The Loops

It came to me today while running on the treadmill – the surreptitious presentation of the realization of a lesson about to be learned.

It’s been a strange week.  All the days are different on the surface but after such a lovely hiatus from the emotional valleys recently, it was fully felt that I was trudging downward this week.  It began with a slight malaise when I woke on Monday morning.  And then upon arriving in work, I found a poor little rat, poisoned and close to death.  He/she was shivering and weak on the tarmac.  Fate would have it that I be alone in the office so I grabbed a new company fleece, wrapped up little Ratsky and put it down on the grass next to the building, sheltered from the wind.  It was very weak and bleeding from the nose so I put a bowl of water next to it.  The following hours were spent alternatively working and going outside to check on it, stroking its bony little head, then weeping my way back inside.  It died just before lunchtime.  I dug a little grave with the claw side of a hammer and gently rolled it in, covered it back up with dirt, said a few words, threw the jacket away and washed up the bowl.

The day remained melancholy, and little Ratsky was on my mind until I fell asleep that night.

Perhaps that was the start of the insidious loop; the recording that plays in the background while you’re living your days?  It can be good, it can be bad, it plays back memories, events, thoughts, people…every thing you’ve ever experienced in some way, shape or form. It’s always there. The contents of it can nudge a person to take notice, or not. The one that played out for much of this week turned out to be a negative reel with lots of pointed fingers and angry expressions. It doesn’t come to theatres very often but when it does, the awareness that I cultivate regarding thoughts becoming reality dissipates. This allows thoughts to form in the spaces with an ugly clarity.

I went down for a day, enmeshed in the rolling “thoughts feed emotions” process. At the end of that day, there came a small internal conversation about staying home vs. attending Sangha. I went. And was glad that I did.

The Universe granted me a safe haven and provided many more souls in the group than usual with which to bounce safely around. As soon as the circle closed, my eyes relaxed and I felt my soul escape the bounds of the body. I felt bigger; filled up. It was wonderful. I listened to a teaching from Thich Nhat Hanh which was most timely, and reminded me that though my emotions be strong, though my thoughts be unruly, I must remember to breathe deeply at my navel, and there I will find peace.

tree

A lesson learned then this week (and no doubt will be presented again at some point in the future) that thoughts shape what we perceive as true. They can be our best friends or our biggest enemy.

Afloat in a Shandy Sea.

Creativity is lounging somewhere getting drunk at a bar.  It’s stalled on writing but became ever so quietly excited at Goodwill when I purchased an outfit destined to be zombiefied.  I quietly plan on the sidelines while thinking of other things.  I love that talent.  The ideas form and gel in the background.  I stand back, press my finger to my lips, take out this, add that.  All the while, I’m checking ingredients in food, cooking dinner, doing laundry, thinking about things, worrying about my son.  Life rolls forward in an endless stream but behind the scenes, the nature of me does what it does best:  Plans, creates.  And I know when I have all I need in front of me, the thing that I’ve been visualizing will come to be as imagined.

The practical side has stepped up.  But I have a little bitch with a whip silently berating me for not making any progress with my writing.  I feel guilty which is so not the frame of mind from which to be doing this.  I sit down and write anyway, delete what I’ve written, start again, become dissatisfied and give up altogether.  I think perhaps I put too much pressure on myself to write long.  And by long, I don’t mean the length of time, rather the length of the piece.  It appears that I’m pretty good at flash fiction.  If only, I think, if only I could stretch out those 100 word pieces to thousands.  Driving in the car, I think well, I’m in my mid-forties…maybe I’ll have it together in my fifties – I’ve got plenty of time!

If I do, I do.  If not, well, at least I have two great kids, right?  That’s some wonderful creation right there.

I’m astonished that how day after day, week after week, I’m still surprised at the ebb and flow of life.  Of love.  Of feelings.  Of the past.  Monkeys occasionally jump on for a quick ride (sometimes the same terribly stupid monkey who won’t quit), sometimes I’m up and free of burden, sometimes I’m weighed down and sometimes, like this week, I’m treading water.  It’s probably a good thing to feel astonished because the alternative would be very boring.

At once, I’m feeling ironic.  Opposite.  Paradoxical.  This AND that.  Pushed and pulled.

I’ll keep myself buoyed with some disco. It reminds me of my little nine year-old world that came with this:

photo-of-old-portable-record-playerso that I could play and dance and sing to this.  All lip-syched and cheesy, perfect!

Thoughts from the Monkey Mind

Monkey%20Mind

I would love to give credit to whoever created this artwork but I’m unable to locate the artist. It’s perfect though in providing a graphic description of what goes on in most of our heads. Every day, we generate anywhere from 12,000 – 50,000 thoughts a day. That’s an incredible amount. Can you imagine if we acted on every single thought that chugged through? My mind is imploding just thinking of the chaos.

In the past, I have put myself through the emotional wringer…

wringer1

“Oh hey, that looks like fun, never done that before, let’s give it a whirl!”

One thought led to another and the things I wanted were manifested. But, they weren’t well thought out thoughts; I absolutely did not weigh in with consequences and I ended up feeling like this:

wringer2

This article was my a-ha moment for today. I say “for today” because I understand about choices and the like. It’s just that some days, spiritual oneness and peace seem further out of reach. It’s a lengthy read but I took this little nugget:

“We make a thousand choices a day, each one a bargain in which the brain weighs expected benefits against expected costs. Therefore, it’s important to make good bargains, good choices, in which the real benefits are greater than the real costs.”

…and snapped to attention immediately.

So, what I had thought would feel wonderful and good, i.e., what I pulled out from the bargain rack ended up costing me more than I thought and ultimately, I was left feeling awful after putting myself though the emotional wringer. Undoubtedly, it affected other people too.

I’ve felt a little wobbly thought-wise the last couple of days. I knew it vaguely as I went about my days: driving, eating dinner, interacting with my family, writing, whatever…I knew it. I tried to control my thoughts with affirmations and repeated phrases but they built like a crescendo. Not to the point where I grabbed something off the bargain rack in an unrestrained fit of desire, nor was I reduced to anything emotional.

But if they persisted, I could be tempted to veer off my soulful path.

That happens a lot. Let’s face it, I’ve only been meditating regularly for four months so I’m still seeking my truth. I have had to guide myself back from whatever thorny mess that I’ve wandered into a number of times.

Those thoughts were most apparent during meditation; the incessant chattering of those stupid monkeys! It was work, let me tell you, to ask to be brought back to my mantra time and again. Persistence paid off though and I am able to smile at the process. Today I felt that sought-after glimpse of clarity and deep, deep gratitude. That one brief, shiny moment was worth fending off some of that off-the-wall shit those monkeys threw.

I never used to be the kind of person to think things through and I’m still really not. I’m impetuous and I dash headlong into things. But when it comes to the important stuff that matters to me and to those closest to me, I truly do know that the more I learn, the more I read and the more I meditate, the better I feel about the thoughts that come and go.

And the better I will become at plucking and running with the ones that have wonderful outcomes.

Lisa…