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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Mother google

If google were a person, she would replace me as a mother in so many ways. James Altucher romanticizes google in one of his books, praising her transparency and humility. She answers your questions by sending you to other competitors (they are websites like she is) who know more about the topic, at the same time letting you know that the ones that show up on top paid her to be the first ones you see. We google directions, movie actor whose name we forgot, if it is ok to make bulletproof coffee with coconut instead of MCT oil, if other people sneak in third children into hotel rooms, whether the tick that was just extracted from my groin area can be a lyme carrier, and what to buy our 98 year old grandma for her birthday.

My friend told me over lunch today that her 5 year old asks google pretty much any of the questions he has. You want to know why? Because google always has an answer. And not just one, but many. And for every why, it is not “because I said so” but an actual legitimate, possibly scientific explanation followed by images, videos, graphs and any other stuff she chose to throw at you. I used to pride myself on showing my kids that I am not perfect by saying, “I am not really sure, but I will find out” to some of the questions I really was not sure about…but now there is google. So now we can be certain and positive on just about any question a child can throw at you, actually why would they even bother throwing it at you when they can throw it at Mother google, the one that has ALL the answers?

Unrandom kindness.

Random acts of kindness are a beautiful thing. They get shared widely and we rejoice in power of humanity.

Random however implies seldom, accidental, non-intentional, irregular, infrequent. It also implies certain egolessness as there is no expectation of any return. Though when I repeatedly added coins to someone’s expiring meter this past weekend, that happened to be right next to ours, I did hope deep down that I would get caught in the act and showered with gratitude. Not that I would ever reveal that…in public. Human.

Unrandom kindness, kindness that is constant and unassuming, that flows naturally and starts with a smile, a friendliness within, to our own thoughts, actions, bodies, inefficiencies, and expands out to others with soft eye contact, a smile to a stranger in traffic, sometimes silence when unkind words are dying to come out or unkind self critical thoughts flood the gates of our minds. Outcomes of kindness are more kindness and gratitude, because kindness is contagious. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”, Ian Maclaren 

Bird against my window.

There is a bird throwing her body into our window repeatedly this spring, evidently she thinks her reflection is another bird and she attacks her in an effort to protect her territory. She is strong and tenacious, we worry she might hurt herself as she comes back to bang against our window day in and day out. Silly bird, we think, how can she not realize that it is her own mirror image that she is fighting against, how can she perform this violent act again and again at a risk of causing serious damage to her own body? And we, the great and the powerful humans, we think ourselves smart and intelligent, yet we throw ourselves mercilessly into the whirlwind of suffering, chasing the impossible reflections of what we think we ought to be. Just like this cardinal, we repeat the deed over and over, hurting ourselves in the process, demanding more of ourselves, not accepting things as they are, yearning for recognition, glory, fame, success, because we think it is the right thing to do. And nobody stops us to tell us to look deeply into that reflection, to recognize that it is your own self that you’re fighting against, to re-discover the self love that is buried behind all the ambition. I am grateful for this lesson.

I am a river, life is a river?

When studying many buddhist texts, I tried thinking of self as river, as water, gracefully flowing through life, gentle and non-forceful, yet powerful in breaking down boundaries and obstacles; the river that accepts things as they are and just continues on flowing and moving. Water is soft but how persistent, with time dissolving the strongest of elements.

In my morning meditation today I listened to Tara Brach, who suggests thinking of life flowing through you, while you stay there and observe. So the self is not a river, but life is a river. It flows through the self, it is connected with the self, and it passes through the self. Perhaps I can think of self as a twig floating in the river and going with the flow of it.

Somehow being a river is more in line with what my ego wants. I am more in control, I am in charge, I flow through things and direct my flow and conquer. Having life be a river that flows though me leaves me groundless and out of control, just being there and accepting and coming to peace with the energy that presents itself. I love these morning revelations and I am wide open to receive more.

A child’s fear

My daughter, who has been very guarded about her mother’s (mine) recent explorations in the universe of manifesting one’s own reality, Buddhist ideas and thoughts, morning practice of meditation, creativity and affirmations, expressed her fear yesterday about coming back from spring break vacation smack in the middle of the week, and missing out on some of her required assignments and commitments. She was afraid to face one of her teachers and was worried to tears that she would get kicked out of the play for missing too many rehearsals. Remembering Kamal Ravikant’s “Love Yourself..”, I asked her what the worst thing that could happen is. She said she could get kicked out of the play. “Then what?”, I asked her. “I would be mortified and the whole school would know”. “Then what?”, I followed. “I would be very embarrassed”, she responded. “And then what?”, I continued. “I guess that would be it”. “Would your friends still like you?” I asked. “I think so”, she answered. “Would your family still love you?” “Of course”, she said. This morning, she rises early for school and it is just the two of us before the rest of the family wakes up. “You know mom, I was thinking how you said yesterday about the worst thing that could happen and I am not so afraid anymore”.

As adults, it helps to keep the worst case scenario in perspective as go through our days and face the challenges that life has to offer. Oftentimes, our worst is really not that bad, perfectly survivable, if a little less comfortable. I am wondering if the important thing here is loving yourself above the image you are trying to achieve,  because fearing that the image cannot be attained is what creates suffering rather than the reality itself.

On death and impermanence

I have come across the news about this celebrity chef who killed himself yesterday. He was a year younger than I am. He said “I want to kill myself”, as many of us have said at time of despair in a haste and he followed through. Though I did not know anything about him, have not heard of him before, it affected me deeply. I recently read that 650,000 hours is a long human life, and he got to perhaps about a half of it… and the serendipitous collection of atoms and energy that he was ceased to exist in the state that represented Him. His creativity, his gifts, his love, his joy, all was ended because he did not want it any more. I wondered if I could help him, if he had reached out to me before he made his final decision? Or if anyone could help him, any person near him, anyone with an ear to listen and a mouth to speak?

Though I do not know his circumstances, I can only imagine how desperate, how spent, how alone he must have felt. And the truth is, we are alone. On the deepest level, we have solely ourselves to be with, to listen to, to console and to love. But we also are human, we are social animals, increasingly so electronically social, capable of connecting in different ways today than ever before. And we have access to so much help, so much information, so much knowledge, if we choose to seek it, without getting up from our chair, our bed, our room, and without even talking to anyone. And the other truth is that we are impermanent, all is impermanent, and that is the nature of things. “We seem doomed to suffer simply because we have a deep-seated fear of how things really are. Our attempts to find lasting pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we are part of a dynamic system in which everything and everyone is in process”, writes Pema Chodrin.

Death is a natural part of life, it takes us when it is time, and it is okay, because it is part of being human. Whatever you believe in, the soul, the energy, the unphysical and the physical, come back into the cycle of life and continue their existence in other forms until their time comes as well, and so on, the process in which our human existence is neither the beginning not the end.  I watched the ocean waves these past few days, coming to and fro the shore, coming alive and dying and then being birthed again by the horizon:

An ocean of a million breaths

Each one as ancient as the world

Heavy with all it carries

Light as air that moves it forward

Ancient, yet dead and born all over

Every instant, living to the fullest

Then restarting there by the horizon

Impermanence. 

This man, the one that chose to take his life, perhaps like many others on that day, he was suffering greatly, I am sure of it. And suffering, as we are taught, isn’t right, isn’t what we should be, isn’t in accordance with our idea of having a good life. It contradicts what we believe should be happening to us, and therefore is so so harmful. This thought process of something that we experience as human beings to be wrong and abnormal is what causes the greatest pain and sadness. The teachings of Buddhism tell us that suffering is okay, just like joy and happiness, suffering and pain is part of human condition and is natural to occur to all of us. No one has a life free of suffering. And it also ends. The cause of our suffering, according to Chodron, is “our resistance to the fundamental uncertainty of our situation. Our discomfort arises from all of out efforts to put ground under our feet, to realize our dream of constant okayness. When we resist change, it is called suffering. But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it, when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature, to our fundamental goodness”.

Daily practice of meditation, learning, expression and creativity of some sort, could perhaps have helped him be at peace of what was happening in his life. I don’t believe to have all the answers, but this is something that is continually helping me accept life as it is, making me stronger and aware, allowing me to observe from a place of loving kindness to myself and others. The 3 Buddhist vows to peaceful humanity consist of causing no harm with our words or actions, living with compassion to self and others, and embracing our world, simply as is, without judgement or bias. Loving oneself is such an easy notion, yet we forget how to, and even that we need to do it. Our culture teaches us otherwise. It tells us we need to work more, drink more, sleep more, mutilate ourselves and abuse our bodies and minds, the result being hectic and stressed out human beings in constant state of samsara, or the pursuit of  fleeting and impossible state of so-called “happiness”. Kamal Ravikant talks about loving oneself and living one’s truth and that is the key to finding joy and being at peace:“This day, I vow to myself to love myself, to treat myself as someone I love truly and deeply – in my thoughts, my actions, the choices I make, the experiences I have, each moment I am conscious, I make the decision I LOVE MYSELF.” Perhaps, if we can attempt to embrace these vows and to love ourselves wholeheartedly, we could live our 650,000 or whatever hours we are allotted to the fullest without leaving early…