Self Compassion

.

Buddhism teaches us to be compassionate to all sentient beings and that includes the self. We can’t be kind to others when we feel cranky because we’re tired from doing things for others, like your boss, your mate, your kids or whomever. It’s important to carve out time for yourself everyday. I don’t mean a few minutes either. I mean at least one hour. You are worth that.

I have a senior dog and cat sanctuary and there are times I feel like I’m running a preschool daycare, only the kids don’t go home at the end of the day. They live here 24/7. There’s always something that needs to be done, so I’ve learned to take timeouts throughout the day.

Most meditation teachers suggest meditating as soon as you wake up. When I wake up, I have dogs to walk and feed. The cats eat breakfast too. Two of my cats have to be hand fed due to health issues. After they’re done, I eat my breakfast and then I meditate for fifteen to twenty minutes. After that, I do my yoga stretches and listen to a talk from a variety of Buddhist teachers like, Jack Kornfield, or Alan Watts.

When I’m done with that its time to walk the dogs again and feed everyone lunch. Even though there are lots of chores to do, I manage to take good care of me. I eat a healthy vegan diet and take supplements. I just started going to an acupuncturist to get my immune system back in balance.

When I take the time to take care of myself, I’m a much happier, calmer person (although there are times Hubby begs to differ). Before I learned about Buddhism and decided to practice its teachings, I ran around like a crazy person, helping everyone else and neglecting my needs. Cable news played on the TV in the background while I was at home doing chores. I even called myself a news junkie. What I really was, was a frazzled hot mess. Now I don’t have cable TV. I am still aware of what’s happening in the world but I don’t get myself all worked up anymore. I can’t control what’s happening out there but I can control my inner world. I’ve learned that there will always be something to be mad about and I have better things to with my precious time than listen to endless drama.

I can be more productive taking care of my needs first. I can contribute positive ideas to solutions that help my outer world be a better place for all sentient beings. My focus now is providing a safe, loving home for senior animals. It is how I choose to make a positive contribution to the world.

Namaste,

Ingebird

 

 

Advertisements

Compassion

Compassion (karuna) is a major theme throughout Buddhist history.  In early Sanskrit it was known as “metta”  which translates into loving kindness. In the West we use the word compassion more often, but there are Western Buddhist teachers, like Jack Kornfield, who says “loving kindness” in his teachings.

I like this quote, “Our compassion is our Buddha seed or Buddha nature, our potential to become a … Buddhas give Dharma teachings motivated solely by compassion for others.

It reminds me to be kind to others without expecting anything in return. If someone needs help and I can help them, then the compassionate thing to do, is help them.

Being of service is something I enjoy. I like feeling needed and I know I just wrote I should be kind without expecting anything in return, but the way I see it, there’s nothing wrong with feeling good about doing something good. A Buddhist teacher will probably disagree with me because my happy feeling is a sort of attachment. I agree with that, but I’m human and I like feeling happy. Don’t most of us? If I help another sentient being and I end up getting smacked in the head for my efforts, I won’t get pissed off about it. Knowing my intentions were good, is good enough for me whatever the outcome. Wait.. maybe that isn’t attachment. I just wrote that I would feel good no matter what. That’s non-attachment. Right? Maybe I could use some more time meditating about that.

There’s another compassion, Buddhism teaches and that’s to practice loving kindness to beings who (I think) are assholes. That one I have a harder time with. When I have a conversation with someone who rubs me the wrong way; they’re a grumpy ass or they say mean things about certain groups of people, I find it hard to think kind thoughts about them.

For example: In an earlier post I wrote about one of my neighbors who lives with his elderly mother. I didn’t give the guy a name in that post, so to make it easier, I will now. Let’s call him Bob. Bob is around sixty and his mom must be pushing eighty. She has heath issues and if Bob didn’t live with her, she’d probably be living in a state-run retirement home. No fun for sure. So Bob makes sacrifices to keep his mother happy. Bob sleeps on the sofa. There are two bedrooms in their mobile home but his mom sleeps in one and the other is her art studio. Needless to say, Bob has no space or room to call his own. As for privacy, the only privacy he has is inside his truck. That would make anyone cranky. I can feel compassion for him about his living situation.

The problem and I know it’s my problem, is that I attach my happiness on his mood. I can choose to avoid him and that’s what I’ve been doing for a couple months now. I used to walk my dogs on the road by his home. Now we go another way. But by avoiding him, aren’t I missing the opportunity to practice my Buddhist belief?  If he’s outside when we walk by and he sees us and stops me to talk or as I see it… talk at me, I can choose to see him differently. He may tell me he’s upset about those gays or those liberals or whatever FOX news told him to be angry about and I can understand that he isn’t angry about any of that. He’s angry about his life and his living situation. It’s easier to complain about things going on “out there” than to say how he’s really feeling. Only a few times has he complained about his mother and that was about her finding more chores for him to do.

Instead of feeling my anger bubble up as he’s talking “at” me, I can choose to feel compassion for his living situation. Its easier for me to do it later when I meditate on it, but as it’s happening in real-time, not so much. I never get into an argument with him but I am known to say something sarcastic which comes out as a joke, but really isn’t. It would be nice for me to remember that his harsh words are coming from a place of pain and that’s where I would like to focus my compassion. That’s where I can practice being a Bodhisattva instead of a smart ass.

Choosing to respond in loving kindness to difficult people is hard. It takes practice. Lots of practice. But it is something I am willing to work on.

Namaste.

Ingebird

 

An Important Lesson From a Stranger: On Loving Kindness

Last October I wrote that I would stop writing here and my posts could be found on Tumblr and Face Book. Well, for the most part I didn’t write there either. I just shared memes and pictures I found on other Buddhist/Bohemian sites. I guess I just didn’t have much to say…until today. I won’t promise I will post on a regular basis. I will say, I’ll write when I have something to say. And today I felt like writing. Here goes…


Yesterday I went to town to do errands and buy food for the week. We live in a rural area and the closest town to shop is ten miles away, which means the only human contact (besides hubby when he comes home from work) is when we go to town.

Now that I got that out of the way, I can go back to the real story I wanted to write. Hubby stopped into a shop while I waited in the car. To the left of me was a woman sitting in her car looking at her phone. (Isn’t everyone doing this these days? I never see anyone just sit and be still). As I glanced over at her for the second time I noticed another woman walking towards her car. I recognized the woman approaching the car as the same person Hubby once called “crazy.” When he called her that I asked why he thought she was and he said, “Because I see her all over town and she’s always talking to herself.”

This woman stood next to the driverside window. She didn’t say anything but she kept looking at the other woman who was still staring at her phone. She only stood there about a minute and then continued to walk…toward my car. Without hesitating I looked for something I could look at so I wouldn’t have to interract with this person. What did I find? The car registration. I kept looking at that paper, hoping she wouldn’t approach and ask for what I thought would be money. She never stopped at my car. She continued walking…and that’s when it hit me.

I felt this overwhelming sense of shame and guilt. How could I claim to practice Buddhist teachings and ignore this woman? All I knew about her is that she walks around town and talks to herself. Is she homeless? Is she hungry? The only thing I did know is that she is a sentient being who deserves compassion and respect. I turned to look at her but she disappeared among the cars in the parking lot.

Just then Hubby came back and I decided we would find her and I would give her money. It was the only thing I could think of. My voice cracked as I told Hubby what happened while he was gone. He pulled out of the parking space and less than a minute later we saw her. He stopped the car and I called to her. She came right over, a big smile on her face like she knew us. I can’t remember what I said but I gave her a ten dollar bill. She was so thankful and wanted me to wait. She wanted to give me something in return! As she searched her coat pockets she asked my name and where was I from. After a minute she gave up looking. Her pockets were empty. We chatted a few more minutes and I said I would see her later.

This woman “who talked to herself” had no trouble having a nice conversation with me. Maybe she talks to herself because she can’t find anyone willing to talk to her. I still see her warm smile and I can feel her hand squeezing mine in gratitude. That day I may have given her some money but she gave me so much more; the reminder that we are all in this life together. We all need to be seen and heard. We are all worthy of love. And to never judge someone because of what we “perceive” them to be.

Namaste,

Ingebirds

 

 

Good News Stories September 1, 2017

A few weeks ago I decided to share good news stories every Sunday, but doing it every Sunday wasn’t working. Trying to keep up with everything going on in my life was making me stressed out and Inge being stressed isn’t good for anyone. So, I am changing that idea and still sharing good news stories (because there’s enough negative news) but I’m sharing whenever I can.

This past week Hurricane Harvey was in the news and social media almost nonstop. I managed to find stories about compassion in action of humans helping others in need. These people remind me of all those sentient beings (and there are many) who live their lives with compassion, without looking for recognition. They restore my faith in humanity. Click the titles and you will be connected to the story.

“Flooding trapped workers at a Mexican bakery for two days. They spent it baking for Harvey victims.”

Actually this one I found on Twitter. The tweet and picture tell the whole story.

This is Houston. Wanna know what this line is for? Food? Water? Housing? Nope. These people are waiting in line TO VOLUNTEER. #Harvey

Houston Businessman Turns His Furniture Stores Into Storm Shelters

The owner of Gallery Furniture says he’s welcomed 400 Texans with hot food and a place to rest.

 

 

 

Here’s a couple videos:

Namaste,

Ingebirds

The June Bug and the Spider

juneb_t658

It’s lunch time and Annie, my orange tabby sits by the screen door, fixated on whatever is going on in the patio.

“Annie! Time to eat!” I yell. She continues to stare outdoors not even glancing my way.
I walk to the screen and scan the patio floor to see what she thinks is so interesting. Then I see it. A June bug is lying on its back kicking its tiny legs furiously, trying to right itself. “Help I fell down and I can’t get up!” It screamed. Did I mention I’m an empath, a sort of sentient-being whisperer?  Not only am I able to pick up vibes from my environment, but all sorts of creatures communicate with me all the time, usually telepathically. This wouldn’t be the first June bug I helped and probably not the last.

I slid open the screen door and walked over to the helpless beetle, when I noticed the large spider hovering over it, about two inches away. The spider slowly lowered itself from its web, licking its chops, preparing to sting the bug with its paralyzing venom. Now I understood why the beetle screamed so frantically. I was the only hope this poor creature had before it became the spider’s next meal.

Time was of the essence, so I looked around for a stick or a long leaf or anything to move the spider out of the beetle’s reach, but there was nothing. The spider has a right to live a happy life, just like the beetle, so crushing it was out of the question. I pinched the web with my finger tips and lifted it a few inches to the right. The spider still attached to the web, landed in a nearby flower-pot. I reached down and let the June bug grab on to my finger. A second later it flew across the grass and danced around the bushes. It breathed a huge sigh of relief.

“I’m sorry dear spider for ruining your easy catch. I know you have to wait a long time for an unsuspecting insect to get stuck in your web, but June bugs are special to me. They fly around carrying their oversized bodies like it’s no big deal… and did you see its beautiful iridescent green back?”

The spider crawled onto a plant and I heard it say, “Whatever.”

Namaste,

ingebirds

What Kind of Buddhist Am I?

A

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 Spiritual gurus, Jinx and Scout

My Spiritual gurus, Jinx and Scout

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.

let that shit go

My main focus daily is to follow the 5 precepts and if I screw up, acknowledge it and do better next time.

5 precepts of buddha

I just told you what kind of Buddhist I am, so what kind of Buddhist are you? Feel free to leave me a comment.

Namaste,
ingebird