In the Name of Hair

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He winks at me and I cut it all off
brusquely
I am not who you think I am
I am not some submissive human
who will cook you the perfect breakfast
and then walk with you arm and arm in the park
I am not your trophy

I cut it all off and swear off
men like him

I meet another
who likes my short hair
but I cut it all off anyways
he is wrong
he is not perfect
he is

and I am dropped
plummeting
land
bruised
black and blue

i get up and keep running
and I couldn’t see the bruises then
I can now

and there is a heaviness in my heart
why so hard?
and so unseeing?
why so?

now I pause
as I lie on the ground
and breathe into the pain

I am hurt

I get up
holding my bruised heart
and carefully
step forward.
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Paradigm Shift

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Since I was a child, I’ve hated scary movies.  And as I grew up I learned to avoid the genres of action, adventure, crime, fantasy, horror, mystery, thriller and science fiction.  I am a sensitive person and so I would get so caught up in the film it would feel like I was a participant.   For example – when I was in high school I chose to stop watching The Amazing Race because I would get so wrapped up that I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep afterwards.

Last week I went to the movie theatres to watch the relatively calm film Inside Llewyn Davis and as usual there was a preview for an action film before the movie started.  And I had the realization that if I focussed on breathing deeply while watching the preview – I didn’t get caught up in it.  I didn’t get carried away into thinking that I was actually the main character in a fight for my life.  My body didn’t go into fight or flight mode.  And I could relax even while watching the preview.

Now this might not seem like that big deal but this has been a huge paradigm shift for me.  Instead of avoiding all the things and all the people that make me tense (which ends up being A LOT of things and A LOT of people and gets quite complicated) – I can shift the way I interact with them.  By connecting to my breath and to myself I can change the experience of the situation.

And now there are a lot of opportunities for me to practice :).  Living and working in a shared space means I end up bumping into others and into myself.  So what helps me stay connected to my breath in the midst of conflict?

I am practicing and I am finding out.  And I am learning to change how I experience the challenges in my life.

Pressure

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I am on a vacation from the community that I live in – spending a week skiing and hiking and sitting in coffee shops.  And as I stepped out of the flow of community life, the first thing I noticed was how a pressure was lifted.

Suddenly I’m in a town where people don’t know my story – my habits and my background, my strengths and my weaknesses.  And suddenly I can breath more fully.

So what is this pressure? Where does it come from?  What is the source?  And what is the cause?

In community living there are a lot of pressures.  I get into disagreements.  I get feedback about how I could have done something better.  I give feedback about how I feel like something could be done better.

And there’s a pressure that comes with being seen by my community.  There’s no hiding my habits or choices.  Everyone knows and everyone is free to comment.

I’ve been in situations before where someone is trying to put the pressure on me – convince me to do something in the way that they would.  And it’s easy for me to step out, to let go, to breath, to not take on the pressure.

So how can I do this where I live and work now?  How can I notice the pressures but not take them on?

The first step is where I am now – to see the pressures and to acknowledge that they are impacting my life.  And the next step is learning to step out when I don’t need to be in them.  Taking a deep breath and realizing that what is happening doesn’t need to be taken personally.  Acknowledging the facts and at the same time to not say it’s “all my fault.”

And my life in the community is the perfect place to practice this.  Pressure will come up and I have a choice of how to work with it.

So Tuesday I step back, into the community, into the flow and into the pressures.  By stepping out I could see what was happening.  Now I can step back in and make a change.

Mind

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Often my mind goes wherever it likes, following the path of least resistance.  Flowing into old thought patterns before I notice and realize I have a choice.

English scholar and yogi Ernest Wood helped me to see this happening.  In Concentration: An Approach to Meditation, he writes,

…the need of mental training, or regular, orderly, purposeful exercise of the mind, is far greater than that of the body in most cases; for at our general stage of growth most [people]’s bodily activities are well-ordered and controlled , and the body is obedient to their will, but their minds are usually utterly disobedient, idle and luxurious.[1]

And I’m beginning to see how this manifests for me.

For the past couple of days I’ve felt slightly disconnected.  And today I finally realized I don’t need to beat myself up about it.  I’m able to see that beating myself up is flowing into the old thought pattern of not good enough, not smart enough, not efficient enough.

I’m realizing that I feel uncentered and that’s okay.  I am centered enough.

Utterly disobedient – until I choose to make a change.

And so I’m beginning to watch what happens in my mind.  To notice and to write.  To become the detective and put the clues together.  To realize when a negative pattern is happening and to shift away.  To exercise choice.

And there’s an amazing freedom that comes.  Realizing that when my mind is utterly disobedient it causes a lot of pain.  And then when I find ways to change the pattern the pain lifts.

So slowly.
One step at a time.
I am learning to change my mind.


[1] Wood, Ernest. Concentration: An Approach to Meditation. Wheaton: Theosophical Publishing House ,1949, p. 62.