Be Seen

Today is a wonderful day: International Women’s Day. Women all over the world are speaking up, speaking out about where work still needs to be done to foster equal representation and to encourage courage in the face of those who wish to make us small.

The idea that to change the world we must change ourselves rings very true to me. How can we bring peace into the world if we ourselves are not peaceful? How can we encourage loving relations in the world if we are not loving toward ourselves? Initially, this idea of changing ourselves can seem more manageable than changing the world. Physically, of course, the world is enormous, and it is indescribably complex. Yet, as we are with ourselves continuously, there is always an opportunity to change ourselves, any moment. However, women’s inner worlds are also complex. If you are like me, it can be difficult to look inside. It can feel overwhelming to unearth all the emotions, fears, preconceived notions, and anger. I believe that’s why we can spend quite a bit of energy trying to change other people, other situations, other modes of thought. Yet if we have hatred, how can we expect others to release their hatred? If we judge and discriminate against some others, how can we demand others to not judge and discriminate against some other others? It takes courage to change the world, but it might take more courage to change ourselves.

This year’s IWD theme: Be Bold for Change. Be bold for change in the world, be bold for change in yourself.

I’ve been spending a good deal of time this semester feeling small, not wanting to be noticed. I believe this is because I am in a new relationship, and I’m being noticed, and there is an excellent chance this person will notice aspects of my personality or habit patterns that I am not proud of, or that are holding me back, or that are contradictory, or maybe even harmful to myself or others. This is ironic, because I spent a good deal of time last semester desiring that someone would notice me, that someone would see me. What I realize now is that I wanted someone to see my good, but not my not-so-good. So I’ve been slowly shrinking myself in hopes that I just won’t be noticed.

But what an opportunity. There is someone who sees me, who is seeing me more and more deeply. I can show someone who I am, I can share with someone how I think, I can tell someone my fears, I can mess up and be afraid and trip over myself and that person can be a witness to all of that living. Someone seeing me so closely is really, really scary for me. But what can I do but to keep showing up, keep refusing to get small, keep encouraging the courage in myself? It hurts to be seen, it hurts not to be seen. Which do you choose?

Happy International Women’s Day. Remember not to focus only on how far we have yet to go, but also on how far we’ve come. Remember the freedoms that you experience every day in addition to where your freedom is restricted. Remember that you are not alone, and women all over the world experience heartache, jealousy, self-criticism, rage, and fear. Remember that we all want to be seen, we all want to be loved, we all want to feel safe, we all want to feel justified.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. – Anais Nin

Chance favors the prepared mind.

Quote from Pasteur.

Also:

This made him understand, he said, that we cannot hope to capture anything in life. It is best just to let go and see what comes to you instead.

From The Sun magazine, although I can’t remember which story or which month. It’s written on a card that sits in my office that I just remembered was there.

Put another way:

Your job is just to observe, and let Dhamma (The Truth, The Path) do the rest.

From SNG.

Since coming home after my most recent 10-day, this idea of letting go, unclenching the fists, dialing down the effort, nurturing faith that life will present to you what exactly you need has been on my mind. Many experiences have been presented to me already in the past two weeks, to hold and turn over and examine and wonder over. Imagine an active passivity, where you are intently interested in life yet you do not direct its flow. The world is too vast to continually pick over. You can succeed and find fulfillment in simple observation of experience.

Love,
Sara

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Three of ’em

Listen to your being. It is continuously giving you hints; it is a still, small voice. It does not shout at you, that is true. And if you are a little silent you will start feeling your way. Be the person you are. Never try to be another, and you will become mature. Maturity is accepting the responsibility of being oneself, whatsoever the cost. Risking all to be oneself, that’s what maturity is all about.

Drop the idea of becoming someone, because you are already a masterpiece. You cannot be improved. You have only to come to it, to know it, to realize it.

That is the simple secret of happiness. Whatever you are doing, don’t let past move your mind; don’t let future disturb you. Because the past is no more, and the future is not yet. To live in the memories, to live in the imagination, is to live in the non-existential. And when you are living in the non-existential, you are missing that which is existential. Naturally you will be miserable, because you will miss your whole life.

(Osho)

The basic point of it all

Pema Chödrön:

The basic point of it [meditation] all is just to learn to be extremely honest and also wholehearted about what exists in your mind – thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, the whole thing that adds up to what we call “me” or “I”.

Nobody else can really begin to sort out for you what to accept and what to reject in terms of what wakes you up and what makes you fall asleep. Non one else can really sort out for you what to accept – what opens up your world – and what to reject – what seems to keep you going round and round in some kind of repetitive misery…

…Because we are decent, basically good people, we ourselves can sort out what to accept and what to reject. We can discern what will make us complete, sane, grown-up people, and what – if we are too involved in it – will keep us children forever.

This is the process of making friends with ourselves and with our world. It involves not just the parts we like, but the whole picture, because it all has a lot to teach us.

From The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness.

Photo credit.

Perfect in my imperfect perfection

A human life can be difficult to organize into neat patterns.

However, one aspect of my life I find quite easy to cleanly delineate. I see a reliable, undeniable pattern in which I experience a profound level of peace, ease, and self-gentleness for a time before an experience comes along that tips me off the cliff into deep darkness. This does not correlate neatly with my monthly cycle. Besides the inevitability of the fall, there is little rhyme or reason to timing or what kind of experience will cause the shift. I am not a moderate person in this way.

I felt myself coming out of a deep darkness yesterday evening. Besides patiently waiting it out, there is little I can do in terms of self-care to crawl up the cliff and back to the meadow. It is like every deep darkness comes to me so I can learn something about human beings, about myself, about wise living. This time, my lesson was regarding imperfection.

My desire to be perfect is nearly all-encompassing. I desire even to be perfect in my imperfections, as if I had intentionally planned out all the yucky stuff in my life and nothing about me is an accident (is anything an accident?).

If you know me personally, you probably know that I meditate regularly and take my practice very seriously. It is my life’s largest treasure. This effort brings me enormous benefit, but it can also hinder me in some ways, at least until I realize that I’m self-hindering and learn from that experience as well. Because the practice is fairly demanding, I find myself trying to attain perfection in my practice. Never missing a sitting, never opening my eyes or moving while sitting, tailoring my daily schedule to sitting, dedicated sobriety, a strong desire to “do it all myself,” etc. I was sitting last night with a new friend and this hideous monster from the deep darkness I had been calmly staring in the face for five days softened and melted into a voice reminding me that I can be imperfect. I can make goals that I immediately give up on. I can make the same unhelpful decisions on the daily until I breathe my last. I can engage in laziness against my better judgment. I can be a mediocre friend, coworker, gardener, and bicyclist. I can let myself be afraid and not expect that to ever turn into bravery. Life still proceeds without my permission. I am still lovable.

Perhaps that is actually my greatest desire, to be lovable. It’s okay to forget that I am lovable, it’s okay for you to forget, because you will remember. Even if it’s only the sudden sun on your face after a day of rain, you will be reminded that you are loved. Enjoy the light, observe the dark. Every moment is a precious jewel of discovery.

Photo courtesy of scottishnativewoods.blogspot.com.