Life is a beautiful thing.
Just take it all in and breathe,
~ Creola Johnson
"Because of your unique history, you have evolved a series of stories that you repeatedly return to throughout your life. These stories determine how you see yourself and how you interpret what is happening to you. You may well be overidentified with your stories and not see that they represent only one view of your circumstances. Your stories can limit what you believe to be your choices and define what happens to you in your day. They may not have even come from you but may have been suggested by someone else. You may not even recognize them as stories; to you they may seem like worries or just the way you are."
Excerpt from "Help for Insomnia: Yet Another use for Mindfulness," by Shinzen Young, August, 8, 2013:
Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep is a very common complaint. Mindfulness can help but one must first radically revision the nature of the problem.
People tend to get into a negative feedback loop with insomnia: Not getting to sleep leads to worry, leads to further difficulty sleeping, leads to more worry, leads to...
What to do?
One possibility is to start thinking about the night in a different way. This is a conceptual reframing, a profoundly different paradigm regarding the issue of sleep.
The normal paradigm is:
"I have to get a good night's sleep or I'll be a mess tomorrow."
The new paradigm is:
"If I get a good night's rest, I'll be fine tomorrow."
Amazingly, it's possible to get a good night's rest without necessarily sleeping much or at all.
Excerpt from from The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life by ~ Thomas M. Sterner:
I have observed my mind many times through listening to my internal dialogue. It goes from one totally unrelated discussion to another. It's reminding me to pay a bill, composing a musical piece, solving a problem, thinking of a sharp-witted comeback I should have made yesterday when someone irritated me, and so forth.
All this is going on while I am taking a shower in the morning. In that moment, my mind is everywhere but where I really am — in the shower. My mind is anticipating circumstances that haven't happened yet and trying to answer questions that haven't even been asked.
We have a name for this: it's called worrying. If you force your mind to stay in the present moment and to stay in the process of what you are doing, I promise you, many of your problems will melt away.
There is a saying: Most of what we worry about never comes to pass.
Thinking about a situation before you are in it only scatters your energy.
"But," you say, "I have a difficult meeting with someone tomorrow, and I want to have my thoughts together before I get into the situation."
Fine, then take half an hour to sit down in a chair and do nothing else but go through the meeting in your mind and be there completely, doing only that. In the calmness of that detached moment, when you are not emotional, think of what you will say, and anticipate the different combinations of responses the person might make. Decide on your responses and see how they feel to you.
Will these responses have the desired effect? Now you are doing nothing else but what you are doing. You are in the present and in the process. You aren't scattering your energy by trying to act out all this in your head while you are eating your lunch or driving to work. This constant inner dialogue, chattering away, brings with it a sense of urgency and impatience because you want to deal with something that hasn't occurred yet. You want to get it done.
July 24, 2012
The first noble truth says simply that it's part of being human to feel discomfort. We don't have to call it suffering anymore, we don't even have to call it discomfort. It's simply coming to know the fierness of fire, the wildness of wind, the turbulence of water, the upheaval of earth, the gentleness of the breezes, and the goodness, solidness, and dependability of the earth. Nothing in its essence is one way or the other...
Sometimes they manifest in one form and sometimes in another. If we feel that's a problem, we resist it. The first noble truth recognizes that we also change like the weather, we ebb, and flow like the tides, we wax and wane like the moon. We do that, and there's no reason to resist it. If we resist it, the reality and vitality of life become a misery, a hell.
The second noble truth says that this resistance is the fundamental operating mechanism of what we call ego, that resisting life causes suffering. Traditionally it's said that the cause of suffering is clinging to our narrow view. Another way to say the same thing is that resisting our complete unity with all of life, resisting the fact that we change and flow like the weather, that we have the same energy as all living things, resisting that is what's called ego.
Yesterday I began to be very curious about the experience of resistance. I noticed that I was sitting there with uncomfortable feelings in my heart and my stomach—dread, you could call it. I began to recognize the opportunity of experiencing the realness...feeling what it's like to be weather. Of course that didn't make the discomfort go away, but it removed the resistance, and somehow the world was there again. When I didn't resist, I could see the world.
Then I noticed that I had never liked the quality of this particular "weather" for some reason and so I resisted it. In doing that, I realized, I re-created myself. It's as if, when you resist, you dig in your heels. It's like as if you're a block of marble and you carve yourself out of it, you make yourself really solid.
In my case, worrying about things that are going to happen is very unpleasant; it's an addiction. It's also unpleasant to get drunk again if you're an alcoholic, or to have to keep shooting up if you're a drug addict, or to keep eating if you have overeating addiction, or whatever it is. All these things are very strange. We all know what addiction is; we are primarily addicted to ME.
Interestingly enough, when the weather changes and the energy simply flows through us, just as it flows through the grass and the trees and the ravens and the bears and the moose and the ocean and the rocks, we discover that we are not solid at all. If we sit still, like a mountain in a hurricane, if we don't protect ourselves from the trueness and the vividness and the immediacy and the lack of confirmation of simply being part of life, then we are not this separate being who has to have things turn out our way.
See also: This Difficulty Feels Like This
The airport's clear for a landing.
The snow is melting on the garden.
All our anxieties are in a box I mailed to Pluto.
And I feel like the sun.
Gonna burn it all away.
We rest our heads upon one pillow.
Beg for falling stars to break in our window.
Outside the evergreens are blowing out their birthday candles.
And I feel like the wind.
Gonna blow it all away.
Pray to the 'I Don't Know' that made me.
Protect my Love, protect my friends, protect my baby.
I may have worries, but I'm not going crazy.
I feel like the rain.
Gonna wash it all away.
I can't breathe unless you're in my air.
I'm not here unless you're somewhere near.
When old age calls, we'll share a rocking chair.
And I feel like the dawn.
That light is getting near.
A Mother’s Prayer for Its Child
by Tina Fey, from Bossypants
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared themisspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,” she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
Listen to Tina Fey read from this essay on Fresh Air (April 13, 2011).
From “Mass Animal Deaths: An Environmental Whodunit,” by James Gorman, New York Times, Jan. 9, 2011:
Michael Shermer, the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine and a Scientific American columnist …uses a common scenario to explain why we believe in things that may not be there — hominids on the savannah hearing a rustling in the tall grass. The one who thinks, “It’s a lion!” and escapes quickly survives to propagate her genes, thus fostering a kind of protective alarmism in her descendants. Another might think, “There’s always some kind of rustling in the tall grass, it’s probably the wind,” and keep on grooming. If he guesses wrong, the downside is being eaten by the lion. Thus, no offspring and no propagation of the “don’t worry, be happy” genes.
Of course, people have both modes of thought, perhaps because rustling is usually caused by the wind, and the hominid who is too alarmist is always running away from nothing and probably too exhausted and too anxiety-ridden to mate. So there’s room for both the wind and the lion in human minds.