In the Face of Opposition


Even though I was up early,
two kittens and a sleepy husband
started my day off with mayhem.
I wanted to sit first,
woke him up as I tried
to evict the cats from the room,
as he awoke he asked why I wanted to sit now–
he thought I should wait…
and this opened up a can of worms.
After five years of maintaining my daily practice,
I’m still wanting his support and understanding,
and he is still not giving it in the way I had hoped.
And this is part of my practice
and part of learning how to be in a marriage, I guess.
This is what I tell myself anyway.
At times like this I dream
of living in a community of like-minded practitioners,
but is this what will help me grow?
I must need to develop more conviction
because my husband is giving me an opportunity
to stand my ground and maintain my practice
even in the face of opposition.

A Nicer, Calmer Person


I woke up early today.
My husband answered Nature’s call
and the sounds of his nature woke me.
And so I found myself a little before 6
sitting, awake, ready.
I breathed, I was still,
it was the best sit in a while–
with no one to disturb me
and the world still quiet,
it was easier, simpler.
The morning went better, smoother.
I made breakfast, I sipped my coffee.
Things were calm.
No one accused me of any edginess
or misplaced frustration.
So I’m going to bed early tonight,
wanting to keep testing this hypothesis
that has been tested and proven
many times before
by many practitioners,
but which means nothing
if it hasn’t been directly experienced:
If I sit before everyone else is up,
then I will be a nicer, calmer, person.

Meditate First


Guilt and shame
Rage and frustration
Disappointment and impatience
Hopelessness and despair…
all before 9 am.
I should’ve awakened early
and meditated first.

It was my daughter’s first day of first grade.  My in-laws were preparing to leave.  The house was in chaos, and what I thought was an innocent request to help with the garbage was somehow interpreted as a tyrannical outburst which mortified and outraged my husband.

I think I need to develop the discipline to get up and meditate first before I speak to anyone–even when I’m tired and am seduced by the idea of meditating at some point mid-morning, after I’ve had my coffee and the number of humans in the house has been reduced to two.  When I sit first, I have a tendency to be more calm, more insightful, more patient, more aware, and this translates into better, smoother interactions with my family.

I’ve known this for a long time, but sometimes I flub up and can’t manage to get up before everyone else.  This is where I need to remind myself that I’m human, and sometimes life is messy.  I can offer myself a good dose of self-compassion and give myself a break for once.

I’ll try to wake up earlier tomorrow and see what happens.

Full Brain Function


This morning I read
80% of people don’t breathe deeply enough
to enable full functioning of their brains.
And I thought to myself,
I want my brain to function fully.
So I breathed a little more mindfully today.
What would happen if I enabled
full functioning of my brain?
How would I even measure this?
Anyway, I’ll try to remember to breathe more deeply
and more often,
and I’ll see if anything changes.
Who knows, maybe I’ll become a member
of the 20% who do breathe deeply enough
to enable full functioning of their brains.
Who are these people anyway?
Some secret society of deep breathing
big brained levitating mutants
with superpowers?
To be continued…

Trust the Darkness


For so long the darkness
was suppressed;
it was shameful, ugly,
a sign that something was wrong,
a sign that I had failed.
And I kept pushing the darkness down.
I had not seen how hopeless it was
to fight against the night like this,
as if my preference for the light
would lengthen the day,
as if the seasons would bow to my ignorance,
as if I could escape the cold
because I wanted warmth.
But every day the darkness returned,
and every winter I became cold again.
And how I tried to push the darkness down.
How could I have been so blind?
What was I afraid of seeing?
This hopeless struggle broke me one day,
as the darkness came crashing over me,
engulfing me, saying–
I will be denied no longer.
And so I curled up in a little ball,
turned in and faced the darkness.
I began to open to what it has come to teach me.
The dark mother’s arms parted and let me in.
I sat in her embrace and began to find healing.
I see now that the blessed darkness is a gift
to be welcomed, honored, appreciated.
More than a gift,
it is a necessity.
Like plants need rain to quench their thirst,
we need our fertile, mysterious darkness
to flow over us and through us,
nourishing our deepest selves,
providing a balanced, cyclical unfolding.
We need cooling rest,
respite from this crazy world
of fevered desires, bright lights,
non stop action-motion-commotion.
We need the time to go inwards,
to let ideas lie fallow,
to turn away from the noise of the world
and draw from the deep quiet source within.
If you find yourself going through some darkness,
do not push it down, and do not turn away.
Trust the darkness,
open to what it has come to teach you.
Trust the darkness.
The darkness is you.

Self Compassion Practice


A sense of compassion welling up
from within,
remembering I am not alone
in these human struggles.
A more gentle way of looking at myself,
allowing myself to be imperfect,
to make mistakes, to fail.
Being mindful in the midst of challenges,
recognizing when it hurts,
being kind to myself
when the emotions are difficult
and the suffering intense.
This self compassion
may not come naturally,
but it is a skill and it can be taught.
May I summon my courage
and keep practicing
for the benefit of all beings.

A Different Source


As my inner turmoil has intensified
I have found myself remembering
a glass of wine
or a mojito
or a margarita…
It has been years since I’ve had a drink.
I chose to stop
because I wanted to go deeper
and to be clearer…
but I remember
the soothing wave of inebriation,
the giddiness,
and I ask myself if I’m being too extreme,
too ascetic, too prudish, too goody-goody.
I know many people who would say
I should have a drink
when I’m feeling this way.
It’s just a glass of wine,
it’s good for you
they would say.
Just have a drink,
it won’t kill you,
it will help you relax.
But I’ve chosen clarity,
and this means to stand and face
whatever arises with my whole self,
my real self.
How can I see what needs to be seen
if I have filled my head with clouds?
It was a personal choice,
a commitment I made,
and I feel honor bound to uphold it.
A quieter voice says,
Don’t look back.
This is your chance.
Summon your courage,
You are where you need to be,
and these feelings are real.
They have something to tell you;
Being able to hear this voice
is a taste sweeter than the finest wine,
more refreshing than
than the most perfectly mixed mojito.
Sure, these drinks might taste good for a moment,
but the inner longing would remain;
and after their sweetness receded from my tongue,
I would be still more parched,
the way drinking from the ocean makes you even more
desperate to find pure, clear, sweet salvation.
And so I dip not my hand into these waters.
Now I quench my thirst from a different source.