Unfortunately, Erik has been sick this week, so we didn’t have a coaching call. I emailed him some train of thought creative writing based on the prompts. I’m sorry to say that I haven’t heard back from him, which I interpret to mean he’s really not well. Also, I think he was in Spain last week, so hopefully he’s getting good care.
In the garden I was able to reconnect (after being in the city with no nature)
relatively quickly to my little internal space of silence and nonverbal mental murmurs
Then I realized that I needed to focus on the question at hand
because it was so easy to just let go of thought and move in space
I am, I am,,,
more and more content to just be
-not busy, not preoccupied, not holding on to ego wants and whines
nearly as long as years ago me
I am perceptive and attuned to the details of details
which does have it's hazards, like rabbit holes and time consumption
and does have it's benefits when I can hold them objective, knowing there is always a lens.
I am a spirit having a human experience
like a slogan on a bumper sticker I recently saw, which I resonated with
if only more bumpers in the world kept me in touch with that insight
- it's sometimes hard for me to preserve my morale
I'm searching for the words that aren't adjectives
optimistic, yet prone to melancholy
take joy in using melancholy for growth
My Self likes to sense the vibration of people, of each person and resonate
to make something -a bubble, an orb without words
to use movement, play and pretend and theater to find meaning
to learn and dissect and find synergy
My Self is intolerant of pretenses and routines.
I have an inkling fantasy that I know what to do here
it feels phony to say it.
In some sense I've known for a long time the shape of it
and the feeling quality of it
but sorting out the real life details has been a struggle
(I've taken the jewels from the struggles)
This person wants to sew together her intuitive spirit with the hard and fastened
"real world" to find her right livelihood and give and give without ever pooping out
-Or move to Scotland and raise sheep and live in a little cottage
and read everything
Either way is totally welcome.
I find it very easy to feel my own inner nature with people I don't know
- I'm entertained by the challenge of breaking small talk into talking like good friends
in the time it takes to ring up groceries.
I'm deeply challenged by family and people who live with hostility in my community
I 'm developing the ability to do what I just described above with them
which means laying aside the way that those interactions hurt for a later time when I can soothe them.
Sometimes there isn't enough soothing and I want to leave forever!!
But I always believe in the sweetness of people, I know that I have a way
of being down to earth, accessible, thought provoking just outside of the regular ring of everyday thoughts
I never presume to know the highest possibility of a person, but I hold space for them to get bigger when they are around me,
which means they are seen by me, the value of seeing details within details
I never presume to know what anyone is thinking, but phrase a possibility in a question
so that they can sort through their senses and find their own words.
I'm thinking of my neighbor, Debbie, who we call "Duchess of Hazard" because we always hear her screaming streams of profanities from down the street. When I saw her this week on the sidewalk I asked her how she was doing in a tone that said I really meant it. We had only a few meters to walk before my house. She turned and looked at me for a glance and I felt that she knew my sincerity. Her sister just gave birth to a boy and she's going to see them in Florida. This was good news to just soak in! I think she continued on just a little lifted.
My brother left for Colorado this past week, my family gathered for dinner. Emotions were running a little high, and some of us are a bit dysfunctional together. It's typically my role to steer us away from tension and back to the point of the gathering. But not at our dinner this week, I just had to hold space for the outbursts and shouting match. I gave an attempt at breaking the field from 2 to 3, but the family disbanded into different rooms. My brother caught on, a little, which was certainly a shift. I think that they all think they just shrug off the tension. But they really don't let go of the dynamic and try new approaches. I think this is partly where I developed my eye for interpersonal dynamics. The highest possibility that I've always wanted isn't likely, I've had to reassess what is realistic.
Andrew is truly great to work with. He admits when a coaching concept is over his head and frequently reveals in his affect that this upsets him. He’s not at all self deprecating, but is pretty open about his struggles school and in life -and also his strengths.
One of the things I enjoy about working with Andrew the most is that he writes notes while I’m speaking. What an honor! Andrew is completely new to the concepts of mindfulness and meditation, and he’s open about fumbling through communication skills. It’s not generally seen favorably when someone admits that they don’t know, but that they’d like to. Clearly, this class has put him on a new trajectory. Even if he doesn’t meditate in the future, he seems to have a deeper sense of himself, that something more than busy thoughts and life beyond working for the post office as a mail deliverer.
The tricky aspect of last week’s prompt is putting word to the essence of our being. He felt exasperated that he had no clue what that could mean. We agreed that Dialogue Processes encompasses many simple behaviors that are very complex. I encouraged him that, yes, this IS a sophisticated realm full of nuance, and experience is key. “I am…” can go much, much deeper than “a mail carrier, a son, a musician” or even a list of adjectives, like, “I am funny, determined, depressed.” (my examples) Over time, the inner landscape becomes more familiar and orienting oneself is more of a wonder than an obstacle course.
Last semester, Andrew and I had Philosophical Thinking together. I reminded him of a conversation that I and another classmate had about the Atman, the deepest inner essence of each and everyone of us, indelible, unique and pure. In Indian Philosophy, the Koshas are imaged as concentric rings. The Atman is in the center. A person who is interested in accessing the quality of their Atman reflects on the purpose of each ring as a way of life, until each ring is mastered. This practice was one of ancient sages and devotees, so taking on this pursuit in our modern, plugged in culture has challenges. Namely, distraction -it’s probably easier to attain the state of Atman on a remote mountain top with round the clock meditations and a pristine diet. However, I noted, what’s the point of attaining all that if you have to isolate?
So, Andrew just simply had no idea what to say about his self, Self? I offered that it may be more reasonable and appropriate for him to scale back a few steps. Before sifting through the nuances for that fine quality of light, we need to know how to look for the space that the quality resides in. (By the way, I didn’t deliver it this formally, it has to interest Andrew’s sensibilities!) He admitted that he didn’t feel like a very good meditator, so we turned our focus onto something he could grasp in his daily life.
Andrew’s interests are rock music, guitar, writing, watching films, among others, probably because these are the modalities he learns best in. When he does any of these activities, I explored, does he feel a deeper calm, and settled into himself? Is there any activity that he does that gives kind of a vibration, that feels true and good? He ponders and quietly nods, yes. My suggestion to him was to go to those activities and notice with curiosity the sensation that rises. He asks if the sensation he’s looking for is happiness. No, happiness is transient, the sensation we’re looking for is always there, it just feels a little stronger when we notice it. Just because we like happiness doesn’t mean that is our highest self, or necessarily an appropriate goal. The meditation style of sitting silently and inviting thoughts to drift by trains the awareness to distinguish between runaway thoughts and intentional thoughts. It’s is just one of many ways to meditate. Another way could be to watch yourself do what you do with curiosity, with no judgment. Maybe while he’s delivering mail he’ll spontaneously look up above the trees and feel a “ping.”
An example, a friend of mine was making a similar self inquiry. She was playing with her baby nephew one day and noticed that she felt very vibrant and alive. She didn’t want children, or to be around babies all the time. She became aware of a sensation that felt undeniable and hard to explain in simple words. She kind of memorized the feeling, and went on to find more sensations in her life.
Andrew made notes of all of this. I encouraged him that mindfulness isn’t necessarily something to be “good at doing” though a person can eventually feel more trust in their mind activity as they practice more. Maybe we will check in on his progress later, and maybe this little depth-charge will continue on-goingly with no desire to move to “the next level.” It all depends on what type of person you are, how you learn, and practice.
That’s why they call it practice, Andrew says.
I really like doing this.