On Grace

I’ve never really considered myself to be a religious person. “Spiritual” certainly, whatever that means, but I haven’t ever really subscribed to any one doctrine of faith. I think religion is wonderful and faith is a beautiful thing to be sure, but no one religion has ever completely fit my beliefs completely. Let me preface the rest of this post by also mentioning that I am fairly well-rounded in the realm of religious study, as I spent my four years in college delving into every religious tradition I could – both mainstream and not so well-known (Jainism, anyone?). While four years of study isn’t nearly enough to make me an expert on religion in general, I think I have exposed myself to enough religious diversity to be able to confidently say that I am not one thing. I love all religions, and I think they are all beautiful and perfect at their core.

Now that I’ve established myself as a neutral party (and no I won’t discuss religion with you at a party, it makes me uncomfortable), I wanted to touch on my newly found openness to G-d or qi or loving energy during my second trimester of pregnancy. I was having my nightly phone call with my mom, and I was telling her just how happy I feel, and how blessed and just how…humbled I am with this whole experience.

I know this is the typical experience for the second trimester (I feel FANTASTIC and have so much energy!) but I also feel so much deeper. I feel like my whole body has been opened up to the universe; like my insides are too big to fit inside my physical self anymore (I’m not talking about that baby busting out of mom’s abdominal wall, either). It’s like the life and love inside of me is just so expansive and large, that it reaches out into the universe infinitely, touching every single thing ever… It reminds me of a Ted talk by Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroscientist who experienced a massive stroke, and was able to work her way back to speech and a healthy brain. She said that while certain parts of her brain slowly ceased functioning, she stopped being able to perceive where she ended, and the rest of the universe began. She described her body as no longer existing, and said she just became this limitless energy pouring out into everything.

THAT’S how I feel. Like becoming the carrier of this little human life has just split my body in two and allowed everything in, and simultaneously allows all my life energy to flow out into the world.

This is deep, I know. I had to write it down so I could remember feeling this way later, when I am wiping poo off the walls.

The negative side to this experience is that I also feel more exposed to negative energy. I have experienced more anxiety in these months than ever before too, I’m sure due to hormones, but also because my soul or heart or whatever is just out there for the world to imprint on. I feel very, very sensitive to hearing or seeing anything sad. I feel completely overstimulated by the news, and hearing about the attacks in Paris put me over the edge for a few days. My heart aches for every terrible thing that has happened or is happening, and I feel like a silly little white girl who just can’t even. But I really can’t, it hurts me on a very deep level right now.

But my sensitivity to the bad things brings me back to Grace. The Grace I feel like I am able to find in so many things every day now. Like meeting the exact right person at the right time. Or having everything seem to just start falling into place. To feel finally like you have everything you need  in each moment. To be able to find so very many things to be grateful for every single day, and to just feel that everything is going to be so much better than just okay.

I see that Grace, and I am overwhelmed by it.



Keeping Zen in the Workplace

I have been in a funk lately. It feels like I have been stressed out and tired forever, even though I know it hasn’t been that long. What is one to do when five days of your week are a flurry of butt-clenching anxiety and overall physical distress? How am I supposed to remain Zen when I feel emotionally and physically drained by the end of each day?

Honestly, I don’t know the answer yet, but I’ve been really inspired by reading through articles on Tiny Buddha. Specifcally, this article about how not to get caught up in the draining cycle of living on autopilot.

How do you get yourself motivated when things get hard?

Assumptions and Letting Go of Perception

I think it is pretty safe to assume that everyone has at least one person with whom they don’t get along well, or someone who just rubs the wrong way. Sometimes we can pinpoint exactly the issues we might have with these people, and sometimes we can’t quite say what it is that bothers us. Since I have been getting so good at letting go of things that no longer serve me, I’m digging a little deeper into some feelings I have towards a person who is in my life currently.
I have a pretty strong emotional reaction to this person almost every time we interact, let’s call them Joe. I feel very upset after thinking about, seeing, or talking to Joe. I feel angry—to me, Joe seems materialistic, elitist, disingenuous and completely duplicitous. It doesn’t even have to be a long conversation or anything important, but I always spend the next few minutes, hours and sometimes days feeling pretty upset about it.
In Buddhism, the eightfold path proposes the use of Right Mind—in right mind, we question emotions and thoughts that come up because, let’s be honest, all the pithy little words that flow in and out of our brains all day are mostly useless to us. Me spending an hour thinking about how what a “bad” person Joe is, doesn’t get me closer to enlightenment or inner peace, nor does it make for the best use of my time. So, in keeping with “Right Mind” I have to question these assumptions that I’ve made about Joe.
Why do I perceive Joe as materialistic? At a very basic level, I think this is spawned by my own insecurities about being materialistic. I’m definitely working on it, but I do still have like ten pairs of yoga pants. And this bothers me. I am projecting my insecurities onto Joe, and it creates discomfort within me.
Why do I feel that Joe thinks he is better than me (and others)? Again, this breaks down into my own feelings of suffering, because I worry about how others perceive me. My ego tells me that I need to be the best—that I need people to perceive me as smart, pretty, successful, etc. This perception of Joe as thinking he is better than everyone else is a manifestation of my own insecurities of how I am perceived by others.
And what about my perception of Joe’s façade—why do I always feel like he is pretending to be nice? Because my ego is hurt when I am not someone’s favorite, or best friend, or whatever. If I’m not someone else’s favorite person, it brings up my aforementioned insecurity about others’ perception of me. Why am I not the best? Why don’t they like me the most? I can’t control how others perceive me, just like they can’t control how I feel about them. Joe has no control over how uncomfortable I feel around him. Maybe I also cause an emotional reaction in him.
And since I don’t want to hurt Joe in any way, I hope that by breaking down my assumptions about him and by eliminating my emotional reaction to his presence, his discomfort will ease as well.
I can’t make everyone in the world like me or act nicely towards me, but I can control my perceptions of them, and in doing this I am practicing compassion for them and for myself.

What assumptions have you made lately about a person or situation? Did it bring up a negative or painful feeling for you?