Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Two Wolves

Bit by bit, I seem to be opening my eyes to reality.  I recently had a deepening understanding of the truth that what we focus on increases and gains more importance.  Over the last year I have been intent on discovering and embracing the darker aspects of myself.  No longer ignoring them or banishing them, but learning to embrace them as a part of me and accepting them.

In this process, I have been very willing to admit all my faults.  I am selfish, capricious, fickle, lazy, I have a short attention span, I want to be comfortable and adored and loved all the time despite my own actions, I limit my vision of the future to avoid seeing what I don't want to see, I have a hard time saying no. . . there is plenty about me that is less than desirable.

In each instance that these aspects of myself came up, I would acknowledge it.  I would even try to like that part of myself, or revel in being that person for the moment, in an attempt to accept it more and reduce conflict in my heart.  I would try to be mean or sneaky or lazy with a will instead of unconsciously being that thing I dislike.  In many ways, this has opened me up to more of who and what I am.  However, I now understand that the more I indulge these aspects the deeper they become.  No longer a part of myself that I avoid, they could become parts I enhance, and I don't really want to do that.

I have a bit more of an understanding about the two wolves battling in one's heart, as the metaphor goes.  The one you feed is the one that wins.  At first I was just wanting to know what the dark wolf was, what it wanted, how it worked.  And it was good to learn more about her, because she is a part of me that will run my life from a subversive and unconscious place if I ignore her.  I don't always understand why she wants to leap into the hurtful things, but I get the sense that she is the part of me that wants to experience everything, whether it hurts me or not, whether it hurts others or not.  She wants this simply to be alive, to have all of the experiences, to vibrantly suffer and cause suffering, to willfully and joyfully enjoy earthly delights.  There is some beauty in it, I can't deny that.  Her gift is to balance the light wolf, who dwells in the theoretical and ethereal, honorable and virtuous but apart from the guts and gore that is corporeal life.  The light wolf loves from a place of grandeur and morals, logical, sweet and calm.

To focus only on the dark wolf led me to spiral a bit into self-pity, wondering why doing what I seemed to want to do caused pain.  Allowing every whim to surface and be followed through on got a bit chaotic.  To make sense of it, the mind tried to impart meanings where there were none; make up stories to fill in gaps and create histories that were false.  Deciding that I WAS the dark wolf - selfish, seductive, crafty, epicurean, lazy - framed all of my thoughts and actions for the time.  But I am more than that.  I am also the light wolf - brilliant, creative, generous, thoughtful, industrious.

I suppose the union of the two wolves is the best idea, instead of starving one and bloating the other, then switching which one gets to be fed.  Balance is important.  In remembering that I am not only darkness but also light, my entire being is returning to a state of peace.  I feel closer to being ME, and not just aspects of myself.  Isn't it interesting that we need to swing the pendulum far out in both directions in order to remember that we don't have to be fully on one side all the time?

This weekend has been one of rest and rejuvenation.  I am really happy to remember that I am allowed to simply BE, even if I only remember it for a little while.  Baths, candles, fresh food, music, friends.  Life is good.  :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How Does One Begin a Meditation Practice?

I've been noticing that it is a lot easier for me to meditate when I picture something happening.  I have to follow the breath and picture it like an ocean tide, in and out, in order to stay with it for any length of time.  If I am just being still and "blank" too many thoughts come in and I don't notice very well that I am thinking until I am bored of sitting still and wander off.  When picturing waves or following the feeling of warmth from the in-breath into my belly and out again, I can calm down and notice extraneous thoughts a lot easier.

I actually like meditating when it calms me.  I know that this isn't the point of it so much - the point is just to do it and notice what you are thinking or feeling.  But I like it a lot more when the thoughts finally slow down and stop slamming into my consciousness with force.  For me, it is a lot more successful when I don't have anything else to be doing, or feel like I could/should be doing.  Far from being a priority, I relegate the stillness to a back burner.  I should be reading, or drawing, or cleaning, or catching up on emails.  I should be out for a walk, or cooking, or spending time with Derek since there is so little time for that.  It feels selfish to schedule a time for meditation during the hours that Derek is home with me.  And yet I don't find myself doing meditation in the mornings, because I spend those hours waking up, washing, last-minute work drawing or emailing, and sometimes wanting to relax and read or play a game or play with the cat.

Does anyone I know have a successful meditation practice?  How do they establish it and make it a welcomed part of their day instead of constantly shoving it to "another time" because sitting around watching TV seems more convenient.  Is meditation even supposed to be convenient?

I see that I do get a lot out of the practice, when I do it, and I can see how with regular practice I could be a lot more chilled out and more present.  I would like to do that for myself.  How to start making it a habit?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Things I am Happy About

My car runs awesome and gets me places.
It's getting ever warmer, and only rain is in the forseeable forecast, not ice and snow!
I'm making green beans and mushrooms for dinner.  Yum.  :)
Work is getting more fun, and our guest artist Loic is very funny.  It's nice to meet someone who gets along well with everyone at the studio so quickly.  I hope he visits CT more often!
Even though I burned my tongue on my tea this afternoon, my tastebuds are regenerating speedily.  I am a healing machine.  Yeah!
My bed is comfy and has my husband in it to snuggle with.
Derek bought me a very pretty old clock at the auction last week and I find it calming to listen to.
I ate a yummy burrito this afternoon, and the green beans and mushrooms just now were delightful.
The ice near my car in the driveway is almost gone.
The satin soap I rediscovered is doing wonderful things for my skin.
I have almost all of my drawings for work completed.  Only two more to go.
I get to paint tomorrow night and teach people about oil paint.
I get to do a tattoo of wolves tomorrow!
I may start brainstorming a crow tattoo for myself soon as well.
I am making new friends and feeling loved.
Money is flowing to me and I am feeling generous and glad.
The credit card bill is shrinking and I am reducing it quickly.
People are interested in Jordu's class and more will sign up soon.
I am getting more sleep and it is improving my energy level.  Last night I wasn't nearly as warm as I was the night before.  I am getting healthier!

Time to meditate and go to bed.  And read.  I am feeling fairly lively.  Probably because I just finished eating dinner.  Yum.  Food really is a joy.  Thank you, food!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Things I am Happy About

It's sunny and warm out!
Had a wonderful date with my husband yesterday.
We have lots of yummy real food in the fridge, so I don't have to eat canned soup today.
Work was busy last week and we're making money!
I have a cat purring on my lap.
I have lots of books to read and have been reading every day, which I like.
I have a chiropractic appointment and massage this evening - yay!
I had a student I don't know sign up for my painting class, which is really cool.
I got to sleep in for two days, and feel a lot better having rested.
Our plants are doing well and getting bigger as the sun is out longer.
The snow is melting, finally.
We have lots of pretty blue jays coming to the bird feeder each day.
I have been seeing animals out and about every day, which makes me smile.
Derek has been helping me with cleaning the house a lot more since I started cleaning a lot more.  It's a good cycle.
Friends have been stopping by to say hello and hang out with me more frequently.  I feel loved and appreciated - yay!
Derek went out with the guys last night!
I am feeling more secure that work is taking care of me and itself, which is a great feeling.
I get to have a nice hot shower in a moment.
We bought some lovely soap from Lush! that I look forward to using.
I love the scent of the hand soap we have in the bathroom. (raspberry vanilla)
My breakfast cereal was very satisfying.
We will get money back from our taxes.  Yay!
A friend posted a recipe for thai iced tea and I can't wait to make it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Just Want Something Already!

My husband brought up an interesting observation about me this afternoon, and I am thinking about what it means for me.  He observed that I seem to be unable to ever give a definitive answer about what I want or would like.  I often agree that something would be nice, but almost never do I actually say I want something or firmly commit to anything.  Ah, more truth.

This inability to deeply feel wanting of anything is something I think I have cultivated in myself, but that I don't believe is serving me all that well.  In my head, not wanting much was a good thing, a sign of not being attached to worldly possessions or circumstances.  But as much as that seems like a great trait to have, it leads me to a lot of misery and confusion.  In trying not to get too attached to anything or anyone, I end up mucking up a lot of things, and can see how it leads to a lack of follow-through with projects, since they cease to matter much to me after a while with that attitude.

Also tied in with this to an extent is the desire to make everyone else happy above myself.  Since I don't seem to care what I am doing or have, I go out of my way to help others have what I think they want.  But actually, this is likely subconsciously self-serving, me trying to get what I want without me knowing what it is I want.  Hmm.

What's interesting is that as soon as I pick something I actually want, it usually pops up and happens fairly quickly.  Perhaps it would be best to be a lot more clear on wants, and stop judging them all as bad.  It is not bad to want money, to want a home close to work, to want vacations with my husband and a nicer wardrobe.  It's only that I judge wanting those things as petty.  I think I should want "bigger" things, like peace and transcendence and unconditional love for all.  Perhaps if I would relax and do and get what I want, those bigger things would happen all on their own.

I only sabotage myself by starting to become materially sound and then putting on the brakes and thinking about how it can't last, or it isn't worth continuing to focus on.  The same is true for my relationships with Derek and friends and family - I start to become close and then fear that I could become too dependent on these other people, so I pull away and find excuses to withdraw.  The irony is that I am already dependent on everyone, and they on me, too.  Isolating myself or impeding my progress is hurting all of us, not just myself.

This blog is becoming a bit heavy with these darker self-realizations.  I suppose I am writing about them to get them out of my head and to remember I had them.  But, there are also many bright realizations and happinesses occurring right now.  Next blog post will be about all of the many things I have to be thankful for! 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Storms of Spring

There was a thunder storm last night - so wonderful!  For me, the thunder signals the advance of Spring, and for me the Spring can't come soon enough this year.  It's been cold and icy and snowy for months.  Far more snow than we usually get, with over 3 feet on the ground here and the pile around the driveway closer to 5 1/2 feet for much of January.  I am glad to see it melting today and looking forward to clearer roads and the ability to get to work again on a regular basis.

I love the refreshing quality of rain, and especially thunder storms.  The lightening and thunder are energizing, and make the air feel cleaner and more free somehow.  Like any stuff caught in the ethers gets dissolved, making space for brighter and lighter thoughts.  And the clap of the thunder and rolling grumbles of it seem to respond to everyone and everything, like if you reach out in thought to it, it answers.  A conversation with the sky, a connection to the vastness of creation as the light and sound move, and the rain falls to wash everything with its cleansing touch.

Today is a day of getting the boring legwork done on projects - converting files so I can pick which references to use for the acupuncture charts, getting the Bouguereau master copy with tattoos sealed up and ready to frame, mounting the next painting so I can start on it tomorrow, and updating the newsletter email list.  Stacey's birthday party is tonight, and I am looking forward to that, too.  And reading!  All is well with the world.

I welcome the onset of warmer times with open arms and a hopeful heart.  May this month be full of exciting tattoos, great friends, yummy food, and outdoor fresh air.  Let's pay down a lot of debt, make strides to be even more well-known as a studio, and get started on the house projects that will make this house sellable in the Summer.  Once the snow is gone, I'd like to get our deck redone and the addition re-drywalled.  It's all going to come together in a happy way.

Time to get those paintings ready!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lightening Up

This morning was the first day I have woken up really happy in a while.  It was awesome!  I actually wiggled my toes and thought, "I love me!"  I would like to wake up every morning like that.  :)

Work is sorting itself out.  Lots going on, but flowing nicely.  I am letting go of being angry every time I get snowed out.  My road stresses me greatly, as it's become a narrow, lumpy sheet of ice with shelves of ice along the edges that are high and uneven.  But, it is raining today and warmish tomorrow, so perhaps the jagged lumps will diminish and become drivable again soon.

Two days ago on my way into work I was stressing on the road adjacent to ours, heading to the highway.  I was going slow, about 20mph, when 5 deer frolicked across the road with glee.  I say they were happy because there was much neck-tossing and a jubilant air about them as they leaped across the road.  I fortunately saw them heading through the woods and was already decelerating and braking well before they reached it.  Good thing, too, as I fishtailed and came to a stop much later than I would have hoped, even being prepared for that.  The sixth deer was going the other way, into the woods instead of heading to the field.  I am glad I saw them, but it does make me feel justified in avoiding the roads on icy conditions even more.  If I can't stop well at 20mph, how can anyone expect to at 30 or 40, which is what everyone else seems to travel at on my roads?

Even so, I am feeling happy and glad today.  We got half of the acupuncture chart model shoot done.  I had expected both models to show up but one couldn't make it last minute.  And even that isn't bothering me much.  I have plenty to work on for now, and am glad.

Things that I have been doing lately that seem to help with my mood and general level of happiness:  I am reading more and taking time to do so.  I have read almost a book a week for two weeks now.  I like it a lot!  I am remembering to be thankful for the good things I do have and am making a big deal of it to myself whenever I can remember to.  And I am working on my own art a bit more as well. 

Things that are good that are coming out of this shift:  I am calmer, with the reading, than I am with more tv or games.  That is nice.  I am seeing where I have fallen out of being a good leader at work, and am starting to think of ways to shift my role back into a good space.  I want to tattoo more and get more done there.  I am happy to have people to lean on, but want them to be able to lean on me.  Otherwise I am just a boss and not a leader or any kind of good example at all.  While it's not fun to see where I haven't been living up to my standards, it is leading to growth.  And, I am seeing more of ways I can be more involved in my personal life as well.  It's like waking up to being an adult for the first time in my life and starting to understand more of what that means.  It is not what I think it meant five or ten years ago.  It will probably change a lot over time.  But I am seeing what is good for now, and what hasn't been serving.  It's good to recognize.

I've been making a large effort to reincorporate God into my life.  I don't really like that word, but maybe more of allowing creation and the vastness of what is to become more personal and involved in my life.  Sharing grief and happiness, asking for what I want more and starting to listen to the voice within that responds to these questions and requests more than I have in the past.  I don't want to only reach out to myself/the divine when I am in a state of duress anymore.  I'd rather have it be more fun and creative.  And so it is becoming so, and synchronicities are beginning to surface more often, like they did in my childhood.  It is a more peaceful and exciting way to be.

Anyway, I'm glad to finally post something uplifting for myself.  All of these troubles are starting to break up.  Ahhh.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Peeling an Onion

As humans, we seem to have a hard time changing our minds about anything.  I'm not talking about changing our mind about dinner, or a pair of shoes.  It's the beliefs we have about how our lives work that we have a hard time adjusting.

Perhaps it is because by the time we think to question our assumptions and really look at them, they have already served us for decades.  I don't know many teenagers who wonder if their ideas about life are correct or not - they are too busy living and trying everything out for the first time.  Those in their twenties are pushing to establish who they are.  And in our thirties, as I am, I find we are all questioning how we got here as well as still trying to figure out who we are.

It is difficult to see our beliefs when we are in them.  We can feel and sense where some of our conclusions are off, or aren't serving us anymore.  But trying to pinpoint them can be so elusive and frustrating.  Often we just end up seeing the edge or result of a belief and not the belief itself.  Like peeling an onion, layers upon layers of patterns emerge.  It is amazing to start to see how much of our life just builds on the last layer, whether or not that layer was injured or diseased or cancerous.

To truly break a cycle of behavior, thought and emotion, we have to leave the old pattern behind.  We can only do that if we can identify and replace the seed of all of the previous layers.  I think that when we do that, the changes can be instantaneous and lasting.  It has to be a fundamental shift, like an evolutionary leap.  Otherwise, the changes are just surface adjustments, once again.

Perhaps this is why religion holds such fascination for humanity.  All religions speak of leaps of divine grace and intervention, where in an instant, those seeking relief or enlightenment just suddenly wake up and become the Buddha, become a saint, or reach a level of bliss that the rest of us ordinary folks can only dream about.  Is it their faith that delivers them, allowing for their brains to be rewired, their memories rewritten to be compassionately remembered?  Or is faith simply a word we have for perfect allowing for a change to be made?  Allowance of a different way of thinking, feeling and believing, without doubt and without worry or fear of slipping backwards again.

We all want to be peaceful, to accept our faults and gifts, to love and be loved, to make a difference in our world.  How do we let go of our fears and simply exist, free to be as we are, loving and breathing and creating together with all that is around us?  I'll let you know when I figure it out.  We could all use an instant of divine grace and transformation.