Monday, June 30, 2008

Lamaze for Life

We create each other’s reality, every day. What we choose to share (in the moment) creates our current realities, and therefor shapes the reality of the person we share with. With the end of that interaction comes the death of that reality, and indeed, that person. Every interaction is a reincarnation, a chance to be a new person. Every interaction is in fact the whole life cycle- birth, growth, expansion, stasis, retraction, death. We live multiple life times, everyday. When someone thinks about us, we are reincarnated there. We die at the end of the thought.

How do I feel about this? Who have I been today? Mom, protector, commuter, chef, laundress, seeker, referee, pain in the ass, lady that cut me off without her turn signal, drinker of tea... Each of these incarnations has been born, has lived, has died today. Repeatedly.

It makes sense to me why we become less present in our lives. With the scattering of communities, we are each stretched farther and farther to interact every day. For myself, I raise three children, sustain a marriage, maintain a career, juggle friends... every one of these relationships demands different parts of me, and really, different 'Me's'. I am a bit like a telephone operator, jumping from line to line- birth, death, birth, death.... The requirement of breathing, takes on even greater importance.

Somewhere along the line, I learned that the root word for respiration (breathing) is 'espiritu', spirit. When we inspire (breath in) we take in spirit, and let spirit back out to the universe when we expire (breath out). Spirit in, spirit out. We need that exchange of spirit to give us strength to live, and die, every minute of every day. When we pay attention to our breathing, we are recognizing the spirit we exchange with the universe and showing it the respect it deserves. In turn, it gives us the ability to ride through all those birth pains.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What's the Difference?

Somewhere along the line, It came to me that I like boys. It wasn’t an active realization, I never sat down and thought ‘who will I be attracted to? Who should I be attracted to?’ My first crush was on my parent’s friend, Eric. He looked like Leif Garret (remember him, circa 1975?). What if, instead of Leif, my first crush had been Farrah Fawcett (they both had the same hair, he he he!)?

What if my path had been as a gay woman? Would I be a fundamentally different person? As I have never identified myself, primarily, through my sexual self, my answer is no. Many in the spiritual community would say sexuality is form and not an aspect of our true selves. Many in the religious community would say that homosexuality is a choice to turn away from God, and therefor, the answer would be yes, I would be fundamentally different- I would be damned (which is always a possibility no matter which team you bat for).

One Buddhist ideal of non-duality states that if heterosexuality and homosexuality are opposites, that they each must have the other in order to exist. Each has the qualities of the other and as such ‘inter-are’ . There is no difference (separateness), so here, I would still be the same basic person I am now, and if you didn’t like me, too bad. We are each the other so all of us is at least part gay (would this explain the modern ‘metro sexual’?)

Of course, another Buddhist principal states that my physical and mental being are simply projections of form on my formless being. In a nutshell, I (as a physical entity) don’t really exist, and therefor can not be either gay or straight. I don’t lean on this belief, myself. I am a physical entity for a reason, and at least part of that reason is to have someone who is turned on by the skimpy undergarments I bought last week!

From a personal perspective, I don’t give a fig leaf over who anyone sleeps with. If you aren’t sleeping with me, then I don’t need to know the details. From the perspective of consciousness, it is a great jumping off point from which to practice the principals of universal oneness. Being gay, isn’t like being black or white or Chinese. There is no unifying set of physical features that make up ‘gay’ like there are for being ‘Caucasian’. Gay people look like me. I look at someone and I can see that she is East Indian and now I can instantly, subconsciously identify in just what ways she is different from me. I can not see her sexuality. Here is a difference (if indeed there are differences) that must be experienced. There in lies the rub. It isn’t an easy label to apply and takes some thought to come to , not to mention, up close interaction.

Isn't that the spiritual journey when you get down to it? Can any of us truly follow the path to enlightenment as long as we hold on to the fear of 'the other'. No path can be fully explored unless it bisects the paths of others. Those intersections are where the real learning happens. That is when we 'see' that all of us are the same- all of us fabulous and fierce and free to love.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Courage (by feralkat)

Courage. It can't be found in formless pursuit or in forms laced to the bone of my ankle. Freedom has been hardly known, rarely practiced, wound up in clanking, honking duties.

We have all been forewarned since childhood to hurry, time's passing by, still, sometimes the beauty of a vanished moment can be more encompassing than a present awareness of the now. And if you are looking at a painting, or serving up a gourmet meal, it can be both here and/or not to be here. Commitment, due diligence, ambition are noble enough, but only when touched by grace do they rise above the mundane into a place of deeper understanding. With new awareness comes an intolerance for complacency, to make room for enthusiasm.

But that's not enough sometimes. We already don't like it because of the intolerance factor. There's already a dichotomy. From the simplicity of nature, the Huntress Goddess looks at the charred bones of the feast and would rather see a living bison. It's not the awareness, but the intolerance that is intolerable in the awareness. Until the intolerance thunder-cloud rolls on.

You have to break in your new shoes before you can walk comfortably in them. We want to be perfectly beyond intolerance and here come the ghosts marching down Bourbon Street blaring jazz that you can hear above the white noise of the buzzing traffic. All these centuries worth of programming from expectancies, from learning, from knowledge, experience, reaction, genetics, conditioning - like a nightmare they come out howling and dancing around a bonfire in the moonlight, a couple of shadowy gremlins with blood-dripping grins emerge, yes, it can be that grotesque. It's undeniably a fight to stay alive.

Courage, to bludgeon the darkness, but even sometimes just to take a baby-step into the light, the blinding light, with no dilution. Those old ideals of perfection, those are the last straw, the one that breaks the camel's back. You were born just this last Spring and you haven't seen a season like summer or winter yet before. And even in the present our instincts have an awareness of changes, we can trust the sunrise and sunset to happen once each every day of our consciousness. Courage, not with a mask like the Lone Ranger, overblown with hard-ridin' horses and yelping sharp-shooters, but as a process of living, of bringing hotly brilliant vibrant energy through the ever-so-resistant belly push-button solar plexus. That deep spot where the body knows things the mind doesn't know, because it's always computing. A place where the belly button does not negate, but rather, accepts the full garden of intellect and all it's potential seeds because the solar plexus is non-judgmental. Be courage fueled by awakening, in whatever you do, think and say.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Ch Ch Changes

How does one deal with the changes that occur when we start peeling away the layers of junk that settle on us over the years? I have been asking myself this a lot, lately. At first I thought that getting rid of some of the layers of social pressure, inevitable parental damage, self delusion... would make the load lighter. As it turned out, peeling some layers off just revealed the demons that they were holding down- squirming, kicking, howling demons! While I may be a timeless presence in a transient form, I still have to deal with my transient form, and it is a mess!

What was the most surprising was the depression and sense of isolation that I developed. OK, I was equally amazed by how much pain my ego inflicted on me. Not just emotional pain, there was that, but actual physical pain and dysfunction. I had a knotted up ball of muscle in my back and neck that made me unable to lift my right arm for several days! As the layers of distraction dropped away and I found television and radio and computers almost completely irrelevant, I found myself in a state of withdrawal for my former life. Without the distractions of electronics and entertainment, or indeed normal social life, I felt at loose ends. Everyday conversation became largely meaningless, so there was no idle chit chat with my co-workers. The friendships I had cultivated for many years, some for decades, held no attraction for me. There was no one to talk to, as there had always been before.

Back to the pain. I am serious when I say I couldn't use my arm. Being a Physical Therapist Assistant, I tried to diagnose myself. Had I slept strangely? I knew I had a severely impinged nerve, and some horrible spasms in the muscles surrounding my spine, but why? Why wouldn't it go away? Nothing I did helped, nothing my PT friends did helped and I was starting to get frightened.

While driving to work, one morning (one handed), I felt the need to turn off the radio and just sit with my feelings. As I quieted my mind, I suddenly thought about my husband and my inner voice said very clearly 'I don't want this relationship any more'. That is a damn powerful statement! In the past, I would have panicked and gone through a million reasons why I was wrong for thinking that way, and of course I still want this relationship, and how could I even think that when James is such a wonderful man, and my kids need a father..... This time I just sat with the thought without judgement and let it unfold.

Indeed, I didn't want this relationship, anymore. Over the weeks leading up to this day, James had lost his job and was always home. He had always worked very late which left me to myself in the evenings after the kids went to bed. Now, he was always there and I never had a moment to myself. I felt claustrophobic and put upon. It wasn't my relationship to my husband I didn't want, it was my relationship to my lost time. I was all twisted up over the fact that my alone time, which I have always used to connect with myself, was gone, and therefore, to some extent, so was I. Except that I wasn't. I was alone in my car, communing with myself, no husband. How completely stupid! For almost 5 years I had wanted James to be home more, and now that I had it, I was letting it make me sick!

With this realization came complete relief. I could almost see the pain leave my body, and my arm worked perfectly. How insidious the ego is! How unconscious I was, especially in the middle of a quest for consciousness! Aaaargh!

At least now, if I come out of meditation with pain, or have pain (always in my 4th thoracic vertebra) that I can not relieve with conventional methods, I know there is something I need to deal with coming up from my rapidly evolving self. There can be no shrinking away from the issue, it must be faced without emotion in order to get to the root of it- and the root is almost always something silly.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My Journey Begins

A few months ago, I was watching the Oprah Winfrey show. I am almost never home at that time of day, but I was sick and didn't want to read. Oprah started talking about her book club selection, A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle. She was announcing the online class that she was going to do with him for each of the ten chapters of the book and how she hoped that it would be the biggest online classroom in history. I was intrigued by the idea of a world wide classroom, dedicated to a book about finding... the inner world that each of us shares . Something about that idea completely hooked me, and suddenly I realized that I had been waiting for something like this to come along for quite a long time.

Because I was new to the spiritual quest, I decided to take it slowly. Only one chapter a week was going to be covered, so I would only read one chapter a week. That first chapter changed everything, although, at the time, I didn't know it. Reading along, I kept thinking that I was nuts for starting this. Tolle kept talking about 'ego' and 'labeling' and how the world was insane because of the collective lack of consciousness. He kept talking about how dysfunctional our minds are, and how thinking was a huge problem for the world. This was a huge problem for me! I am a thinker by birth, from a long line of thinkers. My whole life I have wished more people would think more often!

Despite my misgivings, something stuck in my head. What if he was right? I had been thinking all these wonderful things, and yet, for several years, I had grown increasingly dissatisfied with what my life was becoming. In tiny, sneaky increments, I had become totally separate from myself. Work was a place my body went to to do things for other people. My brain was raising my kids, but my desire was to be alone. Marriage had become this anchor that wouldn't let me sail out of port. I no longer read the books that had always been my great joy, and instead buried myself in mindless television and never missed an episode of "Extra" (I just loved seeing the stars fall from grace. Serves them right!). In other words, I had stopped showing up for life. Some days, I would start arguments with my husband just to feel alive (I still need to apologize for that)!

I was coming up hard and fast on a great truth- my mind had been running amok my whole life, telling me all kinds of lies and misinterpretations and falsehoods. My inner world was my own private cult and I was following the false prophet of my brain without reservation (amazing I never gave out flowers at the airport!). I was learning that the true me, the part I was born with, that had no societal overlays or patina, was being smothered by my out of control intellect in a manner similar to my partner choking on the couch right next to me without my noticing it because I was too absorbed in the TV. I needed to get myself in line.

I had no idea how challenging this would be. Had I, I doubt I would have started this journey.

As I continued to read the book, take the classes, and chat on line on the book club boards, I started to see myself much differently. I struggled with the sudden changes that made me feel as if all my internal organs had been removed from me and put back crooked. Strong opinions, intellectual pursuit, and convictions had been my cornerstones, and now I was learning that this seemingly strong foundation was in fact sinking in the sand. Becoming aware that most of what goes on in my head is the brain's version of Muzak was stressful, because, once I became aware of it, I had to work at quieting it down. Once things were quiet, I found all kinds of junk that had been covered up by the noise- and all of it needed to be dealt with.

Since that point, I have bumbled along, experimenting with meditation, finding other spiritual authors to read, discussing some of it with others (mostly online). I have had some dark moments- two weeks of depression a couple of months ago, periodic waves of anxiety dreams that seem to come in the period just before I have a breakthrough about something, and distancing from my old life and a lot of the people I love... There have been some amazing times, as well- learning walking meditations from Thict Naht Hanh, discovering the calm under the storm that to this point has been Adrienne, finding a deep appreciation for my family and the simple fact that they exist, and meeting some amazing people who have helped me to think more clearly (hopefully, some of them will post here soon!)...

My journey is just beginning, but already I can tell, it will never really end. As I 'see' more, I 'find' more. Maybe that is what the meaning of life really is- a life of learning to 'see' in order to live a life of 'finding'. Guess we'll all find out. Hopefully, together!!

Here We Go

Well. Here I am. I have now officially started a blog. So where to begin?

My name is Adrienne, and I find myself in the beginning stages of a spiritual journey that has already changed my life irrevocably. With these changes, I have found a need to share my experiences with others, but few to share them with. I have met others, like myself, who wish for supportive environments in which to share their experiences. With a little luck, this will be a place we can all come to to share what we are learning.

This is a space for any who wish to join. The only requirements are these-

1) In the words of Elizabeth Lesser, a fearless spirit with which to live in the mystery.

2) A desire to share openly, honestly and respectfully with others, your journey to the self.

3) A recognition that all paths lead to enlightenment. This is about your journey, not your opinion about someone else's.

4) A need to explore - giving, energy, ethics, meditation, patience and wisdom.

If this sounds interesting to you, then blog away!! Send blog submissions to The only posts that will not be published are those that are attack natured (sorry I have to put that in, but something about the spiritual journey gets some folks riled up!). Please, use your own thoughts, and credit those that belong to others! Most of all, have fun! It is much easier to find what you are looking for with a smile than a fist!