Sunday, September 26, 2010

Meditation revisited

I need to meditate. I can tell because I am much more irritable and reactive than usual. Meditation clears out the cobwebs in my brain, the ones that lead me to obsess over and over about some imagined slight. I thought I'd write this blog before I go upstairs into my meditation room and sit. I want to look at the benefits of meditation based on how I feel when I don't do it. Right now I have to go to the bathroom. I know I do and yet I keep writing. Regular meditation practice makes it easier for me to slow down and remember to take care of myself. I am more likely to put down what I am doing and go to the bathroom or get a drink of water because meditation lessens the anxiety that I call "the sense of urgency." The sense of urgency has only one mantra, repeated incessantly- "There is not enough time." Meditation practice helps me to remember that I have the sense of urgency and that I can step back take a breath and not be the sense of urgency. When my mind has the workout of the muscle of bringing myself back to the present that meditation offers, it is easier to observe the sense of urgency moving me forward at a breakneck speed avoiding all encounters with the present moment. By focusing on my breath right now I am able to imagine a crane with it's hook bringing me back to right here and right now where my main focus goes down into my body. What calls to my attention is my full bladder screaming," How long are you going to make me sit here like this before you listen to me?" I am listening. I will be right back.
Ah, it's amazing how much easier it is to focus with an unscreaming bladder.
Meditation is the practice of sitting quietly and using my breath to return to my body. Regular practice makes me more aware when I am living my life in my head, that I actually have a body and it is worthy of my attention. On my bike ride today about two thirds of the way down my favorite big hill, I realized I was on my bike going down my favorite big hill lost in thought. The last two days I was at the bottom before I realized where I was so this is progress.
Regular meditation practice gives me the opportunity to remember who I am and what I am doing here. I am not here to rush through my life so I can get it over with and die. I am here to learn and grow and open to whatever the moment brings. When I am sitting regularly I remember to savor the moment and to experience whatever is going on with me. There is enough time. There is always enough time.
" I am convinced that there are times in everybody's experience when there is so much to be done, that the only way to do it is to sit down and do nothing."
Fanny Fern
Wise words from Fanny. It is challenging for me to do my meditation practice with Gary living here. I like to snuggle with him first thing in the morning. Then I launch into my day with a few minutes of meditation and yoga to send me on my way. That might work for some people. I, on the other hand have a very busy mind and an overactive inner critic. When they are allowed to run amuck and not honed in by thirty minutes or so of regular practice, it isn't pretty. I need a new plan. Maybe to get up earlier, maybe to carve out time later in the day and not blow off my practice because I didn't do it in the morning. Most of all I want to be gentle with myself right now. This is a challenging time. Gary just lost his home and moved into mine. If it takes me a while to recreate my regular practice that is OK. In the meantime I am grateful for the blessings of my years of regular meditation practice. The energy of all of that time and energy is calling me back home.
Now I am going upstairs to my beautiful lightfilled meditation room to sit. What benefits does meditation bring you?

Monday, September 20, 2010


We went to see the site that used to be Gary's house on Thursday. It was shocking. I have never seen a burnt down house before except on the news. I have especially never seen the burnt down house of someone who I love. It was heartbreaking to see the charred remains of Gary's material possessions. He loved beauty and the house was filled with beautiful artwork. We had hopes that some of his rocks or the machinery he used to create his stones would be salvagable. The big grinding machines and saws were all melted. He could recognize which one was which but I couldn't. A small percentage of his rocks may be OK. He had been collecting what's called rough, or rocks from which to cut his stones for thirty five years. Most of it is gone. It is hard to believe how hot the fire must have been to melt and crack rocks. I am in awe of the power of this fire. Traveling up there we saw hills charred by the fire next to trees that weren't touched and houses burnt to the foundation next to houses left untouched by fire or smoke. One person did a lot of fire mitigation and his trees were all saved but his house burned up. Another person treated his home with some kind of fire retardent foam and it saved his home, diverted the fire and saved some of his neighbors' homes. The donation centers are filled with stuff and many volunteers wanting to help. Everyone is being so kind. Gary's men's group is rallying around him to do what they can. So are family and friends. People are donating furniture to help Gary furnish a new home. He will stay with me temporarily. He is a mountain man and being in Denver is very hard on him. I can't imagine what it would be like for him to lose everything and then be stuck in a city without his home to go back to. At least I have my house for us to live in for now. At least we love each other and I can support him in going through this. At least neither of us was hurt and both of us are healthy. At times I feel waves of gratefulness for all of that. One really good thing is the doubts I have been plagued with about committing to this relationship for five years have dissolved. I feel a deep tenderness for Gary. I want to take care of him and love him and grow with him. I feel blessed that I get to. I know it is possible that the doubts will be back and I also know I can feel deep love and fear at the same time. I have a renewed sense of trust in my choice to be with Gary. It's such a relief to be more relaxed about all of this. Now I have more energy to live my life. That is good.
My kids Monnya and Isaac came over on Saturday for three hours to help me to declutter my artroom and be able to give Gary some space in my house. Every orifice in my house was stuffed to the brim with my stuff and his donated stuff was everywhere.
Monnya and Isaac were so helpful and organized and I feel like I have my house back even bettter than before the fire. They brought us flowers and their sweet and helpful energy and strong bodies. My heart overflows with love and gratitude for their help. This is a more welcoming place for us to live now.
For Gary and I our spiritual connection has been strethened through this hardship and our love has deepened. We have seen each other at our worst and it is OK. I am inspired by Gary's courage to do what he needs to do to rebuild his life. Maybe not the life he had but rather a new life emerging out of the ashes like a phoenix. Have you ever had anything happen from which you emerged from the ashes to recreate your new life? What was it and how did it transform you?

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Maybe I should write this in red. My heart is heavy tonight. My loving partner Gary had his house burn down in the four-mile fire.We were there. We received a call that a small fire had caught down the hill from his house and that they were doing voluntary evacuations. We had about 40 minutes to get stuff out of the house. It was surreal: both of us knew the house would burn and were in denial about it really happening at the same time.We got some of Gary's navajo rugs and some of his stones. There are so many things in hindsight we could have saved. In the midst of trauma it is amazing the level of mush a brain can be in. It is the body's protection from letting in the pain.
He was trying to spray water with a hose to save his house. The sherrif came and told us we had to leave right then because the house would be toast in five minutes. I could see a wall of flame pulsating 200 feet above the trees about 200 yards from the house. I drove my car up the driveway shaking so hard it was a challenge to find the pedals. When I got to the top of the driveway I screamed for about five minutes. Gary was still down there watering his house trying to protect it from the impending inferno. I ran down yelling "get out, get out!" Finally he decided he had done what he could and drove up the driveway.
I wish I would have thought to get his stones polishing in the tumbler in the basement. They were the fruits of four months of hard work. The day before he had shown them to me. Although not finished, they were beautiful. His specialty is cutting rocks into stones with what look like pictures of nature in them. An especially beautiful one looked like a mountain scene with a tree in the background. It's so easy to play could-a would-a should-a about the past.
Over one hundred and thirty homes were lost in this fire. Sometimes I think about all of those people and all the living that happened in those houses-all the lovemakling and arguments and birthdays, laughter and tears. Gary and his ex-wife built their house together 35 years ago. The builder friend that helped them lost his house in the fire too. He was fighting the fire even after his own house had burned and saw Gary's house burnt to the ground. That's how Gary knew his house had burned before official notification. Even though it is happening to Gary, it is still hard to imagine what it would be like to lose everything. He was saying that it is hard to tell people because they get so uncomfortable. I think that is because it triggers our pain about what it would be like to have it happen to us. All of us believe that something like having our houses burn down happens to someone else, not to us. I know Gary believed that. Hopefully the fire will be out soon and we will be able to go up there. I know seeing the site will bring a deeper level of grieving because the loss will be more real. I hope I get to be with him and I hope I can be supportive.
He is staying with me. We have both lived alone for twenty years. It is very challenging to be living together under these circumstances, sort of like forced cohabitation. Maybe we never would have done it otherwise until we had adjoining rooms in a rest home someday. The best thing about our relationship is that we are able to work through anything together- even this.
Gary feels scared and lost and he is also growing in confidence. The relief services people have been generous and he has been receptive and asking for what he wants and needs. That was hard for him before. Out of this experience he is more aware of how loved he is because of all the support pouring out to him from friends and family. Although this is definitely an FGO ( fucking growth opportunity) he can already see that although losing all of his stuff is a great loss, it was just stuff.
He even made a joke that he woke up that morning and decided to declutter.
For me it is a challenge to set aside my own stuff and show up for him consistently. The first few days I was taking a lot personally. I felt abandoned,
like he didn't like me anymore. After a good therapy session I could see that he was having a normal reaction to trauma and show up more open heartedly. I am learning to let go of my pictures of how things are supposed to be and to open to what is. I am learning that I can feel deep love and fear at the same time. I am learning that I am safe from the inside and that I am enough.
Gary now has a whole new wardrobe of donated clothes which are much nicer than his old ones. He looks lovely in his new clothes and feels good about himself in them. I wish it could have happened another way. And this is what happened. In the midst of his pain, I am inspired at how he is using his grieving process to grow spiritually. I will miss his beautiful light-filled house and especially the shower that he tiled himself using tile pictures of people dancing.
I will miss hiking right outside his door to a rock outcropping and meditating there together. We're not sure what will happen next. Are any of us ever? Thanks for listening. Is there a loss that you have suffered that ended up being an FGO?
Acknowledge yourself for taking the opportunity.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I am rushing. I am going up to the mountains this afternoon after a lunchtime networking meeting. I have been rushing since I got up at 6. I planned to pack, get everything done I need to do before I leave and to write this blog. I completely forgot to write this week. I don't know why. I wasn't particularly busy, yet I felt scattered and uncentered. Now I want to write because I have made an agreement to write once a week. It is my ritual to pay attention to my creative expression and to write this blog. How can I take the time to do this without rushing? Rushing comes from a belief that there isn't enough time to do what I want to do. Rushing is what created the chicken grease on this keypad because I was eating my breakfast and writing this at the same time. Oh yes, I remember, there is my breath. If I focus on breathing into my belly I can show up and be present with what I am doing now. A small smile comes to my face as I feel my fingers flowing fluidly across the keyboard. When I bring minfulness to my breath I am a much better typist. I can feel when the sense of urgency starts to creep in I stumble on the keyboard and correcting my mistakes makes me much less efficient. It makes sense that rushing slows down my brain. I give my attention to nurturing my belief in scarcity about time. When I am rushing I am focused on the future and not present. In the presence process this week my statement I say to myself whenever I think of it is," I appreciate what I am." Michael Brown talks about appreciating being like what happens to a financial investment. He says that appreciating something adds value to it. Appreciating myself adds value to myself in my own mind while self-critism decreases my value in my own mind. I appreciate that I am writing this blog this morning. I appreciate that it is important to me to keep my agreements. I appreciate that even when I move my awareness away from my center I know how to bring myself back and I do. I appreciate you for reading my blog and supporting me in having a vehicle for sharing and teaching. The flow of energy this creates feels like a sacred circle where I pass on my learning process to you and am nourished by doing that. Thank you. It is so much easier to be in my life when I realize that rushing and the sense of urgency it brings to my life is grist for the mill. Being aware of the urgency is a vehicle for me to slow down and bring my attention to my breath and my body. It is an opportunity to come back to my source and to feel empowered both by my connection to my source and by the act of bringing myself back. Every time I realize I have wandered off and bring myself back with compassion I build the neural pathway that knows that moving off the mark is not a fatal flaw, but rather a chance to aim again. Embracing the curriculum that everything that happens in my life is an opportunity to increase present moment awareness is thrilling. In the moment it sometimes sucks. Today I learned that rushing can be transformed into peace and that I can write this blog and feel good about myself while I am writing it by slowing down and letting myself have the experience of writing it. This has been a joy. Thank you for listening.
Would you be willing to bring your attention to yourself when you are rushing? Kindly invite yourself to focus on your breath and to breath slowly and deeply. Let me know what you notice.