Monday, April 26, 2010

Loosely connected thoughts from my brain to yours

Image credit Ram Dass

I just got back from a visit to Detroit to see my lovies there. I miss them all so much it makes me ache. I find that although I miss the people mightily I do not so much miss the place.
When did Detroit become so ugly and when did strangers start looking so sad and angry at the same time, has everyone always been that rude or has something changed or have I gone soft on Southern manners and sunshiny winters?

Part of my trip was a drive Rae and I took from Detroit to South Bend to visit my mom. I really love that drive, it is through small towns with Victorian houses and long expanses filled with corn, soybean and hay fields cut by a curvy 2 lane highway. That drive always fills me with a peaceful alertness that is often hard to find elsewhere.

My mom and I have a challenging relationship sometimes and this visit was no exception. This time however, instead of letting her usual anxiety venting method of attempting to control and manipulate me upset me I just let it roll off. I tried to embrace her and recognize her outburst as a sign of her anxiety and her attempt to cope with it. It honestly made the whole visit better. Rae also made a perfectly timed comment that completely lightened the mood and set it all in perspective. I love it when that happens.

Lately I have been thinking about the 3rd noble truth of Buddhism, that says, (pardon my paraphrase Buddhists), the way to end suffering is to release desire. I find that by living in the present moment, without anxious thoughts to the future and without being chained to the past I am the most at peace with myself and those around me. It is very hard to do this releasing of desire. I keep opening my hand whenever I am aware of myself grasping but it is a tricky business. Back in the prehistoric reaches of my youth I had an acid trip that taught me to "let it go and just be". The unpacking of this is an ongoing process even now, some 20+ years later. I tend to live in my head and I find that by doing that my poor overworked brain keeps ruminating on the past and the future. If I can center myself in my body it is much easier to be in the present. What works for me is when I am spinning on recriminations and or possibilities, worries and doubts is I try to focus on my breathing. To feel the air moving in and out of my lungs, my diaphragm, coastal and diacostal muscles moving. It also helps to press my feet into the ground and feel my toes moving to keep my balance. By focusing on my body and my breath it slows down my mind and allows me to be in the present a bit more clearly. Another exercise that helps is to become sensually aware of my surroundings to ask myself, what am I smelling, hearing, touching, etc.

A great benefit of being present in the moment is that time neither drags or flies by. I see the end of my life is closer than the beginning and am determined to do whatever techniques I can in order to savor and use the time I have left.