Posted: December 1st, 2013 | No Comments »
I completed my November month of meditation having only missed one day. Half the time it was with a group, and the other half by myself at home. Typically, by myself, I meditated for 45 minutes before going to sleep.
Have I transformed? It’s hard to say. Especially because I don’t want to make meditation into yet another project. Sitting on my cushion is the one time that I devote entirely to the present moment, to just being with myself. I want to say that I daydream and worry less. That I have more daily moments of great peace and gratitude. While I still feel that infinite emptiness within myself, most times I don’t feel the urge anymore to run away from it, fix it, or think it’s a problem. I want to say that I’ve connected with people on a deeper level. It would be nice to have that kind of great certainty. But I have no idea if any of that occurred, and, if so, because of meditating….but definitely seems correlated.
The month was easier also since I did a weekend program at the Shambhala Center and started practicing at the Cambridge Insight Center as well. I’ll be spending a day at the Kwam Um Zen Center as well. I do very much prefer group practice.
This morning, while feeling encouraged by a full month of consistent practice, I was reading Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham. The book mentions establishing a base of Shamatha practice or calm abiding meditation that’s a refuge. Meditation shouldn’t seem like a chore requiring white knuckled discipline to get through but an old friend you’re happy to see. I realized my practice, specifically when I practice alone, isn’t always like this. A lot of times my discursive thoughts get the better of me after twenty minutes or so. But what’s the difference between mediating with a group and by myself?
When I sit with others, I don’t have nearly as much difficulty with wanting to quit or getting bored. Besides the peer pressure/support, it’s the fact that I’m outside my home, away from my usual distractions. No computer to go browse the internet or a bed to go to sleep. I know when I go to the center, my only activity is to meditate.
So, I’m going to try cultivating more of the peaceful abiding and enjoying the meditation rather than seeking insight. progress. or measurement.
I will continue meditating daily in December. I also feel drawn to write a lot more about meditation and dharma these days so maybe more posts in the future.
Posted: November 1st, 2013 | No Comments »
Back in July, I did a week long meditation retreat. During the journey, I laid down directions for myself including the goal of meditating every day and to prioritizing only one new habit per month.
Close friends of mine probably know that I’ve spent years chasing after all kinds of goals, experiences, skills, and habits. But I’m starting over with a clear intention of not trying to fix myself or the world. But to do these things because I feel they are right and good for me.
In addition, the idea of public accountability was always appealing to me. I think the best way to start a habit is to do it with others. But having a public way of showing your progress, I hope, is almost as good.
Looking over the past two months, I’ve been slipping more and more. So, my goal for November is a solid 30 days of meditation. I suspect I’ll miss a few days here and there, but I want to be at least 24+ days.
I’ll be logging my progression here:
Posted: October 10th, 2013 | No Comments »
2013 has been a special year. I feel as if I’ve matured into adulthood in so far as I stopped trying to reinvent myself from a place of inadequacy or dislike. After years of striving to become someone greater than I am, I finally broke down and broke through to radically accepting myself. And in accepting where I am, who I am, the facticity of my existence, I was able to truly transform for the first time. Not by adding more to my identity but by stripping down to my fundamental core.
Because my values and worldview have shifted, I don’t know how I feel about a lot of things anymore. Except that excessively ruminating over the topic feels like a waste of time. I don’t regret any of my experiences, but I certainty don’t wish to repeat them.
Many changes happened this past year:
- I finished my RV journey by November 1, 2013 last year and sold it shortly afterwards.
- I moved in with one of my best friends and have old, close friends nearby.
- I joined the Sangha Family known as the Boston Shambhala 30s & Under.
- I purchased a barbell and regularly lift at home.
- I started seeing a therapist for the first time.
- I broke down and broke through to realizing the emotional baggage I have been carrying around. I learned to trust my instincts and emotions once again and let go of my desperate hold on rationality and intelligence both as the defining worthy parts of my identity and an armor protecting and explaining away the pains of life
- I quit all of my business aspirations and dedicated my energy and time to my existing job.
- Months later, still having made the mistake of blaming my career for my unhappiness, I nearly quit my job to work at a meditation center.
- I came back to Boston with a renewed energy to live a good life.
- I finally adopted the one habit/month technique that I always thought I was too good for
- I began meditating on a daily basis.
- I figured out my instincts are often right and trust them more. Those human truths, fears, and aspirations I always thought I was alone in feeling, I see are universal now, but most people don’t feel safe enough to express them.
- Today, I am physically, mentally, and spiritually the fittest I’ve ever been. My job is at its best point largely because I almost left.
For the most part, I’m content. Often, I’ve thought about my old Daoist studies. Laozi writes, ““Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”.
Of course, I still get angry, afraid, and nervous. That never goes away despite our spiritual longing and fantasies of perfect saints. Nor am I some pushover that doesn’t recognize my own shortcomings and where I still have much room to learn and grow. But I can accept that I am where I am and that nothing can change reality overnight. Whereas in the past, I would be overcome with shame, guilt, anger, or sadness when confronted with my weaknesses and wishing I could somehow skip the intermediate endless path of learning via trial and error.
I spent years seeking the Truth in college and graduate school. Only to realize that knowing the truth and being able to live the truth are two very different things. Then I spent years trying to become successful, to reinvent myself to live like a superhuman role model. In running away from myself to this impossible project, I failed numerous times and finally was ready to accept living as an awake human being. Awake to who I am right here, right now rather than past or future stories.
As the Dao De Jing 16 says:
I do my utmost to attain emptiness;
I hold firmly to stillness.
The myriad creatures all rise together
And I watch their return.
The teaming creatures
All return to their separate roots.
Returning to one’s roots is known as stillness.
This is what is meant by returning to one’s destiny.
Returning to one’s destiny is known as the constant.
Knowledge of the constant is known as discernment.
Woe to him who wilfully innovates
While ignorant of the constant,
But should one act from knowledge of the constant
One’s action will lead to impartiality,
Impartiality to kingliness,
Kingliness to heaven,
Heaven to the way,
The way to perpetuity,
And to the end of one’s days one will meet with no danger.
I’ve returned to my roots and found a constant stillness once again. There’s still much left to do. And my next greatest challenge will be relationships, in accepting myself and others when in relation to others. And maybe, afterwards, learning how to benefit others on a larger scale beyond one on one.
Posted: August 14th, 2013 | No Comments »
I have to apologize.
I haven’t written anything in a long time. That’s strange. Even in middle school, I wrote pages of text trying to make sense of my experience, to cope with the pains of living in this world.
But if I look at my Evernote writing drafts folder, my last piece was from June 11, 2013. Two months ago.
The last entry is entitled, "A Broken Heart".
This entry was written after a special meditation session where I realized all the pain, sadness, and confusion I had been holding inside of me. I realized that the root of my misery and confusion the past four years was rooted in the belief that I am not good enough, not well off enough. I have to be something more to be safe, happy, and loved. I no longer trust the world to be there for me or for my emotions to guide me.
Here’s my original, completely raw journal entry on my broken heart:
a broken heart
taking Ken’s advice to heart here. He told me to stop trying to figure it out. That the next action, the solutions were still a surface level. That the desire to quit my job was still the surface.
To have a diad with my inner voice and let it just talk to me without interfering so much
and so i did
i meditated and thought and thought and just sat and sat
what do i feel i asked myself? i touched my heart with my hand
i felt a gentleness and marveled thinking, it’s been such a long time since i felt such a tender, vulnerable moment
i thought back to _____ in boulder, of my heart exploding lying next to her and thinking that this moment was worth the entire RV ordeal
i thuoght that it hadn’t lasted
the themes of my life. independence, abandonment, unlovable, heart break, stifled emotions
she wouldn’t stay with me and i thought it was because of my lack of sexual prowness, that i wasn’t good enough
i remembered a night. sitting in the kitchen by myself. it’s dark. i’m waiting for dad or mom to come home to take me to school for my big music choir performance. they were suppose to have already picked me up. i don’t know where john is but he’s not there. it must be elementary school, somewhere between 1-5th grade. i never sang after that. never went to choir practice after that
where were you dad? where were you mom?
abandoned, not good enough to remember, to prioritize over church or friends or whoever it was
and me having that sadness and unable to express it, not having anyone to share it with
no, i put a stone face over myself and told dad it was fine and went in my room to sulk
there was the time grandma was out in the thunderstorm, everyone looking for her. me in the house alone, terrified.
who to share with?
the abandonment lead to feeling like i wasn’t good enough
and that reflected in so many ways such as getting bullied and feeling like i didn’t fit in both in school and at home
i was embarassed by my parents, so was john. their fighting. their ways.
i didn’t trust emotions, didn’t want emotions. they felt so bad
i always thought of _____ as patient 0, the original source of my trauma with girls. but that’s not right. i was scared to even tell her. i was bad well before her. why?
i didn’t really have much friends before college. god, i was the lonely kid in HS freshman year, only person to sit with was _____
i never told _____ i liked her
i didn’t even try to reciprocate _____’s feeling for me.
i’ve always been alone. no one to share my heart with.
it’s not just the fear of rejection, of humiliation. that’s definitely a big part. but also that even in the long run, i’m still not good enough. that i’d end up heartbroken.
i’m so wrecked by the idea that someone might leave me at any second. even _____ and ____ could maybe one day stop wanting to hang out with me. ____ did. _____ did.
does it go deeper? is this still the surface?
No edits except some names were removed.
After that night, I felt terrible for weeks but started finding my way back. I’ve been inviting my emotions in as a guest, as my object of meditation. And I’m feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually better than ever.. I’m no longer relying on anything to define me, to derive my sense of value. I am just me. And that’s good enough.
Also, life is becoming very active.
Yesterday, I presented in at my Shambhala meditation group which went very well. I talked about vulnerability and my first day in Boulder exactly a year ago.
Tomorrow, I’m going to Boulder, Colorado again to volunteer at the Buddhist Geeks conference.
I can’t believe it’s been a year. I still haven’t finished writing about those three months going westward, but I plan on publishing them soon.
Posted: May 16th, 2013 | No Comments »
Boy my nephew smells good
Last year, I made my third trip to my parent’s motherland; it was over a decade since my last arrival. My special reason was my brother’s wedding ceremony. So, not only would I be seeing my brother and relatives again but also my new sister in law and nephew.
As a child, my older brother was my closest and only friend. Apart from a few friends at school, I didn’t socialize much. I was a really awkward, shy, and quiet kid. I didn’t have much of a voice as a kid, and I still tend to talk too low and mumble my words.
By the time I entered high school though, my brother was off to college. When I was in college, my brother moved to Korea to work. As children, we were extremely similar yet as adults we are really different. For a while, I held a grudge against him for leaving. Partly because his departure meant more responsibilities for me, but mostly I think because I just missed him. But I know he’s happier now. That’s really what matters most.
This would be the first time the entire family had ever been in Korea together at the same time. It had also been several years since all four of us were together.
To my surprise, Korea turned out to be a good time. I reconnected with my brother and got to remember that old rapport between brothers that I had nearly forgotten ever existed. I felt a connection to my sister in law and had the oddest feeling of my small family growing. And most of all, I felt a deep caring for my nephew that I wasn’t expecting. And a bit of shame that it had taken me so long to come to see him.
I also had a few adventures on my own.
Path to the temple was really gorgeous
I went to a Buddhist temple along some rocky hills. I planned on doing a one night temple stay, but ironically I felt the temple was too “normal” with monks and laborers doing loud construction work. The scene contradicted the stereotype image I had about an Asian temple. I left after meditating and touring the grounds.
I did a lot of walking and hiking including reaching Nasam Tower where I felt quite lonely. It’s considered a romantic spot with thousands of locks of love with special messages attached to a fence outside. But the view from the top of the tower is pretty spectacular, you can see all of Seoul in 360 degrees.
A few plans I had never materialized. I planned on renting a hostel and staying there away from the cramped studio apartment that my parents and I were sharing. I also wanted to take a bullet train to Busan, the second largest city of Korea.
But I did meet an old friend before leaving and spent the night in the Seoul nightlife consisting of beer pong, late night bbq, starcraft, and sleeping after sunrise. Thanks Chris.
The wedding itself was a short, pleasant affair. I felt a little out of place, but I was surprised at the warm reception some of my cousins gave me. I also despaired to see how one of my uncles had aged along with one of my other favorite cousins who had introduced me to my love of computers and video games. I still remember crying in hysteria that I had accidentally overwritten his beautiful original SImcity saved game when you could only have 3 saved cities.
And then we were back in our homes in America. But only for a short time for me. A week later, I would move to Boston for the summer and then my final storied RV trek westward.
I’m changing gears from the making money hustling series because those posts are surprisingly very difficult to write, but I’ll return shortly to them.