Tag Archives: Mindfulness

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.

“Poem” Pause: Being By a Cat

Nothing grounds me like a poem. Nothing. It brings me to life right where I am. Crossing the gulf of today’s #DailyDose is not a task too tall. It is paw by paw focus.

as the cat
climbed over
the top of

the jamcloset
first the right
forefoot 

carefully
then the hind
stepped down 

into the pit of
the empty
flowerpot.

(William Carlos Williams, “Poem”)

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.

Is There Really a Choice?

Be impeccable in your word

Don’t take anything personally

Don’t make assumptions

Always do your best.

Don Miguel Ruiz

In yesterday’s post, I made a passing reference to Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements. Is there ever a time when they are not needed? Has there ever been a time when it was easy to practice them?

In these dark days, we know we are not hearing one another. In any conversation, who will put assumptions aside in favor of thoughtful discourse?

Anyone? It’s hard. Often, it does not work. Why make it a practice?

I focus on word choice, aiming for impeccable. I don’t always reach that level. Still, I remind myself that in equanimity there are no enemies. My heart remains open rather than shut tight. I only need a sliver of light.

What I’m saying sounds far-fetched, perhaps impractical. Yet, the few times that I have stood in mindfulness—trusted it–drama was left without a stage on which to play. I fueled no fires.

It has happened enough to reinforce my practice of the Four Agreements, especially on those days when my skin is too thin, and I react rather than respond.

One mistake need not necessitate another, so I am more thoughtful in my word choice. At the very least, it changes up the pace of the conversation or social media commentary.

My recent blog post on childhood and its innocence sparked a comment full of hate, truly vitriolic. The words were so raw I could not take them personally. Neither, could I decipher the reader’s meaning.

It is the kind of spew I see far too often on social media. It does not deserve a response, ever. That said, such hate has always been part of the human experience. The Internet only makes it more immediate.

Our language returns to us, sometimes unrecognizable. We effect change with our word. Do we have a choice other than to be impeccable?

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.

In Relationship with Solitude

I was once told that no one valued solitude as much as I. Nothing in my response was helpful for in Zen one does not explain, one experiences.

That said, whenever I am questioned about my love of solitude, it is May Sarton’s words that return to me: “Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.”

Yes, that is the experience, letting go of ego. Chögyam Trungpa says it’s a matter of “admitting the helplessness of ego to control its world and secure itself.”

In an ever-changing world, trusting the self is to become comfortable with “groundlessness” as Pema Chödrön calls it. Certainly, it’s a lifetime practice and one not without its challenges.

After all, we are always in relationship, even with the insect in the room. On so many days, it is in relationship that I begin.

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.

When Courtesy Is Left Behind

Life is not so short but

that there is always time

enough for courtesy.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

I found this quotation in my morning email. After yesterday’s post regarding my experience at the neurosurgeon’s office, I appreciate the coincidence or is it synchronicity?

And here’s a bit more, I think.

The working title of one of the essays I’m writing is “Love in a Time of Hate.” Admittedly, it’s challenging and not because I believe much of life is a Zen koan, although it just may be.

The issue is Emerson’s point, courtesy—a reverence for life that is increasingly rare. I would be hard put to find a more apt quotation for my online experience so far today.

As a wise friend observed, the face of all this snark is frustration. We are turning on one another rather than looking for a sliver of light in what is a great darkness. And it’s exhausting, especially when hate seems so strong.

That stops me in the writing of my essay but I’m determined to finish it because I know hate does not exist without love, truly. Hate is merely love buried but love is resilient. Its heart does not stop beating until ours does.

And it’s complex this love-hate that is so integral to being human. One does not exist without the other because like light and dark, they are halves of a whole. And when we understand that, we will not fear hate or hide our love.

It’s reverence for life that will get us there, I think, for courtesy clears any air, albeit momentarily. It changes the pace and sometimes, that’s all that’s necessary, even if the solution is to walk away. Courtesy allows us the integrity to do so.

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.

“Breaking Open” the Sky

We are not trapped or locked up

in these bones. No, no.

We are free to change.

And love changes us.

And if we can love one another,

we can break open the sky.

Walter Mosley

Let’s start shattering some glass ceilings, as practice for the time we break open the sky. There is no need to confine ourselves to one way as opposed to another.

It’s freeing, change, and whether we invite it in or not, it finds us—ultimately, as love.

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.