Sunday, January 24, 2010


I went looking for answers
in the boxes
in the back corner of the basement

the ones we moved from apartment
to apartment
from house to house
without ever opening

I wanted to know
how did we get here?
how did it happen?
did you love me then?
did you want me for the next 30 years?
was it inevitable --
the walk down the path
that had been mapped out for us
or did we cut through the weeds and the brush
burrs clinging to our clothing
tangled in our hair
as we tried to reach some distant point
where something red flashed in the sun?

all I found were mouse nests,
our history chewed and chopped
into downy pieces
soft piles
of comfort.

Friday, January 22, 2010

you become buddha by doing zazen

Same with Buddhist practice. You become a Buddha by doing zazen. The moment you take the position, you are a Buddha. No need to compel yourself or those around you into transforming into whatever confused ideals you have about what Buddhists ought to be.

This compulsion to change others and ourselves into our ideals is a significant problem, and one that I don’t believe gets very much attention. It’s the outward manifestation of a very deep misunderstanding of Buddhism that actually drives a lot of what passes for Buddhism these days.

If you’re going to say you accept everything, then, dammit, accept every-fucking-thing. Not just those things you find acceptable.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of things that truly need to be changed. But the things that really, seriously need changing are usually pretty obvious.
Brad Warner

Buddhism isn’t about a retreat from reality into a kinder gentler world created in your own mind. It’s about making this world a better place by seeing it for what it is and doing what you truly need to do.


so ....
my throat's tight. all of muscles are tensed, like I'm waiting to be hit. and everything's pulled in to the center to protect my heart. my eyes are wide and wary. my face is as stone-like as I can make it, smooth and unsaying. I have to think about breathing, and it's deep but it stops and waits. mentally, it feels like it takes all of my focus to keep breathing.
it is unpleasant. it has been for most of the day, ebbing and flowing, but coming back.
what do I do with it? sit with it? accept it? meet it with compassion?
my box of unskillful tools has razor blades and jameson and isolation.
my bag of skillful ones is empty.

so ....

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I saw my first therapist when I was 16 after I cut my wrists. I connected really strongly tonight during meditation with the memory of sitting in his office. he wanted me to talk, of course, and I wanted him to read my journal because I didn't know how to talk. he asked me to read my journal out loud, and I couldn't do it. I just could not voice my feelings.

so the physical reaction I have now to this memory is that there's a tightness in the back of my throat and a tightness in my forehead (I thin I'm scrunching my face up), and I rock slightly back and forth.

I don't what the feeling tone is, though. it's not positive, because it hurts. but it's not really negative because I don't want it to go away. so is it neutral?

what I do is fiercely love my 16-year-old self, and hug her and tell her it's OK now and take the rusty razor blade out of her hand. I don't think anybody hugged me or touched me a the time. I don't even think we talked about it after I started therapy, where I couldn't talk about it.

I think I need to spend some more time loving this girl.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I really don't know how to assess physical sensations.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

sitting outside the door


metaphorically running

noticing all the ways I run away from my body ... well, probably not all.

woke up this morning with a headache and congestion and all the sinusy nastiness that goes along with a cold, and immediately wanted to disassociate from it, to put it on someone else. somehow the mind is not on board with exploring the sinus headache and ringing ears and general physical misery of this cold. the mind is going no, get up, get out, go to the gym, work through it, it will go away if you ignore it. ha.

tried to enjoy just lying in a warm bed but mind took off running ... gotta write this down, gotta send an e-mail, really have to clean the bathroom ...

awareness smiled.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

random thoughts about my body

random thoughts that have come up about my body since our conversation, or that I've had lately but had not previously connected:

-- I'm relatively strong (which is to say, for a woman my age). I can bench-press 60 pounds, and my muscles have definition.

-- my BMI is 19.6 and my body fat is under 18 percent, but I think I'm fat.

-- I have a high tolerance for pain, except for stomach cramps.

-- I need to have my left knee replaced at some point because the joint is fucked as the result of previous surgery, but I'm waiting until the pain is intolerable. the thing is, I don't know what intolerable pain is. it's always swollen, and sometimes it doesn't work right, but that's just what is. basically my approach to physical pain is to ignore it and keep going.

-- the two places where I can't ignore the pain sometimes are my left knee and right hip. my left knee, which is the fucked one, has places with no cartilage. if I make my leg be perfectly straight and engage the muscle on the inside of the front of my thigh, it pulls it over the place where there's no cartilage, which is sufficiently painful to stop me right there. it stops, though, when I relax that muscle. I have chronic tendonitis in my right hip and it affects the tendons that run from the hip/lower back to the knee. I can't sit in a chair for more than an hour without it becoming really painful. at work, I get up a lot and get water, pick up things off the printer, walk to talk to people. it's better if I move. meditation posture is actually more comfortable than sitting in a chair. it's the 90-degree angle that's problematic.

-- I take five prescription drugs a day and have one that I take twice a week and one that's once a week, along with five non-prescription ones. my 80-year-old mother takes two prescriptions.

-- I wore clothes a size too big until I was in my 20s. my mother disapproved of tight clothing or anything even moderately revealing, so she always got my clothes too big. I didn't realize that until my mother-in-law, who was a fashion designer, made me a dress to wear to a family wedding that actually fit. I remember the amazement of looking in the mirror as I tried on the dress and having her explain objectively the good things about my body.

-- I don't like being touched, especially by strangers. therefore, massage is not high on my list of good things. my yoga teacher occasionally makes us do partner things. not so much since I complained and broke down into a shaking sobbing mess.

-- sex, as you might guess, is ... interesting. there's a moment of nonononono, then it's OK, then I'm making grocery lists.

-- I think body issues tie in to the two compulsions that bother me most: cutting myself and buying too many clothes. the connection with cutting is pretty obvious, I suppose -- it's a way of getting back into my body or physically manifesting the emotional pain. The clothes thing is probably pretty obvious too -- they cover up my body.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

craving and aversion all in one


a weekend without panic is like ...

oh, I don't know ... a blue moon.
and really, I'm teasing the fates with that title because it's only sunday morning. it's more like a saturday without panic, which is the real achievement.
and really, it's not a saturday without panic. it's just a saturday without getting swept away by panic. but that's the achievement.
so ... notice the panic arriving. that's best done by noticing a tightness in my throat, spreading to my shoulders, and a desire to run. literally run. or jump up and down. or throw things. trying to talk myself out of it or hold it down leads to wanting to cut myself or start drinking. it's a full-body tightness where all of my energy is focused on holding myself in place, and I can't tolerate being touched or distracted because that redirects the focus and I just want to scream.
but what I did this time was notice the panic pretty early on when it was just a tightness in my throat and a restlessness in my mind. oh, it's panic, I said to myself. I am aware of it. I am not it. so I can watch it and see what happens.
the panic is a 2-year-old, overtired and maybe on a sugar high, more energy than he knows what to do with. he needs to go somewhere and run it off.
the panic is a 2-year-old at a playground, and the awareness is a compassionate stranger who sees that the panic is on the edge of being out of control and keeps a nonjudgmental, kind watch to make sure the panic doesn't get hurt with all of his running around and climbing on monkey bars or slides (it's an old-school playground with dangerous equipment). the awareness is not responsible for the panic, not a mother or babysitter or other person who is worried about how the panic's behavior reflects on her, but just a woman on a bench watching the children, and the panic in particular.
and if the panic gets hurt, she'll be there and talk to him and apply the band-aid of living-kindness and do whatever is needed to make it better.
which made it better.
next up ... what brings the panic out to play?