Friday, March 25, 2005

May you be bombarded by coconuts of wakefulness

After giving the matter some thought, I've decided that it's okay to bring a compass. Its portable, and I can toss it aside at any time I feel that it is directing me, and not the other way around.

So, I've decided to focus some of my parenting discussing around Pema Chodron's The Wisdom of No Escape. The title seems so apropos to being a mom...doesn't it?

I think I need a preamble

I am slightly nervous of becoming fluffy and vacuous. Afterall, the topic of this book is about Loving Kindness. I'll be brave and tackle the topic with humour and crassness. (Hand over my heart: "I so solemly swear...") I'll try my very best to be wry. See, the one thing that I actually like about my writing is those occasional one-liners that make me laugh. I imagine that it is a good thing since it is not all that often that I find elements about myself worth keeping. Self loathing is the name on my baggage. Its much cheaper than a Louis Vuitton.

So, if I suddenly slip into the abyss of sappiness...please kick me in the head. It will do me some good. After all, Chogyam Trungpa said "In the garden of gentle sanity, May you be bombarded by coconuts of wakefulness".

Second point to my preamble: This book was developed during a Dathun at Gampo Abbey. A Dathun is a month long meditation retreat, where participants spend a significant amount of time in sitting meditation and the remainder of the time in "Noble Silence". Functional speaking is allowed during certain points of the day, while absolute silence is observed during others. All meals are eaten Oryoki style - which is highly ritualized eating. Its enchanting to watch, and apparently frustrating to learn. You can see what I mean in the film "Enlightenment Guaranteed". In all...its a very intense experience.

This brings me to the topic of meditation.

Its a shame that we (in the west, or of Judeo-Christian slantings) have such a misconception of this practice. I think we confuse it with a spiritual practice - like prayer. In fact, its only spiritual insofar as Buddhist scholars say so. Its more like a tool. Its amazingly simple - breathe, focus on that, when the barrage of cerebral diarreah hits you, note it and go back to breathing. That's really all there is to it. Throughout my practice, I notice that its both relaxing and challenging. I would compare it more to jogging or running- doing it can be hard, yet the results are worth it and the more you do it, the better you get. Sometimes it is all I can do but sit on that cushion and avoid the screaming in my skull...HOW MUCH MORE TIME HAVE I GOT TO ENDURE THIS? It has helped improve my concentration, reading and my confidence. Really.
Here is the catch...I need time...with relatively few distractions.

When I am the only parent to three boys under the age of seven...its a feat to discover this free and unbroken period of time. They wake at 6:30, and its go go go go go go go until 8:00PM.If I am not tending to their whim and need, I am hosting craft corner or storyhour...or the fetid bath. There are few quiet moments, and if there is, I immediately start investigating. So, after they are tucked in and sweetly unconscious...I sit. And then, usually I open my eyes and its 4:30am. I could sit here and beat myself up over not making time for meditation, or not giving it a priority. I could wake up at 5am...but what the hell...meditation is supposed to be helpful...not torture.

Its becoming very clear why Siddartha left his wife and child to go figure it all out....who can discern the truth of all things when your two year old is in crisis over his sticky fingers, your seven year old is making sculptures with the household footwear and the five year old has been typing "XXX" into Google? (incidentally this was unintentional and random...but bound to happen eventually)

This single parenting business is for the birds. I want my 15 minutes of free time back please!

Oh yeah...Pema to follow...I promise.

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