Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Death is real

Death is a very real experience. Usually, we do not connect with a sense of reality. If we have an accident—or whatever happens in our lives—we do not regard it as a real experience, even though it may hurt us. It is real to us as far as pain and physical damages are concerned, but still it’s not real for us because we immediately look at it in terms of how it could be otherwise. There’s always the idea of first aid or some other redeeming aspect of the situation. If you’re talking to a dying friend or relative, you should transmit the idea that death is a real experience, rather than that it’s just a joke and the person could get better. We should help the dying person to understand that death is real.

from “Death and the Sense of Experience” in Crazy Wisdom, pages 137 to 138

Monday, June 27, 2011

Consider what is important

Remember when I said 2011 starts off crappy? It just gets worse.

Last week a friend of mine lost his hearing in one ear. The doctors did an MRI and they found a tumour in his brain. I don't know what to say to him. He's one of those guys that has always been sweet to me, and protective of me. Now he has this condition, and I don't know the first thing to say to comfort him.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Advice for Today

‎"One slant on practice is, when you get stuck in your relationship, along with looking at your expectations, try to really see what fear is present. A simple question you can ask is, "What is the Fear?" What am I afraid of? Usually we don't ask this. If we're angry we're just angry and we think that's the sum total of it. 99% of the time when we're angry what's really going on is that we're afraid."

~ Ezra Bayda

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hurt by Christina Aguilera

Seems like it was yesterday
When I saw your face
You told me how proud you were,
But I walked away
If only I knew what I know today
Ooh, ooh

I would hold you in my arms
I would take the pain away
Thank you for all you've done
Forgive all your mistakes
There's nothing I wouldn't do
To hear your voice again
Sometimes I wanna call you
But I know you won't be there

Oh, I'm sorry for blaming you
For everything I just couldn't do
And I've hurt myself by hurting you

Some days I feel broke inside
But I won't admit
Sometimes I just wanna hide
'Cause it's you I miss
And it's so hard to say goodbye
When it comes to this, ooh

Would you tell me I was wrong?
Would you help me understand?
Are you looking down upon me?
Are you proud of who I am?

There's nothing I wouldn't do
To have just one more chance
To look into your eyes
And see you looking back

Oh, I'm sorry for blaming you
For everything I just couldn't do
And I've hurt myself, oh

If I had just one more day
I would tell you how much that I've missed you
Since you've been away
Ooh, it's dangerous
It's so out of line
To try and turn back time

I'm sorry for blaming you
For everything I just couldn't do
And I've hurt myself..
By hurting you

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Random Stuff I remember from "Eat, Pray, Love"

Instructions for freedom:

1. Life's metaphors are God's instructions.
2. You have just climbed up and above the roof, there is nothing between you and the Infinite; now, let go.
3. The day is ending, it's time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.
4. Your wish for resolution was a prayer. You being here is God's response, let go and watch the stars came out, in the inside and in the outside.
5. With all your heart ask for Grace and let go.
6. With all your heart forgive him, forgive yourself and let him go.
7. Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering then, let go.
8. Watch the heat of day pass into the cold night, let go.
9. When the Karma of a relationship is done, only Love remains. It's safe, let go.
10. When the past has passed from you at last, let go... then, climb down and begin the rest of your life with great joy.

Live It

"You don't know about real loss, 'cause that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. I look at you. I don't see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared shitless kid."

Saw this clip from the movie "Good Will Hunting" earlier today. It struck me how true the message is - we can be brilliant and read everything that was ever written about a subject - but nothing beats truly living the experience. I can quote all the love songs and love stories in the world - but it means nothing until you truly, deeply fall in love. You open your heart and soul to someone, put yourself in absolute and complete vulnerability.

I never knew love could make me so afraid.
If I asked you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet, but you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes.

Sean: So if I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny... on every art book ever written. Michelangelo? You know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations. Him and the pope. Sexual orientation. The whole works, right? I bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seeing that. If I ask you about women, you'll probably give me a syllabus of your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can't tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman... and feel truly happy. You're a tough kid. I ask you about war, you'd probably ah throw Shakespeare at me, right? "Once more into the breach, dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap... and watched him gasp his last breath lookin' to you for help. If I asked you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet, but you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes. Feelin' like God put an angel on Earth just for you, who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her be there forever. Through anything. Through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleepin' sittin' up in a hospital room... for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes... that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, 'cause that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. I look at you. I don't see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you're a genius, Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine. You ripped my fuckin' life apart. You're an orphan, right? Do you think that I'd know the first thing about how hard your life has been - how you feel, who you are - because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally, I don't give a shit about all that, because - You know what? I can't learn anything from you... I can't read in some fuckin' book. Unless you wanna talk about you, who you are. And I'm fascinated. I'm in. But you don't wanna do that, do you sport? You're terrified of what you might say. Your move, chief.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MUSING | What is Practice

I'm reading Ezra Bayda's At Home in the Muddy Water: A Guide to Finding Peace within Everyday Chaos at the moment. I'm on the chapter that asks, "What is Practice?" and there's a few answers to that. Here's a few that I wrote down this morning:
  • Practice is about moving from a life of emotional upset toward a life of equanimity.

  • Practice is about the clash between what we want and what is.

  • Practice is about appreciating our preferences without making demands.

Life challenges us. Things happen the way we do not want them to - your boss is a micro-managing, abusive asshole, people you care about die, people betray you, your friend has cancer, you don't have enough money, you may be losing your job.

I don't have the answers to all of life's questions. This is something we have to walk through ourselves, to accept that things are what they are - instead of how we wish them to be, and work from there.

That takes courage. Lately I don't feel very brave. But someone told me being brave isn't about being fearless. It's about feeling the fear, but you do it anyway.

So they tell me.

I'm learning to breathe again. It's difficult, because lately there's been so much going on that it feels like a stone is constantly sitting on my chest.

This too will pass, they say.

So I am just sitting, and breathing. And trying not to react in a knee-jerk way. Trying to breathe and try to find some kind of space. Maybe this is an illusion too. Maybe there is no ground to stand on.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A person should learn to meditate on the spot

In human life, if you feel that you have made a mistake, you don’t try to undo the past or the present, but you just accept where you are and work from there. Tremendous openness as to where you are is necessary. This also applies to the practice of meditation, for instance. A person should learn to meditate on the spot, in the given moment, rather than thinking, “. . . When I reach pension age, I’m going to retire and receive a pension, and I’m going to build my house in Hawaii or the middle of India, or maybe the Gobi Desert, and THEN I’m going to enjoy myself. I’ll live a life of solitude and then I’ll really meditate.” Things never happen that way.

—Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Transcending Madness

Mad Mission

In a world of impermanence, we continue to make plans. In a world in which it may not matter if we ever stick handstand, we continue to try. In a world of disappointment, we dare to hope again. In a world in which someone might not love us back, or enough, or the way we wish they would, we continue to fall in love, and to love mightily.

In my book, that makes us heroes.

~ Bernadette Birney

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Regrets of the Dying

Another friend of mine posted this "Regrets of the Dying" on Facebook today. I don't want to think I'm being morbid, but it this is so true. When we have to face our own mortality, we realize how little some of the things matters.

I think about the people I know who try to tell me how important their work is, and I just can't bring myself to agree with them. What they want is trivial and insignificant. And I do not share their priorities.

A friend of mine passed away this year, in March. She was younger than me. Her lungs and heart failed and she couldn't get a transplant. Then I think about the precious friend who is no longer speaking to me. I miss her. A thought struck me that we might both eventually die without speaking to each other ever again - and that pains me.

Please read the following, and then go tell someone that matters to you how you care about them.


For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying.

Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.