Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Say What You Need To Say

Probably most people think of this as just a love song, unless they have seen "The Bucket List", and then it has a deeper and more poignant meaning. I can't help but read the Dharma into it as well, because it contains some of the basic teachings that resonate with me. We may have real "problems" in our lives, but how we deal with them is usually from our ego or feeling state, which is essentially most often with coping mechanisms we learned to help us survive our childhoods intact. So we think we're dealing but find we aren't doing very well, and we don't understand why things don't change, and why we aren't happy.

Some of us were lucky enough to have excellent models of caring and compassion, people who taught us well and kept us safe, while giving us tools to live a healthy, centered and productive life. Many of us were not. We were damaged to some degree or even to a point of barely being able to function by people who were in turn damaged by the people who raised them, back though generations in what is often referred to as a generational curse. But we can learn to resolve (re- solve) the damaged ways of relating and living that we learned as kids, by re-parenting ourselves and learning effective tools for dealing in a healthy and compassionate way with ourselves and the people and situations that form our lives now, in this moment, and from moment to moment. In practicing taking care of ourselves (and I don't mean in an egocentric, selfish and entitled way), we learn to heal ourselves down to our soul (which is pure and blameless and incorruptible). And from here we can relate outward with kindness and compassion towards others, and with healthy personal boundaries. It really is an inside job. It's that Inside Job part that is what is common to both Buddhism and 12 Step programs.

From either perspective, most of what we carry around in our heads is the past in the form of old patterns of thinking. We are constantly listening to the internalized abuser, fighting with "the shadows in your head". We learn to walk "like a one man army", bristling with aggression and weapons to defend ourselves so that we don't get hurt again. Our "problems" define us in drama and self pity and low or hyper inflated self esteem, or in isolation and walls of self protection. We build up a false "sense of honor" that entitles us to blame others, or on the flip side makes us feel we need to take responsibility for other people's actions (we are only responsible for our own feelings and actions, and that's what owning them means). We live out the "patterns in your head" of childhood over and over again, feeling neglected, ignored, punished, less than, unworthy. Or better than, entitled, superior and punitive. For those who feel less than, even if we said what we needed to say, we were discounted and invalidated, told that's not true or that we were liars. We were made to feel unimportant, and we learned that if we said what we needed to say, there would be unpleasant consequences.

With help we learn to put aside the "fear of giving in" because we find there is a wonderful freedom in finding our voices and saying what we "need to say", even if we start with ourselves, which may actually be the best way. We benefit from letting go of the need to control our world and the people in it, that's illusory anyway. Surrender done right ultimately brings peace and equanimity. We can start with being rigorously honest on the inside, and find that it's okay to be flawed, that letting go of personal fears makes us stronger to the point that we can look back and wonder why we were so afraid. Humans are social animals, and we are constantly expressing ourselves, even when sitting still in a chair. It makes sense that we should say what we need to say, even when our hands are shaking and our faith is broken, that is when we are most vulnerable and our hearts are wide open. That is when we are most receptive to having compassion for ourselves and others, that is when we are most connected to the Universe, and surprisingly, that is when that Universe hears us and pulls us up from the ashes to be reborn. Maybe not in the way we think we want, but in the way we actually need, we get everything we ask for.

And if it means telling someone you have a crush, or just letting someone know you love them, of course that works too. Let it be okay though if you don't hear the answer you wanted, because you had the strength to say what you needed to say, and being honest is really good practice for following the Dharma, and for being in a harmonious relationship with the world around you. And it's about saying what you need to say, not what you want to hear in return. That's a different song.

PS: The young man in the red Rockets shirt (BoyceAvenue) on the video links (after the video) has a lovely and sensitive cover of Say, and I think he has a better voice.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Meditation on Cleaning the House

Another post from MySpace. I'm too old and tired to start over at Facebook. :P

Meditation on Cleaning the House
Current mood: contemplative
Category: Life

Cleaning the house is my job because I'm good at it, and I can set my own hours of work, being multiply self employed. (My Apache Indian medicine man said we're self employed because we're basically unemployable.. ;D). That said, I have never exactly enjoyed it. I like the end results because I like a neat, clean house. I don't like dust, grime, and clutter. (That's actually wanting control. Wanting control is wanting "ground", and ground is something Buddhists understand as illusory. Wanting to have ground is ego clinging and attachment, and attachment is what leads to suffering!). I like everything in it's place (That's control too ;D). That's a good thing though for living in my current environment because my roommates all feel exactly the same way, though we are all obsessive about it in slightly different areas. So I honor the others by understanding their particular tweaks, and taking care of them. That meant spending about 20 minutes just cleaning the fucking toaster! But it looks pretty close to new now. So far it's like 4 hours just in the kitchen, and it's not even like you would have been unwilling to eat dinner here if you were in the kitchen checking things out while I was cooking last night. It looked great. (Tonight was leftovers and everyone for themselves.) The problem is to not take on the others' obsessions! I have to draw a healthy boundary there, my own obsessions (coffee) are enough to deal with, and I am working on dismantling them.

I never mind cleaning all the coffee machines, that's my gig. I hate cleaning the stove though. I'm also the main cook, because I'm good at that too. But the grease that builds up on the stove top and stuff above it is like industrial strength! What's up with that?! Is it the killer tacos?? 'Cause I clean it like 3-4 times every time I cook. It's not even like it's a nice appliance, just a cheap crappy condo stovetop/oven combo. Not the gorgeous 6 burner $15,000.00 professional kitchen appliance I would prefer, that might be worth such a serious cleaning. Might even be an enjoyable process, like the coffee machines. (Though I'm certainly very grateful to have the use of it!)
So I just plugged in my iPod, for which I'm also extremely grateful and count as a major blessing, and hit my "Inspirational" playlist, which kept me going with cleaning on and off all day until 2:30 a.m.. I think that's a personal record. That even includes laundry. I try to take the Buddhist perspective of maintaining a mindfulness of purpose and intent, but somehow I think the music is a cheat.

At least I have the resentment thing about it scaled waaaay down, so I think the mind training in awareness and staying in the moment (shamata or shinay meditation) is having quite the positive effect. And the house looks great. Of course, I realize that wanting and enjoying a clean house is the equivalent of wanting and enjoying having ground, when existence is really groundlessness. But it's a nice illusion, and I'm fully aware that it's an illusion, and that it's just ego enjoying illusion. And that ego is what keeps us stuck in samsara, or suffering. So, that's definitely some progress in understanding the Dharma. But then that's ego and illusion too! The third quality of threefold purity (regarding expectations of meditation) is "Give up all hope of fruition". Hmm.

Currently listening :
Everyday Driven
By Everyday Driven