Thursday, May 26, 2022

Space in a Pot

 Where can the Self go when all that is, is within it? If a pot is moved from one space to another, the space within the pot does not move from one space to another for everything that is, is forever in space.

The Vasisthas, as offered by Deepak Chopra and Adam Plack in The Secrets of Healing: Meditation for Transformation (2011). Spotify 

Now I am not sure if I quoted that passage above  exactly...was listening as I did my Qigong today and told myself I would remember but I am not so sure I got it exactly right.  

All about that space, that emptiness, that "shunyata" (all things are empty of intrinsic existence and nature), isn't it? Space...all space is within us and we are all space.  We are pots containing space  but that space within us goes no where when we move from place to place...because what we think of as "us", "me" "You"...this pot...this body and mind is also space. Space is neither inside or outside "us". It is us

So this brings me to another quote I have scribbled down on the back of a grocery receipt...and once again when I jotted it down weeks ago, I assumed I would remember the author.  When do we learn, at this age, not to trust our memory lol? 

You should never trade your consciousness for the the object of consciousness.

I am going to assume it was Alan Watts that said that but I can not confirm that assumption. So what we so often do as human beings is focus on the object of consciousness which could be the pot...and want that, get lost in that, see that as our reality ...rather  than honoring, focusing on, learning from and "wanting" the consciousness that observes the pot...the space. If we really want to heal at the deepest ...we need to start focusing on the space, on the consciousness that is all aware of whatever shows up upon it, around it, in it...(whatever type of term you want to use so your mind understands). 

Self is not material.  Self is space, consciousness etc. Space is all there is.  

Hmm!  It takes a while to get that understanding clear in the head...well at least in "my" head.

All is well. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Old Stuff Checking Out

 You are not here in order to go there. ...There is nothing to do, or nowhere to go, just this. 

Ram Dass

Zero readers...zero according to the stats page. I have never had that before lol. 

I have this impulse to skip, and dance, and sing out loud across the page. To swear on it, to type out a bunch of curse words in big bold letters....not becasue I am angry...only because sometimes it feels so  good to let out the forbidden and we can do that when there is no one around to witness. I just want to see what I feels like. I want to run naked through  some type of verbal sprinkler..(now that immediately provides an image none of us, and I mean none of us, wants to entertain for a second  ...oh but there is no one in this yard to imagine anything but me and I can't see myself ...so here I go...Wee!) 

I feel  the way one tends to feel when they look around to suddenly realize no one is watching them ...there is a certain freedom to completely be one's self.  But you know ( If I am talking to myself now when I say "you", I ramble to myself all the time  off the page...so it is all good lol), I am always completely myself when I write.  I can't be anything but myself when I come here. Writing is an expression of truth for me.  I may be a bit reserved,  awkward, shy and held back  around some people I know in person...but when I write it is like I open up and let it all out.  And, no offense to my imaginary reader, I don't care what others think.  I mean, I would never want to offend or hurt or be unkind..I have a genuine kindness and compassion in my heart for all....but I am not going to hold back on being who and what I am just to please anyone. Man, spent too much of my life as a people pleaser...done with that. (Well at least when I write lol).

Old Stuff Coming Out

I guess, I can share that what I wrote about over the last few entries regarding my chest pain and how it triggers past health seeking shame...has really been quite cathartic for me, helping me in ways I never thought it would.  I think ...it is time for the "old stuff" to leave and I have been experiencing the   process.  There is a lot of packing  going on, a lot of bumping and thumping  to get to the point of standing  in line to await one's turn to exit.  Obviously, the  most recently seated knots leave first because they are closer to the exit. The deep seated stuff, though impatient, has to wait for the space to come out. Maybe that is why I am getting chest pain and being triggered.  That pain has to leave before the original  trauma pain can  come up.

Really though, when it comes to releasing stuffed and stored emotion, we don't have to "do" anything, according to some pretty wise people.  We just have to be willing to stop resisting all the new stuff we  encounter, and  keep the heart open.  If we just keep the door open, all the old junk will just make its way to the exit when it is ready...we can then have a chat with each thing that resurfaces  as we stand to the side so it can get past; we can thank it for visiting; give it a hug or a warm handshake  and then we can  say goodbye. As we watch it totter off ,pulling its suitcase behind it, we can breathe a big sigh of release as if to  say, "Wow! Wasn't that an experience", and then  we wait  patiently and calmly for  the next thing to  come up. 

Singer suggests three things we can also do as it comes up and out and as we encounter "new" stuff:

  1. Stay positive...as negative thoughts come to mind in regards to stuff that has just entered our psyche motel or stuff that has been around for a while...we can use a bit of cognitive restructuring to revamp those messages.  "This feels awful.  I don't know if I can stand this."  can be replaced with. "Hmmm! This is different, not all together pleasant but I can handle it. I have handled worse before. And all the determination, energy and will it took to keep stuff down or push it away...that was something pretty impressive...that's testament to how strong my will is.  I can do anything.  It may hurt a bit coming out but I will feel much better with it out of me." 
  2. Carry a Mantra with you that soothes and keeps you open.  Practice this mantra on a regular basis so it becomes a subconscious belief you can turn to when you need it. "I am full of love and light." "It all is as it is and its perfect." "I can relax and release" 
  3. Surrender.  Let go and relax into what is as it unfolds in front of you and as it is released from you. Sure there may be some pain.  If something is stored in pain , it will be released with pain. Just breathe and relax into it...don't get in its way by tensing up and resisting it.  Just let it go. 

There is always a karmic effect when we hold onto something, according to Ram Dass.  What we do when we resist pain, or  resist what Life gives us...is   get in its way.  We don't understand why Life is gives us the things she does...yet we automatically assume we need to somehow "do" something about it. That was my experience with my health seeking.  I was trying to change something I didn't even understand, not even remotely...Life.  When all I had to do is step back and observe and experience ... Just this!

So much learning. 

All good

Ram Dass/ Be Here and Now Network( March, 2021) Here and Now- Ep177- Perspective on Work and Money  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkoVnD3wsxo

Michael Singer Podcast/Sounds True ( July, 2021) Spirituality: the Exploration of Consciousness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE4_q7qdZ0E

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A Lesson Thirty Years in the Learning

 When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind's essential peace  is disturbed to no avail. 

Seng Ts'an, Third Chinese  Patriarch 

So...on yesterday's long winded entry,  I wanted to say that though my intention was to encourage a reexamination of the benefit of hope in our spiritual evolution,  it also allowed for some personal insight to surface. I realized upon writing, much more than I intended to, that  I am still stuck there.  

As much as I talk about living in and appreciating the now, at the mere thought of "chest pain", I am still pulled back to something that began 30 years ago. I still have that emotional pain  stuck within me like a knot tangled around my insides. It is probably more life limiting, more  detrimental to my health than the angina is.  It gets triggered so easily and I react so strongly  whenever that pain, that so wants to come out and be done with me, comes up.  My initial reaction is to reflexively attempt to push it back down so that I don't have to experience it  coming out. 

Pain On Top of Pain

It is the "shame" feeling I think, that is the hardest for me to deal with and that "shame" goes beyond that health seeking  experience.  In fact, that experience triggered some deep shame that was already in me long before I started getting chest pain. So I actually have a shame- upon -shame -kind -of -squishing-down- thing going on, a trauma over a trauma. I can see so clearly what Michael Singer is talking about in the below video. 

A Mind Disturbed

I created a very disturbed mind by reacting to my circumstances in the way I did. When the pain of childhood trauma was meant to flow through me as all emotion, all thoughts, all energy is meant to do... it, instead,  got  deeply stuffed within me. It was too painful then for my little mind...so I suppressed and repressed, pushing it out of conscious awareness. I actually fooled myself into believing it went away, when it actually remained, all along,  very much a tender, receptive-to- triggers part of my personality.  When  I encountered what I encountered in my health seeking ...it got poked,  triggered to the point it started to come up again and again. My mind said, "Too much pain!"   It convinced me, without words, that I  could not deal with the initial trauma, and therefore I could not deal with the trigger either...so I pushed that down too. I resisted.  

My resistance did not benefit me or others in my family.  And by my resistance, I mean  my inability to allow my emotional pain to just be expressed. I judged it all as "too painful", therefore "wrong, bad, shouldn't be". 

A Lesson Thirty Years in the Learning

Though these external events  were indeed extraordinary and very challenging by anyone's standards, I clearly see now how my resistance only made it all worse.  Like Annie, I encountered some difficult times and rainy weather,  and have  been at the receiving end of what could be viewed as "unjust"  judgement and treatment from  some  less than conscious human beings attempting to preserve their own egos. Still,   I could have probably dealt with it all in a much healthier way. I was, however, too busy, at the time,  "reacting" to the way it triggered old trauma while I went about resisting the resistance, to see that. 

 Could I have changed the situation, changed those personalities, made them see my truth, and  gotten what I wanted and now know I deserved if I responded rather than reacted?  Maybe not... but I could have had a lot more peace in my life, a lot less trauma and a lot less suffering if   I "surrendered" sooner and learned to relax into what Life was giving me. 

When I first noticed the external assumption and judgement was being formed about me and observed how it was getting in the way of "my" truth as I presented with my very real symptoms , instead of saying, "Oh No!  This shouldn't be!", and beginning a desperate effort to make people see my truth...maybe I could have done something completely different.  Maybe, I could have taken a step back to see it all with a deeper perspective that went beyond mind and body. Maybe,   I could have said, instead,:

"Ohhh...this is what Life is offering me for an experience now. Wow! This is different. . I don't understand why this is unfolding the way it is unfolding but it's okay.  I trust  that I do not need to change what I don't understand about Life.  Maybe instead of trying to change it, fix it, control it in some way, I will just witness what  is happening inside me because of it? I will experience all of it."

" Okay...I can see that hurts.  I feel shame.  I feel frustration.  I feel confusion.I feel fear.  I feel a lack of trust. I feel devalued, diminished, unseen.  I feel punished. I see how this experience  is poking at some old wounds, wanting me to react.   Hmm! It feels strange, not pleasant....part of me really, really wants to resist this .. but I won't react. I will allow each of these feelings their time with me, watching them as they pass through.  I won't judge them as "bad" and push them down and away. I will experience it all...and then just observe it as it goes. I won't cling to any of it either. I won't  grasp for pleasant  experiences to distract with and ease the pain. I will just feel and experience it all. This is what living Life is all about...experiencing fully the 10,000 joys as well as the 10,000 sorrows. "

" I won't waste my energy hoping that "they" will see the truth and that things will be better  tomorrow. I won't distract myself from feeling and dealing with the unpleasant in my present.  I will notice, allow and accept this experience to be whatever it is, knowing that my peace is not dependent on any condition outside myself.  I will observe, and participate in this life experience without judgement or expectation,  finding meaning in it as I do."

" I won't get lost in this false notion...that I have  to "do" something about it. I mean, I will continue to speak my truth and seek what this body and mind needs and deserves but I will not struggle against what is or "fight" to make people change their minds about me. I will not spend my Life fostering thoughts of blame and injustice either , nor will I live as a victim.  They may or may not ever see my truth  and they may or may not ever  help me. That is beyond my control.  All I can do is speak what is true for me. The rest is up to Life."

"Sure it is painful but it doesn't have to advance to full blown suffering.Whether or not I suffer here, is up to me. Awareness, I have learned, is the true antidote to any state of altered well being. As long as I remain aware, allow Life and all she puts in front of me  to be what it is, this pain and all things with it ,will pass. That is the nature of things.  It comes in and it goes out. I will relax into this experience knowing that for now, (which is the only time that matters, in fact it is the only time there is) it simply is what it is and it is all perfect."

Wow that would have been a game changer, wouldn't it have been?  If I would have let go and stepped back in the beginning and allowed Life to take care of things...things could have been a lot different.  Maybe I would  still have chest pain...maybe even have  succumbed to it because I would not have gotten the diagnosis' and treatment I did eventually get for some of it... ( if that is what Life had in store for this body)...but...but   I would not have the big   fat folder  I now have full of tests that show "some" but not "enough" evidence to warrant the help  I felt I needed at the time  and that supports the  rationale for other's assumption about me.  And I would not have spent thirty years living in shame and fear.  My getting in Life's way, I see so clearly now,  actually made the situation worse on the physical plane. On the spiritual plane, however, ...didn't matter one bit what I did or didn't do for who I truly am is just a "happening" as well , an ever unfolding process just like all the other happenings  that unfold in front of me. It's just Life!

All is well in "my" life.

Michael Singer Podcast ( July, 2021) Spirituality: An Exploration of Consciousness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE4_q7qdZ0E

Warren Weinstein (n.d.) Third Chines Patriarch: Hsin Hsin Ming https://home.csulb.edu/~wweinste/HsinHsinMing.html#:~:text=The%20Great%20Way*%20is%20not,for%2C%20or%20against%2C%20anything.

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The Disease of the Mind

 The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent, everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction , however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth, then hold  no opinion for, or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. 

Seng Ts'an, The Third Chines Patriarch of Zen  


That last entry was long winded, eh?  I don't expect many, if any, will read it and that, maybe,  is a good thing. Something beyond my initial intention may have plopped itself down on the page.

But...

Questioning The Necessity of Hope in Our Spiritual Evolution

The intention behind it was to question the necessity of "hope" in our spiritual evolution.  Sure, hope is big in psychology and in building a strong character...but it does little, to no good, for the Deeper Self. In fact, reliance  on the future to provide external situations that are more favorable to our personality may keep us in that unwholesome  mental activity that  distracts us from what the Deeper Self is all about: recognizing, accepting and  appreciating Life now, as it is. Hope keeps us in our head.  It is not about the "now", the only time there is.  It is about some notion of a future time that will supposedly be better than this moment. And by "better" what we really mean is  ...it won't trigger a reaction in us. With this whole concept of hope and the need for it, we are deciding this moment, for whatever  reason,  is not good enough and we are then   putting our emotional energy into convincing ourselves  that the "next one" will be better. 

Can you see what  is wrong with that picture? 

Ask yourself the following questions: If you are feeling very dissatisfied with what is going on right now, is it the moment that is the problem?  Is it the challenging external circumstance or set of circumstances that showed up in this moment, this day, this span of time...that is the problem?  Is it the bad patch of the unfavorable, unpleasant  that is before you that is  the problem? Is it the illness the depression or the relationship down you are going through? Is it the financial slump ? The weather?  

"The Sun will Come Out Tomorrow" ?? 

Let's say you believe it is  the weather that is your problem. Is the best thing to do, then,  when it is raining....to spend your whole day singing  "The sun will come up out tomorrow..." and envisioning a better day tomorrow?  That is hope , right?  Sure it made Annie feel better...only because it took her out of the reality of her now and put her up in some future time that really does not exist anywhere but in the head. She judged her present moment as being terrible and something she really needed to escape, didn't she?  Her present reality ws the problem. We all probably would have done the same thing. It is normal for us to want to do whatever we can to escape what we judge as  "challenge, hardship, problematic,  unpleasant" and seek what we judge as "good, desirable, pleasant", isn't it?  Hope is a means for us to do that, if only in our minds.

External Situation...Not the Problem

But don't you see...it is this judgement that is the problem, not the situation. It is the determining  that this is good or bad, right or wrong, should or shouldn't be...followed by what mind does with these judgments ...that is the source of all so called problems  It is this grasping and clinging for the pleasant and this pushing away, denying, and stuffing of the unpleasant that is the problem. Resistance to what Life is unfolding in front of us right now ...is the problem.  This idea that we know better than Life what she should or shouldn't be offering us, is the problem. It is this habit tendency of the mind that creates the problem.

Don't Try to Fix Life;  Stop Reacting

When we judge something as unpleasant or bad, or wrong because it triggers something in our little personalities that we tend to believe are so much more important than they actually are, we resist it...we push it away from our conscious awareness using distraction, avoidance, denial, suppression and repression.  We put so much of our mental and physical energy in to attempting to keep the "bad" down and  the "good" in  by grasping, seeking, clinging to the "good" just so we do not disturb our delicate personalities. This process leaves a host of emotional experiences that were just meant to flow in and out of us...stuck within at the mercy of being repeatedly triggered by life circumstance, creating more and more pain. So we constantly get triggered by external circumstances...reacting here and reacting there. We erroneously believe that in order to stop the reaction we have to either "fix", control or manipulate  Life and make her do what suits us or we escape Life altogether by projecting somewhere in our minds. 

The Disease of the Mind

We can't control Life.  I don't care how many ways you manifest and imagine the future.  Life is going to do what Life is going to do.   Should we not just let her?  Should we not just learn to trust this thing that has been taking care of itself for billions and billions of years , seeing that she knows best? And get out of the way? Stop judging what she offers us as right or wrong, stop grasping and stop pushing away (which really means pushing down deeper inside us adding to the pile of unresolved emotions that want to come out)? . Should we not just let all experiences just flow through us without judging and reacting, resisting or clinging so we are free of them?  Should we not just learn to find that all the conditions we need for happiness we have right here and right now no matter what is unfolding around us, what is "happening" to us?  

Does hope help us to do that? 

Hope serves some purpose for the personality and if you want to serve the personality for the rest of your life...by all means foster hope. If you want to get beyond the personality, however, and break the habitual mind tendencies that keep us stuck...maybe reconsider if hope is a good use of your energy. Practice relaxing into what is instead. 

For more on this, much better explained, see the video below. and read the Hsin Hsin Ming 

All is well. 

Michael Singer Podcast/ Sounds True ( July, 2021) Spirituality: Exploration of Consciousness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rE4_q7qdZ0E

Warren Weinstein (n.d.) Third Chines Patriarch of Zen: Hsin Hsin Ming https://home.csulb.edu/~wweinste/HsinHsinMing.html#:~:text=The%20Great%20Way*%20is%20not,for%2C%20or%20against%2C%20anything.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Hope?

 Linked to optimism, hope is an attitude or outlook that good things will happen and one's wishes or aims will ultimately be fulfilled. 

Camille Preston (October, 2021)The Psychology of Hope,https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/mental-health-in-the-workplace/202110/the-psychology-hope 

Hope is Not A Strength of Mine

I have a challenging time understanding and fostering "hope."  I am not the most "hopeful" of people. Though I score high in transcendence traits, according to a list put together by Positive Psychology .com, hope tends to elude me.   I look up at the definitions and see that hope has a lot to do with being optimistic about the future.  That might be partially why I cannot wrap my mind around hope and I seem to have so little in my life.  I am not overly optimistic about my future. Nor do I try to be.  I tend to put effort into "not thinking about the future" by telling myself I am a present moment being...and I focus my attention on noticing what is in my life right here and now, finding satisfaction and happiness in whatever is unfolding before me. I am great, fantastic even   and getting better at accepting and allowing "what is" to be. .. but I am not so great at believing things will get easier for me any time soon.  I have been conditioned to believe from my own past experiences that, "things don't always work out the way one wants them to"  Heck...let's take that a step farther into honesty...I often operate from a core belief  that says "things in my life seldom work out smoothly or the way I want them to."   Pretty Pessimistic, huh? 

Hope is an emotion characterized by positive feelings about the immediate or long term future. Often hope is coupled with high motivation, optimism, and generally elevated mood.

Good Therapy https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/what-is-hope

It seems that way but it really isn't. My core belief definitely needs some tweaking  but my lack of hope is not necessarily a sign that I am "pessimistic" in nature. Well...not completely.  Truth is, things in my version of Life have not worked out to date in the easy and grace filled way I wanted them to. I have had more than an average amount of extraordinary challenges that I judged as "unpleasant" and "difficult" and they did not get much better for "me"  over time. Hoping did not make "me" feel better.  Because of that , I found a new way of coping with them: acceptance.I have learned to allow and accept what is to be as it is and that brings something better than hope...it brings peace. 

I Used to be Hope Dependent.  This is Why I No longer Am: 

Let me give you an example of a long term  life experience that led me to stop relying on hope...to stop looking toward the future for things to get better. I will start by telling you that   I am a fairly bright woman with a good sense of medical intuition which goes  beyond my scope of practice as a nurse/nurse educator. So whether you believe this or not, I knew something was going on with my ticker way back in 1993 when I first began "presenting"in the health care system  with my symptoms. I had a strong sense , from the very beginning, that this was familial and had a lot to do with the issues going on in my father's family.  Tests were done, many referrals were made and I seen a few specialists in the early years. When the initial tests just showed an issue with heart rate,  the first opinion was a common one offered to women back then..."anxiety", and a bit of "histrionics".  Though they shamed me deeply and though I outwardly denied them, I could not completely discount these diagnosis' then.  I could not say, in all honesty to myself, that  they did not have some truth and validity to them.  My cardiac symptoms began, after all,   the same time  as my  Post Traumatic Stress started to make itself known to me.  There was anxiety and there was also a great deal of "fear".  I had this incredible sense of doom every time the chest pain started...thus my insisting something was going on...thus maybe what appeared as "histrionics" to others.  So part of me believed those shame-inducing suggestions even though I persisted with finding a physical cause. I also knew they were not the whole truth to my situation. 

For almost thirty years I went back and forth between believing "they" were right and I was just loopy, imagining such symptoms and knowing in my core that I was right and there was some physical cause to my experience. I  kept going between  shame and fear...shame when I presented and was sent away, fear that if I did not keep pushing for a diagnosis I, or someone else in my family, would suffer. I went back and forth, back and forth.  

The chest pain was very, very real but it was seldom  considered to be a real thing by others....even when I had ST changes that  supported it. My chest pain became something no one took seriously.  For a while, I stopped taking it seriously. Though it was very challenging,  I pushed myself to do the activities I so loved to do.  I was actually a fitness instructor at the time, leading aerobic classes. I also ran, skied, snow shooed, walked and did yoga.  On top of that I had four small children to run and look after. One day, eight years after it  began,  I went into ER...with chest pain episodes (that were accompanied by near fainting and palpitations) I started to experience while at the gym. At that point, I worried  I would be sent home without an answer but I still had some hope.  I was lucky enough to be seen by someone who took the time to do the necessary tests and the next thing I knew I was in CCU waiting to be shipped out by ambulance to the regional cardiac unit. I even got my last rites as I was waiting to be shipped out.  The internal med strongly suggested that it was definitely my heart and  if it was not a blockage... it was coronary vasospasm and assured me they would  test me there for that and treat me.  When I arrived there, I had a cath  done...there was no blockage... but the cardiologist who seen me  did not test me for spasm...he did not think it was necessary in a young fit female like myself.  Others  heard the mitral valve clicking and that became a big thing among the medical students but after an echo to determine a mitral valve prolapse I was sent home, not knowing what was causing the chest pain. It was 911 and my little issue seemed so insignificant compared to what was going on in the world.  

I still had the pain and this overwhelming fatigue. It was suggested that I either see a rheumatologist or a GI guy to determine some alternative cause for the pain and fatigue. I agreed to see a rheumatologist though I was still quite sure it was the heart.  Before examining me, the rheumatologist sat me down to talk to me about my test seeking and explained how it was costing the tax payers money to have young women like myself "insist" on having such expensive and dangerous  tests, like cardiac catheterizations,  done that they do not need. Most of the hope I had left in me drained out  in his office. Still, besides a ton of shame and guilt, I left that appointment with a tiny  smidgen of hope  left within me.  His "opinion" was left on my medical chart and followed me where ever I went after that. The pain and symptoms did not go away though I did whatever I could for years after that not to mention them to anyone.   Though I eventually got a diagnosis of "coronary vasospasm" from a cardiologist in 2013 , twenty years after the pain started,  to support what I and one other  had been suggesting for decades  that it might be...to this date it is often dismissed as having any relevance. 

Even the valve issue, as benign as these things can be, was denied over and over...even when ultrasounds showed that it was there, even though the click-murmur was so obvious.  I was even called a liar to my face by an internal med when I insisted I had this issue and questioned if it was getting worse. I did my best to "suck up the symptoms"  and pretend everything was fine. But when my sister died of a sudden cardiac death at 45, the fear returned.  I was even more convinced this was familial. I persisted again  looking for an answer, not just for myself but my family. I was called a liar, I was told to stop "test seeking", I was referred to as an "interesting patient" ...like I was  some big medical joke. The symptoms got worse. I was able to do less and less. I was scared...so once again I began to present to the "ER" with my very real complaints. Though there were many kind and thorough GP's in the ER who took the test results and my complaints seriously ...the internal meds always seemed to refer to my chart and explain to me how I had so many tests done in the past that were not showing "enough" evidence to warrant concern or treatment. How my life was impacted by them was always dismissed with a shrug of the shoulders. I even had an internal med slip a piece of paper, with a latin word on it, in my hand on one ER visit, as he kindly told me to look up the meaning of his diagnosis for me when I got home...which turned out to be "Fat Folder Syndrome".  So much shame...just for insisting that something was wrong with my heart and possibly the heart of others in my family.  Eventually, in 2010 I had a stress echo done by a cardiologist that proved on top of three other echocardiograms that others dismissed over the years,  to myself at least that I was not lying about the valve. 

 I also knew I had atrial fib and flutter...I had been experiencing palpitations  for years along with the sudden increase and decrease in heart rate.  I even seen the evidence myself on a couple of reports while I sat in front of the internal med who had earlier  called me a liar as he told me it was just "muscle twitching".  Then when I mentioned the fluctuations in my pulse, he  told me again that I was lying about that.  Even though I had a run in his office while he was taking my pulse.  He was willing to prescribe meds for me then, only because I was"so insistent and so worried about this benign condition". It got to the point that I felt I needed evidence to prove to myself and others why I was  having such a hard time coping with my symptoms so I began to collect it myself...I began to record pics of my pulse readings from a running monitor I wore and from my BP cuff.  And it proved to me that yeah...my pulse is really going out of whack at times..up over 200 for no reason  and it is dropping into the 30's . Still no one would validate this truth for me.  A year after my encounter with this internal med who told me all I had was "muscle twitching" and that I was lying about everything else, he was cardioverting my brother who went into  a run, like I have been having for years,  after a stress test.  He ws taken very seriously.  I, on the other hand, was still just  a liar. Another familial connection that no one would put together. 

Hope- a feeling of optimism and anticipation about a positive future. 

Positive Psychology.com/ Courtney Ackerman ( March 23, 2022) Positive Emotions: A List of 26 Examples & Definitions in Psychology.https://positivepsychology.com/positive-emotions-list-examples-definition-psychology/

Though the hope was trickling down to nothing,  I persisted, with great, great shame, to find an answer for myself and my family.   I  walked away again and again with more shame, no answer. And as if manifesting what was going on in my mind...every test they did perform never showed "enough" evidence even though it always showed "some". The fainting starts. When I continued to insist something is going on, with the evidence of my own monitoring with me, I was sent to  a renown specialist for an EPS.  This specialist  seemed so nice at first, so willing to support me. The belief was that the fainting was not cardiac but vasomotor.  I was willing to entertain that possibility. When I asked about the chest pain, I just got that shrug of the shoulders I was was becoming so familiar with whenever I brang it up.   Still, my hope was actually renewed. Then out of nowhere everything changed.  Someone else did the procedure and he obviously read my chart before he did it because he treated me like a piece of you know what.  It took a while but I had a run...I also had very severe chest pain during the procedure. Though the report clearly stated that I had a run of fib and flutter...I was told there was none.  That it as perfectly normal.  There it is on the report so clearly in black print in front of me but I am told there was no fib or flutter and as for the chest pain I had...totally denied and dismissed. (My  hope is that the nurse put it in her notes...just to prove I am not a liar). I think the hope might have been nothing more than a drop then but it was still there. A loop recorder was inserted, a few months later,  to monitor this atrial fib and flutter I apparently don't have. A Cardiologist sees me for preop assessment before the loop is inserted, he hears  the mitral valve prolapse  I apparently don't have, and tells me he will see me again when I am 60...that I will likely need a repair or replacement then...I go home and get a call a week later saying that something showed up on the MRI I also had done before the procedure... a patch of ventricular dyskinesia. Ironically, the day before I get this news my sister  who is a year older than me, 50 at the time, infarcted out of no where ...no blockage. Later gets dismissed.  I am having more and more bradycardia , rates in the 30's , becoming increasingly tired. I am told by this specialist that ordered the EPS and Loop that there is no evidence of bradycardia.  I pushed when I was brady to record it, so how can there be no evidence.  I have it as well in my self collected evidence?  I have evidence of bradycardia! I am told I am likely just depressed. I leave that appointment hopeless...

After a few too many ambulance trips to ER after nose-planting at work,a cardiologist sees me and diagnosis's me with coronary vasospasm. He confirms the mitral valve click/murmur and tells me, from his past experience working with the man who termed the condition,  I will likely need a valve replacement or repair by the time I am seventy.  They also  finally see the bradycardia and are  concerned. A pacemaker is suggested. Hope returns...maybe, just maybe the pacemaker will make the symptoms go away. I was just about to sign the consent form for a pacemaker, literally had the pen in my hand,  when the cardiologist  discovered what this other specialist had suggested...that it was vasomotor, that the bradycardia  was due to my BP and not the other way around and maybe I am just "anxious," "depressed", and "histrionic".  That was enough.  I didn't get the pacemaker ( which is a good thing obviously...if there is any indication that it might not be beneficial, I didn't want it )  and no one mentioned my bradycardia again. Two years later another sister ended up stented. Two years after that another brother, not the one with the atrial fib,  infarcted...no blockage.This is indeed a familial condition! 

The whole time I was becoming more and more debilitated by my symptoms. Without adequate specialist validation for them ..there was no support. ..even when  the symptoms seemed to control my life.   I had to reduce my hours at work, just so I could stay upright for my children and my students. Doing the stairs became a work out.  I had to carry my nitro with me wherever I went. I continued to faint and it was so embarrassing.  Though I had meds to control my fast rates and to help prevent the spasming, I still got a lot of pain. I went off work in hope I could get LTD just long enough until I got an adequate diagnosis and treatment so I could get myself back on track.  It didn't come.  I went without an income for over a year...cashing in everything I had saved or invested for the children and I.  I went back to work farther reducing my hours.  I loved my job and I needed some form of income...so we did what we could on my part time salary until it got bad enough again to make me have to go off.  Again, I go another year without a cent of income coming in...hopelessly waiting for things to change, for someone to say or do something to validate why I needed help. My GP  helped but it was no use. Another year, absolutely no income.  There is nothing left to cash in.  I went into even more debt.  So tired of fighting,  I completely give up...I go back to specialists and tell them I am "fine"...I don't need them anymore and I stop going to doctors about anything cardiac related.  I stop looking for support, validation and help... I get to the  point where I  make a very difficult decision to  retire early even when  it meant sub existing financially. I put my health first.  I take it upon myself to do what I can to make each moment better.

...Hope is the motivation to persevere toward a goal or end state even if we're skeptical that a positive end state is likely. 

Everett Worthington from https://healthypsych.com/psychology-of-hope/

The point is...I stopped hoping that someday someone would see this familial condition I see so clearly...and help me "fix" it instead of just treating some of the superficial  symptoms of it.  Anyway,the reality is I do have a cardiac issue that limits me , I am now living below the poverty line...if it wasn't for D.'s contributions to the household, I wouldn't have this roof over my head. That's the reality of my today  I don't have hope...that this will all get better tomorrow...that my life will get better. I have some serious skeptical doubt. I am not optimistic about my health and financial  future...but I am not pessimistic either. I am still persevering towards wellness...just not an externally determined state. 

Without hope I learned to do an amazing thing.  I learned to  accept what is. I learned to look for the conditions I need to be satisfied and at peace  in my present moment instead of waiting for them to arrive in some distant future,  the future that never comes. I stopped resisting what my body was doing...what the system was doing and allowed this to be a part of my Life.  I embrace the positive things this has given me...and there are so many positives besides the learning and growing I have done becasue of it. 

Hmm! So I do persevere in many avenues of my life...just not in the external health seeking one. I mean, I will go for  help when it is absolutely needed and if it is something I cannot manage on my own.  I will try everything else first.  I will tell my doctor about this pain when I speak to him next.  I will go in to ER  if absolutely necessary (if Nitro doesn't work after three shots) . I do want to stay alive as long as Life will let me. But do I have hope or trust that others  and the external situation  will change ? Absolutely not! Do I have hope and trust that if I access the system I will be helped and healed? Absolutely not.  That I will encounter more conscious and evolved people, than I have in the past,  who will  not attempt to shame me to protect their own egos? Absolutely not.  I do have trust and faith, however, that my changed internal situation will give me a lot more than a different experience ever could have. It has given me a much more stable and peaceful mind that is less likely to react. So though my situation may never change, my mind has. I can endure the hardship and tomorrow of course will be just as wonderful as today.

All is well. 


If we believe that tomorrow will be better we can endure a hardship today. 

Thich Nhat Hanh 

Life's Moving Toward Perfection


Allow your life to unfold naturally.

Know that it too is a vessel of perfection.

Just as you breathe in and breathe out,

there is a time for being ahead

and a time for being behind;

a time for being in motion

and a time for being at rest;

a time for being vigorous

and a time for being exhausted;

a time for being safe

and a time for being in danger. 


To the sage

all Life is a movement toward perfection...

Wayne Dyer's summary/ interpretation of ten translations of Verse 29 of  the Tao Te Ching


As I meditated today, I said a quiet intention that I would be able to accept, allow without judgement or resistance, without blame or shame...my physical heart to do whatever it is doing. I am not sure if  I am just having an extended bout of Coronary vasospasms or if the floppy chordae tendineae  of  my Mitral Valve are finally saying, "We had enough of holding it together with all this flapping and slapping you put us through.  I don't care what any one says or doesn't say about the conditions we were working under. It was too much lady... you put us through way too much stress. We are given you our notice...we are about to quit!" Maybe it is years of tachy brady...going from rates over 200 for no reason to rates in the 30's resulting in blood pressures dropping to the floor and my body following suit ... finally taking their toll ( even though the last medication I was prescribed years ago and the "not working"  seemed to work wonders.  I have not fainted in five years. ). Or maybe it is just my heart following the lead of my exhausted  mind as it recites its never ending mantra, "Just too tired ...Too much! Too much!" I don't know but I know something is going on when playing with my grandchildren, one of the most joyous things in my life, leaves me completely breathless and exhausted after thirty minutes...so much so that I can't stay awake when I get home. I had to cancel several yoga classes over the last week or so as well...not like me. Man this is starting to sound like a "Poor Me" session...that is not what I intended.

What I am trying to say is ...we need to accept it all, let go of any resistance to what we consider to be the "downs"  because they are just as much a part of Life's perfection as the so called "ups" are.   As challenging as it is to do this when we are facing these so called "difficult" times , we need to "RELAX" into them and  let Life do what Life is going to do, with or without our approval. I have literally, all in the span of a few months been feeling so behind...acutely aware of how behind I am financially, in the chores I want done, in society's eyes, in this notion of "success", in my parenting, in my writing, in my ability to keep up with others; I have been forced to rest which is hard for me, a person who so loves to move the body; I have been feeling emotionally and physically exhausted; and I have literally been in danger ( had death threats against me and loved ones  as well as being at the risk of succumbing to whatever my heart may or may not be doing here)) . Yet, I know in the deepest part  of myself, that it is all still so good.  This is the way it is meant to be...this is just Life moving toward perfection.  These downs will come and they will go. Maybe in two weeks time I will be writing about how "ahead" I sense I am, how I am able to move vigorously through my days and how safe and secure I feel. Or maybe not. Who knows? It will be what it will be.

I don't want to fight or struggle against this.  I made an appointment with my doctor, scheduled for a few weeks time,  but I have absolutely no expectations about that.  Not because of him but because of my past experience  I have no trust in the system, therefore little hope that this will be looked after when or if  I am referred. In the meantime,  will go into the dreaded ER  if the nitro doesn't take the pain away after the third hit or if I start to faint again.  I promised loved ones that I would and I will keep my promise.  For now I will rest when I feel the need to and move when I can. I will recognize and accept the stressors in my  present life situations and do my best to relax into them.  I will take precautions when I need to  but other than that I have done all I have the control to do...the rest is up to Life.   

It is all good!

Wayne Dyer (2007) Change Your thoughts, Change Your life. New York: Hay House


 

Saturday, May 21, 2022

The Coming and Going Of It All

In the infinite consciousness of every atom infinite universes come and go  like particles of dust on a beam of light that shines through   a hole in the roof. These come and go like ripples on the vast ocean of consciousness ....

The Vasisthas ( as recited by Deepak Chopra in The Secret of Healing,Spotify )

When we are truly conscious, centered in this ocean of consciousness, simply observing the dance of Life around us and in us... we see the coming and going of all the things our unconscious states are so attached to. 

I still get pulled away from this state of consciousness I  have been working hard to attain and maintain for longer periods of time.  It is my major Life goal now  to do what Michael Singer tells us we must learn to do if we really want peace of mind : eliminate the gaps in our consciousness. If I "strive" to do anything, I strive to do that. 

Becoming more conscious, I am learning,   is not about meditating twenty-four seven or making sure we don't ever think; it is not about having complete control over our minds so much that we figure we have to beat ourselves up every time we slip into human tendencies of thinking, negativity, fear, anger and dissatisfaction with our present moment; and it is definitely not about fixing, controlling, changing and determining what Life has to do  or not do to make us happy as we push away the unpleasant and grasp and cling to the pleasant. It  is simply about trying to prolong those periods when we are grounded in presence, aware and accepting of what is without all that judgement,  narration and story telling...and it is about shortening  the amount of time it takes for us to realize that we slipped off the track so that we bring ourselves back to the here and now. We just need to keep coming back!  

Yes, we are going to think...and some thoughts will continue to have the power to pull us away from the natural "peace-filled and centered"  state that lies beneath all this "stress, anxiety, dissatisfaction" the mind creates.  We will tend to follow these thought streams, get lost in them and forget about or fail to see what is truly happening here and now as life unfolds in front of of in this moment. We will get lost in the story about the "out there" and what is right about it and what is wrong about it. We will credit the "out there" for our satisfaction with Life...and blame it for our dissatisfaction with Life. But...but...every time we realize that we got lost in thought or story , blaming others or things for our present state of inner dissatisfaction etc...then we've come back.  We are conscious again. The more we come back, the more we learn that "out there",  is never the problem or the "issue",  "in here" is.  All the outside world has the power to do is "trigger" some reactive  emotional tendency already in us if we are not aware or conscious enough.  And we often  fail to be aware enough,  committed enough or skilled enough to stop ourselves from following that thought stream or emotional energy.  We allow it to take us off center. Our goal, then,  is to learn to stay centered enough, we are not pulled away. 

So we don't have to "fix" Life. We don't have to control it , nor do we have to stand on alert all our days ready to grab what we think will bring life satisfaction and push away what we believe won't based on how it triggers our insides. ...We just need to observe, understand and"fix" the way we react to it.  We need to step back and let Life be Life realizing this very, very important point: All things she offers us are wonderful opportunities to help us broaden our ability to stay conscious.  And everything, absolutely every experience, will come and it will go into our consciousness if we let it.It has no permanence,no substance and no value.  

What is of value is our peace of mind, is our conscious awareness...is being in  that state where we are not swayed  by this phenomenon, where we do not feel the need to run after it or to push it away.  It doesn't move us. 

Hmm! Not that easy to do. I am getting so much better at noticing when I leave my center and I come back quite quickly...but I still leave, a lot.  I am still a work in progress. What about you? 

All is well! 

Deepak Chopra & Adam Plack (2011) The Secret of Healing ; Meditations For Transformation. Spotify

Michael Singer Podcast ( April, 2022)  The Commitment to Stay Conscious. Spotify 

All is well. 

Friday, May 20, 2022

Languishing Versus Flourishing

 

Flourishing goes beyond happiness and satisfaction with life. True, people who flourish are happy.  But that's not the half of it. Beyond feeling good,they're also doing good- adding value to the world. 

Barbara Fredrickson (note: I did not take this quote from any course material  but from "quote fancy" on line) 

Languishing or Flourishing? 

Are you languishing or flourishing?  Are you feeling , blah! unmotivated, defeated, purposeful less and just going through the motions of Life (which would be languishing) or are you feeling enthusiastic, excited, hopeful, and full of Zest for Life (which would be flourishing) ? Well the New York Times took on both of these definitions in an attempt to help individuals understand why they were feeling less than happy during the pandemic and ways to feel better...They provided ways ( see links to self tests) to determine if you were languishing or flourishing, and then helpful tips on how to go from languishing to flourishing. I also learned a lot about flourishing and how to get there, in my course, but because it is a " positive" psychology course I did not learn a lot to date about "languishing".  Still...one of the reasons I decided to break the bank and take it is because I want myself and my loved ones to "flourish"! I am so tired of languishing. 

Weighed Down

I have been languishing for quite some time, and though the pandemic was only partially responsible for the weight on me, I did have weight.  In the poem below I wrote about having a heavy -weighted -blanket- on- me- experience. 

Ironically, I was both appreciative of the pandemic because it allowed me to stay in a comfort zone which weighted blankets are for, giving me an excuse for not being productive 'out there', putting me on par with everyone else for a brief refreshing time, but it and all the other things I was dealing with also  weighed me down.  I don't feel light, and energetic and care free...I just felt heavy...and with this recent bout of cardiac symptoms I feel even heavier.  I feel I am languishing big time. 

From Languish to Flourish

One of the tips, offered in the articles, for taking ourselves from languishing to flourishing is to savor moments instead of looking for big highs.  That, as one of my long time  go-to  philosophies of Life,  was something I had been doing and continue to do.  It does help.  I savored a moment just  this morning, as the poem below also expresses. 

Of course, gratitude, doing good deeds, serving and connecting to community are all beneficial as well. And those are all things I do . 

I fear, though,  that I am not "serving" the needs of others enough even though that is all I seem to be doing lol. Everyone's needs come before my petty little needs, it seems...and as the "my" in "my needs" become less and less important ...I just do it automatically ...but am I doing enough  "measurable" service  outside my loved ones? Am I doing enough good in the world? I don't know.  Need to look at that. 

Anyway, have a read and see where you are at.

All good. 

The New York Times/Dani Blum ( May 6, 2021) The Other Side of Languishing is Flourishing. Here's How to Get There. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/04/well/mind/flourishing-languishing.html

The New York Times/ Adam Grant ( December 3, 2021) There's a Name for that Blah You Are Feeling: It's called Languishing. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/19/well/mind/covid-mental-health-languishing.html

Morning Practice-Poem

 Morning Practice

The sleepy fingers of morning 

tap gently

on my window pain.(pane...lol...Freudian) 

From layers of protective sleep,

 I awaken

to its gentle and rhythmic percussion,

 to its choir humming the mantra of Life

in the back ground,

buzzing,  and singing

in glorious praise for what is.

I open my eyes to the golden limbs of light

stretching, flexing and balancing

on nature’s open and receptive mat.

 

Reluctantly, wearily,

dragging with me the heavy heart and mind

I have been carrying around

 like a weighted blanket,

I remove myself from this  bed.

I make my way to the window ,

so aware of the hesitancy  of my own limbs,

the claustrophobic breath caught in  my chest,

this tiny  mind beginning to  twirl and swirl  with activity

as it too  comes  back to its usual hyperactive life.


Then I witness , in awe, 

a true Yogi practice.


A ritual of reverence takes place before me.

Graceful limbs of early morning sun

bend and lengthen,

contract and expand

as the awakening world inhales and exhales

 in perfect synchrony.  

Breath,  and body of light move as

one upon the earth

where time suddenly ceases to be important .

And as I watch, warm and golden fingertips

 reach up  from the smiling yogi

to gently pierce the veil that

 I have been wearing

for much too long.


The heaviness falls off me,

these lungs expand , 

this heart opens,

the mind stops,

just  long enough to allow the light inside.

I find myself inhaling as I stretch up toward

a spacious sky so inviting,

exhaling,  I bend to brush

my fingers along the solid and stable earth.  


I do my best to mimic the moves of

the Great Teacher in front of me.

Asana after asana,

breath after breath,

 I salute It

as It  salutes me,

and for a timeless moment

we are One.

© Dale-Lyn , May, 2022


I woke up to this beautiful light outside my window.  I have not been feeling 100 percent, so I really just wanted to go back to sleep but no, I knew this light had caught my attention for a reason.  It had broken through my heavy mind and my heavy body with a gift I could either ignore or I could appreciate. I had that little voice go off inside me, "Poem!"  So I decided, reluctantly, as the poem expresses ...to appreciate.  Firstly, I got up and went to the window to watch the rays of a lovely sunrise stretch across my lawn.  It really was breath taking.  I felt the sun was saluting me...so of course, I had to salute it.  I proceeded to do my sun salutations with much more reverence and mindfulness than I have in a long, long time. And secondly, because I  tend to show my appreciation for such beauty through poetry... I followed the calling and wrote a poem. (Appreciation for beauty was the my third strongest character strength according to the exercise I did...go figure. ) 

This poem did not come out here...but for some reason I felt compelled to put it here.

All is well! 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Full Awareness of Breathing

 "The Full Awareness of Breathing, if developed and practiced continuously according to these instructions, will be rewarding and of great benefit"

From the Discourse on the Full Awareness of Breathing/Plum Village 

Yesterday I wrote about dealing with my puny little woes using the first eight steps of the Buddha's Mindful Breathing exercises. Those steps focus on the body and feelings.  I have a tendency, in case you didn't notice, to want to finish what I start lol.

The next eight steps deal with concentrating and contemplation on our mental formations and on certain things we are taught.  Mental formations are all the thinking, feeling, perceiving, judging, narrating, labeling etc etc that goes on in our heads. Some of that would be considered "positive" and some of it "negative" but we need to remember that both "positive" and "negative" are judgments and therefore mental formations in themselves. The steps are:

  • 9. Recognize and be aware of the state of your mind as you breathe noting any mental formation that comes up into your conscious awareness. Maybe it will be a feeling like anger, or a thought like "I am not good at this" or a judgment like "That is wrong" etc Though we do not want to get lost in story and narration, we might gently recognize that "This is a thought" or "this is a belief" or " this is a feeling" 
  • 10.  Then we attempt to gladden the mind by breathing in and out with that in mind.  We call up the seeds of mindfulness, joy, happiness, and peace etc from store consciousness
  • 11. Then we breath in and out in order to steady the mind and create balance and harmony once again
  • 12. Finally, in regards to our awareness of mind, we breathe in and out to release the mind of its tensions...and its focus on the mental formations.
  • 13. We focus on certain "notions" here to make them "insights".  Notions are things we are taught  and conditioned to believe and insights are things we experience fully and "know".  The first notion we contemplate until it becomes an insight is "impermanence, the ever changing nature of all phenomenon" including what goes on in our minds.  As we watch our thoughts, for example, come in, flutter around, go from here to there then leave ...this notion of impermanence becomes an insight. 
  • 14.Then we contemplate the notion of "detachment" or "dispassion" or "non-desire"seeing how our fruitless attempts to grasp and cling to what we thought made us happy never did...how it leads to more suffering, for example.
  • 15. We contemplate "birth, no birth" or "cessation" or "Nirvana" until it too advances from a mere notion to an insight.  We can contemplate water in our minds, for example, and see  how water can go from many forms , from the water in the lake to ice in the lake, from the earth to the sky in the form of evaporated mist and then to the clouds and from the clouds back to the earth in the form of rain.  It is forever changing , never really beginning and never really ending ...just going around and around.  Who we are between these forms was never born and will never die...the form changes from one year to the next, from one incarnation to the next ...but who we are doesn't. 
  • 16. Finally we contemplate letting go, releasing all all our notions that no longer serve. We release the notion of us as the observer as well and learn to see the non duality, the inter-beingness of our existence, of all existence. There is a line in the Vasisthas that comes to mind here: Renounce  all notions and then renounce the renouncer of these notions. 
Hmm! something to ponder.
All is well! 

The Mindfulness Bell/Thich Nhat Hanh (Winter /Spring 2010) Dharma Talk/Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathinghttps://www.mindfulnessbell.org/archive/tag/16+exercises+for+mindful+breathing

Dhamma Wiki (Jan, 2009) 16 Steps of Breath Meditation https://www.dhammawiki.com/index.php/16_steps_of_breath_meditation

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Mindful Breathing in Healing

 

Anger, hate, despair, joy, jealousy, compassion, all continue to take turns manifesting. ...You don't need to fight or to grasp, you just recognize them as they arise, as they stay for some time, and as they go away. 

Thich Nhat Hanh

Hidden Beneath the Defense Mechanisms 

Chest pain creeping up to an 8 and those thoughts, memories and feelings are once again creeping in to my conscious awareness with it. I wrote yesterday that I don't know how to heal from this mild form of PTSD I experience here.  My first reaction is to dismiss it as quickly as it arises. I tend to go to denial right away...which is very common defense mechanism used with angina.  I am doing somewhat better there. I am  better at not denying the chest pain and other physical symptoms to myself at least though I still do to some degree.  I do not fear death anymore and that fear always made the attacks worse...I would be quickly  overwhelmed with a sense of doom , you know? To avoid the doom, I would deny.  I don't have that doom clouding my judgement now so I don't have to deny the pain to the degree I once did.   My fear now is with having to re-access the health care system....that is where the "trauma" trigger is for me and the thought of having to do that is what brings up all those suppressed and repressed memories and feelings I stuff down inside.  Those feelings I attempt to deny by pushing them down as soon as they start to come  back up. It is that which  I don't want to experience.  So I deny, I stuff down with repression and suppression and I also do what I can to relieve the pain. once I get past any remaining denial of it.  If I can get the pain to go away...I tell myself ...I don't have to deal with the other stuff. I avoid having to deal with what I believe to be the source of my fear...the health care system. So now I have denial, suppression, repression and avoidance covering that which needs to be exposed and healed. Oh and I use rationalization and intellectualization  as well.  I have a very rehearsed script  full of points, notions, excuses and reasons for not dealing with this in an assertive way that my mind turns to. Sigh! 

So that is the pain or dukkha that I am experiencing and I wrote yesterday that I don't know how to deal with it...but truth is, I do know how.  And listening to the wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh today through an audio book entitled Fear...I was reminded that I have the tools for dealing with this sense of suffering. I can do it through mindful breathing.

Mindful Breathing Heals 

The Buddha, I am told, had offered a discourse on Mindful Breathing as a means to help us transcend our suffering. It encompasses 16 steps.  Those steps involve working with the body ( and breath is body) ; working with the feelings,and working with other mental formations , noting the difference between an insight and a notion as we concentrate on them. For now I will just use the first eight in relation to what I am experiencing right now (chest pain has subsided as I rest here btw...it only gets worse when I get up to do anything. So maybe I will stay here all day lol ) The first eight steps are: 

1. Become aware that you are breathing in and that you are breathing out.  Mindfulness for me begins with awareness of my breath.  As long as I am focusing on breath, all other mental junk is not at the focus of my attention.  And breath is exactly what my body needs now

2. We take that farther by then being very mindful to follow the breath...follow it as we breathe in from nostrils to abdomen, and follow it as we breathe out from abdomen to nostrils.  Again this mindfulness anchor of breath brings us out of our busy minds and it also soothes the Sympathetic Nervous System which in turn soothes the heart. We are soothing mind and body here.

3. Then we become aware of body on the inhale, This reconnects us to the body we likely ignored and pushed to the point where we are experiencing pain.  We are reminded of it and become willing to rest and nurture it.  Well that is what my experience is

4. Then on the exhale, we gently encourage the body to release tension and be calm This farther soothes the Sympathetic Nervous System, allowing the Parasympathetic system ( Rest and Digest) to take the reins of our momentary experience which is much better for the heart. It reminds us of our body and we  release tension and relax the body which helps to diminish physical pain as well as emotional.  I have less chest pain as I do this and less thought. 

5. From the body our attention goes to our emotions.  We begin with the positive emotions  in order to create a peaceful, joyful space to bring our pain to. We recognize and generate joy. Now joy is different than happiness.  It is what I like to call "hopeful happiness" ...where you are excited and anticipating something wonderful from the external world . Hanh uses the example, of spotting a dessert oasis in the distance where you, as a thirsty traveler,  may get a drink. It is the anticipation of that drink. We all have seeds of joy and happiness within us waiting to be nourished and cultivated and there are always conditions for us to be happy within us and around us as well. So we purposefully look for joy "out there" and purposefully recognize and generate joy from within.  I look for the seeds of joy within me...which is possibility, potential...I hope for a good outcome through all the potential in me and out there.  This might be where my Signature strengths might come in handy ...as reasons for joy...they can bring us to that water.  My strengths if adequately used may bring me to health or at least to  a sense of peace.  It may bring me to resolution of this pain I have within me. etc 

6. We recognize and generate happiness.  As said earlier, we have all the conditions we need for happiness within us and around us.  We just need to purposefully recognize them and generate them. Whereas to me, joy is "hopeful happiness", happiness is , "Satiated and grateful  joy" .  It is the quenching of your thirst after you drink the water.  Hope is not required here...you are satisfied with what is. I have given up "notions" of false joy I once had that went something like this, "I will be happy when I get the diagnosis and treatment  needed to make my Life better." for the happiness of finding peace, gratitude  and satisfaction in what is.  Well I am still working on that one.  What I anticipated I would experience once I was treated and supported  externally, I attempt to feel without this  external support.  Make sense? I am so very, very grateful for everything...for my heart and all it has done and can do.  You know? Grateful.

7. Once we have created this peaceful, joyful and happy space we call up our pain from the basement. We recognize our pain and look deeply into it. Let's begin with naming and identifying what we are feeling, experiencing it and allowing it to be.

8.  Then we embrace our pain So I say to physical pain, to shame, to fear, to hopelessness, to resentment, to anger, to despair..."Come sit beside me.  I see you, I know you have something to say, I know you didn't like being hidden away again and again.  I am here for you now.  Tell me what you need me to hear."  And we put our arm around this pain and we are fully present for it. We allow it to be. We watch it, as we see all feelings, all forms in this world doing, being for a bit then quietly getting up and walking away. Pain is naturally released when we are open to it and not resisting.  Hmm! 

This really helps.  Try it the next time you find that you  are getting lost in your own sense of suffering.

All is well! 

Thich Nhat Hanh (October ,2020) Fear. Spotify audio

The Mindfulness Bell/ Thich Nhat Hanh ( Spring 2010) Dharma Talk/ Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing https://www.mindfulnessbell.org/archive/tag/16+exercises+for+mindful+breathing

Plum Village App/ Thich Nhat Hanh ( June, 2021) The First Eight Exercises of Mindful Breathing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_iDaIAPrGo

Signature Strengths

Survey research has found  that most people ( up to two-thirds)  don't have a meaningful awareness of their strengths. What's more, its all too common to under-use their strengths.  

Dr. Ryan Niemiec 

Sharing Too Much? 

Now,  I know I share an awful lot on a blog that is truly not supposed to be "all about me".  It is actually supposed to be a reflection on the dissolution of  this notion of "me" I, and so many of us, still cling to. Through  an ego perspective...I am breaking some social taboo. It may appear to be way too much " personal" information to share on a public domain...stuff best left in the space between the four walls of the counselling office.  Believe "me",  what is left of my ego is loud and reprimanding  every time I write like I did yesterday. Yet, here I am sharing and a deeper part of me just sighs, because it knows I am following the flow I am intended t follow.  It just happens.  And I am not standing in the way! 

A Love of Learning/ A Need to Share

There is learning in this for me and there is learning for others.  Every experience we encounter in Life is a learning opportunity and as a natural educator, whether I like it or not,  I have no choice but to share what I learn from my own little life experience if I want to grow into the person I wish to be. If I want there to be more peace, happiness, joy, love, compassion and understanding around me, I have to start with understanding this version I call "me" and  I feel like I have to share what I learn. Of course, if it is too much for the reader to hear about my silly little woes, I understand too.  There is absolutely no obligation or expectation for anyone to read what I write. I am  just here to do the living, the experiencing, the learning,  the writing , and the sharing.  The rest I leave to a higher power. 

Signature Strengths

Anyway, ironically,  honesty/integrity, I discovered in a course exercise I recently completed ,  was one of my "Signature Strengths".   So...hey, I am just strengthening a strength I already have in me by writing so openly  here. lol. Surprisingly, the strongest strength I possess, according to this exercise I did, was perspective or  wisdom...followed by spirituality, Appreciation for beauty and excellence, a Love of Learning and then honesty.  I had thought, and maybe was hoping that "kindness", was on top of this list  as I ranked it highly on my own..but maybe I am not as kind as I would like to think I am.  Maybe it is not a signature strength but it is definitely a strength I want to build on.  Compassion and kindness are very important to me. I was surprised and impressed that "wisdom" was first.  Is that my ego? lol I would have also added creativity to which I did not see a category.  

The cool thing about these signature strengths was how integral they are to our  day to day  experiences as human beings. Character strengths are said to be signature is they are essential, effortless and energizing. A question that was offered by the prof (yes these are university professors offering this  course though I don't think it counts as a credit??) : "How would your Life be if you were no longer able to express these strengths? " 

What Life Would Be Like Without Them

I felt a knot in my gut with the thought of suppressing my creativity. That is why I was so sure creativity should be up there on my list of signature strengths. If I couldn't write for thirty  days I would go nuts.  I would be lost and floundering around on this planet with no purpose.  At the same time if I couldn't continue with my spiritual practice and my learning which are so intertwined, I would shrivel up I am sure. Appreciation for beauty is also something I need to express through my writing, poetry, photography and if I couldn't be in nature surrounded by all her shapes and colours for thirty days I would be crippled by deprivation. Yeah...I need these.  But perspective/wisdom?  I don't see that as something I need.  Don't get me wrong...truth and clarity and understanding are essential to my beingness...to all of our beingness, if we know it or not... and I am on the path to achieving them  but I don't see myself as wise, I guess, nor do I "need"  to be seen as wise...that would be ego. Anyway...it was a cool exercise.

Going to encourage you to check it out for yourself. 


VIA Institute on Character/ Dr. Ryan Niemic (May 23, 2012) What Are Your Signature Strengths?   https://www.viacharacter.org/topics/articles/what-are-your-signature-strengths

Been away from the college too long...don't remember the correct APA format for citing online journals. My bad!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Heavy Heart and Higher Rock

 When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Ps.61:2 


A Heart That is Literally Overwhelmed 

Chest pain still coming and going, not to the point yet that I need nitro but there just the same.  I don't mind the pain as much I mind that feeling of heaviness that seems to land on me and hold me down, making it hard to breathe even.  I just don't have the energy for anything.  So much to be done and I don't have the oompf.  The mind chirps in, and it is seldom kind, "Get up off your lazy butt...and clean this house that needs to be cleaned.  You have yet to clean those outside windows from the time you roofed in the fall and they are coated in tar dust. You have six pets living upstairs which means your house is full of dander and hair...and you still only vacuum once a week. Wipe down those walls, clean out your appliances and drawers. And what about the apartment downstairs...how long are you going to let it go like that?  They are both too  unwell to do it...they need you to step up and at least help them with their external environment if you cannot help them with their internal.  And really...you should be bringing meals to your loved one who doesn't get out of the house to make sure she eats everyday...once or twice a week doesn't count. And your grandchildren...are you seeing them enough, are you doing for them enough?  It doesn't matter how awkward or challenging it may be ...push, insist, fight if you have to.  They need you too. And these books you have been writing and revamping...just finish one and get it out, will you?  It is taking you way too long! And get out there and work...push yourself to work enough hours a week to earn enough to  at least begin to get yourself out of debt...man you have nine years of post secondary education and your income is below the poverty line...come on??? There is no reason for that! You have not infarcted yet  ...you have, therefore, no excuse to be this incapacitated. Two of your siblings that have had heart attacks are doing heavy manual labour again...why can't you do more? ...Surely there is something you can do to get out of this mess! " 

Listening to the Critic

After all the work ( I suppose that "work" is a bad choice of a word, lol) I do on myself to heal from my physical and mental and emotional toxins...this rampage still comes into play whenever I am reminded of this heart condition by someone else or when  my ticker starts to act up...so automatic and reflexive. I am so conditioned to "do" ...to be productive.  And that small part of me that remains, that still adheres to that conditioning, gets very, very loud and punitive whenever  my body or mind weakens and slips into a state of semi-unconsciousness...a place it can gain control in 

Man, at these times when I deserve self-compassion and a bit of nurturing : I have chest pain anywhere from a five to a 9 on the scale; I feel like there is something sitting on my chest;  I have a hard time breathing; I am dizzy, nauseous, sweaty...and I still will listen  to that inner critic. I will often actually  get off my "lazy butt" , suck up any discomfort and do whatever it tells me to do.  That is what got me in trouble when I worked...that is what led to the infamous and oh so embarrassing nose plants in front of students and colleagues. That is why I made the big decision to retire early. This inner critic would have killed me.

Not Healed Yet

And despite the fact that I had to give up the teaching I loved, a sense of social productivity and recognition and the chance for a more favorable pension just to  sub-exist financially, it was the best choice I could have made. I know that now.  I am exactly where I should be.  I have healed so much, in so many different ways,  because  of that choice. ...I have come so far  and I am so, so grateful...but ...

..but ....the moment I get chest pain or weaken physically enough to the point I cannot ignore it anymore...the moment when my external situation becomes just a bit "too"  challenging......I regress.  I am instantly pulled back to those years where I was shamed for saying I was sick when I went for help and where my physical ailments were denied and therefore the support needed was denied. That seemed to severe so abruptly the  trust I had , not only in the systems that we grow up believing are there to help us, but in the universe.  I did not see the universe as compassionate and kind, having my back...I saw it as punitive and myself as somehow deserving of that punishment.  It knocked me down and it knocked me down hard at a time when there was one family crisis after the other to deal with.  There was too much to handle at one time. It broke me...it seemed to break my life.

Fortunately, it also lead me to a deeper understanding and to a great healing that went way beyond body healing. I transcended so much.  It is amazing how much suffering has lead me to grow and expand .I have gotten through so much and gotten over so much.

And I spend a lot of my time telling myself  I am over this too, that I have transcended this but the moment I am reminded by my own symptoms or by others in general conversation about my heart condition...poof...I am back there. Instantaneous! As long as I can deny it to myself, do my heart friendly  yoga, spend my day writing  so I can remain  less physically  active so the symptoms are not as obvious, as long as I am able to "pretend" to myself and others that I am perfectly fine, and as long as I can suppress and repress that very challenging and trust breaking time in my life...I am good. 

What I fail to realize  though is that this didn't go away .  It is still very much in me.  I have  just been  repressing and suppressing...holding that pain, that severed trust,  away from my conscious awareness.  I have not dealt with it! Every symptom, every , "How is your heart?" reminds me of that. I don't want to talk about it with anyone.  I get so irritable and embarrassed when people bring it up.  I get angry if people keep asking me how I am feeling etc or Heaven forbid suggest I go into Emergency. I don't want to be reminded of how much this seemed to break me. I don't want to be reminded of that pain.  I have not healed from this.  In fact, I don't even know if I began to heal from this. I don't know how. 

From Restlessness to Heaviness

It is funny I have been  telling someone recently, how the  restlessness I have been experiencing for weeks in my core  has changed into a certain heaviness in my chest  ( that was before I had the bad angina attack a few weeks ago.) It went from a feeling of  restlessness to a feeling of being weighed down with doubt...from the core/ Solar chakra to the chest/heart chakra.  Hmm! Wonder what that is about?  Maybe I am just releasing a knot in my gut that needs to be filtered out through the heart.   Maybe this pain is resurfacing into conscious awareness so it can be dealt with once and for all. Maybe it has been in the way ...blocking the flow of positivity in and out of me? Maybe I am being asked to trust again...not in the system, but in the Universe. Maybe there is  healing happening after all. Who knows? 

I don't even know why I shared this...it just came out. 

All is well. 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Embracing Joy so We Can Embrace Suffering

 

In my approach to the practice, I focused on suffering for many years. I did not understand that generating the feeling of joy and being in touch with the wonders of Life is a way of handling suffering. So I need to recognize I may be underestimating  how powerful well-being, joy and simple happiness  can be as a response to the situation we are in globally and collectively. 

Thich Nhat Hanh 


I have been thinking about the steps I have been taking lately to understand and transcend "suffering".  It is the same direction most spiritual movements have taken over the years and it has been the direction psychology has taken to date, is it not?  Most research and emphasis in this field has been on understanding and attempting to "fix" or at least help ease emotional and mental torment.  The focus, then has been on the so called "negative " emotions which Fear would have likely been considered the ring leader.  Hmm!

Putting the Positive In Psychology 

I am now taking a course, where the psychology focus is on positive emotions rather than negative (And Love is the ring leader for this pack).  Positive Psychology  is all about understanding these positive emotions and how they can help us to attain and  maintain emotional and psychological resilience and strength. The focus is no longer on learning how to "get rid" of  or, at least, directly diminish the effect negative emotions have on our day to day experiences but on fostering, " Broadening and Building" the positive effects the positive emotions have on our lives. 

Does this new approach change my trajectory, does it take me off course? No, it beautifully supplements and enhances what I have been learning as I tap into the ancient teachings from the east. And, it offers, what so many of  us, who are held back from true freedom by our skeptical doubt, need...scientific validity. 

Skeptical Doubt and The Need for Scientific Validity? 

I am at the point that I really do not need the scientific validity...in fact if I read one more psychology research paper I will likely throw up. (No offense to those who painstakingly research, collect  and share  evidence for us doubters that prove their brilliant hypotheses' ...but "Research and Design' was my least favorite course. The sharing of data collection does not make for very interesting reading for a mind that works like mine does. The statistical analysis required...ugh!!! And Nursing Research Papers can be even worse...I know, I wrote a few. So I am challenged by such papers. I know others who thrive on such research.) 

To me this "knowing" that we are seeking, whether we know it or not, cannot be effectively collected through controlled experiments  and it can not be accurately expressed in words, ideas, thoughts or conclusions. It is beyond all that.  Still...we often have minds that say, "Explain it", "prove it", "show it". Empirical evidence comes in handy here.

Still...this Truth that we are attempting to prove true  is ancient...and very, very experiential. "Love heals"...yeah...all we have to do is feel true Love to experience its healing effects, first hand.  "Feeling happiness and joy gives us more energy", feel joy and happiness and you will know. Loving kindness and compassion improves our social connectedness and fosters a sense of safety, security and belonging in us...try it and find out for yourself.  

Embracing Joy/Embracing Suffering

Anyway...these  "ideas"  of positive emotions and suffering go hand and hand. In this lovely article, as linked below, we see how positivity can help us to embrace suffering with much more ease.  Being positive does not mean we negate the less than positive emotions.  (Eventually, if we evolve enough ,we put away our duality focus of good, bad, negative or positive) 

Also it is good to note that in the 16 exercises for mindful breathing, the Buddha strongly suggested that we generate joy and happiness prior to recognizing and embracing our pain. There is definitely a need for Positive Psychology in our approach to  well being. 

All is well. 

Brother Phap Linh ( November , 2021) Generating Joy and Embracing Suffering Plum Village App. https://plumvillage.app/generating-joy-and-embracing-suffering-in-times-of-crisis/

Mindfulness Bell.org/Thich Nhat Hanh (Winter /Spring 2010) Dharma Talk Sutra On the Full Awareness of Breathing https://www.mindfulnessbell.org/archive/tag/16+exercises+for+mindful+breathing

Plum Village App/ Thich Nhat Hanh (July, 2020) Nourishing Our Joy and Happiness/ Thich Nhat Hanh/ Short Teaching https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_KsQsmzm-ys

School of  Positive Transformation