Shenpa

Shenpa is a Buddhist concept  that I’ve been spending a lot of time studying and contemplating recently.  I study mostly Pema Chodron’s teachings and this is a big construct for her.  Shenpa really causes us great pain and makes us continue to reach for ground.  The Tibetan translation is “attachment”, but the construct is much more.  It is about the sticky, clinging, distracting reactions that we are so hardwired to have to both external and internal thoughts, feelings, and actions.  I felt this was a good analogy of what shenpa is:

Here is an everyday example of shenpa. Somebody says a mean word to you and then something in you tightens— that’s the shenpa. Then it starts to spiral into low self-esteem, or blaming them, or anger at them, denigrating yourself.

I struggle with this a great deal… the experience of someone (even myself) saying/doing something mean or hurtful and the following spiraling down of low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness that happen after.

One of the interesting things is shenpa’s relationship to meditation.  One of the goals of meditation is to learn to stay with feelings that we normally pull away from and to work to see our true minds and self.  Quite often during meditation we will have to face insights into ourselves and these insights are often of things that we might label “bad” or “wrong” even though it is never a good practice to label things as “good” or “bad” in general.  They just are.  So, ironically, the more insight we have into ourselves, the greater potential for shenpa to take hold and to bring us down.  It is a balancing act…awareness and acceptance without judgment.  Very difficult.

~AA

Silence

In general, and like many people, I have a really hard time turning my brain off.  Subconsciously anticipating a “bing” from my phone alerting me to an email, text message, Facebook notification, tweet, you name it!  I find it rather Pavlovian that we have conditioned ourselves to become slaves to technology.  This relationship that we have with technology has a direct impact on our emotional and psychological well being.  It is amazing.

So, in an effort to start releasing my brain from the clutches of my “bing”, I’ve started  a practice.  I turn my phone completely off after work and sometimes don’t turn it back on until the morning (although it is incredibly hard to do).  Sounds crazy, right?  It is one of the most freeing things I do!  Meditating while knowing that your phone is on, even in silent mode, is difficult.  I’m distracted by my expectation that there might, maybe, just possibly be someone sending you something that will give you that feeling of reward, what will they say!?  It is ridiculous.

Now, I’m fortunate enough to not have children, so I don’t feel pressure to be available for someone whose life might truly depend on me.  So, I don’t know how that type of situation would work.  But I have been living alone for the last few months and have this fear that someone might break in and my phone would be off… but I realized that the peace of mind that I get from not having it tug at me is WAY worth the minute possibility of someone breaking in in the middle of the night.

What do you to do decompress and unplug from the world?

~AA

A Friend To Yourself

I came across this question from a blog that I follow and I thought it very relevant:

If you had a friend that spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself,
how long would you allow that person to be your friend?

I have to say that I am very guilty of speaking to myself in a manner that I would not tolerate from others.  I think many of us are guilty of this, which is a shame.  In the end we are the ones that are there to take care of ourselves.  So, why do we spend so much time judging ourselves and speaking to ourselves in a manner that we would not even inflict upon those we dislike?  I have absolutely no idea why we are designed this way.

I think with time, consideration and patience we can learn to retrain how we speak to ourselves.  I’ve started doing this through meditation, therapy and through this blog.  For some reason getting it out of my head keeps me from damaging myself with negativity…. well, keeps me from doing it as much 🙂

  ~AA

The Worst

What’s  the worst that could happen?  Have you ever asked yourself this?  What is the worst that could happen right now for me in my relationship with J?  The worst thing that could happen is that is over for good.  Okay.  What’s the worst thing in the world that could happen to me?  The worst thing I can think of is losing all of the people I love and being alone, truly alone.

So, that gives me a little perspective in terms of how difficult my situation is.  I have it pretty good, to be honest.  I’m not a horrible person, as I like to judge myself to be.  I’m a human being that loves people, that has made mistakes, but is making an effort to better understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and making an effort to change.  I have friends who love me, I have my health, I have my education, I have drive, I have passion, I have freedom.

The last few weeks I’ve really recommitted to my running and it feels so go.  It is one of the most cathartic things I do.  I love the feeling of my body being strong.  It is also a time for me to mediate.  Running mediation.  I don’t know if it is a real thing, but it should be… like walking mediation, just faster.  I focus on my breath, my feet striking the ground, keeping my upper body relaxed, how my body mechanics are working by taking inventory of what muscles in my legs are doing the work and adjusting as needed.  It is a very liminal experience.  I focus on breathing in the smells and seeing the smallest elements of the world around me.  While I’m doing this, I often listen to music because it helps focus my mind.

Meditating in general can be very liminal.  The focus on specific things gets your mind prepped for meditative moments.  I think it is important to note that meditation doesn’t have to be done over long stretches of time, just doing it little by little and acknowledging those events will eventually lead to longer periods of meditation.  It will be episodic, especially when you are running while meditating.  Although in general your mind tends to be a bit episodic when doing sitting meditation as well.

~AA