Busy Being Humans

An old song of mine that has words related to duality http://jenniferstuart.bandcamp.com/track/let-the-noises-in-2

An old song of mine that has words related to duality http://jenniferstuart.bandcamp.com/track/let-the-noises-in-2

The Buddha pointed out long ago that we do not have a solid self. The denial of this fact can lead to suffering.

I’m noticing that we are expected to feel, often times, one way. Either hurt or happy, sensitive or tough, falling apart or totally together.

I’m noticing that this isn’t true to most of our experience.

If someone gives me criticism, it is one of the most potent times for me to notice that split. On one hand, I may really try to take in what they are saying so that I can fully absorb it. On the other hand, I may be a little hurt in a little kid way. On the third hand, I might be touched and thankful that they actually gave me feedback at all.

But it’s hard to put all of those things into a tidy sentence in the moment, or to wear it as a sensible facial expression.

When you think about how we are presenting ourselves to much of our world right now, via Facebook and texts and twitter and anything else, this idea is even more pronounced. You write a single status update, for every single friend. You send a text with no voice intonation, maybe even to someone you just met who doesn’t know the nuances of your speech patterns. We constantly seem to be in situations where having one thing to say or feeling one way is appropriate, expected, and normal.

This seems simple enough, doesn’t it? I think it’s a nice thing to think about, especially as we listen to other people talk. It’s sometimes useful to remember that every feeling has a whole lot of others that are also there, not always expressed, and not even always incredibly conscious.

My theory is that the more we all are aware of these things, the less we will feel like we are “doing it wrong” when we actually are just being humans, and the expectations apply more easily to robots. And the more we allow for this type of thing in others, the more everyone else gets to feel less isolated themselves.

I just lost my well-loved job. Now is a time of many mixed feelings. Maybe that’s why this topic is on my mind in this way. I spent a lot of the day making jewelry on my living room floor, listening to local music and thinking about the future. I have to figure something out soon, and until then, I’ll sell  necklaces at little markets and spend what I saved as little as possible while I wait for more potential work with the same organization to come back.

But yes, these are interesting times. I hope everyone is well, and I hope that I’ll be writing more often soon, I know it feels so great when I do!

Do you think that you often times feel just one way, or is it usually a mix?

Do you feel like it’s easy to express that mix in a way that people understand?

Do people ever expect you to feel one way when you don’t?

Stuckness

Old rainbow

This new song has double the listens of any of my others.. http://soundcloud.com/starshipjenerprise/twine-by-jennifer-stuart

A few things have happened recently.

One is that I turned 30.

Another is that I got a music fan who is 9 years old, and more badass than I’ve ever been.

A third is that my morning glories have started thinking about blooming.

I go through rapid phases of self confidence that comes from my heart and a feeling of utter insecurity and doubt. Usually they follow each other in annoying little circles.

I wonder if I’m addicted to attention, or if I’m becoming that way. Or if I’m delusional, or if I’m just very, very smart and if eventually that realization will stick.

A big lesson lately is that things don’t last. Not good things like love and dogs, but things like anger and repulsion towards someone or myself. These things pass. It becomes really clear as I continue my work in a contemplative community where being present is key.

When I’m present, I’m not attached to the mean things someone said to me last week when I see them this week. I know that anything can happen, and I know it from experience. Most importantly, the more I can let go of the assumption that the icky feelings will last, the more open I am to having new fresh exciting and possibly pleasing ones come in.

This is all for now. Thoughts, reflections. Vague, but possibly more universal than they feel at the moment. 

On a side note, I have a column in Kickass Women’s Music magazine. You can find my first entry here. The column itself is about Music and Mind and relating to various aspects of playing music with mindfulness. There’s an audio thing that pops up with a lady talking, just mute it if you want to read instead. 

I hope everyone who still reads Enjoy Life for Once is well, I hope to make more posts soon and more potent and pointed ones, but right now this is all I’ve got.

Are there any feelings that you’ve had for a really long time about someone or yourself that feel permanent?

If you could change one feeling that you have, for someone else or yourself or a situation, what would it be?

These are fun things to think about, even if you don’t want to comment on them. Just imagining the changes is sometimes a good step in the direction of actually allowing the stuck things to move.

Try it out. 🙂

Nothing Is Ever Lost: Multiple Manifestations Of The Subconscious

Ray Bradbury- Quote from Zen in the Art of Writing

I have been reading Zen in the Art of Writing ever since reading Vicki Winslow’s awesome post about it.  The book is a collection of essays, all by Ray on writing, and I have been working my way slowly through these precious pages. There is one essay called “Run Fast, Stand Still” which has been sitting like dew in my brain cells; and that essay is the inspirational backbone of this post.

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Blogging As A Mindfulness Practice: Why I Left You A Comment

Awareness

Everything you do can be used to help you wake up to the present moment. Why not make blogging into a mindfulness exercise?

 

This blogging world is pretty new to me. It’s so new that I don’t even know if it’s obvious that it’s new to me or not. I’m still learning everything from how to keep track of posts I like to finding a blog a second time.

When I first started making posts and actually putting effort in, I got a handful of followers. Some of them, who are probably reading this, were great people who actually read the post, actually liked it, maybe commented, and in either case, kept coming back for more.

Other new followers had blogs which I instantly checked out; I found something rather peculiar. A tiny handful of them had somewhat interesting posts, sure, but they also had loads, and I mean loads, of comments which were unanimously: “thank you for following my blog!”

Oh, that’s what this is, I thought. People aren’t following me because I’m an as-of-yet-undiscovered-genius; they are following me so that I follow them. Then it hit me, aha! I have had this feeling before!

I was sitting on the dirt next to a tree on the sidewalk in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. It was night time, so the only lighting was a juicy mix of streetlights and store lights, maybe some Christmas decorative lights as well, even though it was the later part of sweet early June.

I was selling necklaces that I had made; living out of a van with my guitar-playing gypsy boyfriend and a new puppy. A girl came up to me that evening and spent a lot of time asking me about each necklace; where I was when I made it, where I got the beads, how they would affect someone’s energy, and so on. She just wanted to know it all, and I was incredibly touched that a stranger was so kind and curious; and yet there was something strange. She was asking question after question, but wasn’t really engaging with the answers. I was just happy to be talking to someone.

After about a half hour of this flowery girl talk, she told me that she had come to tell me that there was one true savior and that he wanted me to be saved. My heart broke. It broke in half and fell to the bricks, oozing down into the crevices with leftover cigarette ash and dog pee. It made me hate her and anyone like her. I would not have minded had she walked up to me with a bible, stating her point, even if she wanted to yell at me or make fun of me. But she took the trouble to engage me in conversation, to find what mattered to me, and only then tell me her true purpose for starting the conversation.

That was the feeling I got when I looked at a person that had just started following me and realized that they had made a day of following any blog that had made a new post. Except the girl at least had looked me in the eye.

Now, it’s really not such a big deal. I may even be imagining that there is anything wrong with that approach to blogging; maybe it is just a common practice and I am in the dark.

My concern that since habits start to form around the ways we relate, the more time we spend on social network sites, the more that these patterns become part of the fabric of our being. We start getting careless and mindless in one arena, and slowly that mentality spreads like a stain on the rest of our lives. I believe that we can use the act of blogging, and of doing anything on the computer, to become more aware of the present moment.

My suggestion is that we all spend a teensy bit more time being aware of the things we do and the way we relate to people on our social media network. The quality of the things we write; the effort that goes into them and how that effort ends up impacting us when we leave the screen. There are so many things we can pay attention to in order to enhance the other parts of our lives. For instance, the more honest and clear I can be with a comment, the more it helps me to express certain feelings in my novel. Here is a list of a few things that you can pay attention to as you blog:

  • Your posture as you read, write, and work.
  • How you eat your food, if you eat by the computer. How you chew, swallow, and digest.
  • How it feels when your eyes move from the screen to the surrounding areas of your home.
  • How  it feels in your body when you stop to pet your dog or cat or pay attention to other people in the room.
  • How your stomach feels right in this moment.
  • How your feet feel on the surface or air that they are touching.
  • How it feels in your belly or chest when you think about a sentence that you want to type; how it feels to type it.
  • How it feels in your body when you listen to the noises happening around you.
  • What the air smells like.
  • How high above you the ceiling is; or the sky.
  • The feeling of your head on your shoulders.
  • How tense your shoulders are.
  • How tense your upper arms are.
  • How tense your forearms are.
  • How tense your hands are.
  • How tense your pointer finger is.
  • And so on.

There are literally endless aspects of this moment that you can pay attention to. So why not try it? Why not try out how it feels to follow other blogs mindlessly, and how it feels to read a random post, read what it says, and comment on how it affected you even if it is a post you never would have read otherwise?

Since trying to leave more meaningful comments and make more meaningful relationships with my blogging world, I have felt better in many writing-related ways. I have gotten over a huge blockage I had in regards to working on my book, and I feel more able to write my silly articles without bitterness for my job because I can take little breaks and leave a meaningful comment or two. It is my little exercise of verbalizing how I feel from a present state of mind.

The internet is a fabulous tool, a wonderful way of getting your voice into living rooms, coffee shops, parks, and minds all over the world. Pay attention to how you relate to it; and maybe you will learn more about how you relate with the rest of your daily scenery and relationships.

So let’s try to add a dose of awareness to the cocktail of all the things we are doing. Let’s be aware of our intention, our attention, and our inattention.

Sometimes it is tempting for me to read a post and love it, and simply hit “like.” But when I do that, the person doesn’t get to know how their words really affected me, sitting here in my hot little city with my feet on a dog and a glass of iced wine at my side. So I try to be honest and clear. It helps me in the rest of my life; and I think that those that don’t take advantage of such opportunities are missing out. That is why I left you a comment.

Investing Wisely: Mindfulness, Money, and a Porch Garden

A recent porch garden

My little organic porch garden complete with Rosemary, Sweet Basil, Spicy Basil, Lemon Basil, Sage, and Oregano.

There is one thing that I have neglected to do in my life; and that is make financial investments. My money is all in my bank account, and half of it just got spent on a bed.

There are times that this truth makes me worried. But lately, there is something that is becoming abundantly clear.

I have spent the last fifteen or so years investing in my emotional well-being in the event of disaster.

I know, I know. Nothing quite beats a big cushion of cash when the you-know-what hits the fan. Your house gets blown away, you can buy a new one. Your spouse wants a divorce, you can get a fancy lawyer. You get tired of your repetitive job, you take off to a new country for as long as you feel like.  Money can do a lot of things.

But it can’t really save you. Not really.

A mindfulness meditation practice, on the other hand, fills in the eerie and often denied missing space left behind by money. While money is a giant robot tromping through a field of wild flowers, mindfulness meditation can slip behind it and nourish all the broken stems back to health. Where money comes in to throw a big electronic plate in front of the sun for relief, mindfulness practice strolls by and hands you a brand new pair of classy shades. Money wants to pave the world in rubber to protect your feet; mindfulness gives you a new pair of cruelty-free shoes. Mindfulness wins, hands down, because it gives you the power to deal with the things that money tries to shield you from.

I have a porch garden. Bet you thought I’d never get to the point of the picture. My porch garden, as you can see in, is quite small. It consists of a few plants; all of them go good in spaghetti sauce, and each has a wonderful way of growing towards the sun.

This porch garden has led to a lot of thinking on my part lately. You see, it makes me feel happy. When I walk out with my wine bottle full of water, ready to touch the soil and keep it all appropriately wet, I feel like a little off-shoot of mother nature herself. When I untangle the stems and try to figure out how to take what I need from the little guys while helping them to grow better instead of hurting them, I feel like a mad scientist of nature; some kind of fairy-winged Einstein. These things make me good, no matter what type of day I am having.

Maybe it is the fact that I care about these little dudes, and I want the best for them. Caring about any creature is a cool thing to do, but usually the creature bears more resemblance to ourselves. Plants enjoy water and sun, and that’s about as much as they have in common with us. Of course, they are made of cells and love chlorophyll and there are other similarities; but the point is that they are not as similar to us as, let’s say, a dog or a hamster. Those creatures have two eyes, cute little hands, an appetite for cookies, and a nose and other things. The plants are just sitting there, growing, drinking, and sunning themselves happily. Some humans do that; but not the interesting ones.

I have been realizing lately that the things I have invested my time and energy into, such as my Reiki practice, my massage practice, my writing, my mindfulness practice, and my brief little relationship with EFT, all go a long way to helping me when disaster strikes.

Of course, it would be nice to have lots of money to rely on too. But would that really help? At this point, I am not so sure. I am wondering if it would actually just make it easier for me to avoid life itself and seek the next “solution,” the next “thing” that would get me to feel “better” when really, all I need is a whiff of basil.

A lot of recent conversations that I’ve had have revolved around the fact that worry and anxiety are rather useless. If something “bad” happens, you can deal with it in the moment. If I want to worry about my dog, my car, my boss, my friends, my street, etc, then anything can happen and there is no way for me to act appropriately in order to prevent it.

If I trust, however, that I can deal with whatever does happen when it happens, then suddenly I am free to enjoy the moment. Suddenly, I have my power back. For it is impossible to decide to take responsibility for your feelings when you are living in the past or the future, living in worry or anxiety or panic; it is impossible to then make a choice about what to do, how to feel, and how to love. It’s like being trapped in an out-of-whack time machine when all you really want to do is make a cup of tea and watch the sunset on this very evening.

If you are aware that it is the present moment, and you are enjoying it without fear or hesitancy for the future, then you have your power. You can choose what to do, with or without money, because you will still be fine. You will face and deal with whatever things arise because you are there to deal with them. If the stove catches fire, you can deal with it. If your dog freaks out, you can deal with it. If someone close to you is hurt, you can deal with it. It doesn’t make it so that “bad” things don’t happen; because that is not up to you. But it at least lets you only experience them when they are actually happening, rather than when they are not.

It is like uncovering a super power. And all you have to do is invest; not your money, but your time. A few minutes a day of meditation, or of mindfully coalescing with your plants. A little bit of Reiki meditation for those that are trained, or of research into a Reiki class near you if you are not.

We are brought up to see that money can save us, that money can be there when problems arise. But the secret to all of it is that you can be there too; your brain and soul and being can be there to work with what happens in the event without trying to run away with things that money can buy.

Mindfulness meditation is my investment for the future. It is my way of knowing that no matter what, I will be able to be present to the best of my ability, and to work with what is happening with integrity and authenticity.

What type of emotional, financial, or educational investments have you made? Are there other types that I haven’t thought of? How are they working out for you?