Tag Archives: meditation

Sometimes, There Is No Translation

Some time ago, I wrote that the #DailyDose—of energy–does not necessarily mean a daily post. It is the vibration of chronic illness that determines whether writing happens or not. I aim to meet the daily rhythm of the energy; that is the heart of Aim for Even.

For nearly two weeks, there has been no writing but there has been meditation and yoga. As well, a limited social media presence. The fluidity of chronic illness floats on the gift of time—always—yet this recent flare-up of autoimmune and spinal cord disease was unlike the others.

The severity of it surprised me but at the same time intrigued. Some days it was as if time seemed stilled. On other days, it was as if there was no time at all. The days passed that fast.

Alan Watts tells an anecdote about translating Zen stories into English. The Zen master sees no need for it because Zen can be found in any book be it “the Bible, Alice in Wonderland, or even the dictionary.”

In other words, “the sound of rain needs no translation” (Alan Watts).

In my recent flare-up, I found an energy I never knew existed. I discovered it when my fatigue kept me all but bedridden for a few days. All I could do was focus on the moment I had, and what else is the meditative state?

It was as if I became an observer–a witness–rather than a participant in my chronic illness. It was not some kind of out of body experience but just the opposite. I have never been more aware of being in my body because I was not participating in the drama of my mind.

I am not cured but I am changed. I have heard the sound of rain. In fact, one morning as I began meditating, it did rain.

I practice mindfulness meditation with my eyes open and focused on the breath. In that moment, I was the rain, sitting “in the seat of self” witnessing what it is to be alive. It is more than enough, so much more.

In the book, The Untethered Soul, Michael A. Singer showed me how to deal with the drama of my mind as my body works so hard to win the war within. Here, winning is adapting, accepting change. It is not a competition.

As an observer, rather than a participant in my ego’s drama, my body has an easier time of doing what it does best—adapting. My symptoms continue but I remain distant from the drama.

I am the witness watching. And that is making all the difference.

Be serene in the oneness of things and

erroneous views will

disappear by themselves.

(Seng-Ts’an).

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

No Expectations, Just Experience

Maybe I always believed in “bursting the boundaries.” After 40 years of chronic illness, it seems so. This kind of “resistance” to medical expectations takes a certain amount of naïveté, and I don’t mind admitting that.

It also means staying in the moment, regardless of the experience it offers–no expectations, just experience. And sometimes, I burst a boundary, like today.

I have been released from the care of my orthopedic surgeon who could not be more pleased with my progress. The fracture of my right femur is healing “beautifully” and growing new bone. The hip-joint replacement was pronounced “perfect.”

Medical expectations had been low.

I knew today’s x-ray results would be fine because of how my right hip and femur feel. And the x-rays supported my body’s signals. X-ray is such a wonderful way to look within the body to its structure.

I was reminded of the fusion of bone that is taking place in my neck, even more bone growth. That was not the expectation, either.

As someone with chronic autoimmune disease, I’m not the best candidate for healing, especially with medications like prednisone and methotrexate. Medical skepticism is not unwarranted.

I don’t ignore expectation but it does not occupy my time.

My focus is on what I eat and how I live, in particular my daily practice of meditation and yoga. I stay open to my body’s signals; they are my purpose. Healing will or will not occur.

It is a matter of feeding my body nutrient dense food no matter how I am feeling. In fact, the worse I feel, the more critical nutrition is. A single moment might be one of physical pain, frustration, hopelessness, fear, and fatigue—and it might last days—eating is fuel, food is energy.

Hope drifts in and out of moments. I let it go. I remain present for my pain, intertwining medication with yoga, working with the meditative state in my day-to-day. I meet my energy and even out its fluctuations.

What is the point in yearning for what my body cannot offer? Why not work with what it can? After all, “life always bursts the boundaries of formulas” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry).

So it seems, so it seems.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Somewhere Between Two Shores

Every morning, my meditation starts in storm. New winds beckon my sails; mine is the course to set. In the stillness, my sextant sights.

Sometimes. my ship wrecks but imbalance is impermanent. Like the boomerang, balance will have its return.

The self must settle somewhere two shores.

Make not a bond of love;

let it rather be a moving sea

between the shores of your soul.

(Khalil Gibran)

Sustaining the meditative state is a constant shifting of course, ever mindful of each day’s tides. They are never the same.

Every day, I choose whether to rush inland or to remain offshore, anchor dropped in observation.

Wearying but worth it, this life.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Trying to Be a Woman with No Future

Yesterday, I saw a Byron Katie meme that said, “I am a woman with no future.” There was a time I knew myself as such but of late, I am caught up in the way of the world rather than the way I work.

I know they are not mutually exclusive but I have lost sight of myself, looking only to the future. My body is taut, my perspective narrow. Two writing submission deadlines loom, and neither essay is coming together.

I am focused on the deadline rather than the content, looking to the end stage rather than the words it takes to get there. I need to be a woman unaware of her future.

It means bringing the meditative state into my day. For me, writing does that but the world does not stop because I write. Even without deadlines, writing occupies most of my day. Words are always forming phrases.

I pass over one thought for another and then maybe go back to the original. Regardless, I find out what I’m thinking. I have great respect for mind and all that it produces, which is a lot.

I’m not sure that I ever allow my body enough respect, especially when I am writing. It, too, requires movement but unlike moving words around on stationary screens, the body in motion takes me away from screens. Words float, sometimes out of mind.

If I sit just a little longer I tell myself. I’ll set a timer but I sit too long or maybe, not long enough. Without an evenness of mind and body, my entire being stiffens.

Mind often dominates but at its own expense for if the body is ignored in terms of exercise and nutrition, the mind muddles. In frustration, its only focus is deadlines.

It is time for a cup of tea, and a bit of a stretch. I will find more words. There are so many–more than enough–but I have only this one moment.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Either Way, It’s Rain

Now is a dark night of the soul for me. It has been for a while but I have not sat with the darkness as I do now. It is all around me, mine to explore. Darkness always holds a sliver of light, elusive as it may seem to be.

Experience tells me that, and I trust it.

At best, the days are foggy, my mind muddled. Desperately, I grab at this phrase or that word, although none seem right. It is only when I stop grasping that words appear.

I have no idea if they are what I first wanted but in this moment, want takes a backseat to need. Unsurprisingly, that is comfortable, even comforting.

Meditation allows me to sit with despair; yoga keeps my body from stiffening into it. Like having one mindset, the body comes to prefer the position that is comfortable.

To invite stasis is to stay in darkness without ever exploring it. That is a hard, hard rain. Stasis is not the experience I seek.

As I have written many times, chronic illness is a great teacher. It offers a variety of lesson plans, not the least of which is learning to “crumble,” to surrender myself for one that is yet to be.

Such a shedding takes time, if I am to learn from life changing. At 65, or nearly so, I prefer learning, no matter what it requires ultimately. It is a far, far gentler rain.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

Always a Dose but Not Always a Post

Aim for Even is one #DailyDose at a time, sometimes a blog post and sometimes not.

I knew these posts would not be consecutive because I am not that person anymore. No longer do I set in stone a daily requirement that I must meet for the rest of my life.

Perhaps you, too, have known such giddiness. 🙂

While I soon realized a #DailyDose is not necessarily a daily post. I was not sure how to convey that to regular readers. So far, each post that has appeared— as well has when there has been no post—reflects my energy for the day.

This morning, I came across a quote by America Ferrera who reminded me that “I am the only one who gets to decide what my time and energy and talent goes to”— I could not describe the #DailyDose any better.compassion-102016

There is considerable thought involved in meeting the energy of my day. The amount available to me is obvious; the meditative state settles me into it. The choice I face is always the same: I can work with the energy I have or put my shoulder to the boulder and push up hill all day long.

Balance or imbalance, it’s up to me.

Riding the wave of my daily energy opens me to unusual ways of meeting my responsibilities. Each day is unique so I must come to it as a clean slate. Creativity builds confidence, a commitment to self-care.

I stay within the confines of each moment, experiencing the depth and breadth of my being. And when each is done, leaving it to itself.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.

The Smell of Rain

It is a morning of fear and for no worthy cause or reason. I could give it other names but fear is what it is. The signs are everywhere.storm-clouds-081913

Even my meditative state is unsettled, constantly shifting. My mind offers up the past one frame at a time, inviting me not only to watch but to immerse myself in a moment that no longer exists.

It seems the safest course and so I do. Memory is a reflecting pool–all is revealed—until I dive in, and then all I am is wet.

It is its own kind of awakening, albeit an abrupt one, but fear bears moving through.

The changes I feared would ruin me

have always become doorways,

and on the other side I have found

a more courageous and graceful self.

Elizabeth Lesser

Opening into the unknown is always scary but what is yet to come is the experience of my life. And that is why I am here, not to be fearless but to be curious, ultimately.

To know the smell of change is to know the smell of rain.

Aim for Even posts offer equanimity a dose at a time. No day or dose is ever the same, even if the aim is. You may read about the origins of Aim for Even here or on this site’s About page.