September 18, 2012 by blogmasterjdeam
Got a minute? Let me tell you about my Monday. I went to the gym to run, my first run in seven days since I was sore most of last week from doing a race primarily on pavement.
At mile 2.7, something bad happened in my left knee. I stopped and stretched my PIRAFORMIS (yes Check Spelling that is how you spell it!) thinking that would fix the problem. It did not, as a matter of fact when I got back on the treadmill it hurt even more. So, okay … whatever. I thought, I’ll just lift weights until my knee stops hurting, and then finish my 3.2 later. For reasons I can’t quite remember, I went to reach for a weight and somehow dropped a 30 pound dumbbell on my left middle finger knuckle. Sure, I cursed, but softly, more to myself than anyone else. I decided to give the weights a rest and do some abs. Somewhere in that process I hurt my right lower back. Are you f*cking kidding me ????? This I did not say softly. As a matter of fact, I believe I said it loudly enough for the trainer helping someone next to me to say: “Do you need help?” I don’t know why, but that made me even angrier, like, what? Are you really going to “help” me? By doing what?
As we walk the path there are times when we not only step off, we roll all the way down to the bottom of the canyon, cursing the entire way. At least I do.
As an aside, I tried to give up cursing this summer when two of my grandchildren were here. After all, I was the one who accidentally taught my granddaughter to swear when she was less than two years old, which was the first time my daughter was forced to confront me about the language she would prefer I use in front of her child. Olivia, my daughter, called me after a visit with the darling Julia and said “my daughter just used the word bullsh*t. Do you have any idea where she may have picked up that word?” There was no dodging that bullet.
So, after a lengthy round of cussing one day this summer, I told Julia I would give up the bad habit, and to help motivate me, I would give her some amount of money (a quarter?) every time I cussed. One and a half days later I was down $21.00. I had to call off the deal and just promise to be more careful.
Swearing for me is an expression of my anger (okay, sometimes I do it just to be funny, but then you know I’m being funny, like when I got an email from Joe Biden asking me out for a cup of coffee and I write back and say, sure, the closest Starbucks is in Duluth, when would you like to meet and Joe writes back, please send $500 for the re-election campaign, and I’m like, Joe, you MF, you just wanted money from me, not to, like, have coffee with me? See, that is funny and I wasn’t really angry, although given that Joe never even answered me at all about the coffee date, I really had a right to be.) But, back to the topic: anger. It is a definite minus on my path of getting happy. I’m pretty sure you can’t be angry and happy at the same time. Although there was that scene in The Shining where Jack Nicholson breaks through the door with a hatchet and a smile on his face. That was some mixed signal stuff there.
The thing is, though, I don’t just swear when I’m angry. I swear frequently, mindlessly, AND when I’m angry. It is a bad habit and, really, not very becoming to a person who is suppose to be trying to be on a spiritual path. Nonetheless …
For me, cussing IS an expression of anger and anger is just bad all around. It is not good for me or anyone who has the misfortune to be anywhere near me. Ask my sister Diana what happens when I have to pay for parking in Boulder, because why in the hell should you have to pay to park on the damn street. My taxes pay for those damn streets. I should get to park there for free. WTF! Anyway, don’t get me started on paying for parking in Boulder.
Here is what Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk has to say about anger:
Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness.
When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath.
Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.
Then look at, or think of, the person triggering this emotion:
With mindfulness, you can see that she is unhappy, that she is suffering.
You can see her wrong perceptions.
You can see that she is not beautiful when she says things that are unkind.
You can also see that you don’t want to be like her.
You’ll feel motivated by a desire to say or do something nice —
to help the other person suffer less.
This means compassionate energy has been born in your heart.
And when compassion appears, anger is deleted.
So, how does one turn that compassion back on one’s self? From what I understand, all I have to do is breathe, and breathe, and breathe. Each time more slowly until, finally, I can see that my anger is what brought me to the place before I even started to run. There was pent up anger there all along. Could it be because I skipped pranayama and meditation and barely did asana yesterday morning in my hurry to get to my endorphin fix? If so, this seems quite unmindful of me. Could it be that if I had it to do again I would do things in the right order: meditate, breath, asana, then go run? Hindsight, as they say (and they know who they are) is 20/20.
One more thing about anger: we get back exactly what we put out there. When we come across a not-already-awake person and meet them with anger they return anger. It’s one of those rules of the universe. And, even though it might not appear so at the time, not anger, or calm, is returned with calm. I know at least two of you are reading this thinking, “ya, right.” But if you just keep practicing not returning anger with anger, in twenty years or so you’ll see I was right: his anger will be gone, or he will. Meanwhile, you will reap the benefit of not feeling the anger, and you is who we are concerned with.
So, with a deep breath I head out to do exactly what I need to do every morning of my life: MEDITATE, PRANAYAMA, ASANA, while reminding myself of all the things I’ve relearned in our earlier adventures. And the other, really, really important thing is to figure out exactly what triggers the anger, go to the root of the problem, and fix it there. And that is hard. That requires some reflection. It requires stepping out of the drama that is unfolding, and looking at exactly what is making us angry. In the length of time it takes to recognize we are, in fact, feeling angry, we do have the decision point that allows us to breathe, breathe, breathe while we think about what is really going on.
For me, having to pay for parking in Boulder is much more than just having to pay for parking. It has something to do with the idea of everything already being so exclusive and expensive in Boulder and that paying for parking is just the icing on the cake. But wait, I don’t have to shop in Boulder. And if I do want to shop in Boulder, it is possible to park, say, four blocks north or south of the shopping area and walk? Or better yet, throw a bike in the back of my Subaru and … never mind, we all know I’m not going to do that. That would be SO BOULDER!
So I think I’m starting to get it. I don’t want to pay for parking in Boulder? Then don’t. I don’t want to curse at Joe Biden for asking me for money (when he should know I’m already maxed out and no, I won’t contribute to a PAC,) so just don’t. When faced with an angry person, I will smile (not like Jack Nicholson in The Shining) and breathe. I will not get caught in the drama. I will tell my lower self to let my higher self be in charge. My higher self ALWAYS knows the best thing to do and, from many years of experience, I know that. So I will stop stoking the fires of my anger and I will simply BREATHE.
Pranayama today will be the Zen breathing technique. It is the best mindfulness technique I know.
Asana: I am heading back to the work needed in order to do the Wheel. I will do some warming up back bends; then fish, camel, cobra before attempting, very gently, wheel. Then I will use the block to try to get Warrior III in order. Finally, an inversion, followed by a twist, and then savasana. ah …
I don’t know how to get that rush I get from running from another source. Somewhere in the back of my mind a little voice is saying “can we just give it a rest already?”
YOURS IN MINDFULNESS WHILE LIMPING ALONG THE JOURNEY, Chris