Hunger is the worst of diseases ~ the Buddha

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

On Letgomens (bodily signs that you will get the chance, imminently, to practice letting go) & Let It Bee Balm

As I look up from a triple-jeweled newel post, towards a scaffolding of summer, looming as-yet-unfilled, it's still relatively quiet here--about 2.5 hours till my kids are home for the summer, for good. I like this play on words (as my visual prompt: "Damien watched it all go over the edge" may not immediately suggest). 

A Letgomen--the bodily sign that you will get the chance, imminently, to practice letting go--is still a form of reactivity. And all reactions--no matter how subtle--are clues to the places we are still clinging to something. They point to our uncooked and rawest of spots. 
Practicing letting go of everything except what is actually here never fails to reveal one of my most unevenly cooked spots. 
I have to let go of certain beliefs about how wonderful my life would be if I could just "be" by myself. If I could just go to the forest and meditate.
As if my life wasn't this life right here. As if there could be a peacefoodlove kitchen without the peace that comes out of the love of those I cook for.

I love my children. They're not evil; they are good scientists, and they live in the still pretty-much country, so they're being raised to delight and instruct themselves by experimenting with their surroundings (often on rooster-time).

Me: Why is there a gyroscope in the freezer?
Them: I'm trying isolate and stop time at its center.
Me: Okay.

The PTC "gene" is actually a complex
ability to taste bitterness. It should give us a
selective advantage over non-tasters. 
Points for creative solutions to life's nagging questions, and there really, really is and can be no Damien Blamien on my part, as the realization that the apple doesn't fall far from the me hits like a Newton-of-bricks. 

But it's often quite messy, and frankly, the methodology isn't always completely clear to me, as I wade through a lake of toilet water (not code for "perfume") someone has been ph testing, or a 5-lb bag of flour someone else has volcanically erupted and then just left, like a glutenous crime-spattered scene across the cabinets, to go out to play. 
Or, as I am meditating on the kitchen floor and must trustingly stick out my tongue to be tiny-paper-strip-tested for the PTC gene, as I've been told, "I don't need you right now Mom, I just need your tongue. You don't even have to open your eyes." 

Again, delightful, but messy and unknowable in a way, say, being a tidy, solitary forest monk might not be. 
And since the mess we don't know--especially the messes we inflict on ourselves--is far worse than the mess we do, I can tell you that my Letgomen-o-meter is going off right now because things are about to change. Any post-semester/personal writing/reading/cultivating calm (from the hours of 6 am until 9 pm) is about to be replaced by SUMMER VACATION.

Which should be called "Summer Stay-cation" because that what I have to do: figure out how to stay with discomfort of knowing that although I love my children and look forward to being with them this summer (the first I have had to just "be" in ages), 

I feel the blooms falling rapidly from the rose of time's expectation (mostly about how much I was going to get "done" before this moment). 
And we all know (in our heads, anyway) that poultry is done and people are never finished. 

I think there should be a Buddhist Vegas Casino called The Lotus, with thousands of clocks ticking against a backdrop of empty and silent slot machines (and maybe as entertainment, just a bare stage with a giant metronome in the darkness), just for practice with this particular concept.

Although currently this farmhouse is not an MRI-enabled facility, I feel confident in my hypothesis that the Letgomens light up the amygdala like a 4th of July flambé. Change--or here, the mere promise of change, which is of course present in every moment--is felt in the body. Anticipation (positive or negative), dread, all of it I feel in my gut (surprise!), sucker punches to the old solar plexus, the delightful and mettaphortunate slang for which is, ahem, the "breadbasket."
But then I also experience the Letgomens in specific satellite locations: fear, frustration, powerlessness, and rage as a too-full deadweight in my throat--as if my gullet is a boa constrictor trying to swallow itself; while grief and loss are subtler, painfully shallow-breathed gnawings under my sternum.

It may not seem like a good idea to dwell in the body like this, but friends, since you are human, it's the only place to be.

Isolating your Let go-tos is a very useful practice. Because, as Ajahn Amaro once pointed out wisely (and it sounds even wiser with his British accent), "You can't really sustain a good fret if the body isn't backing it up."

This means that if you can locate your physical fear [insert other distressing feeling], uncouple it from your mental fear, and then work with unwinding just the physical sensation in the body, the mental part (really!) floats away, flotsam and jetsam style, in the sea of awareness. Then there is peace. 
I cannot stress (ouch--poor choice of words) just how useful this practice is, how effective, and how sanity-stoking and cortisolace-soothing it is.
It's still a new practice for me. Like 48 hours new, so I will have to keep you posted.

And now, in keeping with time and our not really religious, only temple of the body-mind theme: some Jesus Jones:

I was alive and I waited, waited
I was alive and I waited for this
Right here, right now
There is no other place I want to be
Right here, right now
Watching the world wake up from history

I saw the decade in, when it seemed
The world could change at the blink of an eye
And if anything
Then there's your sign... of the times

There in your own body, if you're awake, is your sign of all time: the gastric sine wave plus the sigh.

Okay, now I have one hour left. The neighbors texted me (note: I wouldn't have this helpful functionality in a cave) to see if I could meet their daughter, a lovely now-sophomore who has Down's Syndrome, off the bus which drops at the end of the lane I see from my kitchen window. She loves to come to our house and eat and talk. I've often seen her wander over and happily talk to our garden, to our plants, or to animals, to bugs, to sit in the sun, pick a berry, unaware. Make that exactly aware--just unaffected by me or anyone watching.  There is no "waiting" for her. She just is. We all come and go. Experiences come into her sphere, no matter where she is, and then she lets them go for the next ones. It's fascinating. I feel sad when she leaves, partly because I know she loves me, but I am not missed when she leaves, partly that she takes this quality with her.

It was lovely to spend just 20 minutes or so with her, but I will tell you my Letgomens were kicked up and here's why: I was observing all of this, and I was still thinking about how I wanted to get back to the kitchen and write about letting go of the way things aren't (instead of actually doing it), clock-watching to see how much time I would have left after she left, before my own kids got off the bus.

And the answer is: the exact same amount of time I have right now. 
I can feel amygdalucky that I can see this, or I can feel fried before the summer even begins.

Now, my children are home, beaming, dirty, hurtling, hugging, loving me, chattering about how wonderful if will be to be together all summer, claiming they want to live with us forever, and could they please have a cherry popsicle, 12 straight pins, and 4 T. of vinegar?

My Letgomens start going: my throat aches and chokes with the time that they will not want to live with me forever, or ask me to gate-keep life's experiential materials, a time when there will not be another Summer Vacation together.
I had to stop just now, and unwind and unwrap these painful sensations from my most frozen cherry popsicle places--even though the moment I am about to describe has already passed. It's not real. 
Now I go on with my understanding. 

"That time" doesn't exist right now.
The time to borrow a cup of sugar is always now, both ways.
We do Thich Nhat Hanh's Hugging Meditation. There isn't anything else to do just now:

Breathing in, I am so happy to hug my child.
Breathing out, I know she is alive and real in my arms.

This is all we can do with the Letgomens. They point to what's alive and what's real.

This aliveness, this body-sense, transforms the discomfort to something red and soft, going amygdalub-dub in the emptiness.

Go out and smell the Let It Bee Balm. 
(Also known as Bergamot Juste)

The group will be divided on this Omen allusion, and this is okay with me. I've lost Facebook Friends, Roman Catholics, and Countrymen over far less caustic points of misunderstanding. 
Because it is deeply uncomfortable for most people to stay neutral and aware during any of the following:

1. Apparent vilification of children by someone you expect to be maternal, nurturing, and slaving away over a cool compassion, at all times.
2. Anything that seems like it's even tangentially religious (like the B-word, Buddhism), even when it's not. 
3. Conversations with references to films. 
4. Any and all allusions to discomfort, especially when it points to your own. [OTTO (age 7):  "WHY do we have to sit with discomfort at the table?!--can't we just do the sitting part?]

See how the common theme to all 4 is "Not What It Seems?
Letting go of what it seems and shifting to what is really there--clarity--may be the easiest-hardest thing I've ever done.
And I predict this is the summer of clarity.  
Bring it om.

No comments:

Post a Comment