A Night Owl’s Meditation Lesson for Morning People

no wormI’m not a morning person. Unless I’m the first one up when I’m in the great outdoors, marvelling at a sunrise, watching mist rise from a placid lake, and listening to the first call of the loons.

But that rarely happens.

So, I’m basically just not a morning person.

I am a night owl. The still darkness is rich ground to cultivate ideas and search out creative genius.

We all have a delicate balance of extroverted and introverted needs, and as a fence rider on almost every element of the Myers-Briggs assessment, I need as much time alone as I do surrounded by other fascinating human beings.

Morning people often insinuate that I’m wasting the day. They gently suggest that perhaps I’m a tad depressed, lazy, unmotivated, or accomplishing less than my potential. Morning people are wrong.

My very naïve beginnings at meditation have developed throughout the years, and my practice is now something I am aware of every day.

Waking slowly, at my own pace allows me to be quiet with the thoughts that come and go from my mind.

It’s easy to be aware of all of the thoughts that come to mind as your head is on the pillow waiting for sleep to wrap her arms around you. Unless you’re dog-tired, thoughts come fast. You can’t help but be aware of their presence in the quiet darkness of night-time.

Morning thoughts are different. These are the thoughts that come out quietly, like a hungry stray hoping for a leftover morsel. They slink quietly into consciousness and scatter as soon as you turn to thoughts of preparing for the day.

be the awarenessThis morning as I woke,I listened to the heart-breaking howl of the neighbours oft neglected dog.  The irony is that if some of my thoughts were sounds, they would have sounded like that baleful howling.

In the silence of my fluffy duvets, snuggled warm and safe, I had time to reach out and hold each of those thoughts gently, examine them, and then let them go.  At peace with my own self, I felt prepared to face the day, and share it with whatever the world had prepared for me.

My not-a-morning-person mornings are a simple pleasure, and a quality of life indulgence.  I have the peace to let my emotions and thoughts speak their truth, and the time to gently make peace with everything, both good and not so good. This is the value of meditation, practice, and the awareness of personal presence.

 

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Sink Or Swim; Nostalgia & a Little Shove

mylifeHolidays tend to make us nostalgic. Thank goodness that they’re officially over for 2015.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard, “2015 was a terrible year“. Wow.

I prefer to frame my year as a deli sandwich. The bread was delicious, but the meat of it was a little sour. In other words, the first and last thirds were great (as in; good enough), but the middle really blew.

How often as children did we say a year was terrible? We didn’t darlings. We just did the 10 second countdown to the new year and moved forward with joyful, curious abandon.

sufferingNow we yearn for the days when life was simple and  we still believed in magic. Friendships and family were taken for granted, and happiness was just on the other side of the screen door.

As adults, we tend to overcomplicate things. ‘Be kind and play fair’, seem to have gotten lost in the big, adult personal ethics playbook. And that just stinks. Because it hurts. Yes, people can be selfish and cruel, but they can also be kind, giving, and lovely to snuggle up with. Naked.

As human beings, we all want to be loved. We all need and want strong friendships, a true love with whom we can  share our most intimate selves , and bourbon. Ok, maybe the last bit is all about me, but whatever.

When we lose ourselves in the fray of losing the one person we fell in love with, we feel broken. I’ve been there. It hurts. It’s scary, and it puts a pretty harsh filter on our vision of the future.

Just this summer, I sat, sobbing on my friend’s front step, while she nursed my broken heart and damaged pride. I felt empty, hopeless, afraid and lost.

We live in a world that prizes the individual and yet makes it impossible to live without the safety net of community, family and friends. Yes, the great Western-way-of-life has unfolded into a wonderful cock-up of psychological dissonance. But what do I know? I’m just a girl after all.

I do know this. The holiday season has seen a lot of falling in and out of love; happy hearts and hearts that have been broken and need time to heal, relationships that are worn thin, or worn out altogether.

The beautifully terrifying part of it all, is that the only way to heal a heart is to live life. The very life that has tossed you like a small boat on a big, angry, ocean, leaving you feeling washed up and broken beyond repair.

Cling to curiosity. Let your friends lead you when you are  blinded by tears. Be wary of the seductive pull of too much sleep, lack of self care, and try to remember how good it feels to laugh after you decide to, ‘fuck it’.

As a quasi-Buddhist-lover-of-Christian-ritual, this speaks to me. You have two choices; get up, dive back into that same unpredictable ocean to wash yourself clean, or wallow in the sand getting burned by the sun and possibly gnawed to death by vicious, exotic fauna.

Sometimes you need a friend to role you back into the ocean. In some cases, you need a friend to drag you, kicking and screaming, back to life. It’s called tough love, and we all need it once in a while.

Nostalgia and wishing for a happily-ever-after is a waste of time.

havetimeYou and I both know that more than anything else, this is true; life is short and precious.

Take the time you need to sit quietly with your broken heart. Don’t run away from it, or deny it what it needs to tell you.  Take your sadness and swaddle it like a helpless infant. As difficult as this may seem, you will see that soon enough, you will be at peace with it.

Weep. Cry. Scream into your pillow…and as you take your last gasp of sobbing breath, get ready for a shove back into the ocean of life.

You’ve always been a beautiful swimmer darling. Always.

 

 

 

Christmas Shopping & The Meaning of Life

christmas shoppingThis one goes out to the Costco employees at the Laird Road location in Mississauga.

Thank you for reminding me to be kind and friendly this holiday season.

Your rude behavior and obvious annoyance at being bothered by your customers has made me rethink how I show up in the world every day.

In other words, you’re a shining example of how I don’t want to be.

The art of living truly is about mastering how you show up in the world wherever that place may be; home, work, school, or even Costco.

Trust me darlings, I too would rather be at home relaxing with a cocktail than being locked in a metal, windowless box spending my hard earned money with a bunch of people who feel the same way.

Before you ask, yes, I have worked retail, and yes, I know how annoying people can be.

Also, in case you thought I was independently wealthy, I have to work  as hard as you do for my money.  By the way, newsflash, I can spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars, somewhere else for the very same products. If dealing with customers is such a pain in the ass, try dealing with no customers and no job.

Your brand of misery is the reason why people are giving up their materialistic Christmases of gluttony and trading them in for the simple joy of spending time together.

Spending time and energy buying stuff from people who are rude really doesn’t scream Merry, or Joy, or Peace on Earth.

The more I interact with you, the more I resent spending an hour finding a parking spot, being jostled like cattle through your aisles, and then ending the long-journey-of-consumer-monotony with a cashier who doesn’t know how to engage in a polite greeting, look me in the eye, and throws my conveniently-mega-packaged purchases into my cart like they’re trash.

Wishing that you and yours find the joy of the season where you least expect to find it; your own, every-day life.

 

 

 

A Beautiful Messy Life

  

Cat Vomit & Alarm Clocks: A Meditation

buddhist catI love no-alarm-clock days. They make me feel like I’m spoiling myself a little bit.

No-alarm-clock-days are few and far between in this house, and today was no exception. Although, just before my alarm was set to wake me up to the sounds of weekend jazz, the wild-cat we adopted this year began a lovely chorus of guttural vomiting. It’s a good thing he’s so darn cute.

For some reason the cat vomit made me think about some of the people I’d interacted with this week.  Isn’t if strange how our minds work?

Anyway, my unsupervised mind turned to those folks who had spoken or acted unkindly and/or unethically. The needle for arse-holes has been pushed into the red this week.

I began to wonder what on earth made them tick, and then I stopped.

You see, all of the yucky stuff boils down to insecurity, greed, anger, jealousy…which really further reduces to one singular element; fear. Fear must feel exactly like our little wild cat felt this morning – gut-wrenchingly nauseated.

Despite snuggling into my big, soft, duvet covered bed, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Instead, I picked up my Fall 2015 edition of Trycicle magazine which features buddhist perspectives on how to deal with difficult emotions. This quote from Daisy Hernandez’s article, Envidia made me laugh out loud;

It was the second or third night of the workshop, close to midnight, when I sat on the very cold bed in that dorm room in Texas and realized that I hated at least three of my friends and a woman I knew only marginally.

The reason that I thought it was so funny was because I could totally relate.  I’d been that woman, in retreat, alone at midnight in her dorm room. I’d been held captive with my own mind in silence for days at a time within a group of people, who in silence made me think that I was, they were, that we were somehow above feeling anything but blissful-unicorn-joy-and-loving-kindness toward the world.

inthemomentWhen I first started attending longer retreats I had difficulty. By the second full day of silence, my mind was like a heroine addict going through withdrawal, and the sound of anyone shuffling in meditation, or masticating during our silent meals made me want to stealthily creep out of my perfectly-spiritual skin and glue their ass to the mat or cram their vegetarian-tofu eggs down their throat. Needless to say, days three and four got incrementally better.

No one that I know of ever went home in a body bag because they were suffocated by tofu-eggs (tofu eggs by the way, are a sin against nature), nor did anyone have to have their meditation cushion surgically removed from their hiney.

I wish I could say I  was immune to all of the wonderfully difficult emotions that I was mulling over in my early-morning-cat-vomit-addled-mind this morning. I wish I could say I am always kind and angelic, and gentle. I’m not.

I do my best, and yet I still cherish my  fiery Irish-tempered side. It protects my heart and gives me something to hang on to when it gets broken. I believe in balancing light and dark and observing those thoughts. This is one of the most effective, inexpensive, therapeutic techniques to keep us living a meaningful existence.

Sometimes, it’s the cat vomit (fear, anger, jealousy) of life that serves as a meditation bell, bringing us back to our own thoughts, our own space, and our own choosing how we wish to show up in the world every day.

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