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Boris in his winter basket with his wool sweater and kitty heater

The crisis has averted, and I am sitting hospice for my dear, sweet kitty companion of almost 20 years. Boris has been the only constant in my immediate space for those years. The house has changed, the state in which the house resided has changed, a marriage went, the couch is a different couch, the bed is a different bed. Only a few books, five treasured antique wine glasses, and an old workbench stored in the spare room are pre-Boris. Boris was rescued from a kitty mill in Nebraska. He was taken to a pet store in Tucson, Arizona. My then husband and I had just moved to Arizona with no money and a few possessions tucked into a tiny trailer. I picked Boris out of the lot of milling kittens. He was quiet and stoic and made me feel wise and safe when I held him. The pet store paid for a visit to the vet. The vet did not think he would live. He was four months old and only half the size he was supposed to be. He was diagnosed with a tape worm, treated, and doubled in weight in a month. He grew to his full weight of seven pounds and held the safety of the world in his tiny body. Despite an empathic fear of needles that borders on nausea and swooning, I have learned to use a hanging bag and needle to give him subcutaneous fluids once a day. He is alert, mobile, and not in pain. If he was eating and did not insist on lying in the safe cave of the litter box for hours, I would think he was fine. But he is not fine, at least in the long run he is not fine. But in this moment he and I are both fine, and quiet, and calm, and the air outside in not too hot, so I can open the windows and hear the birds in the 100-year old black walnut tree whose arc covers most of the back yard.

The biggest benefit of meditation practice is then having the skills to stay in the moment during the times when it is almost impossible to do so. Beloved Boris is dying. It may be today. It may be in a few days. He is more than 19 years old. I am told that is about equivalent to a human being at 100. When I spin stories about imagining life without him, I remember that is in the future, not this moment. At this moment, he is here. I know there is pain now and there will be pain later, but suffering now will not alleviate pain later. The best is to feel what happens when it happens. When I think of memories, I get the same hollow feeling as spinning stories of the future. That too is not this moment. At this time it is only adding suffering. This moment has no hollowness. Coming back to this moment is a matter of gathering in the edges of the past and future until they merge with now. Such an exercise takes all of my energy, but there is peace in now. There is calm and comfort.

What happens when meditation works? What happens when meditation changes something that changes something? I continue to be amazed at the result of the being yelled at encounter I had four days ago. I stood up for myself in the face of a verbal assault of blasting energy. I think that reaction was only possible because of meditation allowing me to practice centering myself in the midst of my own storms. I have stood up for myself in this way several times in my life. Each time the result was literally feeling shocky for up to days after. This one the shock lasted for 27 hours.

But this time, four days later, I keep noticing that something has changed. Something deep has changed. There are fears that have been been working at the center and edges of many decisions and interactions that are gone. Just simply gone. It is like some well is finally dry. A well that should be dry. 

We all have our own personal baggage and bugaboos. Some of mine are several people who I have had difficulty being around in the past few years. In each case I was involved in a series of situations where I felt unheard, unbelieved about something that I felt was important. As a result I felt unsafe. Today, with the well dry, the residual difficulties seem to be gone.

In a smaller arena, I have a story that may be so personal that it may not translate. I have a history of being afraid of the machines at the gym. I have been afraid that I didn’t belong in that section, that I didn’t know what I was doing, that everyone else knew what they were doing, that I didn’t want to embarrass myself, that others didn’t want me there. Tonight, I walked over, read the directions on the side of four different machines, and used them. I know it sounds stupid, but it is huge. Of course no one else ever had or voiced any of those thoughts. They were only in my head. Others never heard the voices, now I don’t hear those voices either. Amazing.

Wow. Did not think one lick about meditation or awareness today. What does that say about awareness?

Calm. Serene. Left over anger, years old, is gone. Same age fear, gone. They must have been attached to each other. They must have been attached to whatever emptied, vibrated out. I don’t know what it is, but it has something to do with the craving for a certain kind of safety. I am reacting differently to issues that ran under many things, ran under interactions with certain people. It feels strange to have the niggling, underlying, almost constant fear gone. I pay attention to the empty places. We’ll see if it stays away. One has to be ready for impermanence.

It took 27 hours for the ringing to stop, although my stomach, which hurt all day, still hurts. Ice cream for dinner.

Over the 27 hours, I hope I was successful at not creating any new disasters because of the emotional discomfort caused by the painful ringing and vibrations. It is easy to create new disasters in these situations. They are born of a naive attempt to squash or hijack the pain. They show themselves in stories of blame, injustice, and righteous indignation. I try to remember, if I allow myself to spin these stories, I will believe them. They will become true.

It is the stories that cause suffering. The trauma is pain. Everything added to it is suffering. Adding to the suffering creates a diversion. The diversion feeds the pain while it cleverly circumvents the mechanisms that take care of releasing the trauma. Creating stories has a powerful function. They keep us stuck.

In order to support allowing the pain to run its own course, I saw only people who would listen without adding to story. At the same time, I tried to say as little of the story out loud as I could possibility stand. I tried to let the energy just run, no matter how painful. Then I slept. They tell me when we let the energy run, let it run its life out, that it will never come back in that way again. That would be a blessing.

When someone takes something that I did not understand, and makes me wrong, even when I apologize, I mean really apologize, not the “I am sorry that you didn’t understand” apology, but a “this is how I understood it, I am really sorry I got it wrong” apology and tells me that I should have never understood it that way in the first place, I believe them. Deep down I believe them. That I shouldn’t have understood it that way in the first place. That there is something unforgivable in me. And it rings in my heart and in my lungs and in my ears and in my chest and it keeps me from sleeping. And I wonder when will the ringing be over all on its own, because even though I philosphically believe that talking about it more may help, I have no faith that any tact on the conversation would lead to a different result. This is the hurricane that meditation is supposed to teach us to walk through and stay as upright as possible as the internal or external storm rings and rains. It hurts.