Ketuvim: Trees

Melodies I weave, songs I sweetly sing;
Longing for your presence, to you I yearn to cling.

In the shade of trees I delight to dwell,
To grasp your mystery, captured by your spell.

I glorify you with words and song,
Declaring with my heart: for you I long.

When I can’t see you, I write your praises,
And though I don’t know you, I long for your places.

To the assembled birds and your branches speech,
You alluded to your wisdom that is sometimes beyond our reach.

The scope of your greatness and the marvel of your strength
Are reflected in your bark and described at great length.

They have painted you, but rarely as you are;
They draw your colors and portray you from afar.

They speak of you in poems in countless varied visions,
While you remain throughout all their renditions.

They try to portray you as one now young, now old,
With leaves now green, now red and turning gold.

Nothing is more precious among the earth’s good pleasures,
Than sitting against a tree, chief among forest treasures.

-adapted from “Hymn of glory” in Siddur Sim Shalom
-Shadow

The voice in the head

In early Feburary, I mention in the post The Buddha and the Borderline that I was exploring meditation and mindfulness techniques. I wanted to know what was going on inside, behind the constant chatter in my head. Those thoughts that are always running, like a commentary on everything I see and experience.

I began with five minute meditations…at first guided meditations as outlined in a journal by Habitnest called The Meditation Sidekick Journal: A Practical Guide to Exploring Mindfulness. I had decided that if I could not change all that was going on in my life, at least I could get to the point that I could accept it. More importantly, I could get to know myself, whoever “self” is.

From the beginning of these meditation practices, I became acutely aware that more mental chatter lied beneath the surface. Now that I am aware that this running commentary is even worse than I could of possibly imagined, it is rather annoying. Because now, I am more aware that there is more commentary swirling around in my head even when I am not meditating. Sometimes I even think I was better off before I became aware of this. At least before meditating, I didn’t know there was THAT MUCH chatter.

As annoying as that is, according to Buddhist nun Ven. Robina Courtin, being aware of the above mentioned excessive chatter is a sign of success when beginning meditation. And since she has been doing it for a very long time and I am a beginner –and I have no way to rebuke her claim…I have to conclude that she is probably right.

So my goal now is –strange that I am setting a goal as I have always lived life flying by the seat of my pants –my goal is that eventually I will be able to use some of this internal chatter to make adjustments and changes in my life. To date, I have discovered that I make A LOT of judgments about every single thing and A LOT of assumptions to which I have not empirical data to back it up. All of it is solely based on the voice in my head. But I must keep going to see what else I might discover on the path.

So this journey continues…

Shadow

The Buddha & The Borderline

Several weeks ago I became interested in Buddhism. Long story short, all the various types of meditations and mindfulness practices my counselor had spoken with me about months ago seemed more appealing to me now. One of them, walking meditation, I continued to do on a fairly regular basis. So I was kind of looking online for “other tips” or other practices when I somehow stumbled upon a review of the book “The Buddha & The Borderline” here. This led me to purchase an online course to learn about Mahayana Buddhism from The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT). It is a two year program that is meant to be a way of life, not to study academically.

It is just what I needed and falls in line with what my counselor and I were discussing in our last episode. I may not be able to make this internal chaos go away but I can recognize it and make it bearable. Recognizing it is what I am currently attempting to do in therapy and meditation and contemplation…”looking within” as she once told me is one way to achieve that.

Strange that Buddha means to be fully awake. Made me think of a song by Katy Perry, so I added below. The song can be interpreted many different ways. But as for being awake, I have just realized that I am asleep.  And so here is to my journey…

-Shadow

Know your why

I went to see my psychiatrist and told him about my father’s death and how I do not know what I am feeling. It seems as though nothing is there. He asked “Do you think your medication is working?” I responded, “medication is 10%, and the other 90% is up to me, isn’t it?”

I am always trying to fill myself up with something so I do not feel the emptiness. It has been a constant feeling throughout my life. That is where addiction comes in, doesn’t it? I don’t choose drugs anymore…now I seek more…”legal” addictions like spending sprees and cycling through religions. Although whether the former is always “legal” is questionable.

So several weeks ago, I decided to take a different approach and began listening to Gregorian chant (again) to help reduce anxiety. Now I have a routine of listening to it in the morning and again in the evening. I do not know what they are saying as it is in Latin but it does not matter. The tone is soothing and I have found it to be beneficial.

For months my counselor has been talking with me about mindfulness and meditation. Both of which I was completely uninterested in until recently. I have engaged with mindfulness before…several years ago and the forms of meditation I have tried to engage in seemed to be fruitless. So, I decided to take a different approach with that as well. Just sit in silence for 5 minutes everyday. I have found that incense helps.

I have the Meditation Sidekick Journal by Habit Nest that has also proven to be useful. The first thing it suggests is to “know your why”. Why do I want to do this? I want peace, that is all I seek. I once told a counselor that I don’t have good days and bad days, I have good hours and bad hours. If I am going to be on a roller coaster because of some illness, I want to make peace with that. If there is just one small chance that I can change it and have more control over the internal chaos and find that sense of peace, I want it. That is my ultimate goal. Before I can acquire this, I must be able to know what I am feeling. To know what this internal dialog is like. What is it saying? Why is it saying it? (Sorry, it is a habit to separate me from my emotions. Separating different parts of me is how I make sense of it.)

So these are the things I have been doing since I wrote last. We will see if I am still doing it in June. It is up to me, isn’t it?

In other news, my long distance friend contacted me today for the second time in… I don’t know how much time has lapsed since I last contacted her. She is the one I mentioned before under Disappearing. Why did I want to abandon her? Because I am afraid. It is easy to never give others a chance to abandon you by abandoning them first and devaluing them makes it easier to walk away. If I am to be totally honest, she has probably been a favorite person for a long time and I didn’t realize it until today. I don’t know how people become favorites, they just do. And when I realize it, it makes that fear of abandonment that much more terrifying.

-Shadow