Kripalu, or a weekend of waking up

I wanted to take Jason away somewhere for a surprise weekend away, and decided that since he’s never been to Kripalu and is on this crazy path of self-discovery that he might enjoy it. Or if he didn’t enjoy it he would at least get something out of it. That is, even if he didn’t want to do the personal transformation sessions, he might still be able to do yoga, or in the least go for a run in the woods.

Turns out he’s enjoying the personal transformation sessions and getting a lot out of being here. It doesn’t hurt that this building used to be some type of convent… he says he’s felt the presence of Jesus and then his eyes get watery. That’s his way of saying he cries, except for that he never says he cries. He gets very emotional about Jesus, and I’ve never seen him get emotional about anything else honestly. Oh sure anger or excitement yes but not raw emotion. Only Jesus gets to feel that. I sound jealous. I probably am.

The weather is gorgeous so we went for a nice walk to the beach and walk the labyrinth. I keep wondering if we’re going to walk away from this weekend feeling any closer. I feel like we’re friends, we’re still raw though. We have a mutual appreciation for that right now, and maybe we’re not going to feel much closer until we deal with our own shit. I have to remind myself this is all new for him. These emotions, this way of looking at life and himself, the type of relationship that is not skimming on the surface but getting deep. I also have to remind myself to be patient and kind because even though he gets excited and determined and wants to try something new, I have a lifetime of experience telling me that real, significant changes take time. Sometimes a long, long time.

Forgive yourself

When I began learning meditation, about 20+ years ago, the school of thought was that you could force your brain to be silent – that is how enlightenment would come. Stare at the flame of a candle, think blank thoughts… when I hear this now, it seems preposterous. Through decades of research, we have a better understanding of the human brain. Learning to achieve a cessation of mind chatter, a silencing, is like training a puppy. Which, anyone who has had a puppy knows, can be frustrating, annoying, and requires patience and consistency. And now that mediation, yoga, mindfulness, and any activity that is supposed to bring about a greater sense of self is all the rage in the Western world, the pressure to do so – especially here in our United States of Competition, is great and inevitably linked to failure. In that mindset, if you’re unable to achieve a pretzel body and a quiet mind, its more likely you’ll give up and go eat a bagel. At least, that’s what I do. Along with some general beating up on one’s self. ‘It’s not for me, I’m not good enough, I can’t do it,’ yada yada. What we don’t learn, what we can’t learn until someone has brought us up this way or taught us, is that it’s alright to forgive yourself. It’s imperative, actually.

I read an article recently about the founder of Spanx. When she was growing up, at the dinner table her father would ask what she had done to fail that week. He’d high-five her if she had a failure to share, defining failure as ‘not trying’ instead of ‘not succeeding’. We can’t grow or learn without struggle, and failures. And so, I forgive myself – for not meditating the last couple of days, for not making a blog entry yesterday, for overreacting to something my stepdaughter said last week, for not communicating to my man about my needs, for making a social faux pas with a friend. I used to hang on to all of these failures. Each and every one, and they would pile up and I’d feel that I couldn’t possibly achieve anything – good relationships, self-care, progress in my writing, or ever truly realizing what good I am to the world. It is a work in progress to let these things go, to realize I was lazy – which is a quality I abhor in others – and that everything is still going to be all right. But I’m trying.

Where to start, part deux

I had the strangest dream last night. My boy was little and we were on a double decker bus with Amanda Plummer. He was talking about his friends who traveled, who were the children of diplomats and lived all over the world. And then I left them behind but kept going on the roof of this bus. There was more, something about my old job, and grocery shopping with a cart that was ten times its normal size and I couldn’t reach to put in the sandwiches from the deli. But the sandwiches kept falling apart anyhow, they were stacked high and the lettuce was soggy. The store wasn’t open yet, actually, but I was trying to get food and I couldn’t reach or get what I needed but I was starving. And then there was a splash of walking by an abandoned amusement park with hundreds of people waiting in line for it to open. It was dark and strange and I tried to tell them they were closed but they couldn’t hear me. Like zombies except they weren’t, just ordinary people, with kids even, that wanted to ride the rides…

So. That’s what I woke up to. I had a good meditation session this morning – I cried and my mind went on a tangent. Something about facing my fears, I imagine but that’s the thing about dreams and monkey mind, you can never quite put your finger on what was the point.

I met some new Moms yesterday at the park with Jennifer. She didn’t have school because of Yom Kippur and I’ve become acquaintances with one of her friend’s Mom. Through her, she introduced me to three other Moms, one of whom I really liked. However, I find when I talk about my transition here, to living in NJ, I get depressed. I am funny, of course, but while they are laughing at my self-deprecating and honest jokes, are they also thinking, WTF or Let’s stay away from this one because she’s got lukewarm juju about our sweet home town? Prolly. And I don’t blame them. I bet by the time I actually embrace living here, we’ll be ready to leave. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a hell hole, its just not where I want to be. I don’t gravitate toward the monochrome, the vanilla, the all-look-same. Yeah yeah, this town has an area of affordable housing where the ‘poor people’ and ‘hobos’ live, this is all according to the girls, but that’s the most fucked up part. Despite there being a shred of diversity, which could add to the community, people here still see them as others. When I try and explain this to the girls, they put on sad, pouty faces and say how they feel sorry for the people in the projects, and its so sad they have to live like that, and on and on. While we are encouraging and teaching empathy, by our words and example, I fear that we are perpetuating pity also. ‘Those’ people are mostly smart, often educated, working men, women and children, just like us. While their opportunities have been different or non-existent, I don’t feel sorry for them. I don’t pity them. I feel for them, yes, but I don’t see them as less-than because of their circumstances. Also, what good is all the pity if we’re not doing anything to help them? The girls fear those kids because they are different. Its not that they don’t have a handful of black kids at their school, they do. And they always have a story to tell about them – they live in the projects, their Dads left and they have no money and its so so sad. This just isn’t the reality, though. Yes, I am sure this is true for some of them but its also true for some of the white kids! And the hispanic kids! Parents get divorced, people struggle with money, children are mistreated – and it is all awful. But how do we get our children to see that they are all the same… children? And what they need is friendship, not pity?