Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Insight Meditation

I recently re-read a book that seemed very true to me when I was a mother of two little-bitty kids. Buddhism for Mothers seems even more true now that I'm the mother of a nine-year-old and an almost-teenager.

I was profoundly un-Buddhist, un-calm, and insane this afternoon so I can't claim that I've successfully incorporated all of the concepts in the tome, but I am aware of my situation.

That's gotta be worth something.

Check it of the types of meditation that Sarah Napthali describes is Insight Meditation. Her explanation is superior to mine, but the concept that captured me is the idea of labeling our thoughts as they enter our head - with no judgment. The benefit seems to be that acknowledging our thoughts (instead of running away from them or trying to cover them up with distractions) releases us from their tyranny. It sounds weird but it's been very true for me.

Here's what she says about it:
"As we perceive our attention wander from our breath we make a mental acknowledgement: if we feel an ache we note, 'hurting, hurting, hurting' until the ache subsides; if we start reliving an argument we label our memroies, 'remembering, remembering, remembering' before returning to our breath. If we hear a distracting noise we note, 'hearing, hearing, hearing' and if we start wondering what we'll make for dinner we label, 'planning, planning, planning.' "(Napthali, p. 174)

Although I have not taken the time to do true meditation in silence this week, I've found myself labeling my thoughts during the day. As a result, I notice how often my thoughts are "worrying, worrying, worrying" or "judging, judging, judging." Another rather frequent visitor is "angry, angry, angry." The really wild thing is that I only need to repeat the word a few times (usually) before the feeling moves away and doesn't bother me anymore.

Today really was a rough day and I didn't handle myself very well. As a result, I've been in a "regretting, regretting, regretting" mode for a couple of hours. The feeling isn't going away.

But you know what? I'm not going to run away from it.
...and I did manage to write five sentences today.

That, my friends, makes me "grateful, grateful, grateful."

Friday, March 2, 2012

Lucky Clovers

Austin is exceptionally green and lovely this week. As a drought-stricken Texan, my eyes aren't used to all the color so I keep stopping mid-walk just to stare at the green. A few days ago, I noticed that the ground is simply covered in clover...especially under the trees.

I took the picture on the left Wednesday morning before work as I searched and searched for a four-leaf clover because I wanted some luck.

Boy, how I wanted a lucky clover. But it wasn't meant to be.

Today I needed a break from the office, so I walked around the parking lot, thinking it was going to be a pretty poor Lenten walk. As it turned out, it was one of the best ever. I came across a small patch of clover in the shade way out in the far reaches of the lot. I sat down, listened to the birds, and searched diligently for a four-leaf clover. I was so drained emotionally that I wasn't thinking very clearly and for a few minutes, my search became almost desparate...I was pinning all my hopes on the elusive clover.

I know what you're thinking. The clover in the picture on the right is NOT a four-leaf clover. That's because I never found one, but I found something even better. An insight into the Truth.

As I sat on the ground, staring intently into a clover cluster (and studiously ignoring the few co-workers who parked in BFE and wondered what I was doing) I swear I heard a voice in my mind say: "There are tons of three-leaf clovers right in front of you. Scads of them, AND they're quite pretty. Why don't you make your own luck with what you have instead of waiting around for one magic clover or wasting your time looking for it?"

Wow. It was one of those moments in your life when you really need a great soundtrack playing in the background. Freaking profound.

I know. You think I sat around and tried to think of a pithy story to convey a point with this posting. Think that if you must, but I promise that one minute I was anxiously looking for a four-leaf clover and the next minute, I was walking away with a three-leaf clover in my hand, counting off all the amazing things I have in my life right now that will enable me to complete my novel successfully. It's an impressive list: Great husband, kids who believe in me, a steady part-time job, a good headshot, and crazy-wild-looking arugula plants growing in my backyard. (I'm not sure why, but the arugula seems yeah, I have issues.)

Maybe it was my guardian angel, or the goddess of writers, or just my long-neglected subconscious...but someone reminded me today that I have everything I need right in front of me and there's no reason to search for anything else.