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I have been feeling pretty down lately. I suppose when body, mind, and spirit are out of whack at the same time, it affects a person deeply. For me, it felt like it was creating some sort of multi-dimensional vortex that sucked all will from my body. Or maybe that was just the medications I’ve been taking.

The weather was gorgeous today. Spending multiple days snow-bound due to blizzards helps one cultivate a deep appreciation for 60-degree weather. (That’s 60 Fahrenheit for those of you overseas, or roughly 15.5 Celsius.) I did a morning meditation outside in the garden. I was planning on doing a “body scan,” but was overwhelmed by the depth of sound surrounding me. Planes, construction, my dog, people, cars, and lots and lots of BIRDS. It was a nice 15 minutes of connectedness to the world.

My mood started dipping mid-day. No need to go into the how’s and why’s. I think all of the pain – physical, emotional, spiritual – that’s been happening lately just walloped me. Seriously walloped me into deep gloom. So deep that someone I know asked me why I was being so pessimistic lately. Not necessarily the thing to ask someone who’s already not feeling well.

Anyway, I went to meditation tonight and had an amazing experience. I’ve been dealing with a lot of anger, so I decided to mainly focus on a “loving kindness” meditation rather than a body scan. (I did do some body scanning, but that wasn’t my main focus.)

Then came the post-meditation dharma talk. I got a good chance to laugh at/with myself in a very compassionate way. It’s really hard to put into words.

My main realization echoed one of the teacher’s. That when things are going well, I think that it must be because I’m doing something “right” or “good.” And that when things are going down the toilet, I think that it must be because I’m doing something “wrong.” So I drive myself crazy trying to figure out where I went wrong, and what I can do to make it better.

Secret of the evening: sometimes pain just happens. There is no rhyme or reason, or perhaps there’s a reason that’s out of your control. Once I let go of feeling personally responsible for creating my pain, this huge weight lifted from my chest. Don’t get me wrong, my foot still hurts like hell. I just don’t feel like I’m in my personal penal colony anymore.

When I got home, I started thinking about tomorrow morning’s 10 am dental appointment. And lo and behold, my wonderful golden mood went away, to be replaced by something utterly mundane. Which will later be replaced by some other thing. That’s just the way it goes.

Ajahn Chah

For the visually impaired: the above image shows a series of four pictures of Ajahn Chah, a Thai monk.He is sitting on the floor, probably preparing for a talk. He is wearing orange robes and has a shaved head. In the first three pictures, he appears to be stretching his hands. He does not appear to be looking anywhere in particular. He has a contemplative look. In the last picture, he smiles to someone behind the camera.

Every time I look at these pictures, I smile. The monk in the photos, Ajahn Chah, just seems to be radiating loving kindness, or metta.

This post is mainly about giving you a picture to smile about. It’s amazing how some people, animals, events, moons, scenery, can just make you smile. For me, it feels like my heart just opens up. Like I’m suddenly somehow connected to the world in a new way.

It’s a great feeling.

In case you want some extra bonus cool information, Ajahn Chah was a monk in the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhism. There’s a website about the Thai Forest tradition, including some free teaching materials, here.

I’m not sure I’d have wanted Ajahn Chah as my teacher. He certainly did the whole “confront-your-suffering-head-on” approach when teaching monks. I do that intermittently, mainly when I’m having a pain flare up. I haven’t chosen to follow some of his more stringent teachings on Buddhist practice.

There’s a really interesting story (followed by stringent teachings on Buddhist practice) written by Ajahn Chah on the Forest Sangha website. It’s about some time he spent meditating in a graveyard, alone, at night. He describes feeling as though there is a being sniffing around him at night, which he fears is the spirit of the dead corpse that had been cremated that night.

I sat as if I wasn’t even touching the ground and simply noted what was going on. The fear was so great that it filled me, like a jar completely filled with water. If you pour water until the jar is completely full, and then pour some more, the jar will overflow. Likewise, the fear built up so much within me that it reached its peak and began to overflow.

”What am I so afraid of anyway?” a voice inside me asked.

”I’m afraid of death,” another voice answered.

It’s a really good read, I don’t want to spoil it any further. If you like ghost stories, insight, Buddhism, or experience a fear of death yourself, you should check it out.

I am snowed into my house. There is a blizzard warning in effect outside, and I believe it. Blowing snow makes it difficult to see anything except for the two foot icicle hanging outside my dining room window. Occasionally, I can get a glimpse of desperate starlings trying to eat from the bird feeder, hanging on for dear life. Some of our trees are touching the ground, bent completely over.

This isn’t new. We had a snowstorm (much bigger) this past weekend, and another one around Christmas. Our orange plastic snow shovel is cracked from use, and all the stores were sold out of new ones. These have been interspersed with smaller snows, which would typically be large snows for my area (six inches, anyone?).

The first snowstorm was very exciting. White Christmas, oh boy! Children out of school, adults out of work! Sure, there was a lot of shoveling, but we had plenty of people to do it. The mountains of plowed snow that blocked crosswalks and parking spots were a bit of a nuisance, but we had plenty of 50 degree weather a week or so later that helped melt things down.

It is getting old.I am tired of the snow.

I try to keep a pretty positive attitude. This snow…ugh. The issues are so multi-faceted, I think it deserves a bulleted list:

  • While it is snowing, I am stuck inside the house. Everyone’s nerves get frayed. (We’ve made jokes about the Donner Party.)
  • There is a risk of power outage (we’ve had two so far), which raises the specter of a cold house, food going rotten, no cooking, no light, no computer, no internet to connect me to people outside my house.
  • The snow restricts my movement, where I can and cannot go. I sometimes find myself feeling trapped, shackled, caught, caged…you get the idea.
  • After it stops snowing, we have to extricate ourselves from the house. After injuring myself once trying to help, I’m leery of going out in what will probably be waist-deep snow and ice.
  • It will be a long time before all the snow melts, and I find those gray, chemical-covered piles of ice chunks by the side of the road really depressing.

Perhaps most importantly: Snow brings out interesting things in people. There was the very nice man with a bobcat who helped dig out cars out (for free!), and there are people who buy five snow shovels at the hardware store (leaving none for the rest of us). There’s graciousness and there’s pushing and shoving. I’m slightly afraid of what all this snow will reveal of my personality.

It’s interesting. People pay good money to go on meditation retreats, live a more ascetic lifestyle for awhile, go silently for a week or a month, eat simply, and take a break from the technology and hubbub of 21st century life in a Western country. Yet when offered an opportunity for a free retreat with snow-covered vistas, I feel myself clawing at the door. Who knows, perhaps that is how I would feel if I chose to go on one of those month-long retreats.

So, I’m trying to reframe my outlook on the snow. I’ve mainly been catching up on video games, guilt-free (no “I should be doing something productive” fears echoing through my head.) I want to take advantage of the opportunity to take some deep breaths and ask, “What is happening for me right now?” To slow down. To breathe, and let go of expectations.

I might as well enjoy the view of two foot icicles, too. They really are amazing.

My Etsy Store

A fibro-friendly item from my Etsy store

I've been working on making fibro-friendly jewelry. I'd love it if you checked them out by clicking the image above, or going to www.etsy.com/people/RogueCrafter

About Me

This blog is intended as a place for me to reflect on my own healing journey, in the hopes that others may also gain insight from my experiences. I've "borrowed" a line from Robert Frost's poem, The Road Not Taken:

'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.'

I think the most important thing for me now is that I feel empowered to be a force for positive change in my life. And that, my friends, has made all the difference.

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