Thursday, November 19, 2015

Cocoon, Creativity and Life

I co-taught a Shambhala Training Level II recently at the Madison Shambhala Center. This is the first time I have taught this material, and I was nervous as hell. The main teachings in Level II relate to "cocoon" - Trungpa Rinpoche's image for the solid sense of self we build with our habits and avoidance of life.

As you can see in this post, I've been working personally with doubt and choice, agency and hiding out a lot lately.

So I know it is important. Really, really important. But it is so, so hard. Why?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Exploring the Spectrum of Fear

In preparing to co-teach a Level II Shambhala Training program this last weekend, I did a lot of reading about, contemplating and meditating on fear. Trungpa Rinpoche says that fear is our main reason to build a cocoon, a wall of habits and tendencies that give us a protective sense of solid self.

But of course, fear is not just one thing.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Doubt and Choice

I have been working with doubt and choice and agency lately. I posted this on Facebook last week, and it got reposted/liked/commented on hundreds of times - so I know it is not just me.
Most days I give myself the choice to do nothing. Fuck it, I think, when my Bluetooth keyboard won't connect with my computer, when the coffee goes all over because I didn't set up my aero press right. Small frustrations threaten to pull me way off course.
No matter how much privilege and access we have, life often feels brutal, boring, irritating and too hard. But because I have privilege and access, especially to powerful, life-affirming Buddhist teachings, I know I need to keep going.
I take a deep breath. Feel the minor frustrations and real crippling suffering of all human beings. I step back, go for a walk or write, and come back and do it again.That's what I am doing right now - writing this to remind myself. I have a lot to offer. It is worth it. 
To myself: Don't shut down and watch TV all day. You've got this. Take breaks, snuggle cats, eat chocolate. But keep going. You've got this.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Trap of Doubt, Delay and "Discipline"

Recently, I met with one of my writing feedback groups. Most of the folks in this small group are working on memoir, which is a supremely difficult genre. One woman in particular is writing a very hard tale about a very small but potent part of her life - a year or so of mental health struggles in which she lost most of her support network. It's a poignant story, and she tells it very directly.

Since she has begun, she's written with great momentum, clear about what comes next, able to pile through very tricky scenes with great ease. Then she hit some doubt - a moment of not being sure where the story was going next, or what the point was in writing/sharing it. And then she hit some stress - way too many external and internal stressors coming together at the wrong time. Her actually writing got delayed - put on the back burner - by a few months, due to illness and literal, physical inability to write. It's also inevitable that such an intense story would bring up doubt, eventually.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Your Inner Critic's Secret Tool

I met with a new client the other night. We chit-chatted, since she's been a student before, and we wanted to catch up. Then I got a glass of fresh water and sat back down and said:
"So. How can I help you?"
She had come to me looking for my "writing advocate" services, supporting her regular practice - which has since the class fallen by the wayside. She gave an opening line worth a million dollars:
"My latest reason for not writing is..."

We both burst out laughing. She is a smart woman, and knows what her mind is up to.
This is the first - and a very, very important step. She gets her own game - she makes up reasons not to write but they aren't the real reasons she's not writing. She's not writing because she has to be accountable to someone else. And like so many people, she thinks she shouldn't have to ask for help.