Archives for posts with tag: meditation

Giving my identity over to Buddhism is frightening to me. I can’t necessarily put my finger on why. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to advocate for my students anymore. I’m afraid that I won’t be able to make people laugh. I’m afraid that I won’t have friends. I’ve been afraid of these things for years. Only now, the potential reality is much closer than before.

Yesterday I wrote in a mixture of anger and confusion about my sister-in-law being ungrateful and irritating. But the Buddhist part of me recognizes that she has her reasons. I don’t make excuses for her behavior, but, if I’m being honest, it feels wrong to outright condemn her for it.

Soto-Zen teaches us to be aware of our passion, aggression, and ignorance, and to apply our awareness to all forms of interactions with others.

I’m known for being funny. I’ve strongly considered becoming a comedian. I’m extremely comfortable when I’m making people laugh. But if I apply my awareness, I start wondering about why I want to make people laugh at all. Is it because I want them to see me as clever and likable? Is it because I think I know what they should be thinking about better than they do? If so, isn’t that ego?

I’m also known in some circles for being polite, direct, and observant. But because I’m polite and observant, which might come across as weak, some people think of me as a pushover. I have a professor who regularly reminds me that I’m wrong, she’s right, and that’s just the way it is. I want to lash out at her and show her my cutting brilliance. But that’s ego, too.

I suppose that when I get down to it, my fear is that applying my awareness and giving up my identity will make people see me as stupid, weak, and boring, and take advantage of me the way my professor does.

I’m afraid that by being quiet, people will walk all over me.

Or that there won’t be a me for them to walk all over.

I’ve talked before about gentle firmness. The idea that you can be quiet, polite, and watchful, but when push comes to shove, you’re a boulder in the stream.

I wonder what that looks like on a daily basis? In a conference room, I get it. But what does that look like when my sister-in-law’s being rude and part of me still wants to vent? (Or slap her for it?)

So many questions…

And about friendlessness; people don’t want to spend their time with someone who’s boring. People really don’t want to spend their time with someone who’s calmness and honesty make them put down their defenses and start to self-reflect. It makes them feel guilty and confused. They want to drink, eat, and gossip.

How can I be part of American culture without pretending to be something I’m not? How can I keep my twentysomething friends without pretending to be something I’m not?

So many questions…

I hate beginning these things. I imagine blank white boxes full of the space where I’m supposed to start and end a series of thoughts, but how can I possibly start at the beginning if my thoughts are nothing more than never-ending paragraphs?

The joke’s on you, cultural norms: I’m starting in the middle!

I’m skipping over a bunch of not so happy stuff that went down over the weekend. Everything’s fine, there’s no lasting damage, but let’s just say thank god I’m careful about logging communication between myself and group members on school projects. I get an A in the class, They, well, don’t.

Moving on!

I’ve wanted a different body for as long as I can remember. I was fit as a little kid, I got straight up obese when I was 9 years old, I started losing weight as a teenager, and I’ve stayed between 149 and 135 pounds since I was 15. And before you read those numbers and get all weird about how low they seem, A) Dude, it’s my blog! And B, I’m short. Like, reeeeaaaalllllyyyyy short.

I’ve hovered at the low end of overweight and the tippytoe top of a healthy weight range since I was 15. My all-time low was 134.2 with a goal weight of 130, but then I got busy with something else, I ballooned back up to 147ish, and I felt I had to go back to hiding my gut with baggy sweatshirts and winter coats. I’m sure some of you can relate. (Fatties.)

Yesterday I was trying to meditate on my relationship to my physical body. I have a lot of questions about this whole mind-body complex.

Is making a point to eat and move a certain way attachment to a certain kind of body? Why am I so interested in being “healthy” provided my current weight doesn’t increase my risk factors for problems later on? I’m already diabetic from my childhood obesity; does it count as attachment to keep that in check? Why am I interested in not being sick, anyway? Isn’t sickness an invaluable opportunity for exploration? Some monks believe that regular exercise is just an excuse for overeating. How do I feel about that? Do I believe their beliefs? Do I believe mine? I’m scared that I’ll get sick if I don’t eat enough. How do I experiment with that safely?

Beyond that, I’ve also been applying my awareness to what kind of body I’m looking for. I’ve never really had a goal besides being less fat and having more energy.

Do I feel comfortable in my body as it is? I don’t. Is that because I don’t have energy to function? Is it because I’m depressed? Is it because I’m hairy? Is it because my clothes are too tight? Is it because I feel less capable than I predict I should feel? Am I missing out on some kind of life experience because I have too much body fat? Do I just dislike feeling unnecessarily low-energy given my less than nutritious diet? Do I even know that my diet is what makes me low-energy, or could it be more than that? How would my life be different if I had a body in which I were more comfortable?

I started to contemplate the body of a healthy, active boy. I’ve always found a healthy kid’s body to be one of the most artistically beautiful and mechanically perfect things on the planet. It’s this completely natural, innocent expression of being alive, yet it’s full of vitality and power. Kids’ bodies are bilt to learn, explore, grow, and do. Kids’ bodies slow down when they don’t use them, but they don’t have to use them very much at all to speed up again. It’s beautiful!

That’s what I want. I want a body that does what I want, when I want; a body that learns with me and can change when I need it to change; and a body that is low-maintenance, entirely natural, and perfectly average.

I don’t want to be ripped. I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to be skinny. I want to be thin, firm, and flexible. I want to have energy to climb a tree or go on a long walk with my students. What would change if I had my perfect body? Not a whole heck of a lot, but enough to make it important to me. I’d have energy to be a kid again. And as a teacher, that’s a big deal.

That’s…. that’s it.

The other questions still apply. But now I know what I want, and that’s a great next step.

To me, part of having a natural body is not overeating, and to eat things that make me feel good even when what I want is something that will make me feel bad. (ESPECIALLY when what I want is something that will make me feel bad.)

I don’t want to exercise a lot. There it is. I want to go on about an hour long walk every day and maybe work my way up to doing some light yoga or bodyweight exercises. I don’t want the special clothes. I don’t want a personal trainer, I don’t want to obsess over what I’m eating and how I need to change and how I’m not good enough. I don’t want this to be so complicated. And I don’t want to be my own home improvement project.

I’m not obese. I’m not even technically overweight anymore. (Within a few pounds, but not technically overweight.) I have time to start adding these things as I want to, and to find my way back to a natural, kid-friendly body.

I’m fine. I’ll get there when I get there. I know what I want and how to make it happen. The equation isn’t going to up and change if I get sidetracked for a few weeks. Now I just have to make one tiny change here and there to make it happen, and before I know it, it’ll be done.

Maybe wanting a natural, kid-friendly body is attachment. But aren’t I also attached to over-eating and undermoving? Aren’t I attached to not knowing what to do, and aren’t I attached to trying to figure it out?

I bet that letting my cravings pass without acting on them, choosing simple food over complicated food, not over-eating, and not under-moving are much less attached than what I’ve been doing for the past several years. I just need to eat how kids eat, and move how kids move. Maybe it really is that straightforward.

Neat!

Yesterday I was toying with an idea which was cemented by this morning’s book-find. I picked up a book called “Letting Go of the Person You Used To Be,” by Lama Surya Das, a Tibetan Buddhist. Although I practice Soto-Zen Buddhism, not Tibetan Buddhism, they’re essentially just different fingers on the same hand. I was intrigued by the title seeming such a serendipitous and necessary fit for my life at the moment. I wasn’t disappointed.

The section I’m on now uses an exercise of imagining for a moment that you give up something that you typically think of as vital to your function in this world. Give up your house, your money, your spouse, your children, your friends, your personality—wait, your what?

Your personality?

This one gave me pause. Imagine for a minute that you did away with your personality. Pretend that you sat down, decided who you were, and then you just tossed it into the trash. How would you survive?

Yesterday I toyed with the idea of giving up swearing. Actually, I toyed with the idea of finding something new to give up each and every month for a year. But starting with swearing seemed like a good choice. After all, if I’m so scared of it happening, I might as well explore that fear a little more. Then “Letting Go of the Person You Used To Be” finalized my decision. As of today, no more swearing.

I imagine a world in which my language is simple, respectful, and mindful. I anticipate enjoying the learning curve of finding humor without using curse-words as my road map. I’m curious to explore this uncharted territory. And rather than being scared of the unknown, I finally feel like I have a plan. Or that I no longer need one.

But I didn’t decide to give something up every month. Instead, I’ve decided to replace an unhealthy habit for a healthier one. Removing swear-words from my repertoire avails me of more brain-space for practicing my braille. Or at least that’s what I’ll tell myself.

One more piece of my old self down the drain. Frightening, but exilerating. I wonder what’s next? Stay tuned!

I have no idea who I am anymore.

I’ve spent 22 years being a know-it-all, arrogant, power-hungry, problem-solving, only-happy-when-I’m-miserable, dark-clothes-and-a-scowl kind of person. Now… now I don’t know what the hell is going on with me.

I’m happy. I’m content. I’m a loving, caring, compassionate, awareness-applying Buddhist. I’m breaking away from dark colors. I’m even starting to smile! But worst of all, I’m losing the urge to swear, make crude jokes, and complain.

I have no idea who I am anymore.

I’m losing every ounce of myself that I ever found comfortable. I don’t gossip, I don’t overeat—And I’ve become the kind of person who not only enjoys exercise, but who feels worse without it.

I’m afraid. Very afraid. The only parts of myself I have left are my swearing and my crude humor, and I… I don’t know who I’d be without them. The people who’ve come into my life in the last two years would never know the difference. But Reven? Diana? My parents? I’m honestly afraid that they wouldn’t even talk to me anymore. I love them all so much, (Well, except my parents,) and I’m petrified to imagine a world without them. If I don’t make fun of Reven for being gay (which he’s not) will he even know how to be in the same room as me? Last weekend I almost broke down in tears because I was watching myself be awful to him and I didn’t know how to stop it. I didn’t know how to not push his buttons just because it was habit. I wanted to hug him, to hold him, to let him be anxious and to make everything all right, and instead I mocked him, made him laugh, and tried to make light of his discomfort.

I have two parts of myself left, and if I’m being honest, I know they’re not long for this world. The old me is dying. And I can’t keep pretending it isn’t.

I’m scared. I’m so indescribably scared. And there’s no one to help me.

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