I think that when we are sick, we have the opportunity to leave behind not only whatever junk gets removed from our cells as we recover, but also clogged up thoughts and emotions. The older I get the more I believe that thoughts and feelings and bodily stuff are all caught up in each other; inseparable. So it makes sense to me that if we are in a process of releasing bodily gunk, the opportunity is there to release an old habit, thought pattern or grudge.
I have moved my meditation practice to the morning as I wake up instead of in the evenings after work. Actually, I have been checking in with myself throughout the days often to see where I am at. I think that is what meditation practice gets at, though I could be wrong. I think it is the practice of getting in touch with the quieter mind behind your mind that observes everything about yourself. The part that can see patterns of thought and notice how you are feeling without also feeling that way, so that you can breathe and just be with it instead of avoiding it all.
In the mornings, though, I have been putting myself in child's pose (from yoga), and offering up whatever anxiety or nervousness and worry I find to a higher power. Basically, I take ten to twenty minutes to feel out how I am starting my day. Am I feeling good? Feeling upset? Angry? Frustrated? Still tired? Worried about work, or time crunches, or anything at all? I feel it and then ask for help letting it go because I don't want to carry it all day. I want to be free to just be and not feel guilty about not getting everything done all at once, or perfectly, or on some predetermined schedule that is impossible to keep. And I want to offer thanks for the help in doing this, and for everyone who is supporting me by allowing me to be myself just as I am. I can support them all by offering the same.
It's been a calming practice so far, and has allowed me to get closer to the me I was once, back in high school: who didn't get upset about stalled cars and running late because I actually realized there was nothing to be done about it and worry and guilt were useless emotions to the situation. Life was more of an adventure then, and I'd like it to feel more like that again. Minus the social angst, of course. I am delighted to see signs that I could become that much looser about my expectations of myself and the outside world's conformity with my plans and let life flow again. Losing the illusion of control seems scary sometimes, but I think I prefer it to always fearing outcomes and trying to predict or manipulate them into something I think I want. Actually, I just want to be. That's all. I want to do stuff and not stress over exactly how it is going to come together, since it will never go exactly how I plan anyway.
This morning I was feeling very frustrated upon waking up that I was tired and had to go to the post office before my acupuncture appointment, and then I had two tattoos and one of them wasn't drawn right yet. I stretched out and felt into it and realized that I was upset about it, and asked to let it go. The emotions and my joints loosened - as I got up my fingers, wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, ankles, toes and even spine cracked into place. I felt better. I didn't feel great, and I am still sick today. But I felt OK about being anxious about getting it all done on time. I decided to just get going and if I ran late I would be late, and everything would be fine.
I had a nice breakfast, took a warm shower, got to the post office, and found that the timing worked out so I was the only one there to be waited on, but by the time I left there was a line of seven people behind me. Great timing - yay universe! I made it to the clinic early, had a great treatment that helped clear out my lungs nicely, and even my nose is getting remarkably better this evening. I got to work fifteen minutes late, but still was able to start pretty much on time for my 12:30 appointment. Everyone got their tattoos, and I scheduled appointments for the rest of the week as well. I even managed to sign myself up for the moxibustion class this Saturday before work, and decided to draw the undrawn tattoo when I got home tonight, since I bumped that new project of Mike's to tomorrow afternoon to give myself more time.
And then I saw that I have absolutely no paper to use for the tattoo drawing at home! Oh no!!! (this is where I would usually panic and feel bad about myself and the world and mope and rant and call my client in defeat to bump back his appointment to another day or absurdly late tomorrow to make up for the lost drawing time.)
I was thrilled with myself because instead of freaking out, I just had an inner chuckle, wrote myself an email to remember to bring some paper home from work tomorrow, and enjoyed watching Thursday night TV with Derek instead of working all night. Because of how I scheduled tomorrow, I will still have at least a half hour to get the larger drawing done anyway (the small version I already had started, so I cleaned it up so it's ready to go). No need to go bananas.
I really do feel like I am losing a lot of obnoxious holding on as the phlegm leaves my body. Phlegm holds on too. Gross. But it's a nice parallel, and I am glad to be taking advantage of it. I like to picture whatever annoying thought is bothering me as some kind of color or shape and find where it is gripping to in my body so I can imagine it letting go or loosening up and floating out of my space.
One annoying thought I have been stuck with even though I knew I hated it was the one about people needing to choose the right people to spend their time and lives with. It was a thought that brought a lot of stress into my marriage, and I know bothers my brother as well. It even relates to friends and families, and if you think about things like the possibility of reincarnation and having chosen your parents and siblings and everything about your life, makes you get really anxious about every encounter you have ever had with anybody. What was its significance? Did you mess things up with these individuals? How do you make it right? Are you meant to be doing something you aren't doing? It goes on and on and as far as I can tell, the thought serves no constructive purpose. It just creates fear and dissonance and worry that no matter what you chose you chose wrong, but leaves you with this hope (that is actually pretty destructive) that you could tip everything over and choose better. It's full of judgment and by its nature suggests that you are missing out on happiness because of _____. Could be anything.
Well, I have finally recognized that it is this thought that is the biggest demon in my head. No matter what subject it casts its shadow onto, it makes me feel worried and upset. Are my friends too negative? Are my parents too neglectful? Is my husband "the one for me'? Is my job really what I was supposed to be doing with my life? What about painting? Why haven't I been on a podcast in a while? All of these thoughts are out and out garbage! If I let them get a hold, I just start to break down and doubt myself, who I am and what I am doing in life.
The truth is that the people we choose to be around are special, because we made them so when we chose them. The things we do with our time are worthwhile, because we made them so when we chose to do them. If I am upset about how things are going, that's OK - I can address that and change my approach to change the tide a bit. But being upset and spiraling into worry over whether or not my course was doomed from the launch is really debilitating and unnecessary. It leads to random and hurtful actions.
I think the truth is that actually, it doesn't matter one bit who or what we choose as long as we choose. There can be so much depth in a relationship (with our mates, with our work, with our friends, or parents, or hobbies) but only if we stop and reach into them. If we are busy worrying about what else is out there or what other people are choosing, we forget that we have a rare jewel in our hands. We could drop it, or break it, or just never realize how beautiful it is. And I think that all of the jewels are beautiful. But we can only really appreciate the one(s) we have if we acknowledge them and take some time to see them and feel them, and get to know them.
Every time I wonder what I would have been doing in some parallel life where X or Y went differently, I am wasting precious energy on a reality that is fake! It is only in my head, and isn't real. If I fantasize about a different career as a writer, or what if I stayed at SLU the full four years and studied abroad for a time, it is sapping energy away from where I actually am now. It saps away love for the really awesome space I am living in right now. It takes me away from this reality, where I am loved intensely by a truly delightful and thoughtful husband, cared for by my awesome and talented work crew, privileged to be learning so much through my studies of the mind and body and art. . . why would I want to escape this?
Yes, sometimes life is hard and I see that it is true that we will do just about anything to avoid pain, of any kind, in any small measure. It takes a lot of courage to face pain, face mistakes, and move forward anyway and embrace all of the good. I think my next post will be about good and bad and why it's unfortunate that we only want the good and pretty much always want to get rid of the bad. I think that's why we make up these elaborate stories of why things are the way they are but somehow we could choose better and end up only with good things. It's the most harmful belief we all have.
But now, I need to wind down and get some rest so I can have the energy to do the rest of the drawing tomorrow when I get to work. :P