieve something but it has often had ulterior motives. Mostly, it just wants to keep talking... to keep making noise and it doesn't seem to care if the noise is judgmental or paniced or logical or empowering or the pseudo deep ramblings of a spiritual seeker.
My noisy mind doesn't care if I ever experience enlightenment. It is satisfied as long as I can simply blather on about it and myriad other things. It actually comes up with strategies to keep me from my practice and it is skilled at coming up with reasons to avoid the activities that have the power to silence it.
Today, dance at least once and laugh with at least one truth.
Appropriate. Especially considering my last blog post. I read this and thought about the style of dancing I like to do and the particular song I'm going to dance to before I go to bed.
I live in Metro Detroit... we've covered that. I don't get out much. I've talked about that, too. When I do get out, I'm usually being dragged (well, sort of dragged...) to greek functions by my line sisters who worry that I need to get out of the house more often. One of our sister chapters in the area throws an annual event called the Pink Hustle. I enjoy that event. I recently attended the Spring Bash thrown by our area's chapter of the NPHC. Greek functions are great fun for me because I get to reconnect with friends I don't see often in my day to day work-to-home-to-work routine. They are also great fun because of the hustles (we interchange hustle with ballroom and stroll... but we're basically talking about line dancing). There are certain songs we typically stroll to... Some of my favorites?
So I said all that to say I'm doing the Cupid Shuffle before I go to bed tonight. I LOVE the Cupid Shuffle. Okay, that takes care of the dance part.
I think I've already had my good laugh for the day. I was listening to the Mitch Albom show on the way home from work and heard Ken Brown's latest production... it's a song he created/sampled called Monica's Song. You need real player to listen to this (and you need to be aware of a certain verbal exchange at a recent city council meeting to get it), but if you live in Metro Detroit and you are as tired of the mayoral scandal and city council's foot-dragging response as I am, listen to this... it will take the edge off.
Experiencing our emotions fully, without wallowing in them or turning away, allows us to break through the layers of protective armor and connect with the heart. Fully felt, our emotions can clear the path to the deep well of compassionate love that is the essence of our being. From the wider perspective of the witness, the limited sense of "self"—coiled tightly around unwanted emotions—begins to expand. We then see this "self" for what it is: a complex of deeply held beliefs, physical sensations, and distant memories. And we are free to receive all the world.
My life has been heavy. Walking through cancer and chemotherapy with my mother and witnessing my father's health decline until his recent death has been heavy. My job has been heavy. Trying to be there for my mother as she passes through the most crippling grief and loss she has ever experienced in her life... watching her wear her heart on her sleeve and being unable to stop the tears from coming when they come has been heavy. I've been walking around carrying that heaviness. I've been carrying it in my back and shoulders. More than that, I've been carrying it in my heart.
Something really mundane happened Friday afternoon at work that woke me up to the fact that I need to let the mists of melancholy I've been carrying around just lift. I passed one of the managers in my chain of command in the hallway and she asked how things were going. My response was "okay," but it was a loaded "okay..." loaded with stress and overwhelm and "okay but not really okay if you know what I mean." I've been in the middle of a huge project at work and things haven't gone as smoothly as I would've liked and I don't have a big team of people helping me to work through the issues and it weighs on me sometimes. So my okay was intended to say a lot... all of that and more. My manager... she just kinda looked at me and said "It's Friday... ". She said something else but I'm not really remembering. The "It's Friday" part was really all I needed to hear.
I thought to myself, "Damn, chalip... lighten up."
I'm in need of my practice right now. I've been limping through my life. I've been on a rocky boat, just holding on. I need very much to lighten up. I need very much to sit and really experience and feel everything I've been holding on to so as to let it go. I need to watch the mists of melancholy lift, and I need to smile. Really smile.
I feel rested for the first time in a long time. I've been working crazy overtime... the kind of overtime where you come home mentally tired... exhausted... and fall into bed, into a coma really... then get up the next morning feeling exhausted still to do it all again.
My daily practice... the active parts of my daily practice... are the ways I take care of myself. And I haven't taken care of myself in a long time. Everything has been in a holding pattern, waiting for that moment when I could exhale and focus on myself. I've been running around "like a chicken..." a friend would say. I look at the way I've managed this time in my life and it is a big red flag that says something to me. It says, "Hey, chalip... you've learned a few things but you still could use some work in the living a balanced life department."
So today is a leisurely day. Today is a day with no rushing around... This morning I woke up and made pancakes. I'm listening to some really good jazz music as I write this. When I'm done with this post, I'll listen to Zencast or some other dharma on disc, then I'll sit for the first time in I don't know how long. I'll do my yoga, I'll load the washing machine, and I'll cook dinner at a leisurely pace. I'll do some chores. I'll vacuum and dust. And I'll imagine the vacuum cleaner sucking in all of this heaviness... all of this melancholy.
Later tonight, I'll watch or listen to something or someone that really makes me laugh. I don't know who it will be... Chris Rock, Katt Williams or Dave Chappelle should do the trick... or maybe I'll watch disc 2 of The Boondocks season one... I've been saving it for a rainy day.
When I come back to this space, when I blog again, my intention is to be lighter.