Lessons from today’s meditation

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Today I had a pleasure of being taught meditation again in a Buddhist Monastery. I love the variety of monks that take sessions. Each one is very individual with unique personalities and I can’t help but smile most of the time I am there. There’s this sweet calmness about the place that is really relaxing. It also feels authentic rather than constructed or forced. It is there naturally. Simplistic and clean environment is so inviting and conducive to a practice of meditation.

Today’s lesson was to be curious, wonder about your mind and allow it to be whatever it wants to be. Another aspect is to recognise it as a part of you, hence being self-loving means not judging your own thoughts but let them be. Everything is impermanent. Thoughts come and go and we don’t need to attach ourselves to any of them. We are observing and being curious about our mind’s nature.

I really understood this today and it opened my eyes to a possibility of actually being able to implement this into my practice and my life on a wider scale. I do think Buddhist meditation is a very intelligent system at regulating our thoughts and emotional responses. I am curious to know more on outside and within. Today was all about getting to know our minds through being inwardly aware.

What I observed was that my mind is often very obliging. One might say it is trying too hard and there’s a lot of energy spent, often unnecessary, on creating thought patterns that are not needed. It also gets confused by its own ‘trying hard’ and runs away with it, so to speak. It felt amazing to be able to obtain that information through meditation.

I also observed that I do well in meditation and succeed in calming my mind when focusing on an object (It was caramel cake today. No idea why) or a word (again it was cake) and repeating it over and over. Image and word today were spontaneous, but I imagine it can also easily be chosen specifically for a meditation. I also realised that I do best with guidance rather than on my own, i.e. guiding meditations help me.

I am yet to master the right posture and position when meditating. I am too uncomfortable but when I am not focusing on my legs or engage with thinning about how uncomfortable it feels I am able to sit still and be calm. That is a good demonstration of how it IS possible not to get attached to a thought that a mind is trying to focus on and as a result to remain calm.

I also noticed quite clearly how my mind naturally wants to grab onto negative thoughts rather than positive. That was great to realise and I feel I might sort of understand a way of changing that too going forward with a lot more practice. It does explain my nature very well and wanting to attach to something positive naturally is going to take some time. Once I try that the aim is not to attach to any forms of thought and simply remain in curious observation.

I am thrilled to be able to continue with my learning in such a beautiful and peaceful place.

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When they’ve seen your darkness…

When he’s seen your darkness and he still held you tight in his arms

When screams and tears tore at his soul yet he stood tall with his shoulder over your trembling body and his voice contained

When words of pain penetrated his being, but he received it with gentle calmness

One knew they were ok, they were allowed and they were held…

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Addiction is a way of holding on

autumn and addiction

We are in autumn, a season perfectly aligned with the energies of taking stock, harvesting our gifts, desires, throwing away what is no longer needed and releasing through letting things go. It is reflected through trees unrobing their delicate bodies off foliage and exposing to the elements for better or for worse. It is a state of surrender and an act of acceptance in nature that always touches me deeply. What a perfect example of vulnerability and strength – a combination I admire so much.

Addiction, as a condition, is a way of holding on, keeping ourselves safe and hidden, partaking in activities that fill the void we feel inside, but scared to expose. It is a safe place and a defensive position against overwhelming feelings, life, connection to ourselves and others. It is an escape into seemingly blissful abyss, yet temporary. The pay-off is often high for that hiding that we adapt as a way to survive, a way to cope with what otherwise would feel unbearable. The price we pay for this way of trying to keep ourselves safe is always high and we pay with our bodies, minds and lives. Recovery requires tremendous courage. It asks us to wake up not just to becoming aware of our patterns of behaviour, but to our wounds that we are protecting with an addiction of our choice.

When is that time to wake up?

This year’s signature, as a goal for our growth, includes facing and dealing with our addictions. The year began with a clear sense that old ways no longer work. Our comfort zone is no longer comfortable, things don’t fit as they used to and patterns that we adopted started to show cracks in how we executed them. On one hand, one could panic and despair and begin searching for new replacements. On the other hand, it felt like an opportunity, a ‘no choice, but’ to start thinking of a potential change. What would that look like and feel like? The year progressed with addictions’ patterns and behaviour manifesting not just within us, but around us through people we care about, our loved ones. It began to open old wounds. Those behaviours that we had been in denial of in ourselves and others came in and slapped many into a full view of not just how ugly and unconscious it had become, but a fear of a potential outcome also hit hard.

Now, as autumn is at our door, I feel there is a chance to look at it again and become curious and open to the opportunity of release. I find vibrations of early autumn is similar to those in early spring, as with the new planting there is hope for potential, with dropping the old there is also a potential for something new coming. Purification (another signature for this year) is deeper in autumn though, because as we throw off our protective layers, surrender to the elements in our own way we are challenged to go through the ‘cold’ of winter and the bare state of the earth. We are challenged to withstand hardships to come out stronger on the other side.

Addiction recovery is no easy matter and very often a life-long process. What we are faced with this season is an opportunity to begin and this year’s signature for dropping the old, as something that no longer works. To give an example of that manifestation I would like to use the body. With addiction often it is the body that would have taken on years of abuse. The sign that addiction is, perhaps, has gone into dangerous territory and it is time to wake up would be body not coping with it, e.g. with smoking lungs become affected in a way of developing severe difficulties with breathing and your cough becoming chronic with discharge. The body begins to bark at us literary to stop. With food addiction a point to wake up would be when there is a degree of awareness that one can no longer ‘eat themselves better’, as the body has grown so much in size it is no longer functioning. We become hidden under flesh so much we no longer feel in touch with ourselves. We might as well be dead.

I feel deeply saddened writing about this, but I feel it is necessary to make that call to be brave, to be present and conscious and I understand that it is no easy task to ‘stand in the cold of winter with no clothes on’, just as we no longer rely on drugs or food for comfort. Exposing, painful and a lonely place to be, yet one must not forget that there is a fire that burns within each of us. That fire is called spirit. We are stronger than we think most of the time and trying to save yourself is an honourable task. Loving ourselves the way that we are, broken, is an act of heroism and immense growth. Imagine if you can do this, you can do anything. Imagine the potential life you can have if only we decide to stop hiding, escaping and facing that wintery wind with your bare skin, vulnerable yet so heroic.

What lies on the other side is freedom and it is always worth fighting for.

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Autumn’s breath

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Air fills with chilling promise of glorious explosion of moist spider webs in the morning and vibrant colours of the land. Its breath is fresh, slightly biting to the skin, similar to that in early spring, the time my soul also adores. Autumn is an Earth element season for me. It is the time when I feel profoundly grateful for all the bounty and abundance the earth provided us with. Its delicious produce carries a reminiscent flavour of hot summer days, in which fruit, berries and vegetables busked in ripening to their fullest. It reminds me that we sowed and we reaped, we sorted through the waste and abundance and took stock of what we are to carry forward with us into the darker part of the year. I feel autumn is the beginning of an introspection journey, incubation and cooking in the cauldron of psychic material and shadow work. I look forward to darkness, to me it is comforting. Cold air is not just refreshing to my senses it puts me in touch with my body and how freely and much more easily it can breathe with less sun.

I begin to burn oils carrying scents of cinnamon, frankincense and orange. It is woody, smoky and rich scents that take my preference at this time of the year. Candles are lit more frequently and my time at my altar increases, as my enthusiasm for life returns to my soul and body.