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Heart Heavy

My heart has been heavy as of late.

Heavy with the loss of a close friendship I thought I was building over this past year; heavy with the sadness of past close friendships that fell away that have been reopened in the wake of these fresh feelings of hurt and sorrow; heavy with the collection of matters I’ve been invested in over the past few months in regards to suicide awareness and prevention, hospice work, and the class on racism I’ve been involved in; and heavy with the ongoing heartbreak of the people – my people.

Tonight, I was planning on going to a public talk on the UM campus on the topic of missing and murdered indigenous women. Then, on my way home from work this afternoon, I thought to myself: My heart is simply too heavy and sore and tender to absorb any more right now. I think I need to stay home tonight and practice self-care. So that’s what I intend on doing.

_________

In regards to the friendship I’m currently in heartache over, I’ve come to realize – after much processing back and forth – that there is a way for me to keep my heart open to this person while also distancing myself from them. My work right now is centered around letting go. And gosh, it sure is hard.

While I will remain open to this person, should they decide to reach out to me on their own (which seems highly unlikely), I need to stop trying to connect interpersonally with this person. I’ve exhausted myself in being the only one reaching out; the only one trying to have open and honest communication; the only one who seems invested in furthering our relationship. Despite how close we were getting, how hopeful I was that I’d found someone to cultivate a deeper connection with, this person has recently bailed almost entirely on our friendship. And it hurts. It hurts more than it seems like it “should.”

The work of letting go is sometimes excruciatingly difficult. And a big part of this work for me right now, is allowing my feelings to be just as they are, without trying to fix them or placate them with niceities or cover over them with dispersion and distraction techniques. I keep telling myself: It’s okay that this freekin sucks right now. It’s okay that your heart hurts and that you’re full of sorrow. And then I follow those reminders with this one: Try not to let your temporary feelings of hurt imprint a lasting impression on getting close with others. Don’t let this be what shuts your heart down.

________

This morning, I wrote this on my writer’s facebook page:

The work I’ve done on myself, I’ve not done for myself alone. The work I continue to do – will continue to do – is for the people. For all those I affect in my wake; for my ancestors; for future generations; for all those I will never know.

And I am humbled, honored, and grateful for this drive forward – this mission in which I’ve inherited from a long line of spiritual healers, on a mission to assist with the great heartbreak of the people.

________

The practice – my practice – continues.

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Posted by on December 5, 2018 in Everyday Practice

 

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On Sovereignty

The definition on dictionary.com for the word sovereignty is as follows:

  • the quality or state of being sovereign, or of having supreme power or authority.
  • the status, dominion, power, or authority of a sovereign; royal rank or position; royalty.
  • supreme and independent power or authority in government as possessed or claimed by a state or community.

However, in regards to sovereignty as it pertains to a quality we can develop and strengthen in our daily life, which can help to bolster our mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being, this textbook definition is not so helpful.

For my purposes, I would define it as: the state of relaxing with solidity and ease, into all the parts of who we are.

My husband Mike and I are slated to give a joint talk at our meditation group, Be Here Now, tomorrow night. The title and topic of our talk is: cultivating sovereignty. Aware that this word is not common in our collective vernacular (here in the U.S anyway), we will start off by sharing each of our own working definitions that we’ve come up with. His is as follows: freedom and liberation from being governed by unskillful habit energies.

Sovereignty involves being able to carry our true home with us everywhere we go. While we will of course still experience difficult situations and the full gamut of human emotions, when the quality of sovereignty is strong within us, we will be able to maintain our calm and clear center, without getting uprooted by the winds that blow around us.

Sovereignty is akin to a tree. A tree trunk is upright, solid, and grounded (solidity). Its branches, however, go with the flow and bend in the wind and its leaves change, shed, and regrow with the turning of seasons (ease).

After offering my working definition, I plan on giving a couple of personal examples (see below) of how this quality has shown up for me in the last few months, to hopefully help give some context and illustrate how sovereignty can be a beneficial quality to invest our time and energy into. I mean, it’s all fine and well to teach about cultivating certain qualities and states of being, but I think it’s important to also speak to the why as well. Whether I want to speak about cultivating mindfulness, joy, a sitting meditation practice, sovereignty, or any other number of things, it’s good to offer at least a brief reference as to the potential benefits that watering these seeds can have on our everyday lives.

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On Self-Acceptance

 

Image: from the book “There Is No Good Card For This” by Kelsey Crowe PhD and Emily McDowell

 

The strength and quality of our well-being is directly related to what percentage of ourselves we’ve made friends with.

Today: Make friends with just a little bit more of yourself.

Inspired by the illustration above, I made my own :)

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Posted by on November 23, 2018 in Everyday Practice

 

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Three Roads Converge

When I clacked in the title of this post: Three Roads Converge, I thought I’d tie in three threads that have been thrumming through my life as of late. But then as I started thinking more about it, I realized that it’s more like 5 of 6 threads that have woven themselves together in the past week, prompting my call to pen this post.

On Monday, I had a meeting with an OI (Order of Interbeing) pre-aspirant friend of mine, where we decided to start a practice of working closely with the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings together, which serve as the foundation of our Buddhist tradition. I shared with her that prior to my having been ordained into the Order – back in 2007 – I took it upon myself to work with each one of the trainings for the span of one-week. I read one training every day for 7 days and then would go onto the next one, equating to a 14-week practice. After reading each training, I would then journal about my thoughts/practice/experience with the training. This practice was very nourishing for me and allowed me the opportunity to look and work deeply with each training, one at a time.

Since she liked this idea and was interested in doing it, I extended the offer of having her and I do it together. Our plan is to focus on one training every 2-weeks, so that when next we meet, which will be once a month, we’ll share with each other our journal entries and what came up for us, centered around two of the trainings.

Since this was week #1, here’s the first of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings that I’ve been working with this past week, and will continue practicing with through the next week:

The First Mindfulness Training: Openness

Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. We are committed to seeing the Buddhist teachings as guiding means that help us develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for. We understand that fanaticism in its many forms is the result of perceiving things in a dualistic and discriminative manner. We will train ourselves to look at everything with openness and the insight of interbeing in order to transform dogmatism and violence in ourselves and in the world.

To read all 14, please click here.

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Place and Time

A light snow falls, like wishes and hopes for a future yet to come, with softness and a fragrant lingering for more.

So many of us ponder: Will more be enough?

Then following in tow: What if more is never enough? What if getting more simply leads to needing more?

And if we’re still and quiet in heart, speech, and body, this answer will be there on the heels of our fears:

There is no such thing as more, to remedy that which we experience as lacking.
There is only this.
There is only now.
This.
Here.
Now.
These are the only things we can truly rely on.

 

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Words Matter

It’s been quite the week.

A week I could (and did) summarize by the title of this post: Words matter.

At the start of the week on Monday, we had an especially lovely evening at our local sangha, Be Here Now. It was one of those nights where the sharing was really genuine and heartfelt, we had a large group (over 30 people), and we had someone join us who’d just moved to town and was so grateful for having found our group and to feel so welcomed and right at home with us.

On Tuesday, I attended a forum on hate crimes on the UM campus (see previous post).

On Thursday, I attended a public talk on campus given by Christian Picciolini, founder of the Free Radicals Project and author of White American Youth: My Descent Into America’s Most Violent Hate Movement – and How I Got Out.

Unlike the Hate Crimes Forum I attended on Tuesday night, the seats were well-packed. While there were a mixture of ages in the audience, UM students occupied the largest demographic and I took great pleasure in being surrounded by 7 others in my close proximity who donned notebooks on their laps in lieu of cell phones.

And last night, I helped organize an event called Word of Mouth at our local Roxy theater here in Missoula. An evening which celebrated the art of creative self-expression through wordsmithing. We had 3 spoken word poets (myself included), 3 storytellers, and 3 standup comics take the stage, each with 10-minutes, for a 2-hour show that was simply fantastic. The show started at 7:00 and by 6:30 all 119 seats were sold out. Dozens of folks were turned away at the door – which speaks to me of the great need for continuing to offer these types of events.

Collage pic of all the WOM performers in the show last night

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Don’t Bite the Hook

On my recent road trip, in addition to all of the music I enjoyed listening to while driving, I brought along a set of CD’s I borrowed from our mindfulness center’s library: a 3-disc series of talks by Pema Chodron called Don’t Bite the Hook.

Here’s a description I found online:

Life has a way of provoking us with traffic jams and computer malfunctions, with emotionally distant partners and crying children—and before we know it, we’re upset. We feel terrible, and then we end up saying and doing things that only make matters worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way, says Pema Chödrön. It is possible to relate constructively to the inevitable shocks, losses, and frustrations of life so that we can find true happiness. The key, Pema explains, is not biting the “hook” of our habitual responses. In this recorded weekend retreat, Pema draws on Buddhist teachings from The Way of the Bodhisattva to reveal how we can:

• stay centered in the midst of difficulty
• improve stressful relationships
• step out of the downward spiral of self-hatred
• awaken compassion for ourselves and others

I can’t say enough good things about this series. It was so chock full of insight and wisdom that I found I could only listen in 15-20 minute segments which fortunately, with how this series is set up, is very easy to do.

Here are some things I penned down whilst driving and listening (note: if it has quotation marks around it, then it’s something she said verbatim – if it doesn’t, it’s something I paraphrased, infusing my own understanding/practice into what I heard):

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