posts created during February 2007

February 28, 2007 10:01 AM

Bluebirds Cannot See the Color Blue

More words of wisdom from my horoscope.

“Bluebirds cannot see the color blue.”
Rob Brezsny, “PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings”

I have a bluebird in the birdhouse in my soul. His song is full of joy. The fact that bluebirds cannot see the color blue reminded me of something Dr. W mentioned the other day. He asked me if I knew of Milarepa. Unfamiliar with Milarepa, I was shown a small seated figurine who was holding his hand to his ear. Dr. W said that he was listening to a beautiful song unaware that he himself was singing. If he had been aware that he himself was singing, it would have been pathetic that he was enchanted by his own voice.

If I am a bluebird, but I can’t see that I am blue, does that make me any less blue? No. If I am luminous, but I can’t see my own light, does that make me any less brilliant? No. OK, now remember that.

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February 26, 2007 12:00 AM

One Shots

trees at night in the snow
Stand of Trees in the Snow at McCarren Park

Newtown Creek from the Pulaski Bridge
Newtown Creek (as seen from the Pulaski Bridge)

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February 25, 2007 12:40 PM

Life is Pain, Highness.

“Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
—Westley (The Princess Bride)

The Pain of Two Arrows

“The untrained layman, when touched by painful bodily feelings, grieves and laments and is distraught. But the well-trained disciple, when touched by painful bodily feelings, will not weep, nor grieve, nor lament; nor will he be distraught. The layman, when touched by painful bodily feelings, weeps. He experiences two kinds of feelings: a bodily one and a mental one.

“It is as if a man is hit by one arrow, and then by a second arrow; he feels the pain of two arrows. So it is with the untrained layman; when touched by a painful bodily feeling, he experiences two kinds of feeling, a bodily one and a mental one. But the well-trained disciple, when touched by a painful bodily feeling, weeps not. He feels only one kind of feeling: a bodily one, not a mental one. It is as if a man is hit by one arrow, but not by a second arrow; he feels the pain of one arrow only. So it is with the well-trained disciple; when touched by a painful bodily feeling, he feels but one feeling, bodily pain only.”

I find that most of my pain is cause by the second arrow. It is pain that I inflict on myself with my own thoughts. This is the pain that hurts me the most. As I practice learning to listen and make space (in my own head) with meditation, I find that I sometimes can recognize when my mind has turned on me.

That said, I am more filled with aches and pains than most people I know. I feel all sorts of sorenesses and discomforts that I can only assume most of the world ignores. This is undoubtedly due in no small part to my being a dancer. My body is my instrument; my body is my temple. Mindfulness trainging makes me more aware that the pain is both there and not there and that no pain lasts forever, but I haven’t been able to focus my way out of a migraine yet.

And still more confusion comes up for me, especially after reading The Shaman’s Body. If my aches and pains are my dreambody communicating with my waking self, what exactly is my dreambody trying to say? The book has several clear cut examples of people’s bodies saying specific things, but I feel that the constant stream of information I receive from my body isn’t giving me a clear message. Perhaps I have to listen more closely, but before reading the book I was trying to live with all of the ticks and hiccups of my body by recognizing them but not letting them rule my days. My latest strategy is to listen to my body while trying to maintain an awareness of the two arrows, the physical pain and the mental pain. I will have to see how this works over time, but in the short term, I will say that I have been suffering from less mental anguish lately. And I have been able to move, but not get rid of entirely, the pain of my pelvic floor being ‘out’. It seems there is hope of the hypochondriac after all.

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February 25, 2007 12:10 PM

The Blind Turtle and the Endless Sea

My therapist, Dr. W, is a buddhist. Sometimes he says things to me in our sessions that I seem to understand at the time, but when I try to think about them later I find I have no idea what he was talking about. Here are some of the things he has suggested to me that I have had to do research about after the fact.

Parable of the Blind Turtle and the Endless Sea

“The story is told in a Buddhist sutra of a lone blind turtle who dwells in the depths of a vast ocean, coming up for air only once every hundred years. On the surface of the same ocean floats a golden yoke. It is more common for the turtle to place its head through the yoke when it takes its centennial breath, the sutra says, than it is for a being imprisoned in the cycle of rebirth to be born as a human with the good fortune to encounter the teaching of the Buddha. Human birth in a Buddhist land is compared to a rare jewel, difficult to find and, if found, of great value, because it is in the human body [that one may most easily travel] the path that leads to liberation.” Lopez: 266 (parable 066)

Note: The notion that rebirth as a human being is difficult may run counter to current ideas of overpopulation. However, the Buddha was speaking on a macrocosmic level: “there are more…intestinal bacteria in your colon at this moment than there are human beings who have ever lived” (NYT Magazine, 18 April ‘99, p. 87).

I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel very lucky or very depressed about this situation. Lucky because I am a human who is learning about the teachings of Buddha. Depressed because the turtle (and me in turn) has so little chance of coming up through the yoke of the golden ring. I choose to feel lucky about this now, but the feeling of helplessness did cross my mind.

Strangely (or not) a few years ago when Jen2 and I were in Pichilemu on the coast of Chile we saw a great greenish-gray something swimming north along the shore. It seemed very big and didn’t move like a sea mammal. We decided it might have been a sea turtle. Maybe the great sea turtle decided to reveal himself to us.

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February 22, 2007 09:31 PM

Squirming

Today is the 2nd day of Lent. As my sacrifice (my fasting) I have decided to write every day. This is not something I normally do, but since I have reached a point of recognizing my unhappiness with my life, I thought it would be a good way to keep track of my thoughts in this process. A large part of my discontent seems to stem from my everlasting busy-ness. Since the New Year (Gregorian calendar) I have been (mostly) sticking to a policy of 2 nights out of the house per weekday. This means less dance class, but the contemplative space that it gives makes me less anxious. I get to cook and clean and take care of myself and my home more and this makes me happy.

I went to see Dr. W today. It was my third therapy session and I pretty much made it through without actually crying. He recommended that I try to stop squirming and see how it makes me feel.

I have never stopped to consider that my body was a reflection of my soul. I always just took for granted that they were part and parcel of the same thing (me=body=soul=body=soul). I squirm. I crack. I am hyper-flexible. In my body I know that I need specific exercises to keep me strong and injury-free. I am beginning to realize that my mind needs the same kind of discipline so I have taken up a daily practice of sitting (sitting = meditating + praying). Although I hate waking up early, the sitting is helping me put space between my thoughts and my self.

So far therapy with Dr. W has helped in several ways. He reminded me (gently and not so gently) that I am not in charge. In my hetz I somehow forgot that my destiny is not in my hands. I can only be ready for whatever life brings my way. I have been able to catch myself talking mean to myself. That probably sounds silly, but sometimes when I am fretting about this and that or what so-and-so might think I can actually hear myself really thinking these things about myself; it has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else. How simple. How disturbing. I didn’t want to believe that I was really suffering from self-hatred, but when I catch myself doing it, I can’t really deny it. Damn. Lastly (or rather firstly) Dr. W suggested that I try leading a monastic life, that I carefully schedule my daily activities the night before making sure to give ample time for necessities (sleep, eat, sit, exercise, work). This suggestion has a bunch of other implications for my life, ie: making realistic priorities and letting the form (the schedule) do the thinking which allows me to relax. He mentioned something from the Bhagavad-Gita about the purpose of ritual being to let us witness form void of meaning. I have to find that passage and read it again…

And as I just quickly searched for “purpose of ritual” and “bhagavad gita” I realized that “ritual” is part of the word “spiritual”. Whoa.

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February 21, 2007 09:44 AM

Heart

Today on the way to work I saw a red mylar balloon in the shape of a heart floating in the tunnel between the 7 and BCFV trains. It was a perfect opportunity to use my new camera, although I am not sure that the photos I took do justice to the poetry of a slightly deflated helium balloon leftover from Valentine’s Day hovering near a flourescent light.

red heart balloon

Cadin made me the sweetest valentine this year. On Valentine’s Day morning he got up and made pancakes for me. I found a heart shaped box with a cut-out window on the kitchen table playing a slide show with photographs from our first date (*) at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. I was so taken with the cuteness of the valentine box and slideshow and didn’t even bother to question what was in the box showing the slideshow. I thought it was Cadin’s iPod. It turns out that Cadin bought a tiny digital camera, a Canon Elph. We (I) have been wanting a pocket sized camera for a long time. Cadin. Sweetness. Love.

(*) At the time I wasn’t aware that it was our first date because we were just friends at the time; we both missed the company outing to the zoo because of work so we decided to go on our own.

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February 5, 2007 10:28 AM

Cloudless

Last week I went to see Susan Marshall and Company perform Cloudless at Dance Theatre Workshop (www.dtw.org). Although the dance didn’t give me the kinesthetic hit that I crave, it did have amusing and beautiful bits and it brought up a whole bunch of my psychic dance baggage.

Why am I not dancing right now? Why am I not making dances? If there is nothing more beautiful or more important than the human body in motion, why do I even bother spending time on anything else? I am not sure what about dance brings up such existential dilemmas for me, but as much as I love good dance (good, kdL approved dance is very rarely seen), I hate the self-searching and uncomfortable questioning it brings up. I want to be contented exactly where I am, watching or dancing or neither.

(Well actually there is at least one thing I consider to be more important than dance and that is love. And that, to me, is everything. Everything is an expression of love, including dance.)

I think part of the problem is that I tend to see things in black and white. I forget that even when I have been dancing full time, I still need to be leading a balanced life. I need to have time to cook and clean and dream and hang out with my dearest ones. I need to pay rent. Ugh.

(0) comments | link | category: dance