Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life

Growing Pains

2 Comments

I’m back.

After writing that post last week I felt clearer but also more vulnerable, a little raw, like I had revealed too much about my body and my desires and my self-absorption and my weakness. In case you’re wondering, I am officially not pregnant, TCOYF and its 18-high-temperatures-rule notwithstanding. It’s silly to feel betrayed by a book, but I do.

On Monday afternoon I was sitting on the deck at my friend Steph’s house, watching our children play nakedly in California spring sunshine, when all of a sudden I turned to her and said, “I am learning so much this year. It’s astounding.” When I said it, I could almost feel my head expanding, like a little brain growing pain.

I said this because I’d just had yet another revelation about the patterns I’m interrogating and trying to change this year, on this mindfulness journey. Context: A writer friend had offered to read an essay for me, and when she emailed, her response was simple and to the point: “I enjoyed your essay. I have some comments. When should we meet?” But all day I had been worrying that she wasn’t more effusive. What kinds of comments? Was there anything good in the essay at all? And as I revealed this paranoia to Steph on a sunny Monday afternoon my brain grew a little with the understanding that this is another of my unhealthy patterns that I need to change.

It seems I have this kind of revelation every week, lately. I notice so much more than I used to, or at least, I notice it and don’t let myself turn from it anymore. I can only assume that this is a consequence of taking the road to Enlightenment. But in the present, in the moment, it’s kind of a drag. I don’t want to be reminded of my patterns of behavior every week and realize how much they’re not serving me. I don’t want to feel so acutely hurt by an offhand comment from a friend that ultimately means nothing. Lately everything feels very weighty: the things Marc says, the times when we don’t connect, the coldness I perceive on the part of friends, my guilt over letting other friendships go, changes with Lex. These are things that a year ago I would have been able to turn from and ignore, or at least, not dwell so fully on.

I’m reminded of when I was a kid and told not to be so sensitive.

It’s occurred to me that, a bit like therapy, with mindfulness practice things might get more difficult before they get better. I say that because I do trust that the end goal here–if it’s not too anti-Buddhist to talk about goals–is to stop being attached to small hurts. But it feels as though in the short term I need to be MORE attached to small hurts. I’m continually surprised by this, and I’d love to hear from you if this is a phenomenon you’ve experienced, too.

I think I will look back on this year and remember it as a period of intense growth and learning. I just didn’t know how painful some of the growing would be.

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Author: becomingbuddhist

I am a writer, teacher, and mother living in Northern California. Recently I decided to try an experiment in living more mindfully. This blog is my testimonial.

2 thoughts on “Growing Pains

  1. Dear kindred sister, I think that there is some kismet in our meeting through blogging. Your posts are so spot on. . . and weirdly in tune with what I am going through over here on the East Coast! Today on the way home I was listening to Pema Chodron podcast. This quote really caught my attention, and I think of it now, reading this post: “When there is disappointment, its not like the teachings are going to stop you having that feeling. . . the teachings really are not about your emotional reactions to your life are going to change, it’s that your reaction to your reaction changes.” I think that is what mindfulness is trying to teach in a nut shell. I don’t know. . . I can’t call myself Buddhist and I don’t meditate or anything, and a lot of what I know and practice about mindfulness is what I teach in my therapy practice in DBT skill work, which is built of the Eastern principles. Anyway, what I am trying to ramble about is that it sounds like you are really going through it and developing so much awareness. Peace and love…

    • Yes kindred sis, I think you–and Pema–said it really well. And I guess that’s what I believe, that someday my reactions will change. I hope! Thank you for the great comment. xoxox

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