dceaa042cbec729f06148366af6a2966So today we are doing walking meditation and I’m holding the mudra I was taught to hold during walking meditations. As usual, after a while my fingers hurt fiercely and feel numb. Not because I am doing it wrong or because the posture is so difficult to hold. It is actually easy, if ever so slightly awkward at first. The trouble is that I get very anxious. There are a bazillion reasons for my anxiety, starting with doing my meditation practices right to getting anxious about some event in my life that skitters through my mind while I’m walking. All of a sudden, I’ll notice I’m clenching my hands together fiercely. The pain and numbness seem to be all that will make me aware I’m clenching. I can’t seem to just notice I’m tight before there’s extreme discomfort…This mudra is clearly teaching me how much I numb myself out mentally such that I don’t immediately notice pain and discomfort. Wow…Yanno? When I notice my clenching and the pain I’ve caused myself I always think to myself, “Jeez! Relax! There is no need to be this anxious.” Yet I’ll do it again a minute or two later. Over and over again, I’ll find my hands numb and aching as I walk for the ten to twenty-minute meditation. It is definitely a metaphor for my life. Isn’t that true of almost everybody?

I am not always like this…so anxious I mean. When I am though I’m really, really anxious. I am so anxious to get everything right that I wind myself into clenched up balls just like I see myself doing with the mudra. My anxiety is over so many things, but none so obvious to me than my social anxieties. I’m always so anxious that something I say to someone that it be heard just as I intended it. I am so anxious that I do everything I can to meet this goal I have to be venerable. I want to do it right. I say that with the jaw clenching determination that people feel when they want to force life, themselves, others into the “right” path…to save them from themselves!

It is exhausting to me that I do this to myself.

I was thinking how toxic self-doubt is…how harsh and unloving it is. So frequently when I notice myself doing this, I listen to the self talk. It goes something like this: I replay this or that thing I said or wrote and think, “What the fuck? Why did you say that?…” Or I’ll think, “You should have written it this way or that way because it sounds like you have judged someone, because the fullness of your emotions simply isn’t expressed in the words on that page there… What were you thinking? How could you be so damned inconsiderate? You know better.” I go on and on and on muttering to myself about all these mistakes in expressing myself or on and on about this or that error in judgement or this or that thoughtless choice. I belittle,  and embattle my heart over everything inside me…even over stuff that happened many years ago. Can you believe it?

Unless, I am very loyal and diligent in my daily spiritual practices I do this to myself every single day, and sometimes even when I sleep. If I am diligent, then I interrupt that old pattern of self-contempt and recrimination that I developed when I was a child after moments of abuse. Once I interrupt myself and fill myself to overflowing with love, then the more developed Self takes over and I believe firmly in my worthiness just as anyone should who is aware of the majesty of every being.

In those moments,I am able to be vulnerable with myself and others. I am able to express more gracefully and compassionately what I think and feel. I am able to give myself compassion generously, to hold myself with a smile and with humor. I am so happy and content. I’m so firm in that happiness and contentment that it can’t be disrupted easily, not even by what’s going on with others. I am able to accept them just as they are and to see the good in them. Even if they are acting very, badly indeed.

I have been meditating for over 20 years. I love to sit for hours on end in meditation. I love it. It feels like nourishment in the way we think of a really fine meal. It makes me feel replete and very happy.

Yet, there is something in me which resists. Despite how good it feels, I have to struggle for it at times. There are times when my life circumstances jumpstart me into being diligent and self-loyal about my practice. I’ll be consistent with myself for weeks or even months…and I’ll flourish in every way. I lose weight. I get into good shape. I sleep well and eat well. I am far less shy. I’m more effortless about everything. But then the pattern of self-neglect somehow starts again…and soon after that the pattern of self-contempt and self-doubt creeps in. Then a general lack of gratitude and lack of patience and contentment creeps in…and then I’m grouchy over nothing and shout at traffic or snipe at someone. I gain weight. I lose perspective on situations in my life and don’t see them clearly because my ability to see clearly has become so flawed with self-contempt. It makes for a very cloudy viewpoint of life.

Today, while I walked I realized yet again how hard I am on myself. That harshness with myself puts an edge on everything I say or do without meaning to at all.

I felt profoundly sad about being so hard on myself and I felt tears well up.

I thought then about vulnerability and how I am worthy of self-love. I should just hold myself close like a child in serious need of comfort and protection…

So I did. I imagined hugging myself close and we walked together…

That inner critique is quiet again for the moment. I feel pretty tired from trying to get her to be quiet the past few weeks. I’ve tried so hard to get her to relax and stop doing battle with me. She’s really quite exhausting. And yes. It really does feel like, in this regard, there are two sides of my personality to contend with; a habit energy and a true self energy. I feel there’s a highly developed Self with all kinds of access to wisdom and love, so much contentment and so much to share….and also a really harsh stubborn self critique…

I would like to dissolve into the former fully.

It is the oddest place to be to know exactly what the solutions are to utter happiness and still find myself not applying one blessed bit of it…or at least not enough of it as makes any tangible difference in my inner life experience. Sometimes it is this way for months on end. Just like the past few months. My red flag for harsh this state of being is that I’m irritable. I truly am not irritable about small stuff when I’m feeling relaxed into my developed Self.

It is amazing to me that once upon a time, I had no clue what made me happy or what it took to become and stay happy. Now I know. I have no doubts. I have proof of it in fact. I have lived the proof. It is amazing to me that I would ever do anything different than what it took to be happy each moment of my life.

It is the silliest thing that I don’t do it.

It is the silliest thing that I let fears of what will happen next if I’m really truly happy bring the activity that brings my happiness to a full stop. I wish that there would be no more wavering; no more back sliding.

Yet I fear what’s next. A lot.

All I know to do with that fear is just be with it until it melts away…

I know that works. I’ve done it before. It’s how I get months at a time when I’m bubbling with joyousness and contentment.

I also know that forcing myself is only going to jump-start the critique back into her toxic babbling…so I’m just sitting here being gentle…and honest…and transparent…and vulnerable.

Sometimes I need to be vulnerable in front of others in order to reinforce what I’m doing inside…because it’s simply not enough to be alone with it. I have to make the insides and outsides match.

*shrugs…*

One place that I’m struggling monumentally is being vulnerable in the face of Bellatrix who dislikes me immensely. Right now she’s my best teacher for this entire cycle of tension and relaxation I’ve just described. I’m not succeeding very well.

10 thoughts on “Softness

  1. I understand, almost each and every word of this post.

    Here with you, my friend, and most grateful to know that I’m not alone with all this.

    Thinking of you.

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  2. I was thinking of all this all day long, and I am tempted to write endlessly about it… but well, this is your blog after all. *smiles* Anyway… I had a major breakdown last night, and this day too… it was almost like a panic… and I don’t do panics, yanno… *smiles wryly* Your words, and all the breathing and meditation I could manage, helped me through… And I am torn between my passion and my dignity… the love I feel and want to pour out and the way I am treated… and as much as I always want to believe love overcomes all, I doubt it very much so… which leaves me utterly sad… and rather numb at the moment too.

    Well, what’s this? A comment on my own comment?! *laughs* See, I’d rather die or be alone the rest of my life, than to lose my cheerfulness, but hell, it’s hard sometimes.

    (((sweet hugs)))

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    1. I think that one of the things I felt most terrified of after so many losses in the recent years before this last is grief…the feelings of loss and grief were toxic feeling and terrifying to me. I’d felt it for so long you see. I sense that you’ve been grief’s companion too much too and that now it scares you desperately bad.

      The thing I learned is that when I reach for my happiness irrespective of others and I tend it lovingly, it is not grief that greets me in the moments of loss…it is peace.

      Acceptance and peace. And the feelings of sadness are no longer toxic though they are there. I feel tender toward them, the way I do an exhausted child’s hurting…and peace.

      It is not easy to trust that’s true though.

      Perhaps grief will hit me hard again in my life. I hope that I can remember what I learned when it does.

      Reach for your peace and happiness Louise. Let go what is keeping you so sad and move on. Love and comforting hugs….

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      1. Thank you. (((big warm hugs))) The odd (or probably not so odd) thing was that I was really climbing to the top of the world again, acknowledging a couple of most vital truths and feeling so good, and *peaceful*, about it… then there was a big blow, or so I thought, and I fell so hard, I just didn’t understand why it had to be *so* hard, it took me by surprise. It’s a known pattern, and sometimes I wish it was not always so fiercely, all these steps along the road, but on the other hand it also defines who and how I am. Meanwhile, I do learn… and I do find peace, just not always, and happiness… ah well, happiness is in a lot of things. *smiles*

        Thanks for talking, my friend… love and peace to you.

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        1. Shambhavi talks about being firmly seated…that life will topple foundation “stones” which are not firm over and over again until we are actually firmly seated. This is supposed to be a good sign that we are progressing. She encourages her students to take heart in our topples because now we can see clearly how to make them firm…or at least far firmer.

          I don’t know what the circumstances are…but I have faith that you’ll move forward with love and grace…*smiles*

          I had my own topple of late…Some trouble with self doubt and it was toppling me. I read a note about this….”Even as a solid rock is unshaken by the wind, so are the wise, unshaken by praise or blame. The Dhammapada”

          As well another one came to me when I was starting to see that self doubt was really the problem and not myriad other things I wanted to blame for it:

          “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

          I don’t know if your thing was self doubt at heart of the matter, but I thought that sharing how the universe always finds a way to point us toward the real issue so that we can get firmly seated would help…

          It always does yanno…We just have to train ourselves to look for it. There were about 6 weeks between these two quotes coming to me…and some dreams too. This is the result…

          The bottom line is, I believe in my integrity. I believe that I am doing my best and that I’m a good person. Though others feel hurt by my choices, I know that the choices were not the least malicious and were compassionate to the very best of my abilities. I cannot be in charge of how anyone else manages their life or how they view things. So…I finish the days that I made my choices and I’m done with it. Tomorrow is a new day.

          Big hugs…

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          1. I love the quotes, *and* your result… It does help to share these things to get ‘firmly seated’. Thinking out loud always does, and it’s precious to share. (((hugs)))

            I’m not sure if self-doubt was the issue… eventually it was, I think. Perhaps I find it hard to accept, because I lived with these sayings and quotes for a rather long time… but in the turmoil of exhaustion, emotions and frustration I did topple.

            The silly thing is that I guess we know it sometimes just takes these few more breaths to see it all differentially… but sometimes these few breaths are just too much to ask, in the event of turmoil. And yes, then we breath again, straighten our back, and know: tomorrow is a new day, we did the best we could.

            Shambhavi’s words make me think of the physical equivalent of that in “hari”. It’s something I use in yoga and meditation. I copy:

            “Hara (Japanese 腹: stomach) is a Japanese martial art term. It is equivalent to the lower of the three dantian (tanden in Japanese) in Traditional Chinese medicine, for the “center of being”. Hara point is used to center energies for meditation, martial art application and healing purpose. Becoming conscious of this center creates a great pull of life energies and causes certain kind of inner alchemy. The process stimulates the inner courage and makes a person naturally disciplined. There are several breathing exercises in traditional Japanese martial arts where attention is always kept on hara.”

            Hara is the centre of gravity in your body, physically to be found four fingers below your belly button and inside towards your spine. It’s a point you can actually feel in meditation (as in a red burning point); it’s the centre of your body. When you focus on hari while you stand you can’t fall. Literally. *smiles*

            Personally I think you feel hari as well when you are deeply in love, and it’s very near the point of deep orgasms.

            Why, I digress. *laughs* It’s very late here, but I just loved to talk a little. *big smiles*

            And big hugs.

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          2. Oh thank you! I enjoyed reading that. I’ll have to ponder the ideas and discuss with my Shingon teacher…*smiles*

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