Well Hello There Anger, You Curious Beast

rozSubtlety has never been one of my shining qualities, nor do I wish it to be. It makes for hearty discussions that can be uncomfortable yet rich. Being with people who can admit that they are afraid of the dark,  yet have the courage to explore it are the best kind of people.

I’m a fiery gal. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. I am not for the faint of heart or the timid.

But I’m also soft-hearted to a fault, and love nothing more than to take people in, feed them, make sure they’re safe, and take care of them.

For many years, like many women, anger was not my friend. It’s ugly, and doesn’t accessorize well. It chewed me up from the inside out, and boy oh boy, did I suffer for ignoring it. Once my practice matured, I was able to let it in, give it room to breathe it’s fire, and finally burn off the dangerous edges.

This post was inspired by my incorrect perception. Some might even say, I was wrong. But let’s not get carried away now my sweet little peaches. Being wrong is such a bitch and entirely not sexy.

The human smorgasbord of emotion is fascinating, with a little of this and a dash of that sprinkled through the entire menu. What I’ve discovered, and I believe to be true, is that the  plethora of negative emotions are all rooted in the muck of fear. To be fearless about exploring those negative emotions, well, that my darlings, is interesting stuff.

I will be the first to admit that relationships scare the hell out of me. Commitment is a word I actually had an issue saying ( it made me stutter).  Yet, I’m a devoted, loyal, stick-with-you-to-the-end friend and colleague. What gives?

Well, after years of learning and practicing, I came to understand just how healthy it is not to deny myself all of the ugly-step-sister emotions; anger, jealousy, shame. They are all rooted in fear, and we, as human beings all experience fear and the offshoots of fear every day.

After a thoughtful discussion with my sweetie last night about anger, communication, and perception, I came back to an article by Jules Shuzen Harris, Sensei; Uprooting the Seeds of Anger, (Tricycle, Summer 2012 p44-47);

We’re going to keep getting angry. It’s going to come up. It has come up in our lives before, and it will come up again. This practice is about becoming more mindful, becoming aware of how we are getting stuck. With care and work, we find ways to get unstuck. But we also know that the moment we get unstuck, we’re going to get stuck again. That’s why it is called a practice – we never arrive. So when you find yourself upset or angry, use the moment as apart of your practice, as an opportunity to notice and uproot the seeds of anger and move into the heart of genuine compassion.

This passage speaks to me of impermanence, the Five Skandhas, and the importance of self-compassion as we practice mindful living/self-awareness.

When I first sought out meditation practice and the wisdom of the monastic teachings at a local monastery, what I really was doing, was running away from fear. I thought that I was doing something wrong, and that being happy all of the time was what being a spiritual being was all about. But, surprise, surprise, the Goddess-of-Everything-Delightful was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Ick.

Denying oneself the full-spectrum of emotion is like plastering concealer over a nasty pimple. Eventually it wears off, and it just makes the problem worse.

Our daily practice consists in running away…We are afraid of the suffering that is inside us, afraid of war and conflits…But we do not want this fear to manifest, because it hurts, and so we repress it.  We try to repress our suffering and we invite other energies into our ‘lving room’ to fill it up so that the negative energies will not be able to make their appearance there…We should not adopt this boycott policy. On the contrary we should open our door so that our suffering can come out.  (Thich Nhat Hanh, True Love)

I have committed to my practice, and I feel it slip when fear enters uninvited, tracking mud through my heart. But I won’t pretend it’s not there. I will not kick it out, or wash away the dirty footprints without taking a good look at how it got in, and what I might do lovingly acknowledge it.

 

 

 

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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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