This morning I decided to meditate with my eyes open. I wanted to see if it felt any different than when I keep my eyes closed. For the most part it was the same.
I observed my cats making faces at each other, while my dog kept his eye on one of them who he thought was getting too close to his “personal space.” I heard him give a faint growl. I could barely hear it but I’m sure Annie knew it was directed at her. She kept her distance and focused her attention on Lily who is always ready for a good wrestling match. They ended up playing a game of chase.
Outside my patio window a June bug visited and buzzed around a few of my succulents. A hummingbird stopped by for a quick morning snack from the feeder hanging outside.
Off in the distance I heard a car alarm sound off for nearly four minutes (I know because I checked the clock) I will admit, the noise got to be a bit annoying. I found myself thinking “Doesn’t the owner hear his or her own car alarm? If no one goes to check on it, what’s the use of having one anyway? We have a lot of car break-ins here.” Then I stopped myself and focused on observing and not editorializing.
The garbage truck arrived and I heard the dumpsters being moved from their spot and the garbage being dumped.
A few birds chirped, along with a crow. I heard the jingling of a dog’s leash as a neighbor walked by with her Jack Russell. A couple small airplanes flew over my house to land at the airport nearby.
A few times an idea for an essay and a chapter for my book popped into my head. I though about filing it away in my memory bank and writing it down after my meditation but then I remembered that my memory is not what it used to be post chemotherapy. If I wanted to remember, I had to get up and get my small pad from the coffee table and write it down.
I did the best I could to remain in the present moment, write down my idea and go back to what I was doing. I believe it was Thich Nhat Hanh who said you can meditate anywhere anytime. It’s all about being present. I believe I did a pretty good job accomplishing that.
Later today I will sit for another 20 minutes the same way. I’ll see how that goes…
I just finished reading The Accidental Buddhist; a funny, personal story how the author, Dinty Moore, became a Buddhist. The title of his last chapter “What Kind of Buddhist Am I” got me to thinking — what kind of Buddhist am I? Since I don’t like labels, I don’t actually call myself a Buddhist, but if someone asks (which hardly ever happens), I tell them I study Buddhism. Don’t ask me why I don’t like labels. I just don’t, but if you don’t like that answer— it’s because labels create judgment and that creates all sorts of problems.
Moore goes on to answer his own question, “A lousy one. Thank you.” And I can relate to that. I am no saint. I don’t live in a monastery. I don’t meditate in caves. I don’t even go on weekend retreats. The idea of sitting still all day in a room full of people I don’t know, doesn’t interest me in the least, although every weekend, my home becomes my retreat. I meditate several times a day throughout the weekend; listen to inspiring videos about Buddhism, consciousness, and relax to Zen music. My sangha is my husband (even though he doesn’t study Buddhism but is spiritual and mindful) and my pets. My cats are excellent teachers on how to chill out and live in the moment.
My world view is not black and white. When examining an issue, I attempt to look at all sides of an argument and take the middle ground. There is an exception though. I have zero tolerance for those who choose to abuse animals, children and adults who cannot defend themselves. I have no problem defending myself or another sentient being from someone harming them and that includes using violence. I believe in doing no harm BUT at the same time, taking no shit. Just because I want to live in peace doesn’t mean I am a doormat. I must include myself when it comes to compassion.
My language can be “colorful” at times. I like practical jokes. I am not politically correct. If you want to hang around me, you’ll need a thick skin. I’m not touchy feely to strangers, meaning I’m not a good person to “whine” about your problems to. I believe that all of us are responsible for our actions. Sometimes things do happen beyond our control but we have the ability to figure out how to make the best out of a bad situation. When I had cancer, the last thing I needed to hear was someone crying about my disease. If and when that happened, that person was banned from my life until they changed their behavior.
Yes, I get mad, fearful and sad but I don’t let them rule my life. Instead I process my feelings and move on. Whenever possible I turn what could be considered a bad thing in to a funny story.
My main focus daily is to follow the 5 precepts and if I screw up, acknowledge it and do better next time.
I just told you what kind of Buddhist I am, so what kind of Buddhist are you? Feel free to leave me a comment.
I’ve limited my social media time to almost none these past few days. The TV has been off too. Since I have special needs pets I can’t spend time at a real retreat, I decided to make my home a retreat. I spend 8-10 hours a day in silence, meditating and making some art. I am hoping to get rid of anger that seems to simmer most of the day. For years fear has been my main emotion and its now switched to anger.
I am hoping to use the quiet time to process my feelings and then let them go. I know anger is bad for me and holding on to it will eventually manifest in to physical illness.
I am working on forgiveness. The issues I am angry about are beyond my control so I am working on letting that shit go too. My Buddhist teachings tell me to remain detached to what ever is going on. That’s a hard lesson for me. I understand it intellectually but practicing it is another matter. I will keep trying.
What I’ve gotten so far from my meditation is to look at what’s going on in my life as an opportunity to make a change. It’s a sign from the Universe that its time to move on and do what my heart has wanted to do for years. Instead of wallowing in negativity I want to brain storm how to turn my life desire in to my reality. It’s still a work-in-progress…
p.s. Who am I kidding? I would never make it an entire weekend at a meditation retreat without talking, and having to sit in silence for hours on end. I’d end up running through the woods screaming before day 1 was even over! I’m better off staying in my own environment.
Photo courtesy of Cat Box Zen
My friend Betzi and I went to the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday celebration at the Honda Center in Anaheim today. Most of the pictures I took are from the large LED screen because our seats were towards the back, too far away to get a good picture. Several actors and musicians showed up to pay tribute, including Michael Franti. Hubby and I saw Franti with his band Spearhead almost a year ago, so seeing him perform today was a real treat!
My friend Betzi and I pose in front of the Peace Wall, created by local artists, outside the venue.
He turns 80 July 6th, but says everyday is his birthday because everyday is a gift.
The Dalai Lama shared his thoughts how each of us can do our part to make this world a better place. The take away message was simple and easy to remember; show compassion to all sentient beings and be good stewards to our environment.
The first video of Franti is his live performance, but the second one is a montage of all the Dalai Lama’s good works that I recorded from a video, shown on the big screen.
I hope your day is blessed with peace. Namaste.