Sunday, November 22, 2009

2009 11 22. Sunday,

This morning I'm walking back to my room after breakfast and one of the younger western guys comes up to me and says frantically "No one showed up for garbage collection! Can you help?" I say "Sure. Just let me use the bathroom first and I'll be right back." He then goes and asks some other western guys nearby if they can help. They say they have to finish the job they're working on first. He then says "That can wait! I need help now." The other guys seem a little uncomfortable but reiterate that they need to finish their job. He gets flustered and walks away. As I'm watching the scene I clearly see a lot of my own reactive patterns in the guy. And, at the same time, I'm thinking "Don't worry. The job will get done. Just relax and let Amma's grace help out." We do the garbage collection and it turns out to be pretty light. The guy comments on how surprisingly little trash there is. Just the two of us get the job done easily. The incident is a very good reminder for me to always stay relaxed and trust in Amma's grace even if things look difficult.

Yesterday an attractive young Italian woman (Clarice) helped us at the compost area. After the compost work we were chatting and she mentioned that she was also fluent in French. I recited the only sentence I know in French which is "Je ne mange ni viande ni poisson." which translates to "I don't eat meat or fish." I needed to say this when I visited France to make sure I got vegetarian food. Clarice then steps away to wash her hands and Mukhunda asks me to repeat the sentence in French. I do so and Mukhunda repeats it back a few times. Keep in mind that I haven't told Mukhunda what it means. So when Clarice comes back Mukhunda looks at her sincerely and says "Je ne mange ni viande ni poisson." He says it pretty well. Clarice smiles and Mukhunda asks what the sentence means. Before Clarice can respond I quickly say "It means 'Will you marry me?'." Mukhunda gets a horrified look on his face and says "Oh my gosh! Sorry! Sorry!" His expression is priceless! Keep in mind that Mukhunda is in yellow robes, has taken a vow of lifelong celibacy and has been a monk for about 15 years. I start laughing and quickly say "No! No. I'm just teasing!" Then I give the correct translation. Clarice is smiling throughout the whole scene and Mukhunda remains embarrassed for a little while.

Later that evening I'm thinking maybe my little joke didn't feel good for Mukhunda, so I resolve to apologize to him the next day. So today after compost I take Mukhunda aside and offer the apology. Mukhunda just starts laughing and says "No! No. It was a good joke. I like when people tease me. Amma teases me all the time in front of everyone. I am not a serious man. Please don't worry. It was funny." As he speaks he pats me on the shoulder and back. I felt better. The more I know him the more I really like him and consider him a great role model. He's almost always in a good humor even when he has to work non-stop for days on end.

Amma will be coming back in about 10 days and lots more people are showing up here. For the past 2 months the room next to mine has been empty but now they're putting people in there. The room is part of the Indian accommodation so Indian families are often there. I usually have to remind them about quiet hours in the morning and evening. My main goal is to try and be cool and calm when I remind them to be quiet. It takes a lot of mindfulness to keep myself centered when I talk to them. Usually when it gets to the point that I need to talk to them I've got a little emotional charge going that I need to not identify with. Not easy!

I now seem to be becoming more and more sensitive to my negative mind states. When something triggers me now, even something small, I really feel it a lot. Of necessity, I've done LOTS of practice on not judging myself, so it doesn't feel too bad. I feel it strongly, but there's also (usually) a good amount of spaciousness around it. The spaciousness is a relaxed feeling/knowing that is psychologically larger than the negative mind state. The negative mind states are just strong and clear reminders to look clearly at the old patterns that create the triggers. On some level it feels good that I'm looking more closely at the old, dysfunctional programming in my mind. Don't know if its changing, but I'm definitely looking at it carefully.

Related to that, I'm also now doing more of what I call "self-soothing" practice. My old predominant mode was a feeling of low-level, free floating anxiety. Probably a combination of my genes and the tense environment that strongly predominated in my childhood home. So when I'm walking, eating, etc. around and especially when I meditate, I'll often focus on guiding myself toward calm states of being. Takes lots of practice but feels good. It seems that certain contemplations and beneficial thought patterns are effective at sending calming signals from my neo-cortex and frontal lobes to my deeper emotional (limbic) brain circuitry. Be interesting to see if someone has done some fMRI research on this phenomenon of "self-soothing" to see how it actually works.

I spoke to my Dad a few days ago to check in and let him know I'm doing fine. We chatted and he said he's reading my ashram blog. After our conversation I got to thinking that my family, through this blog, is learning much more about my inner world than they ever knew before. Usually when I talk with family members on the phone we share the usual pleasantries and not much more. We do get into some deeper discussions but pretty rarely. So here in this blog they can get a lot of deeper glimpses into my thought patterns, values, passions, quirks, egoic tendencies . . . and general weirdness ( smile ).

On a related note here's a message for my family: You're very welcome to come visit me here in India any time!Its pretty easy to get here and its a nice place to hang out. I'll be coming back to the states once in a while, but if you're feeling adventurous, come visit here. If you come when Amma is not here, it'll be quiet and peaceful. If you come when She's here, they'll be lots more people and you'll have a much more interesting time. I recommend coming when She's here to get the full experience. And you can help me throw cow dung onto the compost piles! ( smile )

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