Saturday, January 15, 2011


So...I very much need to work on a report for work, but even more so, I need to write some things, dear reader, after almost 8 months of silence, I'm back!

Hi :o)

The first thing I think I need to say is that for the past many months, I have been, and this is a severe understatement, extremely restless. I have been anxious, and angry, and sad, and mad, and confused, and nervous, and happy, and annoyed, and excited, and upset, and, even sometimes, content. I have also been doing what I typically do when I feel restless--trying frantically to figure out what needs to change, what needs to be done, so that I only feel the good emotions listed up there, avoid the bad ones, and don't feel restless anymore.  Needless to say, that pursuit has led only to me needing to add "very tired" to that list.

Then, yesterday, as I'm mentally racing around, trying to figure out what pieces to move so that everything can be "fixed" and "right," something shifted. And I asked myself, "What am I doing?" Over and over again, I asked...

A few months ago, thanks to a well-timed seminar at work on mindfulness and meditation and the mind/body connection, I heard about and read When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron.  Those of you who know me well know that I can exaggerate slightly sometimes :o) but believe me when I say that this book is changing my life.  Yesterday, I flipped through the many, many sections that I've highlighted, and a few really touched me, moved me to tears, and helped me to realize that for a long time now, as I keep trying to figure out what to do next, how to change the state of affairs, the internal state of my self, I have been trying really hard to avoid my fear.

Fear of what? It doesn't even matter, really. As I experience any kind of anxiety or doubt, I try with all my might to dodge out of its path, and become busy with any number of distractions, some beneficial, some not, to keep from feeling fear.

So many of Chodron's words are powerful for me when thinking about this tendency, which we all, understandably, have.  I mean, who wants to feel scared and miserable? Not me! But the thing is, it's unavoidable. It's part of life.  And it's so hard to accept that truth, isn't it? I know it is for me.

But I remembered again yesterday that the irony of it all is that the more we fight against our fear, the less we are actually living our lives and experiencing the present moment. From When Things Fall Apart:

I once asked the Zen master Kobun Chino Roshi how he related with fear, and he said, "I agree. I agree."
This one small sentence slaps me in the face every time (in a good way!). I mean, read it again. "I agree." Wow.

It's so simple, and yet is the most complicated thing for me to grasp, I think.  To just let myself be scared, sad, upset, thrilled, just be those things, if that it is where I am...instead of running, running, running to get away from real life, and the pain that is sometimes a part of being real. Being here.
Thinking that we can find some lasting pleasure and avoid pain is what in Buddhism is called samsara, a hopeless cycle that goes round and round endlessly and causes us to suffer greatly. The very first noble truth of the Buddha points out that suffering is inevitable for human beings as long as we believe that things last—that they don’t disintegrate, that they can be counted on to satisfy our hunger for security.
I think the painful truth of this--that nothing lasts, that life is groundless-- is what landed on me yesterday. Again. And it hurt. It was heavy.

And, I agree. Well...I'm trying to, at least.

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  1. Nice post. I think everyone wants to avoid discomfort and negative emotions, but all are a part of life, and bad things happen either because of other people's bad choices or our own. Either way, we can learn from it.

    I'm not sure I agree that nothing lasts. I think a lot of things can last. I think people put too much pressure on themselves from external forces, though. Lately, I have been trying to be concerned solely with how I feel about myself and how I treat others, especially those I love the most. And disregard any negative feedback from others, real or perceived. To quote Elizabeth Bennett: "I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me."

    Don't beat yourself up. Do what you want to do, what makes you happy and makes you the best YOU, and forget about what anyone else thinks (except maybe your husband). :)

  2. Hey Alycia, it's Eleanor (from Whim).

    I just wanted to say that I discovered mindfulness last spring and I feel it's done a ton for me. I don't always meditate as much as I should (well, I rarely do), but just the power, of having that base to go back to when I feel upset, is great. Nothing really lasts -- in the grand scheme of things our lives are ephemeral -- so let's be mindful of the present and feel like we've been aware of the moments of our lives as they happen and pass by! And I love what you wrote about "agreeing." It's pretty powerful. Just wanted to say I'm glad that you're finding mindfulness as healing as I have. Good luck!

    Eleanor :)

  3. Thanks Lauren! And I think you're right--things can "last" for a long time, but nothing is permanent. Which is important right now for me to remember, because I always try to hold so tightly to things, so quickly, and make EVERYTHING permanent, which is not ideal :o)
    Thanks so much for your kind words and your good advice, I'm going to try to follow it!!