This is it

When the parking lot at the Nuin Center was packed full, and street parking was at a minimum, I accurately deduced there was an event in the conference room.  As I made my way to the front door of the building I saw a sign directing people to The Living Peace Retreat, taught by Darma Teacher Chan Huy.

After saying my Good Mornings to co-workers standing around the front desk, I walked to the kitchen to deposit my egg salad into the frig. As I passed the conference room I noticed the participants shoes lined neatly against the walls of the hallway. They were all sizes and degrees of wear, but they were, mostly, comfy looking shoes. I saw no stilettos. I also noticed an alter was set up in the middle of the room. Brown robed monks sat quietly on the floor. Participants were also sitting quietly; some on chairs, others in lotus positions on the floor.

I know all this because the two sets of double doors were wide open. Typically, workshop leaders holding events in the conference room shut the doors. They post “Be Quiet” signs outside of the room letting non participants know they don’t want to be disturbed. The open doors piqued my curiousity. Hmmm, I wondered, “Why?”

I decided to answer my own question.  I made up the story that leaving the doors open was purposeful. I concluded it was to teach that we can’t close the world out, but that we must not allow the distractions of the world to interrupt our mindfulness. So as I rubber necked my way past the room, headed to the bathroom, I assumed I was helping  teach their point. My distracting presence gave them the opportunity to practice this lesson. Some looked up. Others did not.

Life is full of distraction. It is what you do with them that matters, I assumed…

On yet another trip past the sacred space, to retrieve my lunch, I noticed the group was eating their lunch in silence. I imagined myself sitting with them, eating in silence, chewing slowly, mindfully, tasting my food. I was thoroughly enjoying my fantasy until, in it, I forgetfully asked someone to please pass the salt. I immediately felt mortified with myself, even in my imagined scenario. I auto-corrected by concluding that my imagined table mates smiled warmly and silently handed me the salt.

Mistakes are a part of life. It is what you do with them that matters, I supposed…

IMG_0974I began to notice, midday, that I felt peaceful, that my movements were slower, that I had more grace in my body. Just being in the presence of such peaceful monks and the space they created had calmed me. I noticed a frame that had been hung above the registration table, It said, This is it. 

I exhaled, feeling instantly relieved. What if this is it? And, what if that is okay? I felt my hold on the future relax. My low grade tension of planning how-to-get-it-all-done eased.

On my last trip to the conference area for the day, to make my afternoon tea, I noticed one of the brown robed monks wearing wooden beads around his neck, sitting outside of the conference room. He was very engaged in texting or surfing the web on his cell phone. He didn’t look up, he wasn’t distracted by me. I wanted to laugh out loud as I watched his small, tedious movements, getting his man sized fingers to manipulate the small screen.

We are all so human. It is what you do with that reality that matters, I guessed…
waxseal2

 

 

Where Have I Been? Again…

Missing in action.

 

I do this sometimes. I have since I was a kid. I disappear from view, a ‘time out’ of sorts.

 

Historically these MIA’s have been a result of my wish to be found, usually by my family. Would they notice I was gone? Would they care? Am I important enough to be found?

 

If I am honest there was some of that in my absence the past several weeks. (I wish I could say I am beyond that insecurity, I manage it much better these days, but I doubt it will ever be completely gone.) But, more than that, I ‘checked out’ because I lost my vision and my energy. I began to question my decision to become a blogger.

 

Two years ago I didn’t even know what a blog was, let alone how to manage one. So I have been learning. It has been a very left brained-not my strong suit-endeavor, which was painfully tedious. Then there was the need to develop a blog readership. That means social media. So I acquired a facebook page(s) and a twitter account. My facebook page continues to feel like an unorganized closet full of people I don’t know-is that a good thing?-and messages/invitations to things I am not the least bit interested in. I just don’t get it. As for twitter, I have know idea what to tweet about.

 

My exasperation worsened when I realized that there are soooo many Off the Couch blogs written by other therapists. My brilliant idea was not so unique, special or trademarked-which means some other therapist could ask me to “cease and desist” if they started their blog before me. That was the last straw. My discouragement became exhaustion and I let go…of my vision and my desire. I do that to. I sometimes let go of my dreams from a place of exhaustion and overwhelm.  But what I also do, if my dream is in my blood, I pick myself and it back up and start again.

 

So here I am. I am back, starting again, but, this time with the help of a 22 year old intern that is waaayyy smarter about all of this blog and social media stuff than I am. Karen is going to help me clean my facebook closet, tell me what the hell to twitter about, and rename my blog.

 

This is where you, my readers, can help. I need your input and ideas. We are going to start with rebranding Off the Couch blog. I will miss Duke as my mascot. I love the double entendre. But I need to let go, this time of Duke and not my dream to be a top 100 women’s blog.

 

So if you don’t mind, I will run some fresh names for the blog by you.  Let me know what you think. And if you have any ideas to improve the blog, an idea for a new name, social media strategies, or anything else, by all means let me know.

 

I also want to apologize to those of you that look forward to my Monday morning posts. I am sorry for the last 4 weeks of radio silence. I also want to thank those of you that reached out to tell me you missed me. It’s good to be found…

SHUT UP…REALLY

I started a 21 day meditation challenge offered free by the Chopra Center.

Today’s meditation was on stress. It is day 4.

The meditation teacher, a soft spoken woman, asks, “Are you feeling a sense of worry, agitation, or frustration? (Now that you mention it, I am.) Release those feelings, thoughts, and sensations. (Okay, how?) Let them float away, easily and effortlessly.(Come again?).” She then invited me to sit in my silence created by my ability to let my stress go easily and effortlessly.

“Really?”

“If I could do that, easily and effortlessly, I wouldn’t be listening to this meditation.” I sat in silent judgment, irritation and frustration with this woman and the meditation. I tightened my butt and thighs, squared my jaw, and trapped my breath in my chest.

“Was she serious? This is not helpful at all. At least give me some ideas how to let my stress fucking float away!”

“Really?”

As I noticed my outrage, I felt it in every part of me and I immediately felt tired. I felt tired of me. Tired of my rant, of my indignation, I ran out of steam and just shut up.

When I shut up, I found my silence. I began to relax my butt, my jaw, and take a deeper breath.

A lesson well learned.