Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Appreciate Your Life

Ango starts up this week and I'm entering it with four commitments.

  • I vow to appreciate my life.
  • I vow to sit twice a day.
  • I vow to incorporate bowing practice into each day, at least 9 bows.
  • I vow to be gentle with myself.

That first one is a biggie and a repeat addition to the list. It is what Hogen gave me two years ago and I'm still milling about this one. I came up again at Great Vow on Sunday during Sanzen with Hogen.

How do I work with the shame I suddenly see so clearly after all that acupuncture. Horrible gripping stuff. Feeling like the abuse I experienced was my fault. Particularly the sexual abuse, all of the times that happened in my lifetime.

The answer I got was to continue to do Metta practice for myself. Hogen was glad I've returned to his suggestion to do this practice while facing a mirror, looking at myself. I find it far easier to stay with this practice for myself now and am finding that watching myself in the mirror isn't as panic inducing as it once was.

The rest of the answer was to appreciate my whole life. To be mindful of the present moment and appreciate it fully. Appreciate the whole of my life. Yes, the abuse happened but I lived and thrived in spite of it. I watched the disordered ways around me and without support chose peace health. It shaped me into the person I am now, the person CK loves, the person who teaches others yoga, and is passionate about cultivating more Love in this world.

It may have been awful. The grief and anger will always be a part of me. I'll always have times when my memories are triggered and a flood of fear, pain and shame will rush in. When it happens I just need to hang on, breathe and not shove it away. I need to acknowledge that it is reasonable for those emotions to arise and to comfort them. It is way easier said than done.

All of it serves to make me very present and compassionate when another person tells me that they too were abused as a child. I can offer sympathy, reassurance and humor when someone tells me that they had an emotional breakdown, after all that happens to me several times a year. It softens my heart and opens my ears to the cries of the world so that I may offer my compassion outward.

Aside from all those really big, grand statements I have been taking time to stop and just really feel how much I appreciate the life I have now. When I'm not feeling overwhelmed by the shame and fear I am very mindful of the amazing happiness I feel. Just working, studying yoga, making meals and sitting zazen surrounded by insistent cats - it is a wonderful life.

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