Soothing and Inner Demons

And how easily invited in hell is. There I was lying, slipping slowly into awakeness at 6am and touched by the peace, the quiet, the infinite. Then the mind. It arrived announcing some problematic angle. Immediately anxious. No thank you, not right now, I say. Im not going on that train this morning, Im staying here. It is safe here without my fears.

I breath back into the utter tranquility, so comfortable and relaxed I don’t feel Im in a body. Sleeping naked has become a healthy habit. More animal like.

Been mired in stuff recently…one of those cycles when I can see my multiple character flaws and insanities and detestable qualities, all at once it seems. Im staying a little in the background as this takes place.

Okay so I can be cruel, vicious, hateful, revengeful, nasty, aggressive, cowardly, selfish, greedy, offensive, ugly, defensive. I could go on. And its all true, not that Id put them on a dating profile haha. I do have all these qualities in plentiful supply.

And there’s no avoiding anything on this path, got to look everywhere and face what is there. Without flinching. Well eventually maybe.

Yeah yeah I know I can also be kind, loving, helpful, generous, creative, enthusiastic, sincere, honest, and more. A mixed bag, its all in there, every human quality pretty much I think.

The trick is to be able to face all these things and not take it personally. So often ‘self esteem’ is dependent on us having a positive self image, remembering all the good in us and ignoring the less than palatable. Maybe some are nicer than me, purer, so they have fewer monsters to slay.

Did I say slay?! No no no, its a big hug all this hate and nasty greedy offensiveness benefits from. Admit. Embrace. Allow. Under absolutely all of it is one thing. Fear. What do you do with a kid who is scared? Embrace, listen and reassure. These are wayward kids inside. Part nature, part nurture. Mal-adaptions to a dangerous set of conditions in early life. And they are also wired into our brains as part of the biological inheritance.

If we are lucky we come from families who have the emotional intelligence and wisdom to teach us how to sooth the primitive fight flight responses our brain is triggered into. For most of us though from what I have observed, the parents can be a source of danger themselves and don’t teach soothing.

So we have to learn to sooth ourselves if we don’t want to spend our lives easily triggered by fear and in a stressed state regularly.

My mainstays of self therapy are

  • Very regular walks in nature, and that means nearly daily. I need topped up being around trees, feeling the breeze, smells of the changing season, the feeling of mud underfoot, the sound of the birds and the river.
  • Very regular exercise. Again daily is required for me. I have extended the morning swim these last weeks to include an hour fairly physical workout in the gym at the pool. Weight machines, rowing machine, treadmill and Im loving it.
  • Eating 95% healthy food. No biscuits, crisps, not much meat, very little bread.
  • No hanging out with negative people who focus on what they are angry about politically, or are mad and unstable, are on drugs or heavily boozy or are full of problems that never seem to be solved. Pretty much nobody it means for me lol.
  • No mind altering substances. Very important for me to find ways of soothing and relaxing that don’t involve the quick fix. They only take me back where I started and they don’t build resilience. I’m a very occasional drinker now, and my stability has benefitted tremendously.
  • Gratitude. If I remember, I like to think about what I am thankful for. I thank everything. I thank the tree and the birds (good for humility), thank the house, the people who built the roads I enjoy, this computer, the tea Im drinking, the people who picked it and so on. There’s so many, and its a beneficial place to focus attention.
  • Generosity. Give more a voice whispers. Why the heck not. I have found the more I give the more I get anyway in a metaphysical sense. And theres no separation between ‘us’ and ‘them’ anyway, and we are giving to ourselves.  It could be argued that the giver gets as much if not more than the getter. It cheers us all up too and is anti scarcity mentality, the universe provides. In a spirit of discernment too of course.

Pondering – being of social benefit.

Soul searching some more today with this glorious Sunday space. This is not very deep or anything, just a bit of unravelling.

Some emotions were triggered on holiday. It generated lots of ‘I’ ness, hurt and indignant emotions, defensiveness/ego. Thoughts about socialism and capitalism.

The friend I was with questioned the social benefit of my business, and also called me right wing. So here were/are my responses with some questioning of the thoughts that led to the reactions and commentary in brackets

  • I felt misunderstood, (belief that he misunderstood me coming from my thoughts, it might not be true but my head decided that and I then had an emotional reaction to that belief) which is of course painful for anyone, and especially as my social group has dwindled so much recently (more ammunition from beliefs and thoughts to justify being upset/hurt or whatever) .
  • I feel even more alone when I believe I am misunderstood. (thoughts and beliefs again-I am not really alone, or I was always alone anyway depending on your perspective – but Im not actually any more or less alone)
  • And I ‘should’ be understood! (another belief to be questioned- nobody ‘should’ understand me?) I have shared so much and so intimately my thoughts and feelings and goals with this friend over decades. (a little more ammunition for justifying feeling hurt and defence of illusory ‘self’).

It touched a nerve about the whole subject of social benefit and what I feel my role in this is and how successfully I am fulfilling my goals.

I did the degree originally to make the place more beautiful for everyone, ended up by having a baby and started a business instead, and my clients are the very wealthy. So his comments alerted me to the fact that I am not exactly fulfilling my goals of making the place beautiful for everyone, the general public, rich and poor alike. (So my head jumped on that with the beliefs of failure to live up to my ideals and self criticism.

Then I started thinking about the benefits socially that take place as a result of this business in particular but small scale capitalism and trade in general. The employment provided, and with us the high pay rates, the care and investment in the employees. There’s the support of little local suppliers (I prefer to buy small and local), the excess money I can the poor with. I believe and carry out tithing, which is giving away 10% of excess income to local community projects. The fact that this money comes from the very wealthy is an added bonus, a bit Robin Hood without needing to steal. A little mini redistribution. The 100s of £s of tax and vat I raise for the public purse. So yes tales from a capitalist do-gooder here.

Okay so Im feeling fine about this. Im not feeling fine about the attitude of this friend, especially since he is on state benefits and this is the third holiday this year I have paid for. Harsh of me, yes? I don’t seem to get on with socialists these days.

Here’s my general take. I don’t usually talk about politics….I dislike how socialism (in particular) and capitalism seems to infantilise people and how socialists like to elevate the status of victim in society and how it requires blame and a persecutor. I think many of those in poverty and the socialists are locked into a drama. The drama that requires the victim, the rescuer and the persecutor. Its called the drama triangle and pervades our society in marriages, friendships, parent and child relationships. I dislike how capitalism is abused unlawfully by the government s giving special privileges to big business. How it encourages people to be greedy and ruthless.

I support policies that encourage taking personal responsibility. I think society at the moment does not encourage human adulthood as much as it could. I support the universal income as it would lift people out of scarcity and survival mode. I believe that people are creative and gregarious by nature and that when allowed to, they will find their passion and innate talent.

I like aspects of Libertarianism, it is anti war and anti interfering in the business of other countries. It is maximum freedom for the individual, decentralisation of power and a reduced government. This encourages personal responsibility. Which is what I am busy with mostly on these pages.

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Foggy Weather

Just back from a birthday in Budapest where the beauty, strangeness and warmth amazed and delighted. A welcome reprieve though not without its challenging moments. Before that a week long visit from a Serbian friend kept me fully busy. 

What can go wrong will go wrong is the theme at the moment it seems. Nature’s cycles of increase and decline.  

I have been experiencing many challenges and difficulties, all minor, but they all add up to stimulate the fears. It has been a time for staying quiet the last 2 weeks. 

Maintaining stable healthy habits helps get through the decline part of the cycle. Increased the exercise to include a proper workout in the gym each day before swimming and still doing a mile or two in the evenings too. Healthy food, and not too much, next to no drinking other than a night on holiday, and sugar levels kept low too. All helps to maintain some sort of sanity amid disruptive happenings. 

It is a valuable opportunity to be honest about what is going on with beliefs which are hooking up thoughts and emotions. I watch how I go up and down and round the roundabout with the experiences as they come and go. Encouraged, discouraged, up and down…they are kind of all the same anyway, temporary displays of dynamic energy. And completely valid and allowed too. Turning towards anxiety with tenderness, I apologise for rejecting it. Welcome I say, I hear you, let me be with you for a little while. It always helps to actually just be with a feeling, to pause the resistance. Kind of cradling them in my arms like a baby right now actually. Resting, soothing and allowing. This is in the park the other night. 

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Wise Quote – Douglas Harding 

“It was all, quite literally, breathtaking. I seemed to stop breathing altogether, absorbed in the Given. Here it was, this superb scene, brightly shining in the clear air, alone and unsupported, mysteriously suspended in the void, and (and this was the real miracle, the wonder and delight) utterly free of “me”, unstained by any observer. Its total presence was my total absence, body and soul. Lighter than air, clearer than glass, altogether released from myself, I was nowhere around.”

Today’s Process, Resting

‘Resting’ rather than ‘doing’ or ‘trying’ or ‘striving’ to adjust or replace or avoid or cling onto or get rid of the ever changing flow of jaggy or nasty or uplifting or discouraging or encouraging or regretful or painful or contented or scary or downright crazy thoughts feelings, responses and events around me.

It is a kind of not-doing. It is sunny outside. It is rainy. It is still, it is windy. I do not feel lonely, I feel lonely. I feel entertained, then boredom, a pain, then no pain. Noticing the tendency to contract away from any kind of pain at the drop of a hat. A lifetime of contraction to recover from.

Constant changing scenes internally and externally, which are the dynamic expression of Rigpa, and in it, not separate from it. Not separate from it is key. This mind likes to get busy sifting through all experience to determine what is acceptable and what is not, what is correct and what is not, what is intelligent and what is not, painful and not.

It is all the dynamic expression of Awareness which is perfect equanimity. Within the throws of this human intensity of experience there is the opportunity to take short moments all day long of remembering being in Rigpa. We never leave it, we are it. I forget this every few minutes!

I like this word Rigpa, it has fewer cultural reference points that could dilute the meaning than words or phrases in English like ‘open awareness’ or ‘oneness’ or ‘spirit’. It is there all the time, and noticeable in the spaces between thoughts, those pauses where alert awareness is present and thought is not. The thoughts keep on coming, and Rigpa remains there all the time, unmoved.

“Rigpa is a Tibetan word, which in general means ‘intelligence’ or ‘awareness’. In Dzogchen……rigpa has a deeper connotation, ‘the innermost nature of the mind’. The whole of the teaching of Buddha is directed towards realizing this, our ultimate nature, the state of omniscience or enlightenment – a truth so universal, so primordial that it goes beyond all limits, and beyond even religion itself.”
— Sogyal Rinpoche

And experientially how to navigate this dynamic changing picture? What I have been developing is a sense of ‘okayness’ with it all. It is all okay. Noticing all the judgements that determine what isn’t good enough, isn’t okay. Things resolve by themselves. I just need to rest and I know what to do next. No need to fret and worry.

To acknowledge the early experiences and cultural influences encouraging worry, a suspicion of danger lurking round every corner, a sense of not being good enough, fear of being shamed, of being found out to be an imposter. I also have a recurring judgement that all this self care is narcissistic. Old tapes being played over and over. These can be interrupted in an instant of breathing, pausing, remembering the backdrop to it all that we are. The waves and the ocean at the same time, inseparable.

Photo from last night’s walk.

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Morning’s process – Trusting Peace

When you have a nervous system trained and primed to be on the alert for unexpected danger then the idea of contentment is foreign and foolish at best and terrifying at worst. But the evidence is overwhelmingly in favour of relaxing into contentment. Life is demonstrating day after day, that here, right now, it is safe. And It keeps on being safe, in the present. All sense of danger comes from imagination – fabricated potential scenarios of the mind.

Right now I have Everything. No unwanted obligations, nobody to answer to or have to compromise around, there’s plentiful warmth, safety, food, health, comfort, beauty, quiet, nature, good neighbours, books, music, freedom….what’s not to like. Gratitude for all of this, thank you.

This greedy grabby ego is learning to adjust and it’s urgent admonisions to make something happen, (anything at all rather than this stability), it wants people, gossip, problems, drama, romance, entertainment….are subsiding, with a spike or two most days. It wants something other than what is happening right now. Anything other than stillness and silence, which is the new land being entered.

So contentment yes. It has taken a long while to get to know you, and our relationship is still developing. I look forward to developing my trust in you as this relationship grows. After spending much of life in a restless frenzy, there is adjusting to do. I am being compassionate and patient with this situation. There is a nervous system here that requires soothing like a baby, yes reparenting it is no less. This apartment is an intensive care ward. The soothing and nurturing actions taken daily are small steps towards the reprogramming that seem to be having a cumulative effect.

This in turn is allowing me to feel safe enough to dig deeper, and look at what I have been avoiding, looking squarely at hatred and separation and fear of humour, intimacy and vulnerability. All wrapped up they are I think.

Today’s Process, fear of freedom, facing hatred.

Been doing so much reading that thrills, soothes and entices and then remembered, ‘oh yes, you have to actually DO this stuff’. More comfortable just reading about it! 

So I stopped, slowed and attended to the bodily sensations happening in this moment. A tightness around the solar plexus, up to the throat area, awareness of this had been squished to the side. A knee jerk habit away from feeling discomfort. I took a breath slowly. I said an inner ‘yes’ to the sensations,  a soft ‘it is okay to be here’. Always when I do this, it removes a big layer of discomfort. The discomfort of denial, and of fear of the feelings. 

I turned towards the feelings, the slight anxiety and discomfort. Then just the feelings themselves remained, a fear caused by stray thoughts believed earlier. Thoughts weaving a story of this life situation, not an accurate account at all but a certain angle or interpretation, a problematic theme as usual. The thoughts can make up what they want. It seems they want to goad mind into imagining there is a problem it can then set about ‘solving’. 

But the minds love of problem identification and solving not actually needed. Any problems that do arise, subside by themselves every time when left alone to resolve. Yet the mind reflex keeps on trying and trying. ‘Look look this is A PROBLEM! You have to DO something before it’s too late!’ 

No real problem sitting here on this comfy sofa, warm, good view, healthy, safe, quiet, tranquil even. No money problems. No relationship problems. No commitments or work to do today if I choose not to. Good music, absolutely anything I want to do I can. What’s not to like! Freedom. It’s scary. Sometimes I’m the prisoner sitting in the cell looking through the open cell door beyond to freedom and yet still sits there. 

The perfection and stability of it, there is no drama. Suspicious that it’s too good to be true the mind is. ‘I don’t deserve it. It’s the calm before the storm, a precursor to something terrible and unpredictable happening’. 

So just watching these reflexes and reactions coming and going. 

Started a new fitness routine this week. 2 miles on the machine, then weight training before daily. Then another 2 miles in the woods. Feels natural to get fitter and stronger, body likes it a lot. Still no booze, so mood is more stable. And hardly any sugar, and weight is down again. Very little Facebook. 

Im onto something inside that I’ve been putting off, the ego is horrrified by the idea I turn to face it. It is holding some people outside the circle of love. I sometimes see others temporarily as the ‘enemy’ or adversary , say driving along, or at the pool, if they make a noise or crowd my space. It includes a few people I know too, family members, old friends. It gives me pain as it’s actually a lie, believing an idea of separation. They are me. I love them all. Im curious to investigate how this relates to what I feel towards myself. This feels like a toughie, going by the feeling of dread being thrown up. 

Couple of enjoyable productive social encounters recently, yesterday with my old pal W and today with 10 year old A in the countryside.