What next? Staying grounded.

The Waking
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
We think by feeling. What is there to know?
I hear my being dance from ear to ear.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Of those so close beside me, which are you?
God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.
Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?
The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
Great Nature has another thing to do
To you and me; so take the lively air,
And, lovely, learn by going where to go.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.
XXX
My goal is to walk so softly on the ground. But there are times I stumble, swear, feel blinded by some fog created by my urge to keep myself safe and protected.
The tension between the urge to create, go big, just fucking DO something and the necessity to be careful, orderly, not to take risks or attract too much attention from the Eye of Sauron has pretty much been the back beat track of the movie of my life.
What my ego is constantly whispering to me is ,”Not good enough. Not enough effort. You could have been so much bigger than this version of yourself. Why did you waste your time, your focus, your energy, your day, your week, your life!”
I think of those heart-felt movies where in a marathon runner has his crippled little brother on his back.  He chooses to run with the weight of the destroyed relative throughout the race. At times, I see my ego that way. I just keep carrying him or her or it with me and sometimes the being is just too heavy for me to run the marathon with any spectacular results.
But that image and message, too, are from the ego weight creature I carry.
At present I have been evolving in the way I almost inevitably do. It seems to be my style. I am stoic and patient for a time with an issue and use my super human suppression skills to cloak the problem in a field of invisibility. And then I stumble onto the next plan hidden behind the bushes.
My neck has disintegrating discs which have radiated migraines, ear aches and jackhammer skull pain for decades. It has gradually gotten better as I build the strength in my body and learn to work on flexibility.
My digestion has been a mess since I witnessed the Paris Attacks on the street where I was staying in November.
My message to myself is highly nuanced: I am doing well. I am armoured and impervious.
I had only one flashback after seeing the blood and hearing the screams of those dying. I have had no nightmares at all. I congratulated myself for staying in a field of love during and after the attack. There was no hatred or personal fear arising.
But my body has had unpredictable purges since December. I am clearing. I am clearing unexpectedly, rather constantly.
So somewhere along the way, I decided to deal with the ignored messages from my body.
xxx
First I went to body talk and the reader said I was carrying massive amounts of pain but it was not my pain. It was pain from others that had lodged in my body. She placed her hands on my spine and released tension which I could feel leaving like water from a burst pipe. The flowing out of that which I had been holding was something palpable.
Next, I decided to go for physio. I had two treatments releasing some locked areas in my body around my neck. After the second treatment, I suffered barely endurable pain. And I am tough. I have prided myself on my ability to “take it.”
I felt as if my skull were being attacked with a jackhammer from inside, from my brain. I had a massive migraine, pain shooting up my neck and out of my ears and the constant presence of nausea. I awoke in so much simultaneous distress it was impossible to focus on any one area.
I allowed myself a sugary drink, took a tylenol 3 and decided to just drug myself asleep with gravol.
When I went back for my third treatment, the physio indicated  that unlocking knots in the body can allow for information to start flowing that has been repressed. On the right side of my neck is an area that refuses to let go, he informed me.
I pointed out that I had a shard of bone standing up on that side on the front of my shoulder.
He stepped back and looked concerned. He said that it was an indicator of a dislocated shoulder at some time in my past.
When I went home with the new information to add to the missing puzzle bits of my life, I sat with the idea that this happened when I was under the amnesia blanket of my blacked out childhood. I have protected myself by not remembering. I have allowed myself to move forward in a healthy manner by not “knowing” what happened to me.
What is behind the doors.

What is behind the doors.

So in the last four years I have been able to gather further evidence. A energy therapist told me of my broken cheek bone. A woman’s retreat presented the information that not only my father but my grandfather were dangerous to me. And now I own the information that my shoulder was dislocated and never reset properly.
When parents hide the damage to their children so that they will not be found guilty, so much becomes unvalidated experience.
What I have come to understand is that my journey has been about using my mind to reclaim my full presence. I studied. I read. I attended conferences. I went for counselling to Elizabeth Fry on and off for eight years. And then I let it rest.
connecting with spirit
Next I moved onto working with spirit. I found a group of Catholic nuns who worked with energy and it was while I was attending their support group the entire understanding came to me. I was attacked at 18 months on by those who should have been my protectors.
What I came to accept is that I was lucky to be alive.
The grief was mammoth. I cried almost steadily for three months. I had not know. I had not let myself see. I had not consciously “experienced” the attacks at all. But the suppression was not working in my life.
The spiritual work continued with the guidance of Gabor Mate in a retreat and through his books. My meditation practice became the anchoring center of my life. I began to be able to love and not hide how much others meant to me.
I sat with Peruvian Shamans and with a Black Foot Medicine man. And I read. I read everything about how the brain works, the patterning of DNA. I studied Buddhism, Tao, Hinduism and I opened myself up to the deep connection with spirit.
What I have done in the last three weeks is a result of my adventure. I worked first on knowing that I was determined to survive. Then I used my mind to understand on that first level. The spirit work was only possible because I intellectually understood how important it was to get beyond the mind.
Finally, reconnecting with the messages in my body is the final and most illuminating step. I can only allow those neurological connections to bring messages because I am strong enough now. I have worked out, used weights, established habits of nurture and strengthening my body so that I can actually see how strong I am. That has helped me tremendously.
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What happens next? Don’t ask me. I didn’t plan this journey. I just let it take me to where it will. It is only afterward that I can see how “on purpose” my path has been.
“What falls away is always, and is near.”
I no longer fear to be seen. I no longer fear the Eye of Sauron. The greatest evil is to not see who we are and why. The greatest evil is to not allow ourselves to grow by doing whatever it takes. And I wait for the next directives with a vast curiosity. Life is such an adventure.
The kiss that has awakened me from sleep is my own.

Exhaustion and Anxiety

I am repeatedly grateful for the CBC and the information it brings into my little attic hideaway. This morning they featured a show about the book Exhaustion: A History.

 

 
The concept of exhaustion being a contemporary post-modern experience is one held far and wide in today’s culture. The exhaustion that takes contemporary focus is the Chronic form of psychological fatigue triggered by bio-chemicals in a fight or flight syndrome. Or that is what contemporary specialist believe it to be. So we buy into this definition.
However, Anna Katharina Schaffner, the author points out that the pervasiveness of weariness is nothing new.
Galen writes about it in antiquity. The Medieval period called it acidia or an excess of acid in the body which created a condition called melancholia. It was considered a sin and sloth was the result.
Hans Seyle who is the father of the research on stress and resultant depression was stressed himself when he could find nothing measurable about energy. He came to a standstill when he asked, “What is energy?” The only answer that has presented itself in the scientific field in Western science is the measure of calories.
What has been woven into the psyche of the modern cultural Akashi record belief is that there is ‘something out there that will steal our energy’.
The bottom line of the historical focus on the depletion of energy is, according to Schaffner, a belief in the waning of efficacy; a falling away of energy and vitality as we age.

But the real anxiety is about the approach of death.
So historically philosophers, medical scientists, social scientists, psychologists have danced around the changing presentation of exhaustion. For medieval times it was thought to be the humours; during the Victorian Era a blanket of lassitude was the result of invention, modernization and education of women.

wet, tired
Certain periods in history allowed only leisure classes the luxury of exhaustion and depression. However, today the world wide sense that this is the first time, this is the worst time for exhaustion with a sense of personal powerlessness is in error.
The fear of diminishment has been a constant in Western Culture since the age of Antiquity.
A big difference between Western Culture and Eastern Culture is the concept of a mechanistic “battery of energy” that loses its charge. In contrast to Eastern belief that Prana or Qi are replenishable sources.

Grounding in order to grow

Grounding in order to grow

 

The person who is feeling a diminishment can go to a practitioner and reconnect with source. Or the individual can go to a movement/breath practice mode which revitalizes the body and mind.
For me, the most interesting concept in the interview is that each person; each decade; each cultural moment is so intensified that we lose perspective.
The issue of facing one’s death, of having a healthy supportive connection to one’s body and of knowing we are not unique means that we can release the victim mode. We can see how connected we are to all who are alive on the earth and to all who have lived.

Once we understand that, we are able to move in the world with more compassion for ourselves and for others.
Thank you, CBC.

The “savings” account.

carrying shadowsI read in one of the many how to save your marriage books, while I was still hopeful, some interesting advice. (Obviously the methodology requires two so THAT didn’t work.) The coach-therapist suggested that the couple store up good feelings so that they could draw on them when it was necessary in times of stormy weather.
Coupled with my reading on discipline fatigue, I was thinking about designing a life strategy. As I did my daily five loads of laundry, hanging the purple sheet, I thought of how edgy and irritable I get when I stick to my check list, and work with a total focus on building new habits.
I kick like a four year old… “don’t want to”. The promise land of supportive habits is mapped out on my giant calendar check list pasted above my reading chair.
“But what happens when I am just plain tired of making myself do better, be better, push for bigger goals,” I thought as I hung the golden colored bed sheet.
It was then it hit me. I have a less than peaceful relationship with myself. There is tension between me, myself and I.

Basically, she is always dissatisfied and reaching for more. I make a plan… and the vast stretch of the day with undulating hours like some ocean or desert spreads before me. I am both overwhelmed and bored..
“What I need,” I advised myself, “what I need is more treasure in my treasure chest of good feelings.”
Bingo, bazat. There it is. That could help my primary relationship.
Instead of only allowing myself a beggar’s hoard of joyous moments, what if I went after them with intention in order to help out when I was just so done.

Saving positive moments

Saving positive moments

“But not just indulgences, “I remind myself. “You need to stick to the habit building plan.

I stood back and looked at the purple, golden, yellow and hot pink sheets waving on the line. Beautiful. So simply beautiful. I start with that image. I start now.

Where Am I Now?

Life for me has been such an experience of making progress, lurching forward and then falling back into old habits of thinking and action. Trying to be patient with the process is like everything else: Sometimes quite easy and at other times just a condemnation to some caves of Hell volcanic spewing in a limitless black pit.
Today, it was cooler which always causes a rise in my optimism. When it is 30 + Celsius I am like a Newfoundland dog locked in a room with no AC. I become dispirited, lacking the urge to run. I can push my self for a while in the morning and then I am just laid flat sweating out of the side of my face.

Cloud give relief

Cloud give relief

Always, my mind wants me to prove that I have been working toward my goals. Not one goal, six goals or nine goals. Too much, too fast gives me a high.
It is cooler today and so I can feel that there is something possible between the two walls of night. I awake and my thoughts turn to my goals again.
And then, and then comes the questioning: What is it that I am not asking?

 

Questioning in a Circle
Like a small bore drill, what repetitions of digging into the hard wood knot of my life are going on? I want to bite into something. I want to see something become easy and reward me for the tenacity of holding on. I want to sink into this new place of keeping a grip, of holding out.
And so I ask: What is it that I am not asking? What is it that I am not seeing?
But, as always, as I walk my guests to their car, it is the mundane that calls me. It is the next thing that engages my taking action. I stand bare foot, bare faced in the garden and pull out weeds that have grown in the garden bed. I load the dishwasher. I strip the bed and begin the laundry.
I turn my mind away from the grandiose promises I have made to myself. Soothingly, I murmur, “Patience. Go back to intention, woman.”

What Path?
And as I piled up the weeds along the walk way, I pile up the yearning and the frustrations and the sense of being outside. I rip out the old stories of not deserving, of being somehow inherently wrong. I tear out the old, habitual feelings about who I am as I move through the world.
I am right here, standing with slightly earth colored bare feet on the ground. And this now, this now is who I am. The questions, ultimately, are irrelevant. The day is cool. Time will pass. And each breath fills me up. I trust that I am growing, that what I cannot see is moving toward me. The questions, ultimately, are irrelevant.

The Dragonfly on the lock

One day recently, I stepped out onto my bubble gum pink front steps and turned automatically in order to push the lock button. It rests at the centre of the keypad. As I distractedly moved my finger into place, I felt something soft and structural against my finger tip.
I looked to see that a dragonfly had rested across the pad.

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It laid and stayed. It’s body was spread diagonally, organically contrasting with the metal plate. Quickly, I pulled my hand away and stopped my mind. I came to. I focused. I zapped into my body. I astral returned from whatever graphic novel scenario I had been sketching taking me out of my life.
In that moment, I was absolute. I stood on the bubble gum pink stairs and felt the bottom of my feet the strength of my legs; my being, my physicality, my existence, my particularly manifested form.

I stood and looked at the dragonfly and it waited for me.
It waited for me to return from my deadened walk, blind eyed, drooling idiocy, color commentary method of seeing life as some kind of game. I stood on the step with my finger lifted in the air and I remembered how the dragonfly felt to my touch.
I have never touched a dragonfly before. I am over 70 and I have never touched a dragonfly before.

 

Relax into life

Relax into life

I wonder how many new experiences I am having each day that I am not having. Because I do not see them, I do not see me.
The dragonfly waited for me. It was patient. And then my mind pulled focus, the 1st camera assistant did her job. How clear. The detail of its structure, its beauty, the iridescent wings were so clear. And for a moment, I forgot to breathe.
So many things have been stuck, broken, inhabited by technological gremlins lately that I have become resigned to the no progress scenario.
I sit meditation, chant, let the darkness of recycling doubt move through me. I have not been insistent. I pray for patience, I pray for guidance, I pray for a sign daily.
Today, a dragon fly laid across my door lock and would not move.
When I looked up the significance I learned it is a sign of mental and emotional maturity.

All of the careful reformation of my mind, my body, my resetting of intention in the world has been guided by something outside of me. I have trusted that I would find a way to live with more grace in the world.

 

signs of love

signs of love

Today, a dragon fly laid across my door lock and it would not move until I received it.
I am grateful. Thank you, beautiful messenger.

Sisters at the Well

In 1997 when I visited Rome, I had a transformative, informative experience. In the center of one section of town there was a stone well. It was at the heart of the neighbourhood. And it was here that the women came together to work the stains, dust and dirt out of their family’s garments. It was here that women used the narrative woven by wagging tongues which maintained civil order. Women warned one another what would happen should the undisciplined urges be followed. A tongue lashing was not trivial.
Gossip is a powerful manner of structuring mores and habits which are the foundation of any society. The cultural threads that make the fabric of society were woven, mended and attended while the women worked together on their laundry.
Side by side, they rewarded or castigated certain forms of behavior. While a woman repeatedly rinsed, and twisted her husband’s clothes, she could hear what would happen if she dared to indulge the secret flirtation she felt toward another man.

The heart of the sisterhood, the public laundry.

The heart of the sisterhood, the public laundry.

Alliances were formed. Problems were worked out. Questions could be asked and answered by those with more life experience. The repetitive actions of the hands, arms and backs were strenuous and soothing. There was a place where connection was customary and expected.
Today, we have lost the power of the women at the well. All too frequently the closest we get to one another is via text or sitting without speaking next to another in a coffee shop.
Or it is an artificially arranged, special occasion when women plan a networking meeting for some pre determined goal. But the habit of the women meeting at the river or at the public laundry allowed for the comfort of contact in a way we no longer experience today.

 

women meeting at the river

women meeting at the river

Women do better in all aspects of their lives when they are in contact with other women. The terms ‘connectivity’ and ‘social capital’ are used in sociological studies which show the benefit of women having frequent, anticipated interaction with other women. These women are healthier. They live longer. They are more cheerful. They are more likely to discover alternative methods of solving problems and thus thrive more easily. They meet challenges with a more relaxed, creative mind because they know they can seek advice.
And last of all, they are more light spirited. Because who doesn’t like to tell outrageous stories while doing repetitive, necessary daily drudgery!!

And, lasty, when society is mirrored back to us from advertising and media, women feel overwhelmed with choices, confused about the very manner of being a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend and a sister. The background anxiety is like the sound of violins in a scary movie.

How do I fit in? Where is my place in the world? Who am I as a woman?

The old, restricted cultural choices are rapidly disappearing; however, women still need their sisters to mirror back to them who they are to be in the changing world. We need to work it out at the well, or the river. We need support and advice.
I think society is much the poorer since the central meeting place for women is no longer a feature of daily life. But thank goodness, we no longer have to do laundry by hand. In addition, we have made progress by allowing greater choice and freedom in discovering what it means to move into the world as a woman. And for that I am deeply appreciative.

I just wish there were some middle ground upon which women could meet face to face in order to bond and prosper. Meeting at the well is no longer for the purpose of restricting our choices and locking us into a place in society. Now it would be an occasion to discuss and expand our individual version of who we wish to be. The companionship, advice, feedback and habitual contact is still necessary, however the world changes.