Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Where Silence and Stillness Meet

Big day today -- told two co-workers I'm close with and my boss about the divorce, my being a lesbian. The first one I talked with is a gay man on my team who went through a similar transition himself several years ago. It was good to have his advice and I was very moved to have his offer of a sympathetic ear as I make this change in my life. My boss just gave me a big hug and offered support. My other co-worker, who has a 17 year-old son struggling with his sexuality, offered another hug, support and asked if I'd be comfortable talking with her son when he was ready to start talking to people (her son, and my knowing I might be able to be some kind of resource for him, was part of the reason I told her).

As with telling other people, it goes just fine. People are supportive, open, loving and very respectful. Everyone also seems to be really behind AM & I doing this to nurture our friendship and to be fair to everyone involved. It hasn't been really fair or satisfying to either of us for a while and adding CK to it as a polyamorous relationship for me only meant that it was unfair for more people.

Tomorrow I'm going to have lunch with DH and tell her the news. AM and I are going to send out an email to the rest of our friends over the weekend since we'll have told the closest friends by then. I'm sure there will be emails and phone calls galore after that. More than anything it is just tiring and I feel drained. It was a tremendous relief to have the routine of zazen at the Dharma Center tonight.

HB said something tonight in his Dhama talk about there being a space where silence and stillness are the same. Silence isn't being closed off and isolated, rather the state of being we are in when we are entirely still. Where we are when we settle the mind into silence and rest in the essential self, to paraphrase Patanjali.

I wasn't there when I first started to sit zazen tonight. RP had told me as I was heading upstairs to the zendo that HB had said he wanted to the Ino to wear a microphone when chanting. I felt my stomach tighten up in response and I tried to laugh about it.

I settled onto the bench and breathed in deeply a few times, feeling my diaphragm move the air. Just trying to let the thoughts settle and let go of thinking about chanting with a microphone later. And it worked for a little while.

Until I felt the anxiety about my voice come back and this time it came accompanied by old emotions from childhood. I worked on my breath and when I felt that slipping sideways feeling of something triggering my PTSD I focused my gaze on the radiator, the repeating patterns on it. I looked sideways and CK's profile, feeling the energy of her sitting next to me.

I never felt the full heart pounding, skull crushing fear I've had show up. Just a kind of sadness. I was able to remind myself that what happened to me was years ago and I am just fine now, that I was in the zendo, with people around me who care very deeply for my well-being.

I didn't even have to say it again and again. Once I'd grounded myself by connecting to the room, the radiator and CK beside me, I was able to feel the breath and the sadness together. The steam clanged loudly in the pipes, I was pleased to note my heart was beating at a calmer pace. In kinhin I felt myself slide into the movement meditation with profound gratitude and stillness of mind.

When I returned to my cushion for zazen I set my mind to metta. I pictured myself, the little girl who wanted to be a Rose Princess, and began the practice. I was amazed to find myself staying with the practice, breathing in, breathing out a loving-kindness prayer for myself.

May I be free from suffering and fear.
May I be free from anger.
May I be free from shame. (an extra one I add for myself sometimes)
May I be happy.

Usually I cannot even stay with myself enough to do three of those prayers. My mind wanders around, off planning and full of fear, shame. When I consider that I've done enough mindless metta I focus on a person I love, a person I have a more neutral relationship with, and a person I dislike or have difficulties with. These are normally easy and focused, when I send metta to others.

Tonight I was able to stay with myself, the image of myself as a little girl. 9 rounds of prayers, each staying mindful. Not unwavering, but never so far I forgot where I was, which is the usual case. After 9 I did the three prayer sets for others and then let myself return back to my body, the feel of it being breathed, until the bell rang.

I started to Hogen about it, but decided to hold off, just letting my acknowledge of it just be still a little longer. It has been such a full day

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