Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life



Oh, it’s been a long time. I’m having the urge to apologize, though I’m not sure that’s what’s needed. Perhaps just an honest expression of missing this secret blog world and having known, this past month of being very very checked out, that I would return. Hello, friends.

There's the path again...

There’s the path again…

(Aside: Bussokuseki’s beautiful poem “Almost Nine” this morning kind of slayed me. Go read it.)

Around the time I last posted, I had a personal revelation that I think has contributed to my silence. Around the devastating house business, I felt that no one could say the right thing. I am so grateful for the kind support of friends and readers–thank you, Momaste, Laal, and others–but it felt kind of impossible to explain to people exactly why I felt so utterly destroyed for a while there. Perhaps consequently, what I kept getting back was well-meaning but sort of not very helpful. And that was hard.

And M said to me, at one point, “You know, you don’t have to tell everyone everything.”

I’ve always been an over-sharer; that’s who I am. But I realized that some of that urge to confess everything comes from a place of feeling undeserved, like, I don’t deserve my feelings unless they’re validated, so I tell everyone in hopes of being validated–or I feel that if I’m keeping something to myself I’m somehow being selfish, closeted, untrue. I feel guilty for wanting a secret. It was a very strange revelation to have about myself, and it occurred to me that I really don’t have to share anything I don’t want to. There is power in keeping things to myself. I don’t need to justify what I’m feeling. I mean, right?

This reminds me of an earlier post of mine about silence, when I first started thinking about this stuff many months ago. Silence is feeling very powerful to me right now. And maybe I just didn’t feel like writing about the big life challenges I’m facing right now this past month. I’m sure I will, again; but not now.

I’ve found a women’s meditation group at a famous meditation center in Marin County, and I’ve been twice now. It has been incredibly powerful. It’s during the week, so it’s me and the retired ladies and a few others with flexible schedules, and I’m consciously trying to work my grading and teaching into other time blocks so I can go. In fact, I’m looking forward to it already!





Choosing Silence

I didn’t actually choose to be silent the last few weeks. When I had the time to write and read blog posts, the Internet in Maine was like something out of the early nineties. I was on an island, and every thunderstorm or slight wind would knock everything out of commission for an afternoon or a day; once it came back on it would take five minutes to send one email.

The Path.

The Path.

Then when the Internet miraculously started working again I also started teaching again, picked up an online course that needed a sub, fast!–and I was spending all my kid-free time reading and grading. I kept wondering what I was missing over here in Buddhist Bloglandia, and one day I finally accepted: I’m not posting again, or checking in with Momaste, Bussokuseki, Amanda, and others, until I get back to Berkeley.

It was interesting, how difficult this felt. A few hours of work a day, that took me away from my blogging, while on an island Paradise with my family? Who could complain? And isn’t the point of a vacation to, well, unplug? On the other hand, I felt desperate to be blogging, maybe because, being on said island Paradise–with my family–I was testing my mindfulness at every turn, and I wanted that little piece of community and camaraderie to ground me.

The Path was everywhere back East.

The Path was everywhere back East.

I definitely felt conflicted, and aware of all these feelings like guilt (“I should be blogging!”), anxiety (“what if I lose all my readers?”), frustration (“fucking Internet!”)–fascinating. Finally I told myself that not being able to blog was perhaps one of the simplest yet important challenges of my new “Zen over it” lifestyle. I couldn’t post; there was no reason for guilt, frustration, or anxiety. It just was.

And so, without meaning to, I found…silence.

This morning, meditating, I thought a bit about silence, and it occurred to me how much of a good exercise taking a break actually was. While being away from the Bs (Berkeley, Becoming Buddhist, Blogs generally), I realized how important silence is, and how much, lately, I have been embracing it.

Now, I am a veritable chatterbox, and many of you close to me are probably cracking up at the moment (Right. Point taken). I mean, I have an ongoing case of laryngitis from talking too much. I cannot NOT process most facets of my marriage. I’m compulsively social. Etcetera. But lately I’ve been finding myself in a group situation and realizing, I don’t have to talk right now if I don’t feel like it. Or I’ll open my mouth to process something with my husband and think, I could skip it this time. Maybe I keep a revelation to myself instead of sharing it immediately. The idea comes to me and I think, oh my God, I could just…not…talk.

It’s a whole new world, people.

So this morning, after I’d ruminated on all this for a bit, I thought, wow, maybe I need to go on a silent meditation retreat. It just might be time.

Oops, I think that was a revelation that I shared immediately. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, right?

It’s good to be back.