reflectivesun

life, reality, self, mind and sometimes ducks

day 16 - granola

Woke up around 3am with some anxious thoughts. Most likely the excess sugar in my system. Tried my best to sit with the fear until it dissolved, which it did eventually, but wasn't able to fall back asleep. Was dozing big time during morning meditation but tried my best to stay alert.

Made a big ass batch of granola after lunch. It came out overcrispy but it was fun making it using a giant bowl and pan. I hope the others like it. I'll do better next time. The oven here has no numbers so finding 350° may take some experimenting...

I hope this tiredness wears off. When I'm tired I end up reactively contributing to conversations I don't want to be part of. I want to do better, and for that I gotta get my diet and sleep down.

Before I go for that sleep, shout out to the cat that was in my lap a few minutes ago. Never have I met such a lovely cat - and there are two! I mean technically three but the third I think might be depressed, or maybe just old. I tried getting closer but he didn't seem into it so I just give him the occasional pet and leave him alone. He did brush up against my leg for the first time today actually, right in the middle of morning chants. Then he plopped down and started licking his bhole which had me spending the next couple minutes laughing silently while the others continued chanting in front of me.

It kills me, man. Everytime they wander in and start catting while we're trying to do our sacred buddha biz I just cannot keep it together...

happiness

Do what you want to do, but don't expect it to make you happy.

Happiness or unhappiness is always here and now. Either the result of an unconscious story or a conscious choice.

day 15 - ceremonies and books

Attended a precept ceremony today. I was asked many times if I'd take them but declined. It felt right to be watching from the outskirts this time. I wonder, though, what my name might have been?

There was another potluck afterwards so my attempt to cleanse my bod of sugar was foiled. Another fast awaits...

Had some interesting interactions. It's strange seeing how much my approach and feelings towards socializing has changed. I've become far more detached, but also more willing to be direct and vulnerable. It doesn't seem to matter as much. I don't really want anything to come of it. I'm just making conversation.

Spent the rest of the day reading. I must've read more than a hundred pages. A lot to assimilate. I'm torn about some of it. It's a book by a renowned and beloved monk who I can't help but feel hadn't gone deep enough. Is that supremely arrogant of me? Probably...and in that very assertion, I also fail to go deep enough...hmm.

It was nice. Most of it was spent sat in a tiny rocking chair on the balcony with dandelion tea, watching some fat bees buzzing around nearby flowers in between paragraphs. One of the cats also came by which was nice, and I saw a couple stop for a brief but vigorous make out sesh in the distance. Ah I remember those...good times.

I also took an impromptu barefoot walk along a trail, because it turned out to be way too hot for the pants I was wearing AND socks/shoes. One of them had to go, and this time it was the shoes. It was a good way to practice mindfulness since I had to be mindful not to step on sharp rocks and broken glass and heroin needles and such.

Tomorrow brings a return to early morning practice, and I may be making breakfast on my own for the first time. Wish me luck, my many devoted readers! (Ahahahhahahahha)

day 14 - bringing back alertness

Picked up on a few things this morning, after a full night's sleep followed by a rude awakening as I apparently reached out and slapped a bottle of water over in my sleep. At one point I also had a dream that my thumb was rotting off and woke up to find it numb because I had fallen asleep on it. Interesting, but I digress.

I realized that even being here, I can't relax in my personal discipline. I need to continue putting the effort in to stay healthy, fit and alert. I'm usually more careful about these things because I'm up against so much obvious temptation and resistance in most environments. But here I suppose I fell into the idea that the others knew better so I could just follow their lead and go with the flow.

This hasn't turned out to be the case. I'll have to continue leading myself and making sure that I'm not overindulging in the many temptations that remain around me (often in the form of delicious baked goods or idle conversation). It sounds trivial but it really messes with my practice. They cloud my mind and body and put me on autopilot. I end up wasting my time, and this rare opportunity. So the best I can do is make beneficial choices myself that will hopefully influence the others indirectly, so they can become a support to me too. I think they want to, really. We're all struggling with our own vices but on some level here to overcome.

I'm also going to continue being more diligent when it comes to active times and restful times. Fully committing to both when appropriate, not half-assing either one. I need to use and gather my energy more effectively.

In terms of meditation, I'll make a point to actually sit with relaxed alertness, not just sitting there drifting off and thinking. For this I'll need to ensure that my body and mind are clear and rested, which means being attentive to my intake and sleep schedule.

Today I was tired as hell so committed fully to rest until working in the evening. I also fasted to give my body a chance to process out the goo I've been stuffing it with. I was pretty on top of my thoughts as well. More often I seem to be reaching a point at which I recognize the ridiculousness of whatever I'm thinking or saying. A process kicks in in which I slowly whittle away at whatever is merely subjective conjecture in whatever sentence crosses my mind or lips until I'm left with nothing. Just whatever is the case - minus my descriptions, judgements, delineations and evaluations. An inner silence (at least until the next sentence floats through...)

day 13 - more rest less snacks

Felt more energized today, and my legs are feeling less sore. I think I found the key to sustained wellbeing - a good activity/rest ratio. I'm going to keep working towards making rest a priority so I don't start getting grouchy and reactive over small things. I also need to cut out the damn snacking god damn!! I hereby proclaim that tomorrow I shall not snack! You hear me?? Not a one! Gotta get this sugar out of my bloodstream...

I continued my work stripping paint off a doorframe. I hope the fumes aren't giving me brain damage. Only time will tell...

It's interesting being in an environment where part of the point of doing repetitive work is to practice enjoying it fresh and new in each moment. It can be challenging, but also fun. I've actually been doing that for years at old jobs so it's not really new for me. As long as I'm well rested, have sufficient freedom and am not in an unpleasant environment, basic menial tasks are usually perfectly enjoyable to me.

It's also interesting spending so much time with others again. It pushes me to clarify my thoughts, feelings and general sense of self in relation to others. I'm used to being lazy about it though, so I still need to be mindful of not compulsively shrugging my shoulders. These are people who might actually understand what I'm trying to say and respond with something insightful so it's worth the effort.

Other than that, not much of note. Some interesting conversations on "mental health/illness" that had me going into a bit of a rant, and then reflecting on why I was mildly riled up about it. That's all for now though, I muste begin my moste importante duty. To reste!

day 12 - tuckered out

Did this morning's meditations in a chair because my legs are too sore to sit comfortably on the cushion. Also took a few snoozes during the day and went to bed really early. Feeling burnt out from a combination of things I think. The early mornings, the long sessions of prostrations and sitting, poor energy management, overeating and overheating and some negativity in the environment.

I thought being here would push me to prioritize practice, and in some ways it has, but in others it's actually made it harder. It's tough to maintain a good diet for meditation for example since breakfasts tend to be pretty heavy, and I've been more inclined to overeat and snack throughout the day to keep my energy levels up.

I'm also finding myself going into autopilot in my interactions more just from being around people this much, which is something I wanted to avoid since I basically become this compulsively pleasant robot. Once I start to fall into it it can be hard to break out and be more real rather than reactively nice and accommodating. When I'm alone for a few days I can gather myself in solitude and then focus more fully while with others, rather than being dispersed among the various personalities, activities and things to stay on top of.

There's also some negativity among the various residents. I had unrealistic expectations I suppose. I thought that, on some level, meditation practice and the development of self awareness would be a priority and unifying purpose. But it doesn't really seem to be. It seems more secondary, sometimes incidental.

Right now I seem to have a choice - whether to invest and do more to influence things in ways that I'd like or to ignore them for the duration of my stay. I don't want to waste my energy pointlessly, but maybe opting out and withdrawing isn't always the less draining course in the longrun. Nonetheless, I'll have to start prioritizing my energy management. I need to be more alert and less sleepy!

day 11 - ruh roh

Got myself into a classic situation. A fellow resident has gotten into the habit of chatting with me but I've lost the desire to continue conversing and can now feel their insecurity over my reduced willingness to engage. I'm expecting that now they're going to start obsessing and seeking reassurance and further pointless chit chat from me while I react to their attempts by pulling further away. And so the classic anxious/avoidant dance begins!

Oh well, let's see how it goes I guess. Must I always come to regret engaging with my fellow humans? Must it always come to this? When you're compulsively nice I suppose so, otherwise I might have the balls to say "hey I don't want to talk". Maybe I will...hmm.

The reason I've gotten turned off is that conversation is presented as pleasant but invariably ends up being covertly self-serving. They come off very friendly but they're soon either fishing for validation, humblebragging, or passive aggressively passing judgement upon others. I am not here for that shit! No thank you ma'am.

In other news, I realized today that I'm really bad about dispersing my energy inefficiently. I just keep doing shit all day when I could be resting, and then I don't put my all into anything I do because I've tired myself out. I think I'm making the most of my time but I'm actually wasting it. I was so exhausted today, all through my meditations I was just swaying and stretching and waiting for it to end.

It's time to start being energy efficient! Only doing what needs to be done, and then it's siesta time baby. Speaking of, I shall begin the big siesta of the night. Zee zee zee...

day 10 - practicing imperfection

This morning a centipede came onto my cushion while I was meditating and I fell right onto my back getting away from it. A test of mara! And I failed! If I'd truly been present I would have gracefully gotten up and moved as soon as I saw it, knowing it would give me a hardcore case of the willies if it got too close. Instead I arrogantly chose to wait and watch as it charged towards me. If I was really detached, perhaps I would have allowed it to creepy crawl its way over my body while I continued to breathe contentedly. Not today though. Hell no.

Had an interesting conversation afterwards, or at least one with interesting effects. The content was actually kind of annoying, in that it involved speaking of "we" and "them" as if we're more awake/aware or whatever and they're less than (basically).

I do not like getting sucked into that kind of talk. I can be as deluded and fallible as anyone and I do not like being risen up in the eyes of others to help bolster their ego by association. I found myself thinking things about it later on that I noticed applied to me too so I decided to direct my corrective reflections to myself instead.

This propensity to believe my judgements about "others" - to forget that what I'm seeing isn't really them, but only my ideas of them. I'm seeing nothing but my own perception, my own thoughts. What "they" really are is entirely mysterious and beyond my comprehension, and in fact not separate from me at all. So what is it I'm talking about when I talk about others? Only my own judgements. My own delusions.

The funny thing about this place though (and I guess anywhere else) is that there's nothing to do after these moments but let it go and carry on while aiming to be more alert. That's the practice I suppose - not to be perfect or expect perfection, but to practice letting go of things like perfection, expectations, judgements and preferences. Again and again to accept the suchness of whatever is, including so-called others and myself.

I seem to be coming to a decision in terms of the role I'd like to play moving forward too (or rather, the lack of it). For now I'll relax and take things as they come. It's funny actually, I've been noticing how full of doubt I tend to be and how little confidence I have in my decision making process whenever others ask about it. And yet, I continue to lean on and act on it far more than anything else. In the end, despite the hesitation, doubt and worry, I do seem to trust myself. I don't seem to trust my trust in myself but so far acting more intuitively has proven incredibly reliable compared to when I carefully reasoned through everything while denying my instincts.

The head thinks, but the gut...knows......

And now, I return to enjoying a relaxing stay. Tomorrow brings another early day, and for once I made it to bed and finished writing this with time to spare. And so I shall bid thee, adieu!

day 9 - busy mind

Feeling sadness welling up after a late meditation tonight. Had a lot on my mind today. I'll write some thoughts out.

  • the more ambitious the person, the more they see and use others in relation to their desires. Their words are hollow and scripted - each sentence tailored to present certain impressions to advance their interests

  • is it right to choose to be a bodhisattva? Isn't someone thinking they're qualified to "save all beings" evidence of an inflated ego? Isn't the very notion indicative of wrong view? I've become cautious of exceptionally helpful people too, I have yet to come across one that wasn't acting upon neurotic motivations...

  • the people/things which seem to be causing our feelings are only triggers. In every case, it is OUR feelings which have been activated. To neutralize and process them, we must disengage from the thoughts around the supposed cause of the feeling and simply feel whatever we're feeling. Attention need only be moved from the thoughts of the external trigger to the present physical sensations - it's as simple as that (though not necessarily easy). Once the energy is felt and allowed to flow, wisdom and understanding is released in the mind as peace returns. If it is thrown out in the form of a reaction to the perceived cause of the feeling, it stays stuck and one remains immature and stunted

  • almost everyone on this planet seems to be stupid. I might be too, I can't tell

  • I don't mind being imperfect - in fact I'm coming to appreciate it - but I don't want to be a hypocrite. Is it unavoidable? A biproduct of faulty perceptions and unrealistic expectations? When I consider trying to be better, I feel a cage close in around me. When I try to do good, I feel phony. I don't want my actions to be calculated, I don't them to be contrived. If goodness arises then that's fine, but I don't want to act good

  • to give up being an individual is to rest in reality. But the more one gives it up, the more of an individual one seems to become

  • often when I suddenly recognize that I'm in a genuinely beautiful moment, it isn't long before some dumb thought floats in to ruin it. Some stupid wormy voice patting itself on the back and relishing in its own little perceived drama. It's as funny as it is pathetic

  • if right view is there, everything else comes into alignment as a biproduct. If right view isn't there, all which one does is only a pretention

  • nothing I say or do to others has anything to do with them. It's always a result of what's activated in me in their presence. Nothing anyone else says or does has anything to do with me. It's always a result of what's activated in them in my presence

  • whenever I force myself to smile or socialize more with others, I feel tired and depressed after. It also seems to invite more pointless chattering and weird passive aggressive comments

That's all for tonight I think.

day 8 - special day

Today was so full. And I am full! Of food that is. My god. The food! Accursed baked goods!

The potluck was nice. Pleasant company and fun jenga. Ate way too much, especially dessert. Felt pretty crummy afterwards but better after a snooze on the grass, a walk among the trees, another nap in bed and then a revitalizing shower.

At evening service I was asked to read a passage to close out the night. I was originally going to read a different one but switched at the last minute. It was a good choice. The passages the others read were on the serious side and pretty dense so I decided to go with a simple one that focused on joy.

There were several moments when I couldn't really believe where I was and what I was doing. Being involved to the extent that I was - actually participating to this degree. It's a bit surreal. And it all has this touch of magic to it.

I wonder if that'll wear off soon? Probably. Or maybe that's up to me? Whether I choose to infuse these moments with magic through seeing them as such. Through having fun but also treating these moments as sacred and precious...

Whatever the case may be, I enjoyed this full day. Now it's time for a full night. Zzz...

be

If you cease to identify as "the self" (aka the psychological/emotional self concept), nothing others say can inflate or diminish you. There will be nothing to inflate or diminish, as it is truly only ever an idea being impacted. This is "self-esteem".

If you are simply as you are, a flowing part of the whole, what is there to think or feel about yourself? You are as you are, as everyone is as they are, as everything is as it is.

Don't think about yourself as an individual - it is an illusory idea you're conjuring, based in your fluctuating judgements. Don't compare your ideas about yourself with your ideas about others. Don't believe others' ideas about themselves or you.

Don't think about yourself at all - just be yourself. Just be.

voluntary

Note to self: as long as you have the freedom to move and choose, it isn't worth doing anything that makes you unhappy. If what you're doing is truly worth it, you'll be able to endure hardships and challenges without becoming unhappy in them for long. But if you're trudging through with no light at the end and you truly can't adjust your outlook to enjoy yourself, just drop it and do something else.

Don't worry about what others might think or say. Don't be beholden to anyone or anything. Your time in this life is so short. Don't waste it in voluntary unhappiness. Always be willing to let go and start again.

day 7 - the past, the park, the cookies

Took some time to freshen up this morning. Not sure if it's vanity or just a human thing but I love the feeling of being freshly groomed and showered.

There's going to be a potluck tomorrow so I decided to get ingredients for cookies. On the way I bumped into an old coworker. He mentioned how they wondered what happened to me since I pretty much disappeared once I left that job. I told him I was going through some things and needed to be alone, which is partly true. I was and did. But I've also always done that.

Once I move forward to the next stage of my life, that's usually it. I've never been one to keep in touch. I enjoy engaging with people when I'm with them but I usually don't miss or worry about them when they're not around. My attention is on whatever's in front of me now, or whatever's on my mind. My love has always been mostly impersonal, and I've always needed to be free to come and go with people. It's not an easy thing to balance but it seems to be part of the deal of being close to me.

After getting the ingredients I stopped by to relax at a park. It was a nice scene. People snoozing on the grass with their dogs, groups of old people doing tai chi, kids losing their minds over an old man blowing giant bubbles for them, skateboarders and soccer players, colorful kites in the air. Just a lot of life and leisure. Different kinds of humans doing their thing. And me doing my thing - observing from the fringes and reflecting on it all, while enjoying the sunlight on my face.

As I finished making the cookie dough the director came in and asked about them so I mentioned how they were "everything-free" - vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free, etc. To which the reply was "I hope someone brings some real cookies." Ahahhahaha

day 6 - good moody

Great day. Felt very alert. Getting better at following my intuition on the fly and staying rooted in myself while engaging with others. Though can still go on autopilot when I'm caught off guard.

Today I explored a burned down house, drove a big van for the first time and tore down some drywall, also for the first time. I was coated in dust by the end (as were my lungs probably) and had several bloody scrapes but at least I can now rest easy knowing that I can destroy a room with a crowbar if/when I want to again. Looking forward to hopefully learning more manly skills as the work continues.

I finally "found my seat" (I think that's a term) while meditating today. Normally I'm fidgeting around here and there to fix my posture and stretch my back but today I felt completely relaxed yet upright and alert. I even tasted a moment of blissful perfection, until I thought "this is perfect". But I was able to bring myself back to it after, until my legs started hurting. Then I was busy thinking of how long it felt like we were sitting for etc.

All in all a nice day. Now to rest so my body can get to work purging the drywall and insulation from my lungs and bloodstream. Farewell!

day 5 - moody

My mood has been off lately. I seem to have lost connection with enthusiasm and joyousness (is that right? that word looks weird as hell). Everything is just okay. Just okay.

There are several potential reasons for this. One is that I'm fully enlightened and no longer under the influence of causes and conditions. Another more likely possibility is dopamine withdrawal. I haven't used my laptop or phone for entertainment, information or socializing in a week now. It's likely that I'm "coming down" while acclimating to this low stimulation lifestyle.

There's also waking up so early along with the dramatic increase in physical exertion and irl socializing. The person I spend the most time with is always talking, and I suspect it may be draining me to be doing so much listening. I'll have to figure out a clever solution to get some quiet. Actually I already have one cooked up for when the time comes ehehe...

Today I made breakfast - a big fat omelette with way too many ingredients. I cook and eat mainly for health and convenience so making things appealing and tasty is not a strength of mine. I hope I'll get better with time because everyone here seems to be a fricken masterchef.

A lot of the things I'm doing here are things I want to learn but it is a bit nerve wracking suddenly being dropped into it with relative strangers. I just need to keep remembering that a big reason I'm doing this is for the fun of it (my secret, don't tell). Can't be getting caught up with dumb stuff like being good at things. Let fun be the standard! Let fun be the way.

Only cat update for today is that one of them came for pets during my evening meditation so I decided to mindfully pet it while it snuggled up instead. I enjoy how they keep coming along to wreck my efforts. It's nice.

If I were to become a real zen guy, I'd want to be one of the ones that just chills while gliding through the world in a good ass mood.

day 4 - silverware and the meowing tree

Today was a rough day emotionally. I think the main trigger was getting more texts from people wanting to catch up. It's annoying the hell out of me. Please! I do not want to exchange conversation over this damn device!! I just want to meditate and work and read!!!

Today I helped out with groceries and afterwards was tasked with polishing silverware. It was an interesting moment - I felt my ego flicker for a moment upon being assigned it. It ended up being enjoyable though. I was with an older woman who was funny and talkative but still learning english. I enjoyed figuring out what she was trying to say, and it was an interesting conversation. I like being with people who aren't fluent in english actually. It feels more simple. Less pretentious. And I don't have to say much.

Later on in the day, I heard some scared sounding meows from the branches of a tree. I looked up and there, of course, was one of the kittens. I climbed up a bit and tried to lure her down but after some failed attempts to climb downward she only ended up going higher. I decided she'd probably fare better on her own and left for a couple of minutes, and upon my return found both the cat and the director high up in the tree. Now they were both stuck, but soon the human had made it back down without the cat, who was now higher up the tree than ever. Many further attempts were made over the hours that followed by many other human residents, until finally she was retrieved and returned to the earth. All in a day's work.

After that had a really long meditation and I ended up needing every minute of it with all the discomfort that was churning through me. By the end I felt more relaxed.