27 August 2010

Don't throw anyone out of your heart

How often do you get angry at yourself? Do you ever call yourself names or lose patience? What kind of thoughts go through your mind when you sit down to meditate? If we were able to consciously note all the times that we berate, chastise, shame, blame and otherwise beat ourselves up, I think most of us would be surprised.

Working with recovering addicts, I regularly meet wonderful people who have extreme difficulty forgiving themselves for past behaviors. Even without the physical, mental and spiritual destruction caused by active addiction, we all have a past. Maybe we've done things of which we aren't proud. We may have thrown out hurtful words and wish we could to take them back or made promises we didn't keep. We may have inherited negative ideas about ourselves from our families. Some people never forgive themselves; this is a tragedy. Melody Beattie, an author and journalist, writes extensively about codepency and the difficulty of overcoming self-loathing. She compares it to a virus. Who doesn't want to be rid of a virus?

"Contemplating the goodness within ourselves is a classical meditation, done to bring light, joy, and rapture to the mind. In contemporary times this practice might be considered rather embarrassing, because so often the emphasis is on all the unfortunate things we have done, all the disturbing mistakes we have made. Yet this classical reflection is not a way of increasing conceit. It is rather a commitment to our own happiness, seeing our happiness as the basis for intimacy with all of life. It fills us with joy and love for ourselves and a great deal of self-respect." Sharon Salzberg, from Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness.

Through the practice of metta meditation, we have an opportunity to develop compassion for ourselves in a way that is simple, comfortable (pretty much), and effective. Teaching meditation to beginners allows me to incorporate different methods of practice through a series of classes. Metta is a practice to which everyone responds positively. Salzberg says, "Metta is the priceless treasure that enlivens us and brings us into intimacy with ourselves and others. It is the force of love that will lead beyond fragmentation, loneliness and fear."

Kevin Murphy is an old friend and a musician who gave me one of his cds just this week. The timing couldn't have been better. Thank you Kevin, for writing this song ~

How could you love me?/You wouldn't if you knew you're wasting my time and your time too.
For me it's so easy and you don't even see/You hate yourself, how could you love me?
When we first met, I had a crush on you/The more I got to know you the stronger it grew
Then I remembered or it occurred to me/You hate yourself, how could you love me?
I don't know how to put it any other way/I can't paint another picture 'til this one fades away
So for now, this much is true/You hate yourself, I still love you...
Go ahead, hate yourself/I still love you

12 August 2010

Chivalry is not dead!

It was raining VERY hard when I left Ellwood Thompson's tonight. People sat at protected outdoor tables closest to the store; there were sheets of water ahead. A young man (who I think was an employee) appeared with an umbrella and asked if anyone needed to be walked to their car!! Things like that tickle me and keep my faith in my fellow man alive. Thank you, whoever you are, for being kind to strangers.

Tapas, or self-discipline, is one of the Niyamas. It is created in asana practice through focus - focus on breath and integrity in alignment. Developing tapas keeps not just the body but our mind and speech positive and may result in this kind of behavior - not bad!

06 August 2010

Gil Scott-Heron - 'I'm New Here'

Scott-Heron's latest recording - his artistic talent survives in a fashion and amazingly. After reading Alec Wilkinson's New Yorker piece, my curiosity was peaked. I remember listening to The Revolution Will Not be Televised (1968) - it was like nothing else. A miracle that a man can live - locked in his Harlem apartment, smoking lots and lots of crack, losing his teeth, surviving two stints in prison, paranoia. God bless him and welcome back. It's never too late to turn around. . . if you want.

04 August 2010

Gil Scott Heron "The Bottle" (1974)

Gil Scott-Heron has been creating verbal and musical art for over 40 years. This song foreshadows his addiction, "I'll tell you a little secret - if you ever come a lookin' for me, you know where I'm bound to be - in the bottle. Turn around, look around on any corner, if you see some brother lookin' like a goner, it's gonna be me. . . All that I'm concerned about is the bottle."

Gil Scott Heron - The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

03 August 2010

Fruit and herb infused water

Back from vacation - it's a tough transition from the cool clear days on Lake Michigan to what passes for summer weather here in Richmond!

To keep a cool, fresh spirit, I use summer fruits and herbs to make naturally flavored water - just take a few sliced peaches, a handful of slightly crushed blueberries, some smushed mint leaves - add to a pitcher of cold water and chill. You can also do this with other combos - sliced cucumbers and rosemary is a winner. These waters don't need sweetening, but that doesn't mean you can't add a little if you like.
I miss waking to the sound of lake waves pushing rocks, lake rocks rolling back. I miss waking to a handful of fresh blueberries from a bottomless box.