This is the way I remember this story.  I’m sure there are details I’m not getting exactly as it happened, but the events described are real. 

In January 1992 my sister, Kerrie, and her husband, Kelly, who were living in Gretna, Louisiana, across the river from New Orleans, went out driving with their 3 month old daughter, Chelsea, who was fussy that evening.  Kelly had just gotten off work and was tired and Kerrie drove. They pulled up to an ATM at their bank to make a deposit.  When they stopped, another vehicle blocked their exit and two young men- probably only teenagers- jumped out wearing nylon stockings over their faces and weilding hand guns.  One ran to each side of the car.  Kerrie shoved her purse out the window thinking that was what they wanted. 

The man on the passenger’s side smashed the window and shot across the front seat, hitting Kerrie in the left thigh.  The bullet went clear through her leg, missing the bone but barely, and lodged in the door of the car.  Then the same shooter turned to Kelly who was turning to block Chelsea in her car seat in the back.  The gun was aimed at Kelly’s chest, but as he turned and raised his arm the bullet shattered his elbow. 

A courageous woman ran to their sides and held terrified little Chelsea and talked with them while they waited for the police.  She stayed with them in the danger and prayed with them and comforted them as much as was possible. 

My mother called to tell me, and I felt like I was in an elevator that suddenly dropped.  They were alive, but they’d been seriously injured.  Chelsea had only minor scrapes from flying glass. But someone shot my sister and her husband and the world was no longer safe for anyone.  Always before when I had thought of someone hurting my loved ones I thought that I would want revenge. There would be no revenge for this crime.  The young men shot and injured four people that night, but they were never caught. 

The surprise was that I felt no desire for them to be hurt in return. I wanted them to be stopped and incarcerated since clearly they were not safe members of society.  But the thought that haunted me was, “What happened to these boys to make them so willing to hurt my sister’s family?”  When I talked with my brother and mother and sister, they all echoed the thought.  What happened to them when they were little boys?  Who failed to love them?  What hurricane took their security?  What parent failed to provide them with unconditional love?  Who exploited their trust with pain so deep that the only way to expel it was to cause intense and overwhelming fear in others?

The police surmised that they were doing a gang initation, but they didn’t kill anyone.  They shot 3 women in the leg and one man in the arm… although I suspect if Kelly had turned less quickly the bullet would have entered his chest and the death count would have been one. But it wasn’t.  They weren’t good enough at evil to kill. 

I’m not sure why compassion was available to me then.  Compassion didn’t make me wish for those boys to have freedom nor to think that what they did didn’t matter.  It meant that for some reason I was able to see that a long chain of causes and effects led to what they did and that if not my sister’s family, someone else’s.  The chain of events was already in motion, rolling downhill and gathering speed. I was able to see that those boys were responding without introspection to things other people had initiated beyond and outside their control. 

In Shambhala and Buddhist study we are taught about lovingkindness.  It is also known as buddha nature, which we all have.  (Buddha was a man, not a god.  If he could do it, we, as humans, can also become buddhas.)  Basic goodness is in all of us. 

So, what of those boys that shot those good people on that dark night? Why did they behave in ways that were neither loving nor kind?  These many years later I think I know.  I think this knowing was with me all along, and revealed itself when those boys shot my sister.   

Shambhala

I just finished a weekend of Shambhala Training.  Level 2 was very difficult for me.  In Level 1 we learned about our innate goodness and lovingkindness.  In Level 2 we pulled our gazes inward, both physically during meditation, looking at the floor just in front of us rather than six feet beyond, and in terms of our mindfulness.  Rather than focusing on our inward breath, we focused on inhalation and exhalation.  It sounds easy, right?  Sit on a cushion, look at the floor beyond your feet and breath.  For an evening and two full days we sat and breathed and pulled our vision inward.  There were periods of walking meditation, interviews with our directors, talks, discussions and meals, but then it was back to the pillow.  We all struggled.  My avoidance for the weekend was fighting an urge to sleep, which has never been a problem for me during meditation before.  Sunday morning I woke up completely congested and unable to breathe through either nostril.  I got up and went to the retreat anyway, and the congestion went away.  It was like my avoidance realized I wasn’t going to fall for its trickery.  I was going whether I was sick or not.  I was not sick.  The congestion was completely gone by mid-morning. 

It was in this sitting and  breathing in and out and looking that we encountered those things in our lives that are holding us back.  For each of us it was unique, but many of us found similar obstacles.  For me, I came face to face with my tendency to avoid problems.  I’ve been working on this for ages.  In my youth if I ran into a glitch at my job, I would get a new one, or maybe a new apartment. Later if I had a problem with my marriage, I would talk and interrupt and insist that I was right. In my 40’s when things were challenging, I’d engage in some activity that kept me from having to face what was difficult. Stay busy, zone out in some hobby, don’t look anyone in the eye. 

In my 50s I began to meditate and running away or putting up barriers was revealed to be a way of attaching myself to pain.  Who knew that running away was a form of attachment?  I’ve been so attached to avoiding troubles that I haven’t learned how to deal with them very effectively. 

Compassion

So where does compassion come from?  It comes from a fuller understanding of ourselves, and of cause and effect in this world.  Those boys that shot Kerrie and Kelly have either grown into men or they have died.  If they are alive, they have either straightened up or they are still living their lives of attachments and pain.  If they have straightened up, it is because they found a way to look themselves in the eye and realize that they did possess basic goodness.  And if they are still living outside their basic goodness, it is still there inside them, untapped and unrealized.

There is no moral polarity.  Good does not exist without bad.  Black does not exist without white.  There is only awareness and its companion, lack of awareness.  Awake and not awake.  Once we recognize this, compassion arises.

I got into Buddhism for some simple reasons. 

  1. It acknowledges that life involves suffering, and teaches you how to deal with it.
  2. It doesn’t assume that everyone is a sinner.  What you do creates suffering or it doesn’t, and the more you learn about living without suffering the more often you’ll choose not to do the things that make you suffer.  (One of the things that makes you suffer is creating suffering for other people.) 
  3. It doesn’t assume that the answer is “out there” somewhere.  It demonstrates that the answer has all about being aware of each moment, here, now.
  4. The question is not “How do I find the answer?”  But, “How do I stay awake right now?” Because if you’re searching for the answer you won’t find it.  You can only find it by staying awake. 

But I keep running across practices that absolutely didn’t fit that little outline.  For example, I picked up this book called A Buddha From Brooklyn.  It is about this Italian American chick that someone decided was a Buddha, so she started a meditation center.  She’s constantly getting married and unmarried.  Lots of suffering there for her and the guys and the people around them. She wears heels to meditation practice… not “wrong”, just not really practical. And it’s her goal over the course of this book to build the biggest stupa in her area … a tower with a certain  bulbous shape…  fill it with relics such as the finger bone of some dead teacher and some rice and beans so that when it’s finished if you walk around it in a clockwise circle you’ll be healed or have wishes granted.   She is believed to be clairvoyant. 

Oh, boy.  She wanted the biggest and best magical object.  Competition and the supernatural.  Dukkha in drag. 

So I asked some folks in my sangha about the supernatural.  Basically, does everyone here believe this kind of thing, and is everyone expected to believe it if they come here?  Because, honestly, I was going to have to do some serious thinking if that was the case.  The main answer I got was from Will, a guy I’ve come to respect a great deal who said, “I am a skeptic at heart and I hold my skepticism dear.  The Buddha said to be a light unto yourself and if what he said doesn’t match your experience, by all means go with your own experience.” 

Oh, whew.  But then he said to be open and explore each thing that comes your way… skepticism shouldn’t be about just discarding everything that is different from what you know now.  That’s just another kind of attachment.  And attachment causes suffering.  Oh my. 

Okay.  Alright.  Basically the basic Buddhist take is that the iconography is about helping you focus, and if it is distracting, you don’t need it.  You’re not worshiping when you bow, you’re focusing your attention. You’re not worshiping the buddha statue if you happen to have one (and there is not one in our sangha), you’re using it it acknowledge that he had a good idea when he figured out how much good being fully present in each moment does.  Such acknowledgement helps you center and focus on the now.  The rest is just decoration, and as such completely unnecessary.  In fact, our sangha’s shrine bears simple objects to symbolize each of the senses.  In behavior analysis we would call them discriminitive stimuli that act as cues to observe the environment.  Cool! 

Whenever people don’t fully understand something they think it’s magic, and where there is magical thinking, people do weird things.  More on that in a minute. 

So I asked another burning question that was more personal.  In the Buddhist teachings we are advised not to cause harm to any sentient being.  In my job sometimes I recommend euthanasia for animals that are behaviorally unsound.  The way I make my decisions is basically, if the animal is likely to cause someone harm or if the animal’s current suffering is so great as to be untenable and perhaps unresolvable, or if his condition is such that confinement is the only safe solution, and such confinement is likely to result in lifelong suffering for the animal, then I recommend euthanasia.  I do not technically have the last word, but in practice, when it comes to behavior issues, my decision is almost always the final one.  That’s hard, so I wondered if Buddhism offered any snappy answers to that one. 

This lead to some uneasiness in the sangha.  One advanced practitioner reminded me that we are called upon to engage in “Right Livelihood”, and while she was kind, it was clear that to her this meant I should be considering a job change at some point.  In fact, she approached me later and suggested that in a couple of years I might find that it was time to move away from this line of work.  She also suggested, completely innocently, that these animals be provided with sanctuary somewhere or even released into the wild.  Oh, my.  Knowing what I know, this would create really bad karma. I forget that most people really don’t know the whole story about animal suffering. Not even close.

One guy said, “The Dharma recommends not killing, but it also acknowledges that it is impossible not to kill.  There’s not solid right and wrong.”

That helped me distill my question down to, “What is more significant?  Prolonging life or eliminating suffering?”  

One guy suggested that perhaps this is one way I can either serve my Karma, or even create good Karma to carry forward.  He said, “Maybe you are meant to be there because you have the ability to protect other people from having to make such a hard decision.”  I wanted to hug him. 

I know that what I do prevents far more suffering than it creates.  But I often feel quite sad about it.  One time we had to euthanize this dog that the staff loved. He was a purebred pit bull who didn’t like other dogs and was just always right on the rough edge of our “he’s a keeper” policy for a long list of reasons. When he got sick and the decision was made to euthanize the staff was broken hearted, and some were quite angry.  My heart bled for them and for the dog, and it was one of those rare days that I broke my open door office policy and locked myself in to ponder the meaning of life and my place in it for a while.

Will said, “You’re not going to get a definite answer on this one.”  Hello, Buddha.

So I spent the next few days with some minor angst.  I even asked myself if maybe I should be thinking about finding different work.  That caused significant brain drama for a couple of days.  Talk about attachment causing suffering!  Just thinking about walking away from my job caused suffering. 

At one point in the discussion about the supernatural Will said that there are times in his work as a psycho-therapist when his clients think he’s psychic because he read their situation so clearly and even assumed correctly about some situation they had experienced but had not told him about. He said, “It’s not that I’m psychic.  It’s just that I’ve been doing this work for 30 years and I’ve seen the same patterns over and over again.”  It’s like me and the dogs.  Sometimes I know what they’re going to do next because I’ve seen the patterns before. 

Maybe that’s all clairvoyance is.  Maybe that’s what the supernatural is. It seems magical to Sam because he hasn’t seen it before, but Sue has seen it again and again and again, so she can predict what will happen next.  Sam worships at his altar filled with awe and longing, while Sue attends her shrine to remind her that it’s all available to her if she just pays attention, and she experiences no longing and is filled with peace. 

A day or two after the conversations, I found a book in my Kindle that I had not yet read.  Buddhism Pure and Simple by Steve Hagan.  It was the right book at the right time.  He wrote, “It’s not about whether you’re doing the right thing or the wrong thing.  It’s about being awake while you’re doing it.”  And if you are awake while you’re doing each thing, you will find yourself doing more things that cause less suffering and fewer things that cause more suffering.  You can only achieve this if you stay present in every moment.  The path doesn’t lead to anywhere out there, it only leads to right here where I am. 

Simple, but so alien. 

Peace (Shiwa) from the Meditator Tot.

Kellie

Shiwa Nyi-Tso

These are fundamental ideas in Buddhism:  Don’t kill.  Don’t cause suffering. 

Some Buddhists take this to mean we should not eat meat, because it involves both killing and suffering of the animal.  Most Buddhists eat meat, and even the Buddha did.  His advice was to eat what is offered to you and don’t complain, but don’t kill or have killed any animal just so you can eat.  If you stop by Uncle Joe’s, he wasn’t expecting you, and he’s just barbecued a brisket and offers you a plate, take it and eat it graciously.  It seems like good advice but I haven’t succeeded there yet.

Some Buddhists take this to mean we should not kill animals. I work in an animal shelter where euthanasia is practiced for certain animals. I am uncomfortable with the euthanasia of animals that have a minor, treatable ailment.  I’m also uncomfortable with the long term warehousing of animals with conditions that make them unadoptable and cause prolonged suffering.   And I’m also uncomfortable with the fact that for every animal upon whom we spend our resources, other adoptable animals are not able to enter our program.  I am not sure there is a solution to this conundrum. 

An aggressive dog is suffering.  A terrified dog is suffering.  If we cannot resolve fear with reasonable means, we can eliminate suffering by euthanasia.  This is a dichotomy. An aggressive dog can cause a great deal of suffering.  If we adopted out a dog that then injured someone, we could be sued and an end could, conceivably, be placed on our efforts to relieve the suffering of animals. The dog, the injured party, the organization’s reputation and employees, and countless animals that cannot then be adopted through our shelters could conceivably suffer.  So, do we end the suffering for the aggressive dog, or create the potential to cause suffering for many people and animals? 

I know how to treat aggression.  But I don’t know how we would be able to ensure that there was never an aggressive response from that animal again.  My crystal ball is murky… no, well… it’s nonexistant.  At the same time, we can’t guarantee that ANY dog will never behave aggressively under some set of circumstances in the future.  Every time we adopt out an animal we are taking a risk.  We perform assessments to minimize the risk, but there are no guarantees. 

Life is often like this.  No clear-cut answers.  No way to make a perfect decision. 

For me, for now, I will work to reduce suffering.

Peace, 

Shiwa Nyi-Tso

Kindle: An Attachment

November 15, 2009

Kindle DX Wireless Reading Device (9.7" Display, U.S. Wireless, Latest Generation)Product Details

 

Here’s my excuse:  Apparently Kindles need a break every now and then.  My Kindle has been returned to me.  (See yesterday’s entry.)  It is like a boomerang. Here’s the history of my Kindle.

I received it sometime this summer, with great excitement and glee and it instantly became my dearest inanimate companion.  (You can read yesterday’s entry for more on that.)  I bought it a purple leather cover.  I made a shrine to it… okay, I didn’t, but I love it.  No more teetering stacks of books on my bedside table.  Just one sleek electronic device.

In late June I took the Kindle to Sequim Washington where Jesus and I were doing a seminar on the Constructional Aggression Treatment.  I had to leave early because I received a call that my ailing father had taken a turn for the worse.  I and all my stuff were taken to the tiny airport where I would hitch a ride to Seattle and fly to Dallas, then drive to East Texas where my Dad was entering hospice care.

I stepped off the teeny plane and walked across the tarmac dragging my suitcase and lugging a carry on and got all the way inside the airport before realizing I’d left the Kindle in the seat pocket.  I panicked and asked someone to help because the plane was ROLLING and I was afraid he was going to taxi off to the runway with my Kindle.  A very nice young man (probably in his 40s) went out and got it off the plane, and returned it to me wearing a bemused… nay… annoyed… expression.

I went out front and got on a bus which would take me to the big airport.  I started chatting with the folks around me.  I hopped off the bus and went off toward the airport terminal, and realized I’d forgotten my Kindle in the seat pocket.  Note to self: DO NOT PUT KINDLE IN PUBLIC TRANSPORT SEAT POCKETS!!!!  I dashed back.  Dashing is something less than running, but still took my breath away.

I got off the bus again and scurried (slower than dashing, faster than walking) through the very long airport to catch the next plane only to realize that I had my Kindle … but I didn’t have  MY SUITCASE!!!!  This wasn’t a normal lay over.  It was a wee-plane to big-plane switcheroo, and I had zoned out thinking about my Dad and forgot that it was do-it-yourself service from thither to yon.

I ran back (literally ran… if you can imagine that) back to the other end of the airport only to see two men standing with my suitcase, scratching their heads.  Between gasps I called out, “That’s mine!”  They looked at me as I slowed to a dash and then a scurry and finally a stertorous stop. One of them said, “Well, did ya forget your luggage now?” I refrained from offering a clever retort only because I was out of breath. He said, “We were just deciding what to do about it and here you came running!” I replied something like, “Pant, pant, pant… Thank pant you pant pant… so pant pant… much pant pant pant.”

“Are you alright then?  Anything else I can help you with?”  The other man was just grinning.  I wondered if they knew the guy who went to grab my Kindle off the wee plane.

There have been nights when Kindle spent the night at one of my offices.  There have been days when my Kindle was at home and I wished it were with me, where ever I was.  But I got the DX… a bigger version of the Kindle… and it didn’t fit well into any of my purses so I was always leaving it elsewhere because I have so much stuff to tote at work.  That lead to me buying the nice purple tote I wrote about yesterday.  I’m hoping it will resolve my Kindle forgetting.  We’ll see.

So, what have I learned from all this?  That I do indeed have an attachment to inanimate objects problem. I wonder what I would have felt if I had forever lost a couple dozen of my favorite hard copy books.  Would I have felt the sense of panic … and of dukkha … that I felt last night when my Kindle was missing?  I don’t think so.  I think it was the $500 bucks we doled out on the device and the $50 more on the cover that made it such a big deal.  It is actually a device I coveted but didn’t need, and certainly didn’t miss before I got it.  But I had an attachment to getting it.  I really wanted it. And when I found out I could get a purple cover for it… well… it was mine.

Another lesson in dukkha.  What do you do about the attachment when something is lost then returns to you?  If I were a good Buddhist I might get rid of the Kindle.  Sell it on Ebay, donate the money to the SPCA?  But I would still have my attachment to books.  I would still have attachments to all sorts of things.  And I’ve learned much of what little I know about Buddhism on my Kindle.  So.  I don’t know what else to say about that except that I’m keeping my Kindle.  Unless I lose it for real sometime.  (I’m not really a Buddhist, I’m just saying…and I’m going to write separately on the Complete Buddhist… stay tuned.)

And that brings to mind what I automatically did last night.  I quickly came to the conclusion that it had been stolen, possibly by one of the two women standing in the bag section looking at wallets.  I very quickly dismissed the notion that maybe I forgot it somewhere again. I did fleetingly think that if I had left it in my cart (which I had) someone had already swiped it.  But I had, they handn’t, and no one did any swiping.  It was just me being forgetful.  (Forgetfulness drives me crazy but I’m SOOO good at it!) And me learning that blaming people isn’t too helpful.

Here’s what I did with my dukkha last night.  Whenever I would think about the Kindle and feel angry or sick, I would stop myself and say, “Okay, be with that feeling.”  And I would think about the knot in my stomach and just make myself stay there with that physical sensation.  And the sensation went away.  By the time I went to bed I was still disappointed, but I was okay. I had let go.  I was doing okay with the loss.  I still had work to do on it, but I was very nearly okay.

This process seems to have desensitized me to the loss.  This morning when I first woke up and thought about it, I felt a lesser sense of loss, but went into it, just went to that dull feeling and stayed with it.  It diminished.

So when I checked my voice mail and got a message saying the Kindle had been found in the shopping cart where I’d carelessly left it, I felt a little bewildered.  Really?  I was so sure it was gone for good.  I’d done my homework in letting go of the attachment.  I’d refrained from ordering another Kindle, not just because it was expensive but because I wasn’t sure I needed to have one.  (Okay, to be sure I did peek at the new Kindle model when I went online to cut off my Kindle service last night.  It’s smaller and will fit in more purses, AND it has global wireless, not just in the USA.  I don’t leave the country that often, but that would be cool… At cocktail parties I could say, “Oh, yes, I downloaded that book while vacationing in Belize.”  Of course I haven’t been to a cocktail party in 20 years. And I’ve never been to Belize. But the DX has a rotating display, and that does come in handy sometimes.  So, yeah, I would have ordered another Kindle.)

Kindle is home now, and fortunately I did not return the purple Kindle Purse, although I have yet to find a bag for inside the Kindle purse.  Maybe Ziploc makes something suitable. (See yesterday’s post for more on that, too.)  I re-registered her immediately.  It was super easy to do… even a thief could have done it.  See?  There I go again.

Good Karma to you,

Meditator Tot

 

East Texas With Rug Frame

October 15, 2009

Yoda in Progress

I’m off to East Texas this weekend, toting a bunch of stuff I’m giving to my sister, plus my rug frame and supplies.  My sister, Mom and I plan to sit around and do fabric work (They quilt, I hook) and deal with the event of the weekend.  Dad’s headstone will be installed tomorrow.

The other day I had to be at work early.  I accidentally woke up at about 4:30.  What was wrong with me?  I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I read for a while, then I got up for zazen.  I sat for 20 minutes.  Ah.  it was really a great morning.  I had oatmeal for breakfast, and got on my way.  That night I was exhausted, but I did my zazen again, and slept like a baby.  It’s the little things.

The secret is I have hated getting up early since I was little, and the next day I got up as late as possible on a work day.  But that one day I got up early and it was good.  Getting up early isn’t a moral issue with me like it was with my father or my husbands’ parents.  They thought only lazy people slept late. And lazy wasn’t cute to them.  I have rebelled against getting up early when people have insinuated that only the early riser is worthy of anything worthwhile.  But really, to me it doesn’t matter.  You can do as much from 12pm to 4am as you can from 5am to 9pm.  But it was just a different here, now day.  I was there at a different now.

Now I’m working on just being with what I’m doing.  I’m not good at it yet, but I’m learning from it.  If I’m eating I try to spend at least part of the time just being with the food.  (Last night I made potato, mushroon, onion, celery soup with matzo balls.  I don’t know why I made that, but it was quite satisfying.  If there’s still some left I’m having it again tonight!)

With zen I feel like not eating so much meat.  That’s interesting, isn’t it?  I never intended to become a vegetarian when I started this, I just find that what I feel like spending time with is veggie food.  I wonder where that will go.  I’m not a vegetarian today.  I don’t know if I will be one later.  I just find it interesting that when I am mindful about food, I want vegetables and grains.

I’m off to go home, pack up my frame and my zafu and some furniture that’s going to get a new life.

Things are good. The big rain drop tears that come with knowing my father is really and truly done with this world and that a big granite stone, rich with feldspar and polished to a bright sheen will hold him down in the plain East Texas dirt (and his soul must surely be in Oklahoma) came and I just sat with them, and thought, “These are some big tears, and my chest is surely going to erupt in some big crying volcano of missing my Daddy.”  Maybe he didn’t think I should sleep so late, but he loved me.

When he was in the hospice one day, it was morning and I was getting ready to go.  I said goodbye and gathered my overnight bag and hugged my family.  They trickled out into the hall, and when I went to say one of the scary good-byes to my dad, he stopped me.  He wanted to talk about something… I wish I could remember more about what.  I know it had to do with something to do with not understanding why the doctor wouldn’t let him go home, and all that painful unwillingness to accept that he was dying.

When we had talked it over, and I had explained what I understood… I remember.  It had something to do with the young woman doctor who had told him he really was going to die.  He liked her.  He was a bit of a flirt in his old age.  He was unnerved by what she said although it had been said to him in a million ways by all of us for what seemed like forever. The next day he didn’t remember what she said and didn’t understand that he was dying again.

But what happened that day was that I was getting ready to go.  Maybe it was evening.  I used to stay as long as I could.  I hugged him and told him how much I loved him.  He said, “Well, Kell… I love you, too, times a million.”

I get to have that forever, or until my own brain starts to skip beats. Right now it makes me weak to think about it, and I can’t write it without all these tears and all this snot.  But it’s like … it’s like the best thing he could ever give me, and he gave it to me in a thousand different ways.

My husband went out with a friend last night. I was exhausted and decided to stay at home, do a zazen (sitting meditation), and go to bed. Since hubby was absent, once the dogs were crated, I turned off all the lights but one mission lamp at my bedside, then brought my zafu (meditation cushion) and zabuton (meditation mat) into my bedroom (bedroom) and set about sitting (zazen). I don’t have a proper meditation timer, so I set my cell phone to play Carol King singing, “You’ve Got a Friend” to end the session. My elder cat, Nala, settled down a few feet away on the rug, looking rather like a shiny black Zafu with whiskers.

Ready, set…

My knee was really aching, so I didn’t start right away, and worked on adjusting my zafu and sitting in such a way that it wouldn’t hurt so much. Pretty soon I realized that, shut up, this is part of it, just sit. I don’t even pretend to have the flexibility to do a full lotus pose any more, I just sit cross legged with my zafu supporting my butt in such a way that my back feels right. As long as it wasn’t, “I need to go to the hospital” pain, the method is to just sit with the pain. Okay, good. There’s the pain. Here I am. Just sit.

“Seriously, if I sit like this I can see the clock on the DVD player.” I grabbed a dog sweater off of Pan’s crate and covered the time. I sat back down. “Okay, eyes, just stay in one place, please.” (I meditate with eyes open to incorporate all the senses.) I selected a knob of a cabinet to focus on, so that my eyes were looking slightly downward. “Okay. But, really, my knee really hurts, and I think my foot is going to sleep.”

Sit, Meditator Tot, sit. Just sit. Here. Now.

Finally, finally. I’m sitting. I’m being here now. Here I am. Oh, good. I can do this. It’s only 23 minutes. I’m not going to have to sit here forever. Stop thinking about it, just sit! Okay… good… here I am…

Then suddenly, the loudest, most staccato bark I ever heard from Aero’s mouth burst forth. “BARK!” and almost before the bark ended, I screamed. Loudly. The kind of scream the people laying on the steel autopsy table on CSI probably screamed just before they became just so much meat on a steel table. Nala vanished under the bed. Yoda emerged from the other side of the bed. I whipped around and saw Aero standing in his crate, hackles raised, head low. “LIE DOWN, AERO!” I screamed. If I had truly been there then, I would have just been with him, but my heart rate had jumped 500% in an instant. “Okay, sorry boy. Lie down, Aero. Everything’s okay.”

My son, Micah’s bedroom door burst open and I heard his footfalls, but by then I had dissolved into very silly laughter. He didn’t knock on the door or come in. He went back to his room. I decided to finish sitting. I had no idea how much time I had left. So, I sat, and while occassionally I managed to get a moment of here and nowness going on, mostly my whole right leg went into spasms of pins and needles, my hips hurt, and I kept breaking into giggly laughter.

Finally Carol sang. I got up, tripped over my zafu, and went to explain to Micah what caused me to scream in blood curdling terror and then giggle uncontrollably in the night. He said at first he planned to help me, or save me or something, but when he heard me laughing he didn’t really know if I wanted saving.

Just another night with the Meditator Tot,
Kellie