Tuesday, May 31, 2011

more tips on working with anger

Hello friends - I may be offline this week due to moving our computer to another part of our apartment in order to create a separate bedroom for our little boys to share (yes, this is part of me trying to solve our sleep riddle, as they currently both sleep with me in a rather small bed). In the meantime, I read this very beautiful and profound response in a wonderful advice column to a mama's question about relating to anger towards her small children. The response is poignant, genuine, thoughtful and helpful. Would love to hear your thoughts about it as well. You can read it here. Wishing you love and joy this week.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

stumbling along

"The path is personal experience, and one should take delight in those little things that go on in our lives, the obstacles, seductions, paranoias, depressions, and openness. All kinds of things happen, and that is the content of the journey, which is extremely powerful and important." - Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

I just wanted to update a bit on my last post. Last night, after I posted it, my youngest proceeded to wake up every hour on the hour wanting to nurse back to sleep. When I finally asked my husband to please take him for a bit so I could get some rest, my little one screamed and struggled so violently for me in my husband's arms, that he vomited. When my husband put him down to clean him up, my babe ran down the hall to my bedroom and banged on the door screaming until I got up, picked him up, and nursed him back down. At 2:00 a.m.

So, was I happy and cheerful about this turn of events? No, I was not. Was I mindful? Well, I was exhausted. At first, I was not mindful. I was just overwhelmed with fatigue, and a bit of resentment mixed with tears. I cried for a good ten minutes along with my babe, and went onto Facebook and posted as my status update a simple "ugh". Because that is how I felt. I didn't feel at peace with what was happening. I felt utterly defeated by it.

And that is ok. I noticed. I noticed that I felt defeated. I noticed that I was spreading this feeling of defeat into the wider world through updating my Facebook page (hangs head in shame) and that I was having a hard time keeping the view of basic goodness. In the noticing, my tears turned from tears of frustration to tears of compassion, compassion for me, and for my poor little boy who just cannot sleep through the night, even at almost 15 months of age. And compassion for my older son, who was sleepily calling out to us, asking us to please "shhh", and for my husband, who had to get up early for a very hard day at work, and felt helpless in the face of our little one's distress. This compassion was like a soft blanket that held us all together in our discomfort, and helped us relax a bit, and finally, blessedly, go to sleep. Until the cat jumped on the bed and woke us up.

And that's how it goes. You stumble. You get back up. You walk. For years I used as my email signature the following quote by Rabbi Hillel:

"I get up, I walk, I fall down-
Meanwhile, I keep dancing"

That is Snow Lion. The willingness to keep dancing, to keep walking along the path, even when it is really, really hard to do so. To keep turning to gentleness, compassion, patience, and letting go when all you want to do is scream, tear your hair out and run away. This is bravery. This is enlightened warriorship. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

this is why it's called "path"

"Whatever our level of practice, there will always be obstacles. The Tibetan word for obstacle, parche, means “what cuts our progress.” In fact, sometimes the more we are engaged in practice, the greater the obstacles become. If we understand that obstacles are part of the spiritual path, we can learn from them. Obstacles can be messages. We need to wake up and look at what is going on. On a deeper, more profound level, we can include obstacles in our journey. This is a more challenging approach."
- Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

I apologize for falling silent here for a bit - I have been offline for a few weeks now, working with many obstacles. Spring has always been a charged time for me - a time of great blooming of karma. This spring has been no exception - so many challenges have been arising that I simply had to take a break and try to put things in order in the evenings when I would normally be blogging.

My children have been having major sleep disturbances, in that they are going through a period where they are refusing to sleep. They are going to sleep late, they are waking up at an ungodly hour, and are often refusing to nap - or napping with great difficulty and for very brief periods. I have tried to investigate the reasons for all this, and have finally thrown my hands up and told myself "this too shall pass." That is the good news about impermanence - the good things pass away, but so does the really crappy stuff. But I have definitely had some very dark moments in the last few weeks, when being completely sleep deprived, I have had to catch brief snatches of sleep whenever and wherever, and when that doesn't work, have resorted to yelling at my babies to "go to SLEEP!!!" Funny, but that didn't work.

Within all this sleep drama is also the fact that my mother is dying, and this has made my heart ache in ways that the lack of sleep seems to exacerbate. A hard time. And I have gotten very stuck. VERY stuck indeed. I have found myself in certain moments caught in an intense paranoia, believing my thoughts that this situation is very solid, very permanent, and not changing at all. This of course, has brought out my fear and aggression, and my babes had to deal with a very cranky, not nice mama at times. My patience flew out the window, and I felt totally unresourceful and isolated, very lonely and almost in despair.

So, what to do in these kinds of moments? Just breathe. Hah! But it's true. Find your breath. Touch your heart. Feel the tenderness, the fear. Breathe it in. Breathe out relief, breathe out space, breathe out comfort. Hold yourself in loving kindness. This has helped tremendously. Admitting to myself that I feel so stuck, so in despair, so at times, desperate for things to be different. Which of course, leads to aggression. But the acknowledging of it does the opposite - it creates space and gentleness.

Then what? Then go outside. Seriously. Get physical spacious sky over your heads. I did this, even though it has literally been pouring rain for the past TWO WEEKS. I took my little ones outside in their rain coats and boots and we stomped in puddles and splashed each other and played in the mud and rolled in the huge wet holes opening in the damp earth. We played in a sopping wet, empty playground, ending up covered in mud and exhilarated by the physical connection with earth and sky and water. It was great. It ventilated a claustrophobic household situation and helped us appreciate each other again. Or I should say, it helped me appreciate them again.

And there was of course, ice cream. Lots of ice cream for mama. And some for the little ones as well. It was that kind of a week.

What else? Remembering impermanence. That they will eventually sleep again. That I could relax a bit and let things go. I could surrender to them and their sleep pattern. When I was able to do that and not fight it like a crazy banshee, it changed, miraculously. It didn't get perfect, or even significantly better, but they have been sleeping ever so slightly more deeply, and napping ever so much better, and I have just accepted that my house and life are going to be in chaos while I nap whenever they do in order that I don't yell at everyone every minute of the day. Ahem.

There is an image in the Shambhala buddhist teachings of the Perky Snow Lion, bounding joyfully through the mountain highlands. The Snow Lion is joyful because it has complete confidence - he or she takes complete delight in the discipline of mindfulness, and has compassion for all beings - so much compassion, that the thought of others fills it with joy. The Snow Lion has a great sense of humor and curiosity. There is no stuckness - just big, bounding leaps and delight in things as they are. No doubt. I have been holding the image of the Snow Lion in my mind, and letting it guide me. No doubt. Confidence, humor, compassion, joy, mindfulness, discipline - these are the tools that are helping me through the day.

I have been falling on my face a lot lately, unlike the Snow Lion. But I keep picking myself back up and trying another leap. This is why it is called a path, and not an "accomplishment" or "wow, you did it!" It takes constant cultivation, and nurturing of our willingness to open. So, that's where I have been. Where I am. Trying to jump into openness instead of hunkering down in my stuckness, which, believe me, is no fun for me or my children.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

still here, just tired

Hello friends,
I am still blogging, it's just that it has been a challenging few weeks, so I haven't had the time or energy to write down my thoughts. Major sleep issues with the little ones means that I am seriously sleep deprived and need to rest at night instead of blog. But stay tuned ... hope to get something up soon. In the meantime, please check out this teaching by Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche on "Karma". xxoo