Sunday, November 30

About yesterday, the least possible amount said, the better. Much hitting and scratching of myself, and just generally writhing about in self-inflicted mental agony. In the afternoon, I was trying to paint (digitally via Wacom tablet and Corel Painter) and a minor surge of frustration turned into a tantrum -- I deleted all of my intuitive paintings and ripped up all the pencil drawings in my sketch diary ("Bri's Warehouse"). The paintings were easily replaceable today from my HD backup and from Gini's stash on her computer, but those pencil drawings were a painful loss -- which was the point, obviously. Some of them were just scribbles and doodles, but there were three that were actually good. Really good.

Tonight I started again, with "Bri's Warehouse, Vol. 2." What else can one do but start over? The drawing is called, "Not To Be Taken Away." It was inspired by a section of the cover photo of The Who's 1978 record, "Who Are You." Keith Moon was posed sitting backward on a folding chair to hide his fat tummy. On the chairback was stencilled "NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY." Moon died soon after.

Who Are You

Today I feel as fine as yesterday I felt not-fine. This war must end. Cease fire. White flag. Unconditonal surrender. Stop shooting at me, I'm conscientious objector.

Thursday, November 27



Films About Ghosts


"If dreams are like movies
Then memories are films about ghosts
You can never escape,
You can only move south down the coast
--Adam Duritz, Counting Crows, "Mrs. Potter's Lullaby"

This Desert Life


Well, even though it's not meditation, important work is being done...

My sitting meditations have turned into horrorshows lately. I try to do metta, but I see these visions of violence (physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual) that were done to me. Chris has (FINALLY!) given me the practical advice I've needed to handle this stuff. It involves "inner child work" and although I still cringe at the term, the truthfulness of it can't be denied.

So I validate what he shows me, I acknowledge it and say, "God, that must have been awful. That must hurt have so much. You must have really been scared." And that seems to help. I said, "I love you," and that brought shudders and tears, so clearly there's something to all this. It's real.

But finally acknowledging this stuff just seemed to encourage him, so he kept showing me more and more, faster and faster. And it was too much, I was overloaded. Tried to negotiate a slower pace. "Yes, I will look at this stuff, just not all at once, OK? A little bit at a time."

I'm starting to become afraid to meditate, because I know the show will start and pull me away. But I guess it's OK. For now, it's what I have to be doing. Really not optional. This stuff has to be resolved before I can make any more forward progress on the Path.

Yelling "stop!" or trying to push it away was so much more painful. This still hurts, and it's exhausting, but accepting is better than resisting.

Is it that I have to become a loving father to my inner child? One who will pay attention and love and accept and nurture?

OK, here's the worst thing, the thing that made me say, "OK, I can't do anymore now." I saw that I have been the victim of a great deal of violence. Many attempts on my life have been made. Now, there may be some other people involved in a few of those instances, but the great preponderance of violence that has been done to me has been perpetrated by... me. I tried to kill myself so many times, and have hurt myself so many more times than that. I still keep hitting myself, and thinking about cutting myself... So much pain! And I'm really really really really really ( x infinity) sorry for that. There is a great deal of healing needed. Not only did my family -- those who were supposed to protect & nurture me -- harm me, but I harmed me. I need to make amends for that, and I need to heal from that. Just seeing it and acknowledging it is a good start...

God, in the above paragraph, where I wrote that I was "really, really, really (etc.) sorry," I initially forgot to include the word "sorry." Just skipped right over that part. Such a little word: only two syllables, five letters. Such a little thing. Woopsie! Wow. Excuse me, Herr Doktor Freud, your slip is showing.

Come to think of it, that's not so much a slip as an omission, but still: point made and taken.

This process is like dealing with ghosts, like in the movie, "The Sixth Sense." The inner child (actually there seem to be a whole bunch of them, Bri at various ages) is like one of those ghosts: whether it's an angry ghost or a sad ghost or a scared ghost, it just wants to be heard. It just wants someone to listen.

The Sixth Sense

----




Wednesday, November 26

http://www.buddhistinformation.com/working_with_anger_and_emotions.htm

Notice this part from the second section:

"Emotions"
by Michele McDonald

I was born in Massachusetts; I'm thirty-six years old. Four years ago, the emotion from a childhood trauma surfaced and the amount of terror I experienced was unimaginable. I felt like I was drowning, I nearly went under there for a while. I was basically terrifying myself, taking too big a dose. And it was a great teaching because with most of the things in my life, I just sort jump right in and work with it, and then I hit this terror and I had to learn this great respect. It's like these great big waves here in the Pacific; they're not like the little baby waves in the Atlantic. When those big waves hit, one has to learn how to work with them and respect them. It's like we take a little teeny bit of it, then a little bit more, and a little bit more, and then it's workable. I tried to take terror in one big chunk and I just about drowned. It was an awful time. I was basically in a hell-realm for two years.

So I really recommend taking small doses and that means taking control. And this is where meditation is the great teacher because you don't have to be in it. An emotion happens, a thought happens, and the ability to pull out of that is essential, because that's the freedom. You're no longer a victim of it anymore. If you don't see it clearly in that moment, it's better to pull out, because you're just going to drown. If you see terror clearly, it's not a problem anymore; you just open to that feeling and it goes. But if you're identified with it, forget it, you drown. And that means getting totally into the content, or you're shaking so bad that you have to be held for five hours. It's just a matter of real time. If you're heart is pure, then all things in your world is pure, terror is okay, it's just like the sound of a bird, it's not a problem. It's easy to say, I spent two years in hell with this stuff, but it's very clear to me how it works now.

----



Stormy weather continues. Sunday night was just fine; the Uposatha Chat went well, that guy Greg didn't show up, Sakula was there and we talked about her jhanic experiences at this most recent retreat she sat. Was feeling fine again, open-hearted and equanimous.

The fineness continued into Monday, until Laura came over, from 8:00 to 9:20 (and yes, that is very specific). She shared with us the telephone conversation she'd had with Ron's daughter, Greta, and read to us the eulogy Ron's lifelong friend Duncan had delivered at his funeral, and read to us the follow-up letter Laura had written to Greta.

Hearing about Ron again, remembering his suicide, touched off (yet another) firestorm, which continues to rage. It isn't about Ron & Laura at all, really; hearing about that was merely the dropped match which ignited the dry leaves in this arid heart.

Sitting practice has become very hard. Very little meditation occurs. It hurts, it burns, it burns...

"Doctor, it hurts when I do this."
"Well, keep doing that."
"Huh?"

----

Sunday, November 23

A Salon.com story about Michael Jackson used the word "eccentric." The Sherlock dictionary provided some interesting definitions; in addition to describing bizzare behavior, the word eccentric is used in steam engines, geometry, and astronomy, to describe that which is "off-center." So a literal antonym would be concentric.

----

Saturday, November 22

Yesterday was a good day. I felt normal again. I started the day off with about 2 hours of metta meditation (time approximate, but it was a good long while.)

Today is another bad day; another attack of hatred hit in the shower. Very brief meditation, not much metta.

The conclusion must be obvious.

Friday, November 21

Here's my current thinking: the abuse issues that have been coming up, all they are is memories arising through the mind-door. Just memories. What happened, happened. It's fact, it cannot be changed, and it's past (passed). So all that's left is the triggering, and the reaction to the triggering. It's a matter of learning to recognize that triggering has happened, and (if it can't be nipped in the bud) learning to deal with the reaction. The real problematic stuff is the panic attacks, the chest pain, the difficulty breathing, the pain and constriction in the throat like someone is choking me. The body's response to this stuff make it very hard to meditate, to be mindful, and relax and let go -- difficult, but I guess it can be done. It'll take practice, certainly.

--00--

Wednesday, November 19

The forgiveness meditation went pretty well, for a while. Was feeling pretty OK by the time I finished. Then when I opened my email, there was this:


From: Sally Bloom
Subject: good morning
Date: November 19, 2003 9:36:49 AM EST
To: Brian Kelley

So I do not have to report in each week I need to tell you that there will be some Tuesdays that I have a conflict and will not be able to come in case that makes a difference and so you do not think anything is wrong . love to you and Gini




And there it went again, the butterfly wingflap touching off another storm (albeit a smaller one this time). I wasn't angry about what Sally said, I was angry about my reaction to what Sally said. The reaction was: OK, why don't we just cancel the group, like I said before?



Just before starting my morning meditation: something different today, I'm going to be doing a forgiveness meditation Bhante Vimalaramsi gave me...

I forgive myself for making mistakes...
I forgive myself for not understanding...
I forgive myself for ever breaking a precept...
I forgive myself for being impatient.

Bhante Vimalaramsi: After mind settles down you may have a memory arise of someone who caused lots of pain to arise with you. Now see that person in your minds eye, look them straight in the eye and mentally say, "I forgive you for causing me pain" then relax and go back to your heart and radiate forgiveness to yourself and to the other person. When mind becomes distracted again, go back to that person and mentally say: 'I forgive you for not understanding" then relax and redirect mind back to the heart. Another distraction pulls mind away then go back to that person [remember to look them straight in the eye] and say: "I forgive you completely". Now after doing this for about 20 minutes or longer {for as long as you feel comfortable doing this], you can finish up the sitting by looking at this other person in the eye, and hear them say, "I forgive you completely, too!"

Tuesday, November 18

It's Tuesday, and that means "Stress Reduction Group." Sally cancelled again (by email this time -- at least we avoided a ringing telephone, one of my most disliked sounds) and I encouraged Gini not to bother getting up.

To my great surprise, Bernie was up there waiting, and it was just the two of us. I gave him a brief intro to metta and guided metta session. At one point, during the intro, some woman was looking in through the door's little window. I motioned her to come on in, but she went away.

Chest pain continues today.

----


Fear that I went too far in being honest with what I wrote to Bhante and Khanti-Khema this morning. Much more blunt and strong than my usual fawning obsequious style. But to be told that what is happening isn't really what's happening creates an excess of cognitive dissonance.

I'm fully prepared to withdraw from that group if need be.

I'm so tired of riding these waves. I long for calmer waters.

My chest is filled with the sensations I've long associated with depression, when anger has turned inward. Awful. Lots of aversion. Make it go away.

This feels EXACTLY like I felt at the Metta retreat at IMS in June of 2002. EXACTLY. So maybe I'm just flooded again.

I tried putting the emphasis back on anapanasati in this morning's sit. Concentration was poor, and I was swamped most of the time. A few moments of clarity, but mostly the opposite.

Monday, November 17

It's one of my faults that I can't quell my past
I ought to have gotten it gone
I ought to have gotten it ...

So that's today's memory lane
with all the pathos and pain
another chapter in a book where the chapters are�
endless and they're always the same
a verse, then a verse, and refrain

--2 excerpts from "4th of July" by Aimee Mann

Whatever

Relief: Leigh finally responded. :-)

Sunday, November 16

Tonight was a first. I was in the Uposatha Chat, and such anger arose about comments made by Greg Dahlin that I just bowed out. I paraphrased Ajahn Sumedho, that sometimes metta means refraining from saying something hurtful, so in that spirit I just up-and-left.

My heart was beating so hard and fast it hurt.

Never split from a chat like that before. Equal parts embarrassed, shamed, and pleased. Also never had been so honest about how I was feeling. I used "I statements." That felt good. Satisfying to no longer worry about playing the part of the good Buddhist, which often times has involved hypocrisy, fawning, or just plain pretending to like somebody I really can't stand. No more. Tired of that. Gotta be honest, or else what's the point?

There's still a huge chest pain.

Ow.

----

Boy, Gini knows just how to cheer me up. We looked at the BCBS 2004 Schedule together, and she was very supportive of my attending retreats February, March, April (Leigh) and May! What an amazing woman she is!

Here's the what:
February 6-8, Ajahn Thanissaro, Questioning the Three Characteristics

March 14-21, Andy Olendzki and Annie Nugent, Bhavana Program: The Noble Path of the Householder

April 9-18, Leigh Brasington, Satipatthana and Jhana (of course)

May 9-14 Andy Olendzki, Essentials of Buddhist Psychology, followed IMMEDIATELY by

May 15 - 22, Andy & Taraniya, Bhavana Program, Empty of Self.

All that and to boot: it looks like the monthlong at Cloud Mountain in August is really do-able. Gini's researched the plane ticket prices, and more importantly, her mom is REALLY keen on having her come for such a long visit. Can I get a triple exclamation point? !!!

Wanna cheer Bri up? Send him on retreat. ;-)

Another stormy day.

The butterfly wingflap that occasioned this one was Bhante Vimalaramsi asking on the dhamma-sukha list if I had continued to recite the "Six Sets of Six" sutta, and how was that affecting my meditation? I had to reply that beyond the first few times (which in itself may have been an exaggeration, as I can't recall if I ever made it through the whole thing without ellipsis more than once), I hadn't kept up with it, the repetitions were too much for me. Today I feel just dreadful, because I didn't do what I said I was going to do, and I didn't take Bhante's advice.

Now there's a strong urge to hurt myself, to punish myself. I want to withdraw from all contact, especially my cyber-sangha. I want to quit all my Yahoo! groups, even UpasikaTalk. I want to deprive myself of the support of admirable friends. I want to cut off contact with EVERYone in my life. (I know I'm not going to actually do this, I'm just giving voice to that perverse, childish desire.)

Every time I get my head above water again and can take a few breaths, along comes another swamping wave, crashing over me and forcing me under.

I know that most if not all of what I'm now feeling is because I haven't had any proper food today, just a Geni*Soy bar at 8:30 (and a few swallows of soy milk a little while ago), and it's becoming increasingly clear that they do me no bloody good at all. So I'm way, way overdue for a blood-sugar fix -- but I won't, because I'm supposed to pick up brunch, and this obstinate brat won't eat something before then.

I know this is just bad chemicals in my head, and I'll be back to equanimity and loving-kindness after I eat.

But...

I feel really hurt because Leigh has still not responded to my email, still has not acknowledged receipt of the transcription of Ayya Khema talking about metta. I understand, he's probably busy, or there could be any number of reasonable explanations for his silence... but still, this resentful baby projects onto silence and takes it personally, takes unresponsiveness as rebuke or censure.

Even when you've reached a certain degree of realization in the Dhamma, you still have all the baggage you brought in with you, all your unresolved childhood and developmental stuff. Experiencing anicca, dukkha, and anatta directly doesn't resolve any of that stuff.

And yet, when I return to that view of Dhamma, seeing it clearly... the sufferer disappears.

Can you tell that this morning's meditation was unsatisfactory? It went OK for a while, then the mind turned poisonous. I couldn't send metta to anybody without going off on some resentment binge. Just awful. I know the technique: let it go, relax, return to the metta. But sometimes it just stops working, and I'm left sitting in the midst of a big stinky pile of garbage, like a landfill of soiled diapers. Ick.

Half an hour before brunch. Can I hold on?

Saturday, November 15

On IFC's Samurai Saturday, they're showing "The Sword of Doom" (1967). Exceptional! I don't know why I love this kind of thing so much, but I do... ;-)

"I cannot even fly a cloth carp for you!"



Childhood memory of summer: the sound of flies battering themselves on window screens.




Difficult week, many emotional storms. They blow up, they stay for a while, they pass. Calm now.

In therapy, Chris and I are getting into childhood emotional, verbal, physical & (possibly ) sexual abuse. Very difficult to talk about, to think about, painful memory-dredging. She gave me a book called "The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse." Panic attack when I tried to read it last night: chest pain, short of breath, urge to get the hell away. Gini helped to calm me down, and I notice that this morning the book is not on the coffee table where I left it...

Cover

A little insightlet in the grocery store yesterday: I've been treating this abuse stuff like it's something special, but actually, all it is is vyapada, the hindrance of ill will. If that's all it is, then I know how to handle that: notice it, let go of the thought (memory), relax the tension in the body, smile, return to homebase (either the breath or metta). Easy. Just have to remember that this stuff is nothing special, and can be dealt with just like any other arisen hindrance. No big deal.

The book made me feel just awful: not only complicit, but like a big, whiny poseur. What happened to those women was REAL abuse. What happened to me was just... life... just the way people are. Mean, cruel, hurtful, yes: but so what? ... But WHY DID MY OWN FATHER AND SISTER HAVE TO TREAT ME LIKE THAT? Chris says I have to believe that I didn't deserve it, that it wasn't my fault, but I'm still not convinced.

Even so, the best way I know to avoid this particular brand of dukkha is to not think on it, not dwell on it. Just acknowledge the thoughts when they arise, but don't stay with them.

I know this works.

----

Tuesday, November 11

Sally called to say that she woke up not feeling well & would be staying in bed. Soon thereafter, Bernie called to ask if the group was on, and when I said it was, he said he might or might not come. There's a Veteran's Day observance in the Piazza. I encouraged Gini not to bother getting up & coming to the sitting group today, either. I determined to stay for 10 minutes, until 2:40. I got there, arranged a few chairs in a circle, and did walking meditation. A gentleman who I believe is called Jim (not sure) showed up, but didn't want to be the only one. I couldn't persuade him to stay despite my best efforts to do so. So he left, and then I left, and now here I am.

It's amazing how freeing it is when you surrender your desires. Today I still feel really happy (see this morning's enjoyable meditation), and the fact that the sitting group was a bust doesn't bother me. Funny. :-)


Interlude from the dhammasukha list yesterday and today: a new guy named Wayne introduced himself and said he had stage II diabetes (did he mean Type II?) and commented a little on how he manages his hypoglycemic episodes with insulin. Khanti-Khema came back with a post about different Ayurvedic medicines and minerals and "sweet bread." Wayne replied, politely but firmly, that he couldn't afford the minerals, and wouldn't be doing the sweet bread thing, & would be seeing his doctor at the VA next month...

The lesson here: it's really presumptuous to go around handing out free, unsolicited medical advice over the internet. No responsible practitioner would ever think of diagnosing and recommending treatment without meeting & examining the person. So caveat emptor.

And I think the same holds true for unsolicited meditation advice as well. Such advice pellets should be regarded like candy from strangers...

Sat for about 2 and a quarter hours this a.m. All metta. Settled into a nice stage in which the mind became quiet, happy, and peaceful; and the body was filled with delightful tingly sensations... first jhana is *great* for dispelling symptoms of depression... too bad about the people talking loudly in the hallway...

Some interesting images arose during the phase of access concentration... an arm, detached from any body, but still living & moving... scalpel flowers (surgical implements twisted and bent to resemble flowers)...

It's an interesting phenomenon, the layer of images. When I asked Leigh about it, he said that it wasn't _entirely_ unusual, generally one person on every retreat has this visual stuff. This is corroborated by something Ajahn Maha Boowa wrote, in his biography of Ajahn Mun; he said that this visual stuff occurs in one of twenty meditators...

----

Sunday, November 9

Have there been clinical studies yet on the analgesic effect of blogging?

I went to this afternoon's movie up in the auditorium. They were showing "Finding Nemo." The little old ladies present made the maintenance guy who started the film go make popcorn. After the prologue, he came back with a big tray filled with bowls of popcorn. He offered them to everyone else... but not to me. The woman next to me said, "Would you like a handful." I took a few kernels, ate them, then got up and left. I know it was a pouty, childish thing to do, but honestly, I'm sick of being treated as "less than" as one undeserving of basic human consideration. And I'm really tired of living among grannies -- nasty, embittered, rude, self-absorbed grannies. And maintenance guys who appear to suffer from rather large learning deficits.

"Enter the Dragon" is going to be on one of the HBOs in just a couple of minutes. Gini is sleeping off her migraine. We had to demur on Sally's visit. I probably won't be able to sustain attention on the movie for its entirety, but I'm going to try it anyway. "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" renewed my secret love for martial arts flicks, a fondness that needs must be enjoyed as a solitary pleasure -- there's a lot of that in my life, isn't there? ;-)

"Enter the Dragon" just started. Bad music, nearly-naked guys in loin cloths grappling and grunting.... It does kind of look like a certain species of porn, now that you mention it.

...later...
actually, "Enter the Dragon" kind of rocks!
Enter the Dragon

In addition to my offer to purchase some food for Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center, I offered to do transcription of Dhamma talks for them, and this was enthusiastically received. :-) We're starting by having me put together the "Dialogue on the Hindrances" that recently took place between me and Bhante Vimalaramsi. This will, I hope be followed, by transcription of tapes. Khanti-Khema said they have over 100 talks on tapes to be transcribed...

----

Saturday, November 8

This morning's meditation: 3 sessions, all metta. First was the best; got very deep. Second was really bad, due to low blood sugar. Tried to cheat by just having an Atkins Advantage shake, but that just doesn't do it. Third session was only fair. Had a pretty foul mind in the afternoon. Sour. Then when I had some proper food, it was like waking from a Mr. Hyde dream.

Hypoglycemia is a fearsome thing.

Laura called around 4:30 or 5, said there would be a lunar eclipse this evening between 6:20 and 8:20. I'm going out to look soon, I think.

----

I write this early, before my morning meditation. It is Uposatha Day.

Finally (2 days late) responded to Khanti-Khema's email about providing the requisites to Bhante Vimalaramsi, offering to buy some things at netgrocer.com and have them delivered. Also asked, "where's the nearest bus station to the Center?" Dhammasukha is in Missouri, and a bus ride would take a little over a day. I was thinking, hey, when Gini and her mom go to Florida in late-January / early February, maybe I could go take the bus out to Dhammasukha. But I didn't say that, thinking it was better to leave it non-specific; I just asked where the nearest bus station was, so I can check out the fares.

Jeff wrote recently to say he'd received the copy I sent him of Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, "The Connected Discourses of the Buddha." Such generosity should best be regarded as an adornment for the mind, an ornament & support for the mind. I offered to buy "The Connected Discourses" for Jeff because of something Ayya Khema said in the talk I transcribed for Leigh Brasington: if you don't like somebody, give them a present! And, amazingly, she was right; I guess dislike and generosity cannot co-exist in the mind at the same time. Thank goodness.

Also, Daeja Napier finally wrote back to me. Very happy. I kind of suspected that her silence was due to her teaching and retreat schedule, but still it's a great relief. Feeling ignored is a very unpleasant feeling indeed. She sends "oceans of metta" to me and to Gini, and asked that I contact her again sometime after December 16th to set up a phone interview. :-)

I think I'm going to send the transcript of the Ayya Khema talk on metta to Leigh again, just to make sure it didn't get lost in the shuffle.





Friday, November 7

Last night, Gini and I went to "The Matrix: Revolutions." Oh my goodness: YES! Deeply, deeply satisfying.

Only one thing bothered me: Neo has all along been a Christ figure, and indeed his sacrifice even had a subtle but noticeable little crucifix-shaped light among all that gold light. But it ended with the crucifixion; what about the resurrection? If you're going to use that myth, it's necessary to use the whole thing. Without the resurrection, the whole thing is incomplete; pretty sunrise or no.

But what comparatively minor flaw in a series surfeited with wonders!

Today's meditation: all metta. Nice. Not nearly long enough, as I had to stop earlier than desirable to get ready to go on the Prestwick Chase shopping trip.

It's 7:06PM. Time to walk down to the Corner Cupboard to pick up our takeout dinner.



Wednesday, November 5

----

There is an uncharacteristic resistance to making further effort in meditation today, a wholly unfamiliar desire to avoid another sitting. Curious, this.

----


In our possessive coupling
So much could not be expressed
So now I'm returning to myself
These things that you and I suppressed
I see something of myself in everyone
Just at this moment of the world
As snow gathers like bolts of lace
Waltzing on a ballroom girl
--Joni Mitchell, "Hejira"
Hejira

Today's meditation: just metta. Ahhhhhhhhh. Sweet relief. Thanks, I needed that. That closed-heart feeling, that gathering of heaviness, a weight in the chest: all dispersed. Literally: thank goodness.

As I suspected, I enjoyed "The Matrix Reloaded" more on second viewing. The only bummer: as she was when we first watched in the theater last May, Gini was really freaked out by the Freeway Chase Scene. It's understandable, certainly. But this time, it didn't bother me; it was just images and sounds.

----

The past couple of days, I've been thinking along these lines: there are two reasons I don't talk much. One, it is as if I have been mirandized, so I'm acutely cognizant that anything I say can be used against me. B, I tend to think in paragraphs, but most of the people in my life don't let me get out more than one sentence before they start responding. Saying, "Wait, let me finish!" would be tiresome in the extreme. Some people don't even listen to the whole first sentence; you can see it in their eyes that they've stopped listening and their mind is fully engaged by what they're going to say. Remember that old song by Missing Persons? "What are words for / when no one listens anymore? When no one listens / there's no use talking at all. Do you hear me? Do you care?" The lead singer of Missing Persons was a former Playboy playmate, if I'm recalling correctly, and the drummer used to be the drummer for Frank Zappa.

Chris is the sole exception to the above. She actually listens for more than a sentence. But hey, that's her gig. Kind of sad when the only person who listens attentively is the one who is paid to do so.

----

Scene: Prestwick Chase, a retirement community in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Dramatis Personae:
Brian Kelley: your blushing blogger, aged 36 at the time of this writing. Theravada Buddhist, meditator, movie-lover, caregiver for his wife.
Gini Conard: his wife, disabled as a result of two motor vehicle accidents, one on December 17, 1998, the second on December 17, 2002... I know, isn't that weird?
Mom: his mom.
Gini's mom: Gini's mom.
Sally Bloom: A new friend who lives at Prestwick Chase.
Laura Sterling: An old friend.
Chris Celmer: our therapist.

Tuesday, November 4

Chris was unable to re-schedule her 3:00, and so demurred. It was just Gini, Sally and me. I asked what the other two thought about continuing the group, since no one else was showing up anymore. Having no one show up last week was more upsetting than I was willing to admit. We eventually came to the conclusion that we would finish out the rest of this month, then stop putting it on the calendar starting in December.

Sad, and angry. I've tried hard not to take it as personal rejection, but I confess that I've not been entirely successful in that. So the meditation group is winding down. Oh well.

Decided on the moment's spur to change my plan. Improvised a brief introduction and gave the sweeping meditation. Ironically, it was a really good guided meditation, and it was well-received. No rehearsal, but it went well anyway. See what happens when you're not afraid of failure anymore?

As we were walking home, we were on the second level of the piazza, and Gini said "Hi" to three of the old women who habitually malinger there in the atrium. They didn't even wait until we were out of earshot before making comments. "What's she doing up there? Going to the beauty parlor? She's very heavy, and her hair... Her husband's very heavyset, and always walking back and forth."

It stung. I'm still feeling angry. It's hard to maintain my awareness in lovingkindness when things like this happen.

May all beings be free from suffering and its causes.

-----

At least our DVDs of "The Matrix Reloaded" and "The Animatrix" arrived yesterday. Hope to view them soon, in preparation for going to see "Revolutions."

----

I like this blogging thingie. Knowing the likelihood of remaining unread confers the freedom to disclose without fear -- anonymity's license, a natural anxiolytic -- while the public nature of web publishing bestows the benefits of virtual confession.

----

Ruth was right; I shouldn't be living with old people. Oh well. This thought will pass soon, too, and no doubt I'll feel differently tomorrow.

----

"Lost in Translation." Lost, losing, loss. Sad, tired. Jet-lag. Can't sleep. "Lip my stocking!" R and L confusion. The thrill of discovery, and the sweetness of unrequited longing. What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding? More than this, you know there's nothing more than this. I've dreamed cities just like Tokyo, but didn't know it until this movie.


This morning's meditation: too short, but life's exigencies will not be denied. Metta for warmup, anapanasati for our feature presentation. A tiny bit of piti, not really enough to qualify. Nice, though. :-)

This afternoon, the "Stress Reduction Group." Chris said she might stay for it after Gini's session. It would be nice if more people were there than just me. Gini, Sally... others? Depending on who is there, I might give a recapitualtion of the "Benefits of Meditation" talk, but I really want to get into the talk on sila as the necessary foundation for samadhi, and do a rundown of the 5 precepts.

Monday, November 3

Gini and I are planning to see Sofia Coppola's "Lost in Translation" tonight. Bill Murray continues to be one of my heroes. Excellent four-star review by Roger Ebert here.

"The Matrix: Revolutions" beckons from Wednesday's bourne. "Reloaded" will benefit from a second viewing, I'm certain.

***

2 meditation sessions this morning, each about 45 minutes, with a period of walking and quigong in between.

Session one focused on sending karuna (compassion) to an online friend, Rob Mestre, who is undergoing surgery for his back. Used the phrase, "May you be free of suffering and its causes."

Session two focused on anapanasati (mindfulness of breathing).

Breathing in, breathing out. Breath calms. Body calms. Mind calms.

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