Friday, October 30, 2009

Little helps

Mother Teresa supposedly said, "We can do no great things, only small things with great love." Of course, she proved herself wrong, but she could not imagine what an example she would set for the rest of us.

Then there is the example of Jesus. "Be perfect, just as my heavenly Father [and I] is[/are] perfect." Yes, that's in the Bible, with my brackets added. Jesus exhausted himself trying to minister to people. Hardly got any sleep, didn't eat much, got up at all hours to pray, and the like. He even got a little gripey a few times, no doubt due to his human body just not being able to handle the strain. And the result? Died a martyr at about 33 years of age, after an anguished, sleepless night and just three years of ministry. Thanks a lot, Jesus! You are a really hard act to follow.

Although, in terms of ratio of lifespan spent in ministry, his was about 1/11 -- one year of every 11 lived. The rest of time he was growing in wisdom and knowledge.

Then there is the Buddha. I was reading an interesting history of Buddhism online (actually, I ran across it while I was blogging here and trying to rapidly, painlessly decrease my ignorance level of Buddhism). It said that when the Buddha became enlightened, he thought to himself, these things I have learned cannot possibly be expressed in words, and no one will understand, even if I tried to explain. I think he was exactly right! So he decided to spend the rest of his life sitting under a tree in his perfectly enlightened state.

And I guess it would have all ended there, except that some Hindu god beamed down and told the Buddha he had to teach others what he had learned.So the Buddha attempted to do so. His first attempt was to tell another person who was also working on enlightenment that he, Buddha, was now perfectly enlightened. While this was a true statement, it did not go over so well with the not-quite-enlightened one, who had noticed that the Buddha had not been toeing the line of complete self-denial just prior to the time when he went off and got enlightened. So perfect truth, while true, is not always wise. I guess.

But I guess the Buddha got better with getting his message out, and does have several million followers. Nothing like Christianity, mind you, but he didn't have anything like the Great Commission in his message (go out and make disciples of all nations ...).

So, who should I emulate? I really feel more like sitting under that tree than going out and ministering to a bunch of difficult people with all their problems. I don't literally want to sit under a tree -- I'm not that enlightened! -- but I would like to live my life and not have to worry too much about how everyone else is doing.

What I intended to say in today's post is that there are small ways to help that are still meaningful. Since most of us do worry, at least a little, about the suffering of other people and our world.

Maybe one of the very best small ways to help is to act in a loving manner toward others, as often as possible ... always, if that is possible. And remember: All things are possible with God. Love everything that has breath, and everything that lives, and everything else.

Since I have a major concern about the condition of the world, I help recycle at the two places where I work. I have recycled a whole lot of paper that would have gone into the dumpster in a rural town where there is no recycling. I also recycle the paper at my other workplace. We also recycle in our house, though we have not been able to give up on paper products, just reduce the amount that we depend on them.

I carpool as much as possible. Perhaps I've mentioned before, it seems like it, that I take shorter and colder showers than ever before in my life. Though the "cold" part is relative, now that we've had a few cold fronts come through and chill us down below 70 degrees here in South Texas! Turn off the faucet while washing hands. Use reusable grocery bags, yadda yadda yadda. Really basic lifestyle changes like that can save thousands of gallons of water, or lots of plastic. The effect would become exponential if everyone did it. These types of things are so easy.

I think that service like this is more helpful than being on a thousand church committees could ever be, though there are people who love that kind of service. Which is why I refused to be the next Finance Committee chair at church. I'm not cut out to go to a bunch of meetings. Ha! The power of saying no! I finally discovered how wonderful it is to decide for myself how to use my gifts.

And my wonderful sis, who knows me well, pointed out that it's very important to be compassionate at home, with family and self, rather than just worrying about people in Third-World or war-ravaged countries. And, may I add, it's much harder. The people I live with can be so much more irritating and undeserving of compassion -- and ungrateful! -- than starving orphans I've never met.

I think many people feel overwhelmed, like their life is hard enough, and they don't feel like they can add on a lot of service to others. But what is so overwhelming? I think, in many cases, it is overscheduling and being too focused on little details of daily life that, in the big scheme of things, don't matter. Buddhists claim that nothing much matters. Even death is not dying, but transition. Suffering isn't what we think, either. It is largely (though not entirely) self-created. I think it's just a hazard of being trapped in a human body. Hey, Christians also believe that dying is not the end. Or at least, they claim to, until they or a loved one are personally involved in dying.

The important question is, what does matter? And then, why don't I focus my attention and energy on that? The answer is different for everyone, I believe.

Let me try to describe a small moment of revelation I had when I was a lot younger. I was lying on my back, looking up at the sky. Now, this is such a cool way to view the world that I would recommend it to anyone, including the Buddha. The sky is the closest thing to infinity we have here, and it is jaw-dropping gorgeous when you just look at it. And clouds are the most wonderful, ever-changing art palette. Their colors, and shades of light and dark, are infinitely varied.

I must have been a teenager at this time. I remember there was a lot of turmoil in my life, or so it seemed. (Hormones.) I remember being angry at God all the time, back then. I never stopped believing in him, but I was so mad!

So I looked, and watched the clouds, and realized that all of my life's drama would never touch them, move them, or change them one iota. The clouds don't care about me!! At all! They don't care about you, either! They will keep doing what they're doing. (At least unless we destroy the world, but that was not in my thoughts that day.) I felt a moment of great release, that I could drift with the clouds for a while and have that far-ranging perspective, with no expectations, no judgment, no "to-do" list, no passing of time, and leave my petty little problems far, far behind.

Pastor Janet said something that sounded enlightened to me. She does that, from time to time. She said that some other pastor said, when he had a particularly busy and hectic day of service work, "I need to spend a lot of time praying today." Substitute the word meditating if you wish.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rules, commandments and such

I want to reflect on the rules and commandments of Buddhism and Christianity/Judaism, because I find it fascinating to do this point-counterpoint. I know how many the Buddhists have, but I can't list them all from memory. Could I list the 10 commandments?

You will have no Gods before me; no idols; no false witness; no coveting; honor your parents; no adultery; no murder; no taking the Lord's name in vain; honor the sabbath; oh no, what's the last one? no stealing. See, 10 is a lot to remember.

While Jews and Christians have 10 "no" rules, Buddhism has only five. Woo-hoo, Buddhism definitely wins the short, sweet, simple contest there. They are the five whatever-they-are-called, of which I can list only no taking of life and no taking of intoxicating substances (drugs or alcohol), from memory. Probably no wrong thoughts. I should look these up. Hold on. The rest of the five precepts (practices): No taking of what is not given (I haven't listened to the Podcast on that one, so am clueless); no sexual misconduct; and no wrong speech, which follows from wrong thoughts, are the other three.

But here is the counterpoint. Buddhism has Four Noble Truths. Of which, I don't think I know any. Waaa. How about this: something to do with suffering and understanding it. attachment to desire and letting go of it. the cessation of suffering by not clinging. and the last noble truth really is eight-fold, so forget the idea of simplicity there! It's a bunch of "right" things to do in life to follow the right path. This gets pretty deep. You can sense, even from a superficial look, that Buddhism is thousands of years old, and Christianity is the new kid on the block. But I get confused about why compassion, or love, seems conspicuously absent from the Four Noble Truths. And, ironically, Buddhism seems very focused on self and self-improvement, yet the last stage (the fourth truth) involves becoming free from the trap of self-centeredness.

As far as the Jews go, I'm unsure of how many truths they have (or "yes" rules). But Christians? Jesus woops butt here! Only two!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and all your soul, and all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. This is the law and the prophets.

I love the simplicity of Jesus' statement, which is all-encompassing. But in a practical sense, I find I am getting more enrichment from the study of Buddhism. It explains to me how to live my life day to day, and how to nurture and advance my spiritual side in very concrete ways. For example, through mindfulness of the present moment at all times, in all situations. Through meditation. Through being aware of my thoughts, my words, my actions at all times and to see whether they are taking me down the right path or not.

Here is how a simple thing can lead to problems. Apparently, out of the five Buddhist precepts, avoiding intoxication is the orphan child, the one considered least important, perhaps. But there is a story about a monk (of course this is from Gil's Zencast) in a monastary who had to choose one precept to break. Just one. So he thought long and hard, and reasoned that four of the precepts involved other people and would hurt other people if he broke one of them. Except for intoxication, which would only hurt himself. So he drank and became quite intoxicated, whereupon he broke all of the other four rules!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Progress

This may be quite short due to time constraints.

Sometimes, all the fog and mist and clouds of life part, just for a moment, and the sun shines brilliantly through. I need dramatic music here to cue the senses to just how amazing this feels. Like, an ascending chord progression or something. I know my blog probably could be playing this music, if it weren't for me being a bit technically challenged. I need a technical adviser, and a proofreader!

Anyhow, when the rays of light penetrate my consciousness ... first, I usually think, wow! What a lovely miracle! And usually right after that, I feel stupid that I didn't see the obvious.

So, today, this sort of happened, on a small scale, driving home with Andrew. (I think it was Andrew. Some grumpy kid who looked like him, anyhow.) Andrew is often so grumpy when I pick him up after tennis that I sometimes pretend to be Mimi, our chihuahua, who Andrew just adores. I actually hop around and pant and sort of jump on him -- from my seat inside the car (away from his friends), of course. If that sounds a bit desperate, it is. This usually gets him in a decent mood till we can get home, 'cause otherwise, it's a very long 15 minutes.

So, as we were driving, the clouds parted (there weren't any actual clouds today, but imagine there were and they did). The sun flooded my mind. And I had a revelation. Why are we holding Andrew back from the magnificent freedom to make decisions, good or bad? Why can't he use bad judgment and make mistakes just like everybody else does? He's special, but he's not that special. Wow, even God let people have free will -- and that's a fine mess we've gotten ourselves into, as a result! How can Dwaine and I try to do a better job with Austin and Andrew than even God did with his children? (Of course, some would argue that God really blew it, but that's another topic.)

So I told Andrew today that he is now officially free to drop out of any activity. I'm ready to put it in writing even. (We did write a contract about chores, bed, etc., that seemed to help.) The caveat is that Andrew has to tell the adult leader(s) of that activity that he is leaving it. (P.S. I need to explain why this is a brilliant idea to Dwaine. We really have discussed this at some length already. I'm sure he will understand, once I explain it.)

I'm not sure Andrew fully comprehended what I was saying because his blood sugar was quite low, and so he was more like a raving beast than my loving guy. He was doing some rant in response, and I told him he was making no sense, because he truly wasn't. But of course that didn't help any. Don't try telling that to someone when they are making no sense -- they will never believe you. The only thing that did help was for me to stop trying to talk to him at that moment.

After dinner, my sweet, loving child returned and hugged me long and hard and kissed me on the cheek and said he loved me before going on the Boy Scout campout to Calaveras Lake that we allegedly "forced" him into.

A basic fact of life with toddlers and teenagers is this: No food = bad results. In between those ages, it actually seems to be a little bit better for a while. They can go several hours without eating and be OK. It's a very consistent equation, but sometimes it is hard to see when you're all wrapped up in duking it out (verbally) with your rambunctious teen, and you think they're being ornery just because that's how they are.

Actually, I never outgrew that equation myself. My husband can attest to this fact. Feed within 30 minutes of waking, and every three hours throughout the day, for optimal results.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Patience

Is a virtue. That I largely lack.

If taking Disciple Bible Class all year long (up to 10 months) and making that 3-hour commitment to go to class on Sundays, and doing all that reading, does nothing else, it will give me more patience. But I hate learning to be patient! I thought I obtained a sufficient amount of patience simply by being a parent the last 15+ years.

I sense others in the class feel the same sense of sacrifice, the same restlessness and readiness to depart as soon as possible. We Americans are an impatient, busy bunch of people. It is hard to get this kind of time commitment out of any group, at church or in social life. I belonged to a bunco club, not long ago, that disbanded because it is so difficult to gather 12 women together on the same night for several hours, even to play together.

We don't have much time for each other these days. That goes for neighbors, too. Our newest neighbors (third in the past 15 or so years) moved in and got right to work fixing up their yard and adding on to their house. They did come to our house once, but we never chit-chat. They are not the chatty type. You can sense them mentally looking at their watches as soon as you start up a conversation. So we never see them, unless it's accidentally while running errands.

That is hardly unique to them. It's the American way. Do it all yourself, and don't forget to hurry!

I don't think this is a particularly healthy or sustainable lifestyle. I am trying to unplug from it, myself, just a bit. Not that it's easy with kids.

We have one child, Andrew, who really does not enjoy being gone for this, that, and the other activity. He wanted to quit tennis and Scouts. And do what, dear? Sit at home and play electronic games? That seemed (perhaps) to be the answer, and so he has not quit either activity. But it is really difficult to discern what to do. I sense he would have been so happy playing outside with friends for hours, the way kids used to do. But there's no community structure, outside of the homeschool movement perhaps, that could allow that to happen anymore.

Austin talks about quitting band his senior year (which he's quite good at and enjoys), and quitting tennis any day now because he's not good enough at it. He is certainly entitled to do both, because he has put in a lot of after-school time and commitment with these activities. More, actually, than the after-school time he's spent on all his pre-AP classes put together. (Stop me now before I start ranting about what's wrong with that.) But Dwaine and I still have this letdown feeling that he wants to quit. Dwaine said, "It's dawning on me what is wrong with this picture ... no scholarships!" Ha, ha. But true, too. But who am I to make Austin do two more activities than I ever did throughout high school? By the time he's a senior, I don't think I will be making him do anything. And band is, after all, a full-time job during marching season.

Time to go and pick up the kids to take them to this, that, and the other, after both being in school activities till 5:30 or later!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Meditation adventures

Sometimes an experience will be so vivid that I just am on fire to write it here! That is the case with a recent meditation experience I had. Then life intervenes and, for example, I'm not home till after 9 o'clock in the evening and think, I can always write that tomorrow. Then, as more time passes and the memory is less vivid, I start having doubts. Why should I write that? Whatever will people think?? What was I thinking?

If you know me at all, you know that I quickly cast those cares aside and write it down anyway. I hope every writer does the same. That little doubting voice is just the ego yammering away, and it does not understand what is really important, so listen to it patiently and lovingly, and then let it go. I am writing that down the way I imagine that Gil would describe it. Not that I necessarily am, personally, so gentle with my ego. Get out of here, ya blubbering idiot!

I think people want to hear our most convicted and passionate selves, and we should not keep this side under lock and key the way so many do. Even if convicted sometimes means crazy, out of her mind! It is scary to be vulnerable to criticism, negative reactions, and so on, though. That is why my ego is always so happy that so few are reading my blog, and that my two biggest fans really love me! It has one less thing to worry about, and it loves to worry. And, I always think too that this gives me time to develop as a writer to where, some day, I can write in a less rambling way that would actually be of use to more than a few very dedicated readers.

So, I was doing a 20-minute truck meditation in the middle of a stressful Monday at work. My meditation site, other than seated inside the truck, was Pecan Park, the site of the lately disastrous encounters with mosquitoes. So I cautiously cracked the window and watched and listened, because it was just too warm to be closed up.

This meditation went very well, if I can use that terminology of judgment to describe it. First, no mosquito problems! Yay! As always, it took a while to refocus and relax. By the way, one thing I will never be, during meditation, is bored. This is a revelation to me. I always thought it would be so dull to just sit, sit, sit. But in reality, there are so many things happening. Think of all the things just going on inside the body at any given moment, that are mostly automatic functions. Talk about multitasking! The body is superb at it. And then add all the sensory information that is available, even with eyes closed. Then the thoughts and feelings, how it is when they finally simmer down, and important thoughts are able to bubble up out of the relaxed mind.

This day, I became aware of something that I will try to describe as the "eternal present." It could also be presence. I often can sense the larger reality that is so much grander than me, and this time it was also a personal experience.

I am still in the center of my life experiences, I am sitting in the center, and like spokes all around me is my entire lifespan. Birth, childhood, adulthood, the unknown future. It is all present and accessible to me here and now. None of it has passed away. My mom and my sister and my other family members are very close, so accessible to me. Just like they are, all the time, except I am usually unaware of this. I am in rapture. This is the rapture. My cup is overflowing, and of course, tears just well up the way they do whenever I feel these overrunning emotions.

I know many, many other spiritual people have had this experience, and so have I before. It is like a time of communion with God where you can have a glimpse of how things are, of the great I AM. This is why Henri Nouwen longed for death, after having a near-death experience of becoming one with Christ. He could not understand why everyone was so cheerful that he recovered from being hit by a vehicle on the road. He described it as having to put on the heavy mantle of life again (I paraphrase). This was written in "Beyond the Mirror," which has to be a reference to the apostle Paul's statement that now we see in a mirror, darkly; then we shall see face to face.

This does not mean I'm ready to die! But I recognize that the spirit is more real than what we call our daily lives. It is more important, and I do believe that it is eternal. Time is a way of experiencing a mortal life on earth that makes sense to the mortal mind, but time does not constrict the life of the spirit.

So what is most important in life? Obviously, people. But I find it amazing that the most important experience of that day, for me, happened during meditation, when I was "alone" and doing "nothing."

Human contact is essential, and it is an important window to understand God and the nature of reality better. It is also important to the soul to have loving relationships with others and to be able to care for them in tangible ways. I suppose even human conflict has its place. But this experience has helped me understand that meditation is an important spiritual discipline, not a waste of time!

I don't expect to have a mountaintop experience every time I meditate, or even often. Those experiences will be as varied as life, or like the experiences I have running or exercising. Some days are great, some so-so, and some are the pits, and the goal becomes just getting through the rough spot.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Correction

My prior blog indicated that a good Buddhist would ignore the mosquito trying to sting him/her during meditation, and that is incorrect. Gil says that ignoring problems is a major cause of karma. He just told me that recently, so I am now conveying my updated understanding. So possibly, ignoring bad stuff makes it much worse, and ignoring good stuff is also wrong. Makes sense to me. A monk would likely focus in on the mosquito and all the attendant sensations without adding to the drama with mental preconceptions.

I, on the other hand, get really worked up about mosquitoes. That little buzz instantly makes me think, "Oh no! I'm about to be eaten alive by this tiny little creature!" And the mosquito is, for the moment, the center of my universe. It is an epic battle to destroy it before it gets me. It has complete control over my emotions and my complete, undivided attention. So at least it gets me to FOCUS, for an instant!

Don't trust me to understand the "theology" of Buddhism at all. I am a total newbie! I happen to desperately need it because my mind loves to run off in all directions and drag me with it. It needs obedience training. Heel!

My son's World History textbook indicates that of the major religions, Buddhism has the fewest followers. It's supposed to be too ascetic or something. Figures I would pick the underdog religion. But his textbook is suspect, having been approved by the State Board of Education.* (*Corrected this entry called "Correction.") I notice there are several pages in his book devoted to Jesus, the savior, and I think he is the heavy out of the world religions. In that book, and in real life too.

I am being constantly interrupted by my wonderful, loving hubbie right now. Reference my prior note about interruptions.

My blog entries are getting as bad as the San Antonio Express-News. I am spending as much time correcting mistakes as actually generating new entries. I find that reading page 2A of the E-N where they do the tiny little error corrections box can be more interesting than reading the rest of the paper. Whoops, sorry, this person was actually injured and not killed in the accident. (Whew, glad that was all straightened out in a prominent place where everyone will see it.) Oh, the final tax deadline is not Monday, Oct. 12, as we reported on the business page. If you read that and panicked, too bad. Get your own facts! We're busy trying to run a newspaper here. Etc.

I guess I have to go do my Disciple reading now. Sigh.

P.S. I need a proofreader! This is ironic because I am a proofreader. But it's well-known in the writing world that you simply cannot proof your own stuff.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Meditation, not magic!

It's not easy being green. Sorry, just had to say that with my blog's new look. That is one of the best songs ever by the Sesame Street, oops Muppet, gang (thanks, CAROL), and I feel such a strong psychic connection with Kermit. Hope I'm spelling the little guy's name right!

Speaking of psychic connections, do you ever get those with your family? Here's how Andrew & I thought alike last evening at the middle school intro to its sex ed class. Every student who attended was asked to stand up at the end, and say one reason to wait to have sex (there were lots of examples posted overhead). They all did really well and had lost some of their shyness through some good role-playing and interactive activities. So Andrew said one of the reasons that were posted. But then he whispered to me, "I was really thinking that I want to save myself for that special person." I did a little dance, because that's exactly what was going through my mind at that moment. He got it!

I meditated yesterday in the truck, in the humid heat of downtown Floresville, while waiting for the kids. Waiting, waiting, waiting; Carol wrote a post about how that is a parent's life! This was an example of an unpleasant meditative experience, as I had rolled down the windows a bit and found myself attacked by countless mosquitoes, inside my truck. Sorry, I am not a monk, and I cannot ignore the feeling of being stung, although that's what a good Buddhist would do.

So that was an annoying interruption. Just like so much of life is. It was all just a series of annoying interruptions, and then I died. Put it on my tombstone!

So tonight I was indoors to do my 25-minute meditation, but it was still stiflingly hot and still and damp. That feeling before the really strong storms arrive and the strong, cold air, the dead stillness that precedes the violence. I found my mind was just bouncing around, and I could not keep it still. It was an anxious, active mind. I know you find that impossible to believe, but work with me here.

I find that my eyelids constantly waver when I try to close them while awake, and they mimic my mind. If I can get my eyelids to finally calm down, then my mind does the same. Perhaps this goes back to a scary story I remember reading as a child. There was a murderer in the house, and he was canvassing the bedrooms of each child. Somehow, the children were not a threat to him so long as they were truly asleep; but if they were awake, they would get it. He got to the child who was narrating the story, who was pretending to be asleep in bed. The murderer hovered over the child, watching him, for the longest, longest time, before deciding he was really sleeping and moving on.

See, if it were me, I would have been a goner. That's what I thought when I read that story, and it's still true today. If some murderer ever approaches my bedside to see if I'm asleep and I am not, they'll kill me for sure because my eyes will be flickering like crazy. (Unless I am wearing my eyeshades. Yes!)

It took me a while to become aware of this flickering-eye habit when I was meditating, which I consider progress. So now I have an easy focus: calm my eyes.

Tonight, I added this thought to still my mind. Wait. Wait. Waaaaaaaaiiiit. I should be used to that concept by now, being a parent and all.

This is how it is also a powerful thought, one that can connect us to the great beyond. John Milton, in his poem "On His Blindness," says,

"They also serve who only stand and wait."

This is an apt description of meditation, though Milton did not intend that meaning.

This was before Milton wrote "Paradise Lost," but he knew he was supposed to be doing a great service for the Lord. "'Does God demand day labor, light denied?' I fondly ask. But" ... I forget the rest, but it's one of the poems I carry with me always. It makes me a better person for having read this poem and loved it. Great poetry is transformative like that.

I know this entry bounced as much as my mind, tonight. My apologies to the reader.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Gone

Gone by day, not here at night,
Makes it quite a challenge to write.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Being childlike

Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. Jesus

I memorized this passage along with the children in my Sunday school class. Now, in learning what Zen meditation is about, it is really about leaving behind all the preconceived ideas and judgments that have stacked up over the years of adulthood and viewing life like a child again, with mindful awareness of the present moment. Don't be reactive, but experience everything with a "beginner's mind." Enter the kingdom of heaven. Did you really think it was up there somewhere, when Jesus spoke of it constantly while he was here with us in his human form?

Do you remember what that was like --- being a child? I do. I remember experiencing the freshness of all creation, how it was all so beautiful and everything was a new experience of wonder and joy. The mind did not dwell in the past or future, because the present had such an abundance of rich novelty. I don't have specific memories of detailed incidents in my life; in fact, my memory of details is just horrible (probably because I'm living inside my head all the time). But I do remember the way it felt to discover new things, every day and every hour, as a young child.

We were living in Castle Hills when I was in grades 4-6, and those were some magical times. My back yard was a sanctuary. I built my own little refuge back there in the "woods." Exploring the concrete ditches was an amazing journey. I remember, one day, discovering some new truth and running in to explain it to my Mom. She was a bit bewildered about why I was so excited -- apparently I was not the first to "discover" this commonly understood fact -- but my brain had just put it all together, and it was as if I was the first-time inventor and owned all creative rights to whatever it was. Yeah, sorry, I have no idea what it was -- something mathematical or scientific. This is why I probably would make a lousy fiction writer; not enough attention to details out there in the world.

Buddhists believe that we create a lot of unnecessary pain for ourselves, and this is certainly true. I found myself anxious about an encounter I imagined would happen yesterday, with a person I have trouble getting along with. I did catch myself anticipating and put the brakes on. Now, if I could just get rid of those "night terrors" (anxious moments that like to dog me when I am relaxed and trying to fall asleep). I think the rational mind goes to sleep, and the irrational mind takes over.

So today during my quick little in-truck meditation, there was a horrid fly that landed on my hand. (Did you catch the reactive part of that?) It was stimulating every little hair on my hand as it rapidly crawled around, and I could hardly stand it! But part of the meditative practice, Gil says, is just experiencing life in the present moment without reacting. We may have the luxury of living right now without any real-life crises or drama, so we practice for when we will have something big to take on. And, too, the person who can tame their reactive mind is able to take on so much more work that is of real value to the world, as I've mentioned before, because the little things (the fight with my son or the problem at work or the wart on my toe, etc. etc.) fade away to reveal what is really important. That is how it is supposed to work, anyhow.

I really don't want to ever read that last post of mine again, by the way. But when all that bubbles up, it has to go somewhere, so it came here to my blog to live. There's more where that came from that will have to be written here at some point. But I have dinner to cook and a concert to attend tonight! The expression, "Saved by the bell," comes to mind. Did you know that meditation traditionally ends with the ringing of a bell?

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