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Five thousand days is thirteen years
Five thousand birds cover the square of the sky
Five thousand dollars will buy you a car
Five thousand square feet of house
Tiptoed on eggshells scattered about
Toes tortured, knees scabbed so hard
A remaining lifetime of new skin growing will not make them whole.
Five thousand square feet of chasing
And losing every time.
Unheard, misunderstood, forgotten,
Like a thing left behind but not that important to return for,
Not worth making the trip.
Each foot washed clean with tears of regret,
What could have been but never was.
I would like less square footage and softer falls from now on
Cushioned with kindness for this little girl
So used to soothing herself.
In the instances of domestic abuse, emotional or physical, manipulative relationships, I wonder who is the weak one. Traditionally, the one that’s being abused would be considered the weak one, as she cannot stand up for herself, is trapped, is unable to find a way to get out and release the chains of the abuser. And yet, she is also the one who finds the strength to get up every day and dress the kids and get them ready for school, and act like everything is normal, and cover for the abuser in front of the children so they would not think poorly of the father, cover for the abuser in front of her family, and his family too, as she feels this is something she needs to work out on her own and does not want to be a burden on others. She puts her makeup on and covers the darkness with concealer, she lines her sad beautiful eyes, and gets in her car and drives herself to work where she must be normal so she can hold it together and keep this job despite the pain she has inside, she is the one that tries to smile and make his coffee and his eggs just the way he likes them, because maybe now it will be different, maybe now he will get her and really change this time, and remember the one he fell in love with, and never ever hurt her again , maybe? And then the abuser, a she or a he, a coward who is not able to face his or her own demons, who is using the trust and confidence of his partner to compensate for his or her own deficiencies, for her or his not having enough, not being enough, a bad day, a rough childhood, inability for introspection and lack of self awareness… Who is the weak one here, tell me.
Bring me black bread
Bring me white bread
Just don’t bring me burnt bread
I asked of the ladybug
What went wrong?
When a dear friend first told me about Tonglen meditation I frowned. So counterintuitive. You breathe in darkness, consisting of others’ pain and suffering, and you breathe out light onto them. Why would I want to do that, I questioned? Why inhale negativity and allow what we are used to calling “bad energy” to enter my body? Wouldn’t it stay there? Affect me? My desire to remain “whole” and “positive” was strong and I was certain that allowing in “evil things” would damage my haughty aspirations. In Tonglen you essentially serve as a filter for all which you see as unwanted and use your body to purify it and release it back as joy and kindness. You can apply it to people suffering as a result of natural disaster, domestic abuse, disease, fear, neglect, you can even apply it to animals experiencing pain for any reason.
Pema Chodrin writes that “Tonglen puts us in touch with all the others who are just like us, who feel the way we do. We all experience pain and pleasure. We all gravitate to what’s comfortable and have an aversion to what’s not.” As I began to practice Tonglen against my wishes, just to give it a try, I found myself experiencing the most profound revelations that meditation ever brought to me. Now I am only beginning this journey and have much much to learn, and most certainly always will. What I came to realize is that Tonglen is ultimate compassion. Tonglen brings us back to where we are one, before we were separated by birth, by rules, by countries, by race, by gender, by class, by politics, by opinions… While you visualize the dark cloud of suffering, you feel the pain of others’ and identify with it, you own it, because you understand what it is like to be there, you are there. It brings you as close it can to standing in “someone else’s shoes”, because “someone else” is a human construct, a synthesis, our own creation of separateness that pulls us further away from each other and cuts the cords by which we are all connected.
Tonglen Meditation is a solution not just when you have a specific situation or person (s) in mind, but also when you feel helpless, when you want to help but time and distance separates you, when you cannot give physically or financially, because all you need is your mind. Once again, Chodrin affirms that “Tonglen goes against the grain of how we usually deal with the world: wanting life on our own terms, wanting things to work out for our own benefit, no matter what happens to others. The practice begins to break down the walls we’ve built around ourselves, begins to liberate us from the prison of self. As this protective shield starts to come apart, we naturally feel a wish to reach out. People need help, and we can provide it – both literally and at the level of aspiration for their well-being”. For me, Tonglen is also about giving up control, letting go of the persistent thinking that I must avoid all pain and suffering and not letting it into my mind and body. When I feel the pain of others, I am much less likely to become the one that causes it, thus revealing my most intimate humanity, and what is more potent than that?
Nobody really knows how we arrive to certain decisions in life and whether the paths we choose are the ones we were meant to follow. Through my recent practice of morning meditation, learning, writing and making affirmations, I have arrived at a life changing decision. I will not share what this decision is, only that I have been contemplating it for a long time, probably knew many moons ago that it was the true choice for me, but was not ready.
What I do want to share is that no matter where you are in life, what pain you have, what challenges you face, what struggles you find yourself in the midst of, it is discovering your personal truth that will help you, and realizing there is no other way but living that truth and choosing that truth. Kamal Ravikant was a great inspiration in my journey, and even reading his “Love yourself…” book did not get me there, but continual practice of actually loving and forgiving myself, even if just in words, being okay with feeling the way I am feeling, letting myself just be there and be at peace, that is what finally got me there to the top of the mountain, to the big decision that I now know is my truth. In the times of pain, I close my eyes and I speak the “I love myself” words, I breathe deeply and feel my body connected to the universe, I see it pixellated and not really separate from the air around it, and I feel calm. I tell myself that everything is going according to my truth and I will get there when I am supposed to. My mom recalled when I was small in nursery school, I would console myself while crying, saying “It’s Okay Genya, please don’t cry, it will be okay, Genya, stop crying, please”. She said it was the funniest thing, the way I would talk to myself through bawling like crazy. Well, over the years I have forgotten how to do that, and now I have learned again. I have it within to heal my pain and to choose the life of truth, joy, kindness, and abundance today, within, and yes, Kamal, I can feel my wings growing.