Psychology + Zen = Philosophy and methods to relieve suffering and reveal happiness.

Psychology:  We project onto others what we reject in ourselves.  Some call it a Shadow.  Healing comes from making the unconscious conscious, taking responsibility for our projections, integrating what is split off as our own thing. 

Zen:  There is no separate self.  When we can be at one with every aspect, then we belong everywhere and we reject no one.  

We heal the world by becoming intimate with our whole selves.   


Entries in Feelings (16)

Wednesday
Jan312018

Subway Practice

You know how it is, you want to be home. It’s been a long day, sometimes challenging sometimes delightful but now every moment competes with the imagined rest at home. Naturally there is a massive subway delay. Maybe it’s a power outage, so all trains are re-routed to the local track, politely waiting for each other: stop, lurch, stop, wait, Thank you for your patience... We apologize for any inconvenience.

One night I rushed to get to the train before “Planned Work” eliminated service at my stop. Alas, they decided to start said work early, so thirty minutes on the bus replaced what I would have preferred to do. The next night they did the exact. same. thing. but forgot to notify the buses, so a hundred people stood in biting nine-degree wind for forty minutes.

That’s what it’s like to try to get home. Angry exhaustion. Why do I even live here?

How about when you try to get to work? Now it’s anxiety that dominates. I want to be a model of reliability but rarely allow the extra forty minutes that it would take to diminish the panic when the train halts unexpectedly. The conductor, required to say something, generates a plausible reason that a hundred thousand New Yorkers will be late for appointments, interviews, dates, classes, disappointing a hundred thousand other New Yorkers who counted on them.

Why do I live here? Even when the subway is working properly, a very smelly or a very loud person will seize my attention and ask for a donation. If I tuck into a corner seat to protect myself from “SHOWTIME,” a couple will surround me and chat over my face. ARE YOU LISTENING?!This man played his drum remarkably loud while riffing on judgmental people who refuse to give him attention. He thought it was funny.When I took a photo of him, he turned some venom on me and this man laughed and clapped.

 

 

Riding the subway I cannot avoid human interaction. I cannot live according to plan or desire. I am trapped. Reality is inescapable.

Last week a young man standing near me said “What does this even mean? a government shutdown, what is that?”  I answered and we had a chat. Yesterday there was a booming announcement that the train was skipping all stops and going straight to 207th street because there was a giraffe on the tracks. A young man doing his algebra was stunned, then broke out laughing when we realized it was a joke. He couldn’t work out how the train could get around the giraffe, and another dude, not realizing that Algebra Guy was probably on the autism spectrum, mocked him.

Have a look at the first shot. Before he got off the train, the guy reading a book gave the tiny woman with the bags his scarf. I caught his eye and we were both crying. The tiny woman smiled. 

It’s all here. That’s why I live in NYC and ride the damn train. I would love to say, oh yeah and I breathed into it and the feelings changed and I entered Nirvana and you can too, but it’s messier than that. Sometimes I appreciate the diversity. Sometimes I just want everyone to go away. Sometimes I’m wide open and joy pours through me and out of me. Sometimes I growl and curse, embarrassed by my huge Village Zendo button that perhaps proclaims freedom from Dukkha. Well, no, life is suffering and I’ll take a big helping, thank you.January 2018

And also, there are trees uptown.

 

 

 

Sunday
Dec242017

Why I Love the Solstice!

Let me count the ways!

1. It's my birthday.

Enough? It seems like everyone is catching on nowadays. See this nice piece by Taylor Plimpton, for example. I can remember the moment, almost 20 years ago now, when the major depression that felled me every "Happy Holiday" lifted for good. I was on a retreat with Shefa Gold, and she spoke of the clarity of the light within the dark, the contraction before the expansion. Once I welcomed the dark, I could notice the real sparks, not just the tinsel. 

Since then I have loved this time. I give myself permission to do little, to sort through Things To Do and drop as many as possible, to simplify gift giving, and skip festivities whenever possible. And this year I chose to be alone, to feel my life, and it was wonderful. Without having to speak, I was able simply to receive.

That's enough language. Enjoy!

 

December 2017

Tuesday
Oct032017

10,000 Regrets

Note that searching for "regret" images produces pictures of happy people accompanied by corny slogans about "no regret," and this.There is a poem written by Zen Master Mumon:

Not falling, not ignoring;
Odd and even are on one die.
Not ignoring, not falling:
Hundreds and thousands of regrets!

I am starting to write about the importance of old women standing up for themselves because I am not ready to be sacrificed and I don’t think it will improve things. Nor do I think much good comes of chronic guilt. White guilt causes blindness. Mother guilt, along with sacrifice, causes defense and anger. 

And yet my regrets are many. It is with relief that I confess with the community at this time of year. We acknowledge that to be human is to err, to do harm, again and again, even as we love, attempt to repair, attempt to do better.  

I regret the times that I couldn’t soothe my daughter, that I ran away in my socks, that I fell apart during the divorce, that I fled my body. I regret the times that I attacked my mother, that I belittled and blamed her, that I failed to understand. I regret the times I wasted time and the times I rushed through time. And so much more. 

Not ignoring.  Not falling.  Survival is my answer to the koan.  

October 2017

Sunday
Jun182017

Fountains and Falling

Three days after the play, I fell.

I was on my way to Feldenkrais class, the perfect place to re-connect with my exhausted body.  I was on time for a change, but the train was delayed.  ...running, running, waiting for traffic, grrr, hate that subway, gotta get there so I can relax, there’s the elevator, oh I missed it, lurch for the button...

My sandal caught the lip of the elevator and I lost my balance. My nose smashed into the door frame as I twisted, and then there was floor, lots of blood and pain, the ankles of the men helping me.

Falling is part of my history. I fell on my knees as a disabled kid, fell down stairs in graduate school, fell through a love affair. And falling is part of my legacy. My mother has fallen, and my grandmother, an uber accomplisher, would fall routinely and calamitously, putting an end to whatever overreaching was going on. Naturally, each time I fell, I cursed and vowed to learn my lesson.

This time was different. I didn’t need to vow because my opportunity was right there on the floor. I looked up, saw the kindness of the rescuers who took me upstairs for more kindness, ice and a private room to lie down. ...breathe, apply ice, shift positions, breathe, note critical disappointed thoughts and predictions, breathe, mop up blood, breathe, apply ice, thank people…  A city cab appeared as soon as I walked out the door.  The driver didn’t mind that I lay on the back seat as he drove me all the way uptown, the city wooshing by, holding my pain and gratitude.

I bled for five hours and when it was done, I noted that I was envisioning what kind of cosmetics would enable me to go to work without notice. In the next breath, the oddity of that line of thought for a psychologist struck me almost as hard as the floor...but no, I could do it...I’ve managed more...but I don’t have to...

I don’t have to. I can commit to healing, to ease, to taking my time so that when I return to work I am available to myself as well as my clients.  When something big happens, it requires the whole life to transform. The whole life falls.  The Fountain falls, and the water rises.

Monday
Aug012016

The Main Point, or, a Few Ignoble Truths

You may have noticed that I've been gone a while.  I've been busy doing nothing.  What happened is that I had a pretty good idea and I started to write, but then it went sideways and I had a hundred more ideas, and they led to a hundred more, so I started jotting everything down, and it was all connected, so I couldn't finish it, or, rather, them.  I suffered. 

So I decided to step back and remember the main point.  

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Tuesday
Jun022015

Yes, Doctor. May I see your computer?

It started out well enough.  The pain specialist in the spine department--let's call him Dim--was friendly and respectful, and did a quick and gentle exam of my neck.  Then he brought me into his office, offered a seat while he communicated with his computer as he complained that electronic medical records were ruining his practice.  I sympathized; he continued on about how this keeps him up at night, then asked me many questions that had nothing to do with my neck, presumably required by the machine he was facing.

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Thursday
Jan152015

Zen Retreat Redux: Sit. Stay.  

I didn't see it coming.  

Unlike the high drama and torture of last year, this zen retreat was relatively uneventful, which is to say it was a veritable cauldron of long-forgotten demons, physical pain, boredom, and large helpings of bliss.   Nothing special.  So, when I came home I was surprised to discover vast swaths of freedom in my life where previously there were tiny little congested closets.

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Saturday
May312014

Even the Good Stuff

Sit with it, psychology supervisors would say in grad school.  She needs to sit with her sadness, guilt, dilemma, etc.  In practice, I learned that most clients interpret this as submitting to their inner attacker until it hurts a lot, really really enough, and then, having done their duty, getting back to what’s actually fun and lively.  Fortunately, as I sat in my own meditation, I was able to clarify the process and then guide clients through it.  Sitting with it means that we allow the connection between thoughts and feelings to dissolve.  When they stop reinforcing each other,  we are freed from repetitive loops and we can actually move on, not just push through.  

But here’s the thing:  When stuff feels awful, we work pretty hard at this.  We get good at identifying our inner critical introjects and naming them as thoughts and not obeying them and returning to our sensation and All That.  Because we want to feel better, right?  But then we do.  We feel better.  And then we’re done, we think.  No more pain.  I graduated.  But…  then… alas.   It slips away.   What happened to that good feeling?  

That’s the question in the air, along with

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Wednesday
Jun272012

Feeling Thought Loops

It  goes like this:  You have a feeling, say anxiety, and a thought comes with it, say: I gotta get outa here!  It's more like a command, isn't it?  So you obey, right?  You try to get out.  But maybe you can't, so you get more anxious; as you get more anxious, your mind develops the thought, embellishing the fantasy of disaster if you fail to escape.  More anxiety.  Shall I go on?  Have you been there?

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Tuesday
Jun262012

Get your feelings out! 

Not so fast!   If you feel like murdering someone, kicking your dog, running from challenge, eating til you can't breathe....do you do it?

No.  right?  you don't, right?  

Feelings are not facts, but they make our beliefs seem like facts.

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