Tidal Basin

Germination Detail Part III, by Leslie Shellow

contemplations about what stays in the net

Saturday, August 17, 2013

How Observing the Comings and Goings of Emotions can Lead us to Joy

Today, I stand in wonderment at the ephemera that are my emotions. I just learned of this word, having suspected its existence all along. It means "a person accommodated, a house guest." I add to this definition my own meaning: one who visits for a moment, just passing through, unable to be fully caught, like silk slipping through hands. I think of Rumi's poem, "The Guest House" (see below this post) and watch again and again my emotions knocking on my door, begging to be invited in, sitting for a while (and sometimes up-ending the furniture), and then leaving just as quickly as they came.

Today in my healing, I followed the contemplations of The Pilgrimage of Peace near Harper's Ferry, WV, led by Br.Stefan Andre Waligur. This is a beautiful three week rolling retreat  (come when you may, bring what you can, offer what's inside.) http://friendsofsilence.net/event/2013/08/09/fifth-annual-pilgrimage-peace

I am following the lessons on-line until I can be there in person next week. I am particularly drawn to a contemplation of the Beatudes. Here's a clip that captured me:

"Again, there is the movement through the beatitudes, which are each a gate of initiation. And this deep knowing and learning to know, is part of that journey through the gates. First: the gate of poverty, of inadequacy, of loss, of possessing nothing. Second: the gate of grief, of letting go. Third: the gate of releasing the anger and grief and being transformed to gentleness (notice, this is not a gate of meekness and wimpiness — it is a fierce gate, but a transformed one—the lion that chooses gentleness) 

I am moved by the third gate.I know how very hard it can be to release anger and grief and alchemize it into gentleness. For me, it is a choice to remain still when my instinct might be to lash out.The feeling in my body is one of melting. A sudden warmth that permeates breath, muscle, memory. A decision to sit with what is being offered. What am I learning in my stillness and willingness to sit in discomfort and watch the ephemera come and go and come again?

My last entry for me had a twinge of anger in it. Perhaps at the time I felt it was righteous anger. And I belive there is such a thing, but when I sat with my feelings and became still, I discovered grief instead. There was no right being wronged. My friends who had reached out despite their family obligations, were only trying to be helpful. That I feel an outsider here is true. That I try too hard to listen to others here and watch their lives unfold in the service of being supportive, yes. And there is an imbalance, because I don't talk about what scintillates my mind and my heart. I wonder what holds me back. But today, I found a way to tilt the balance so I wasn't falling off. Today, and this is a day with more physical pain than most, I turned my focus to my dreams. The question was, "How do you know when you are ready to help?" and my answer to myself was, "You feel alone because you are looking outside yourself for someone to talk about the topics you enjoy. Now, is the time to reengage those conversations inside. Now is the time to step beyond the idea of helping yourself through juicing and physical therapy and meditation, though all are necessary and good. Now is the time to write with one hand, to build a business, create a website, point your heart directly into the center of this luscious glowing pulsing energetic earth, pull the trigger, and shoot.

The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
    translation by Coleman Barks

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Following Joy

Last night, I decided to take this joy project to the juicer and chemically shift my internal hormone bath (which worked! Yay, endorphins!) Perhaps in no small part because I had chemically altered what I thought possible, I got an unexpected call from a dear friend of mine who was up on business. In the past, he has given me body work in exchange for writing mentorship. Out of our exchange has come a lovely relationship that continues to expand in new directions.

Today, we met for lunch and a walk. Note to self:  joy
                                                                                       from hope.

Why did I have hope, sitting with this man at our small table in a suburban shopping center? It was because we spoke of the things nearest to our hearts: relationships, the nature of intimacy, our individual writing, and our attempts to clarify the work we do in the world.

It was also because there was no judgement, one of the other. And the topics we discussed were ones that keep me so silent in the suburbs for fear of judgement, for fear I will not find an acknowledging nod.

My voice grew deeper and more assured . My skin softened because I stopped seeking to feel understood. A dolphin out of water is how I've felt here and that feeling has kept me in sadness and kept me from expressing the all of me and thereby healing. It isn't that I don't have people who care, I do. But this is the suburbs, and people live far from each other and exist in their family units, which fit better into other family units, puzzles with no pieces missing.

To feel ''normal," to feel accepted, to talk of the grandiosity of love and its complications and not feel that my less than conventional desires and visions are odd in any way, brings me joy.

My friend helped me brainstorm website ideas for my writing business. I helped him figure out a title for an article he is writing about sexual surrogacy. In weaving together strands of our experiences, we created new pathways. Doing so took heart and curiosity and a willingness to skirt the edges of the unknown and dive in when the temperature felt right.There was no map.

We hike voraciously through the woods, my arm in  a sling coming merrily for the ride without complaint. All the while, brainstorming, brainstorming.

This is where we are, my heart/body/mind/spirit. When we get angry, it is because something is not right for us. It's our way of getting my attention. I've been angry, I admit, perhaps for having listened to other people's stories and for not having shared my own truth. I take responsibility for not expressing myself, but each attempt felt like lifting a boulder and I see now that I've torn both my shoulders -- my lifting structure -- for having tried too hard. There are places I can be the self I enjoy being ~ Brooklyn, Cuba, Ocracoke Island.

There was a time after the first surgery and then after the second, that I worked to be okay with what was, in which I made the best of my circumstances and displayed a courageous and helpful face.

Sometimes, a repeat performance is not necessary, especially realizing gradually, like poison on a slow-drip, that having three surgeries was not necessary.

Sometimes, it's our anger that gets us out and back into love again.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Healing Diaries (AKA: The Joy Cure)

In the muted skin of morning, I knew I would cry that day. Cry for the surgeries that hadn't worked. Cry for the dreams I thought I'd lost. Cry for the lies that had been told to my body, the ones I had believed. Cry for those who told them and, bless their hearts, believed they were true. Cry for the beginning of my healing.

It is evening now and night holds the sounds of cicadas close to its heart. I am all cried out. I have drunk my green juice and decided that it is up to me to heal my body. I am on a threshold, before which I listened to experts in the medical field and some in alternative health modalities. I still want them on my team, just the right ones who aren't afraid of death and so bow in awe at the feet of life. I need them on my side. But more than anything, I need me on my side.

And so my directive from headquarters (me) is very clear: I must follow each day my joy, even if it's only found momentarily in the forgetting of pain. I will track the process by which I invite my mind to discover and dwell in things that make me happy and I will watch how that practice affects the healing of my right shoulder from its third rotator cuff surgery, as well as my left shoulder and my left hip, which have tears in the labrum. I will also watch what my beginner's mind initially does in this process and where it goes naturally and if those places bring light or sorrow or anger or relief or desperation or helplessness or hopelessness or joy. And I will continue practices and add new ones to see if I can influence my mood and therefore my healing.

Mind Over Medicine, by Dr. Lissa Rankin, has been an inspiration and I have already seen results in my first effort: having the third surgery in Brooklyn with a doctor highly recommended by a dear friend. Stay tuned for a brief explanation of The Brooklyn Experiment. I write slowly just with my left hand. I think that means my right brain is running the show.

If I don't document this, I'm afraid I'll forget the intuitive healing power of the mind.