2-16-09 I've been gone for a few days at pantheacon and a lot happened while there. On the flight in, I was reading Relaxing into your Being by B. K. Frantzis and in it he was discussing how meditation work initially is like a glass of water with red dust in it. The red dust swirls a lot, but as the water smooths itself, the dust settles and eventually you can see how it is separate from the water...likewise as you meditate and work through your issues those issues can be separated from the water of your consciousness. Then the true work comes, namely dissolving the dust, dissolving the issues, until all that is left it emptiness, consciousness, the Tao. As I was reading that, I realized very intimately that my experience with emptiness right now is really my experience with my dysfunctions and distortions of emptiness. It isn't the Tao, but my fear. There's still some red dust in the water, but not as much as four and some change years ago. I became aware of how far I have to go, but also appreciative that I could realize that and also that someday I will come back to the element of emptiness for a different experience of it, but that my current experience is healthy and useful for what I need it to be. I do feel like I'm achieving a healthier relationship with emptiness and this realization is part of that healthier relationship, but I also realized something equally important: I want to discover the Tao.
While at Pantheacon, I also realized something very significant about my experience there. It used to be that when I went to conventions or fetish events that I felt really empty and wanted to fill that up with people I saw. I'd feel desperate and wonder if this person or that person would somehow complete me. This con and also the fet events I went to, I haven't felt that compulsion. I did feel attracted to several people, and I realized what attracted me to those people is a desire to really get to know them as people and explore the energy and relationship between us. Much different from wanting to fill my emptiness up. And I didn't feel a particular need to act on those attractions, but to instead just observe, recognize, and release.
Yesterday I got into a discussion about vulnerability and a realization I had out of that is that I really don't like being vulnerable. Even when I write about it, in some ways I am distancing myself from it. Last night's interaction and some difficult emails from last week has really brought this to my attention in a needed way. And I recognize that no one likes to feel vulnerable...but still it just really hit me how much that does scare me sometimes because of my past and everything that happened to me. Having grown up in a situation where my vulnerabilities were preyed on a lot, it's not a surprise I really draw back into a shell when I feel vulnerable. It's something I'll work with more, now that I'm aware of it.
2-18-09 I tried working with my vulnerability further by being very open with someone I feel vulnerable with. It was scary to be very open with this person, but also empowering. And what was so empowering was that my focus was on the relationship and connection I have with this power, instead of being focused on trying to fill something up within me. I don't feel driven to try and fill something up...I can actually appreciate the moment and the connection. That's something I can genuinely say I've rarely felt before.
2-19-09 I find myself in situations where I am able to sit with myself and with someone else with genuine compassion for the suffering that person is feeling, with less judgment than I would've used in the past. That's not to say I don't feel judgment at all, but I'm much more aware of how much of that judgment is really rooting judging myself and then projecting that judgment on other people. A recent situation really clarified that for me, because I could actually see how I've judged others and how it may have made them feel, because of how I felt being judged. It brings it real close to home, when suddenly you feel put in a corner. You see how you may have done that to other people as well and then you ask, "Where does this really come from?" And speaking only for myself, I can safely say that my judgments of others does come from judging myself. So how much of my judgment is really accurate at all, when the root of it is based in my own feelings toward myself? If I'm going to judge anything, may I judge the actions and motives, but not the actual person. May I feel compassion for the suffering of that person and yet may I also respect myself enough to not allow that suffering to harm myself or others I love. And may I also continue to recognize and work with my own suffering so that I find resolution with it and also don't inflict it on other people.
2-20-09 Some really interesting insights came up in therapy, which make a lot of sense in regards to anger and how I handle vulnerability. Anger is my "safe emotion" It's the emotion I switch to when I feel uncomfortable with a situation. Makes complete sense to me, because it's an emotion about defense and protection, even as it's also an emotion about judgment and criticism. It's an emotion I've used to judge myself, without really communicating with myself. It's masked my vulnerability from me, even if it hasn't masked it from anyone else. As I've continued working with my relationship to anger, I've gradually uncovered the feeling of vulnerability underneath the anger and realized how much I've avoided feeling vulnerable, in order to avoid being hurt by someone. Question is whether I've really avoided being hurt. I don't think I have. If anything I've just avoided acknowledging how my vulnerability really makes me feel.
Thankfully as I've continued to get more comfortable with my anger, it's also me to work on being more comfortable with my feelings of vulnerability. I'm still pretty uncomfortable with feeling vulnerable. It's not something I'm used to admitting to myself, but I think the next step of my emptiness working will involve learning to sit with those feelings of vulnerability, while I also continue to improve my relationship with anger. Already I've gotten a bit better about actually expressing the emotion underlying my anger, so that instead of just yelling or bitching about something, I actually explain what the underlying emotion is. Small steps, but definitely helpful for making me feel a bit more comfortable with actually feeling my vulnerability and expressing it.
2-21-09 Tonight I realized something very important about how people have different standards of importance...as well as the fact that underlying my desire to have time with someone is really a need to feel important in that person's life. That last part is important, because so much of my life has involved me feeling neglected by the people who were in it, so much so that it quite naturally effects my standards of how people show me that I'm important to them. I need to keep that in mind, but also keep in mind that other people will have different standards of importance, which are equally as valid and need to be considered. And despite the shortness of this paragraph, that's quite a bit to consider.
2-22-09 I'd kind of been seeing a person for the last few weeks. Today it ended up not working out. I don't know if I should read more into it than is there...is this part of the emptiness working? I think it's more about her journey than mine in this case and what I take away from it, in my own journey, is that this time I was able to be very graceful about breaking it off and accept where she is, instead of getting upset because my expectations weren't met. I'm sad, but also accepting.
I wrote that earlier, but as the day progressed, I could feel my dysfunctions with emptiness rear up. I'm sitting with them, but I have to admit I don't like who I see in the mirror, right now. It's nothing anyone has done...it's just sitting with those parts of me, the anger, the desire, the fear...sitting and feeling. I'll relax into it, and let it swallow me into the dark well of emptiness.
2-24-09 The last couple of days have been insightful for me, since things were broken between myself and the person I was dating. What has been insightful is that I've had a demon rear its head again. It's not as strong, but I recognize now that by being in a relationship with someone, it anchored that need or grounded it, and once unanchored it once again became something which does not feel good to deal with. It also reveals, to me, a kind of desperate neediness on my part, in a sense. A co-dependence I suppose and I'm not sure I like that either. So I'm trying to sit with this demon and feed it what it needs. It's not easy. My sleep this morning was definitely uneasy as I came out of it thinking about this situation of feeling this desire and recognizing how this desire makes me feel when its expressed in a manner which is unhealthy. I'll keep working with it and being patient, but it does definitely bring up some uncomfortable feelings and realizations.
"Who's that ugly person staring at me?"
"Why that's you my dear."
Re-reading Frantzis's Relaxing into Your Being has been helpful for showing me that what I'm going through with this emptiness working is perfectly normal to be experiencing, when you are doing this kind of work. He mentions that one experience a meditator will have is that of Ru ding, which is a total fear of the death of your ego. And I have to admit, sometimes I have felt that fear. He notes that when you approach the core of your being is natural to want to run in the opposite direction or scream...check. I've felt that too, yet I know I have to stay in those moments, work through them, sit with them, accept them and if I can do that it actually is really good afterwards. And the breathing meditation lets me do that...I breath and I am here.
I also have to acknowledge that on some level I am feeling insecure in my relationship with my wife, because I recognize a feeling of disquiet about our relationship. Yet that disquiet is rooted in what I've discussed above. It's that same demon within me, wanting to have a need fulfilled, but not feeling like she could fulfill that need. And is she really supposed to anyway? A friend said recently I need to spend some time figuring out what I want for me. And he's right...and this demon is part of figuring that out. All the feelings and insecurities that come up are part of it all. What do I really want in my relationships, and also for myself, period?
2-25-09 Today I feel humbled. I realize just how far I have to go in my spiritual journey. Today I feel angry at myself, for my weaknesses, for feeling jealous, and for feeling angry in the first place. I "should" feel compassionate toward myself, but I just can't. I feel like a failure. I am someone stuck to my red dust, and to my habits, and my dysfunctions. If a human is half beast and half angel, most definitely I feel I am the beast today. I sit with my anger, and my jealousy and embody it as a demon and feed it what it wants, but still am left feeling unsatisfied with myself or my efforts. The sharp edges of my feelings are cutting me deep and I really wonder if I can handle that, handle a relationship dynamic I'm not entirely certain I want anymore, etc. The relationship dynamic issues, the demon as it were has really come out as I've considered what has motivated me to be involved with anyone at this point. What it is I'm trying to find with Lupa, another lover, or even a friend. What is the point of all of this? I don't know and I really feel lost today.
2-27-09 Therapy always provides some interesting insights. My therapist asked me, what if my needs, desires, etc. aren't necessarily unhealthy...what if some of my motivations are healthy, but that it's just that I've let the unhealthy needs set the course as it were? And I think it's a good question to ask. I guess I'd say that not all my reasons for my life choices have been unhealthy, but recognizing the reasons that have been unhealthy has made me do some re-evaluation about the kinds of relationships I want and what those relationships will mean to me. And of course it is helping me also understand my relationship to emptiness and how it feels to just sit with emptiness instead of having to try and change it. If I'm not trying to fill my emptiness, but just sitting with it, that does change the types of relationships I'm having with people. And I don't want my relationships to be based on trying to fill something up within me. I want to them to be much more about the actual people who I'm fortunate enough to share my life with.
3-2-09 I feel much less angry with myself than I ever have. There's still a lingering feeling of anger, but not nearly so strong and it's so surprising how much it changes how I feel in general. It's like a big burden has been removed. I actually feel really good and comfortable with my emptiness. It seems the anger aggravated it, which makes sense, but wow...how different it feels...how strangely different and beautiful.
3-3-09 Today I've been sitting with some feeling of anger over a situation where I've felt...unacknowledged for lack of better word. It's not a situation with anyone, or anything...but rather a desire to feel acknowledged. Yet in sitting with it, I wonder how much of it really is about my own sense of self-esteem as well. Seems to me that unattachment, the ability to be distinct, distant, and un-needing of anyone is valued a lot, and what do you do when you realize that isn't who you are? I don't like being distant or unattached. I like connection, resonance, feeling a shared and mutual interest. It's time for me to go a step deeper into the Emptiness meditation work. The layer is ready to be unpeeled.
I meditated for a while and the main impression I got? The fear of my emptiness consuming me, so thus trying to fill my emptiness up with other things so it doesn't consume me. And it makes sense in a very odd kind of way, even though it's clearly a dysfunctional relationship with emptiness. I don't think emptiness would consume me, but this fear, this new layer of issues with emptiness is definitely something I'll visit more, because it speaks of a deep issue with consumerism itself, when it comes to why people indulge in it so much...Are we as culture trying to fill our collective emptiness up, so we can avoid it consuming us?
3-4-09 In reflecting further on what I wrote above, it seems clear to me that many pursuits, if not all of them, offer a person a chance to feed emptiness, while trying to avoid it as well. That's true for me, anyway. I may not want to generalize for anyone else. Yet emptiness is all around us. In reading some more Toward a Psychology of Awakening by John Welwood, he notes something rather interesting: "Our most common experience of nonthought or emptiness is the appearance of little gaps between our thoughts - gaps that are continually occurring, though normally overlooked" He's right. There are gaps of emptiness which appear. If you think in words, the very momentary blip between each word is a moment of emptiness. Then again I think in music and have it on in my mind unless I'm listening to it and I wonder if that isn't just another way to avoid emptiness, even those microcosmic moments of experiencing it. Yet I can say there are times when I am comfortable with emptiness, comfortable with those moments, when that fear of being consumed is gone or somewhere else. Further meditation and reflection and reading will undoubtedly reveal more.
3-08-09 The last couple of days has involved an interesting process of reacting to a moment when I was very vulnerable and open with someone., as well as dealing with my tendency to be possessive/fascinated with the people I'm involved with. Being vulnerable is something I don't do well and there is a reflexive tendency to protect myself when it occurs, because I don't like how it makes me feel. This person can see into me and sees who I am...what will they do now. Readers could argue I'm being vulnerable on this blog, when I write about this stuff, but it's entirely different level of vulnerability, when in person.
The other issue of being possessive/fascinated is always a weird one for me. I am, by my nature, a fairly possessive/territorial person. I can adjust it somewhat, but it is something that never entirely goes away...It seems to be an integral component of my psychological makeup. I recognize it's a fairly selfish aspect of myself, but I also see it rooted in a desire to have a stable home life/territory with people. I like to know what is mine so that I feel secure about it. Yet, I see it relating to my issues with emptiness as well, as if by possessing something or someone I have something to protect myself from the emptiness. A lot to consider.
3-9-2009 Sometimes I find myself in a real fix, with my mind split on what I could do and whether I should do it...and the conflict that can occur sometimes. And in those cases, I sometimes feel terribly weak as a person because of that conflict. I know it's a conflict others deal with as well, but in that moment of feeling weak, all I can really acknowledge is that some part of myself does feel...weak. Moments like these occur much less than they used to be. As I become aligned with what I might think of as my true purpose. calling, destiny, etc., I find myself discovering an inner strength I never thought I possessed. And if I can just continue to sit with these moments of weakness and not necessarily act on them, I might find a capacity to embrace that strength, while also loving my weakness and letting it go.
3-10-09 Today I talked further with my therapist about my realization that underlying my desire to fill my emptiness up was a fear of having that emptiness devour me, devour my identity. She noted I felt a bit ungrounded and I had to admit that yes, I did...I'm not really sure what to do with this realization, or if there is anything I need to do with it. I'm still processing it, still figuring out what it means and how I feel about it. It's such an overwhelming feeling to feel that I need to handle it one little bit at a time, one tiny step...talking about it today was one step, who knows what the next step will be or when it'll occur. I know the fear is there...I know I need to sit with it, but first I just need to accept I feel it.
3-12-09 I've been meditating on the fear for the last two days and a very important realization came up. Sex, for me, has been a way to feed my emptiness, but also a way to avoid feeling my fear about being consumed by my emptiness. It's a multi-layered issue/demon. And it helps me understand the reality of what I'm dealing with when I'm doing this emptiness working. I'm dealing with a bunch of issues connected to how I feel about experiencing emptiness in my life.
3-13-09 It hit me fully today or at least much more today...my emptiness and my fear of being consumed by it as well as what that has meant in regards to my motivations. I felt this fear, felt this very real fragility in myself over acknowledging this fear of being consumed by my emptiness and what that actually means when it comes to my motivations for my choices. In feeling that fear, as opposed to just thinking about it, I got closer to emptiness than I have before.
Later in the evening, I did a tarot experiment where I determined my life/soul card, which turned out to be the Hermit card. We did a pathworking, where I ended up going really deep and allowing the hermit archetype to possess me. He didn't speak much, when questioned by the person doing the pathworking, but he did have a lot of information to give me about not only the emptiness working, but also, if you will, my destiny in this particular life. And what he told me made a lot of sense...answered a lot of questions...what it really boiled down to is being able to let go of what I've held onto for a long time, so I can take that next step on my spiritual path. Truth to tell that's just a really brief summary, but that's all I can offer on the experience.
3-14-09 Sometimes what you hold back eats at you more than what you are showing. When I can't share with someone in my life what I'm going through I feel like that person is no longer really a connection. And when I feel that way...I feel lost with that person. It's the end of this month, the second month focused on compassion. I feel more compassionate toward myself than I used to and maybe even somewhat compassionate toward other people. And I feel less combative toward this emptiness in my life...and yet also find myself on quite the precipice with it. I was telling someone the other day how tired I feel right now...this emptiness work is hard, harder than the love working, and while the progress which has been made has been so worth it, there comes a point in time where what I really look forward to is simply letting go. I am letting go of so much, but the path to that letting go is full of barbed wire and hard realizations. My feet bleed and my emotions hurt...I hurt. And I have seven months more of this...but what those seven months could be...is anyone's guess. I'm learning, I'm living, and yes, I'm experiencing my emptiness and my issues with it. That's something right there I've never done.