Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.



I feel cranky today, off and on. Despite this I managed to get quite a lot done today at work writing test plans and I kind of enjoyed the very crowded bus ride home (had to climb over luggage to exit the bus) while listening to Joe Strummer and some vintage Clash. I got home in plenty of time to go to yoga but I just felt drained. On top of my my left hand had been aching for a few hours at work.

The hand... yes, well very early Tuesday morning Phoebe spooked Atari by making the coughing-up-a-hairball noise. Atari sprung up from the bed onto the headboard by using the palm of my open, vulnerable, sleeping left hand. Wouldn't you know it, we hadn't done his back claws because he was so agitated the other day. Ugh!

It sucked teaching yoga last night with my hand marked with two angry red, deep scratches (yes, there was blood). I actually didn't do a lot of weight bearing poses and did corrections when those were going on. Regardless, it sucked and my hand ached today.

I'd felt an undercurrent of worry all day about a friend. For the past several days I've been getting news that one of my dearest college friends has cancer. At the most recent doctor's visit, two kinds have been found. That's been weighing on me a lot. Cancer still causes me to flinch, having grown up with it part of my life, and JA-D is really very seriously ill.

I didn't feel exactly or completely angry, anxious or fearful tonight. I felt like doing nothing. I ended up laying down for a little bit then forcing myself outside to water the flowers and vegetables, which helped. Made myself a big pasta salad for dinner, bit strange with the leftover parpadelle (good pic of shape of pasta, but we get a sprouted wheat type that's vegan from TJs) from last night, but really tasty. I also did some laundry and shifted stuff in the basement so we can have visitors stay there later this month.

While I did these simple tasks around the house, including eating dinner, I did Metta practice for myself. It hit me while chopping broccoli up that I've once again forgotten how big the past several months it has been. It is something my attention has been directed to by a few people - that I don't give myself space or time to let things settle. It is the part of me that feels compelled to keep moving, not to stop, not to rest, just keep going forward. That if I stop, something bad will happen.

So tonight I stopped. I watched the apathy I felt coming up, seeing it as a way to avoid the grief and anxiety I am feeling right now. Trying to use the apathy as a way to somehow placate that anxious, pushing voice. Over-rule the prodding to keep moving with an overwhelming case of the Blahs. Not to mention the watching guilt arise around feeling worried and blue since I "should be happy" now that CK and I are getting established. Oh yeah, the big S word, should.

Rather than sink into that dull space I watered our plants, made myself a healthy dinner, didn't chastise myself for craving sweets or for anything else, and did Metta practice. I still feel sadness, but it has been a few months full of life shifts that have been painful at times even though they are for the positive. All the scary medical news about someone I care deeply really had unsettled me.

Just last night I sent the editors of the ZCO newsletter, Ink on the Cat, something I'd written about facing the suffering of others. I had summarized the whole of it by saying that we need to offer fearless compassion. Unflinching and open in the face of suffering. Last night's late news of ovarian cancer shook me and it took me all day to recognize it and open enough to cultivate compassion again.

Regardless of the teachings of the Five Remembrances, it doesn't mean that we will not feel sorrow and anxiety when a loss or illness appears in our life. Nor should we deny loving-kindness to ourselves, it is necessary to care for that hurt. The Remembrances are just a reminder that we all face old age, illness, death, and the loss of those we love. The only thing any of us has is the legacy of our actions. We need to prepare ourselves and cultivate compassion so we have it in great reserves for those times when it is dearly needed.

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  1. The honesty of your posting shines troghuh

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