A New Breath

Welcome to Strained Mindfulness 2.0. 

It was time for a new look, a new approach, and a new outlook on my part.  I have seen a lot in the past few months, and I'd like to share a few of my insights into my experience.

  • I am having a really tough time with my practice.

I've never been good at the daily meditation thing.  It wasn't something I really began with, and it wasn't something I really ever pushed for.  There was a point at which I stayed strong for a couple of months, but it eventually died off.  Let's just say a zombie got me.

I can think of a thousand reasons not to sit.  I don't have time; I just had a baby; I have other responsibilities.  They can keep coming and coming.  It doesn't change the fact that this practice has done me a lot of good, and it is something I need to consider a great priority in my life.

  • I am realizing just how alone I am in my views
I recently took a trip to LA, and a new friend was gracious enough to take me to the Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society for a meditation session and a dharma talk.  This was the first time I had been in a room with other English speakers, and the first time I had ever heard a dharma talk (in person) in English.   

It reminds me of a debate that goes on in the buddhoblogosphere quite often, and one I'd like to chime in on now:  No, a sangha isn't necessary for success as a Buddhist.  But for me, it is something I crave.  It is such a motivation to have people of your age and background sharing in the dharma together. 

The immediate answer is to seek one out, and I'm going to.  But in the meantime, I am realizing my problem of motivation is going to eat me alive.

  • I have a serious ego problem
This is absolutely nothing new, but the farther I investigate myself, the more I realize
     a) how much of an ass I was in high school, and
     b) how much of my mind still revolves around myself, regardless of any logic

It's ridiculous.  Everything I do or say is ego driven.  I cannot allow myself to be genuinely giving or sincere in giving advice or help in anything I do.  I think a major cause of suffering is a genuine lack of humility. 

  • On a completely related note, I can't trust myself
With my ego revealed to me, my age old constant of at least being able to trust myself in any given situation is completely out the window.  Yes, I can make decisions to help everyone, but I cannot truly do anything without feeling as if I am just trying to fuel this "I" I seem to be so obsessed with.

So what do I do now?

I sit. I understand my suffering and I try to find a good way to permeate my past and deal with it.  (It's not called Strained Mindfulness for nothing.) I have decided I need to intensely undergo forgiveness meditations.  It was recommended to me some time ago in a book, and of course I had my own plans, so I am reverting back to what has helped others.  I think I have a lot to deal with in my own past, things I have never forgiven myself for, and I think this practice will lead me in the direction I need to be heading.

It's odd. Things that have happened years ago have shaped my disposition, led me to harbor ill will, and have made me attached to notions and ideas that I've thought to be true but turn out to be illusions.  What a lesson in karma.

I remember hurrying myself out of my grandmother's house the last time I saw her.  Once she died, I could never let go of the regret.  What can I do about it now?  Try to understand impermanence, take advantage of the time I have, and touch my own mortality. Then I let go and forgive myself. Learning to let go of the past and to really forgive myself for not containing the wisdom of the future will really help me let go of future suffering....to really live in the present for what it is.

But anyway, there is work to be done.  It is something I know to be needed.  There is nothing like a good dharma talk, a sutta reading, or just a small piece of wisdom to finally enter your head to start up your practice once again.  And there's also motivation that each time I sit, and every time I learn to live int he present, I am teaching my daughter how to be present. This in itself is motivation to buck up and do what needs to be done.

Sorry I have been absent so long.  I am happy to be writing again.

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