The Next Chapter :: The Joy Diet (chapter 2):
ok, ok, ok...I admit: I struggled and fought and wound myself up in a few uncomfortable corners with this chapter. I don't know how or why this happened except that I let monkey-crazy-rat mind take over. It talked itself into a messy little knot and made me a bit miserable in the process. How do I feel? What's the story I'm telling? Is it true? Dear god. I love these questions. But holy hell. Not this week. This week I did not love these questions. I did not even like them. It took an entire week to finally realize (this morning) that, all along, the questions, although maddening, have actually been working their magic in a slow, silent sort of way.
The time in between, well, there were other moments of complete and absolute contentment. Such as stopping (yes, actually stopping) to take in the many colors of a maple leaf while walking out in the woods. Then I noticed how that single leaf connected to a branch and how the branch connected to more leaves, connected to a tree, connected to other trees, connected to the sky, connected to the blue beyond, connected to the pond, connected to the grass, connected to the tree...and back again. I attribute the ability to even stop and notice these things at all to last week's practice of "Nothing." Amazing. Nothing continues to amaze me. I like "nothing." No, I luuuuuv nothing. I also find moments of perfect happiness/joy/contentment on the walk between the house and my studio. It takes all of approximately 40 or 50 steps and, in that time, I become aware of everything: the sky, the temperature, the coffee cup in my hand, the moon or sun, misty skies or blue, my body, mood, feet, hair, state of being, breath, the dogs, a glisten of light on the pond, a paw print, the movement of air, my beating heart.
There is joy in noticing these details. I blink in disbelief that I have a life that allows me to walk between my house and the studio. Every day. Morning, mid-day, evening...and even in the middle of the night.
But, many times this week, trying to figure out Truth got in the way of joy. To be honest, Truth was turning out to be a down-right joy wrecker. I spent many of my days going round and round on a few things that have been bothering me and coming up with new ones in the stupid, horrible process. In short, I was ruining otherwise beautiful days with my own Truth inquiries and ridiculous thought patterns.
Anyway, this morning I had a very profound and wonderful realization that the world around me is actually perfectly NEUTRAL. It's ME (my brain, thoughts, actions, words) that causes conflict, confusion, insecurity, distrust, hurt feelings, anger, inner turmoil...and all the other useless emotions that seem to have been paying me visits as of late. It's me...as in, NOT the world around me. Not this person or that person or that organization, but me. It took an entire week of having ridiculous arguing matches and stupid, endless conversations in my brain to finally realize that the only constant in any given situation is myself. It's me that is wrapped up in my situation, my stories, my dilemmas. No one else really cares.
And so that, my friends, is realization Numero Uno.
But there is a second part to "Truth"...and that is the difference between the stories we tell ourselves and another very important something called "Intuition." Chapter 2 has caused my philosophical brain to go a bit nuts, but please bear with me. My question is this: How do we know the difference between a story that we tell ourselves and simple, legitimate INTUITION? Which leads to another question: What is intuition in the first place?
Intuition. To be intuitive. This is something I value. I value intuition. It is something that exists not just in our tangible realm, but the psychic realm as well (oh boy, this could get deeper than I feel like delving in one lil' blog post). Intuition is the ability to read energy, to be aware of a flash of insight, and to simply be in tune with the moment, minus the clutter. BUT what if we let our stories get mixed up with what we think is intuition when really it is just our crappy old baggage weighing us down unnecessarily? And how do we know when to take our intuition seriously so that we don't have to live through a crappy experience only to say to ourselves in the end: "oh, I should have just listened to my intuition!"
See where I'm going with this?
Martha Beck points out that to not know (or to be unable to know) the Absolute Truth can be really, really uncomfortable. But it can also be very deliciously liberating. We are at the mercy of our ongoing experiences, but what we make of those experiences is truly up to us. She reminds us that "[o]nce we begin living with the full awareness of our basic fallibility, we can regain what Buddhists call the 'don't know mind,' the alert, receptive mental state that makes us capable of genuine perception." And that, my friends, is the place where sacred intuition lives. Yes, it's a fine line, isn't it--and I think it's safe to say that plenty of "Nothing" is required to keep a clear head in the matter.
Which leads back to being NEUTRAL. Right. This is a good lesson to learn. Returning oneself to neutral territory allows one to notice things like colorful maple leaves. It causes us to notice our body mid-step as we balance a too-full cup of tea as we walk across the driveway on a wet and windy day. Neutral is good. Neutral simply notices things. Neutral keeps us out of danger without creating unnecessary drama in the process.
Wow--and so I will just say that this was a very tough week of Joy Dieting. I am glad, however, that I stuck with it and didn't give up with the almost justifiable excuse: "I'm too busy for this."
It took awhile to get there...but something finally clicked. Sure, I still have a lot to figure out, but what I can say is that this week I got one step closer to myself. Today monkey-crazy-rat mind finally got a rest.