Friday, November 11, 2011

Penn State Sexual Abuse Scandal

Just read an interesting article on BBC on Penn State dealing with the revelations of sexual abuse that had been going on for a long time, and resultant shock, firings, and riots. The last statement of the article said:

"It's hard to get through the process of becoming aware, but with awareness we're in the position to stop this sort of thing. The more we talk about it, the more it will come to an end."

This is precisely what we are doing in Awareness Practice. The process of becoming aware is difficult, not only because of the difficulty of developing new habits, but also because of our natural tendency to deny knowledge that is painful or shameful. With awareness, we now have new choices we can take other than the natural ones we would would have taken. The motivations causing us to go into denial become weaker because we learn to look at ourselves without judgment, which gives shame no place to root. Not that those decisions are easy, but now we have all the facts before us without the emotional factors being predominant.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Saturday's Classes

Saturday's classes was an experience of hope and thrill for me.  I went through the usual panic to have everything ready - nothing was perfect, but everything was good enough.  There were 8 who came, mostly new people, and we went through the basic practice, step by step, until everyone was on board with what we were trying to accomplish, and we talked more in a flow.  We talked about the flow of the current moment as it affected everyone of us - no theory, no argument, no opinions, no distractions from the present.  There is something about doing that that seems to open us up.  We start to look for what we detect in the moment, rather than what we think about it.  People discover emotions and share what they probably would not have expected to share in a class such as this.  People became more real.  Of course, this is my perspective - I don't know if everyone felt what I did.  But there were some tears, and I felt almost moved to tears myself at one point as I watched people letting down walls and trusting the safety of the space more.

For me, the classes are becoming an odd mixture of the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual, somehow all flowing from a point of focusing on the present and sharing our real-time feelings.

In the second class, we managed to cover two topics - stories and groundedness.  I felt like groundedness was too important a topic to leave out of a foundation class, and it managed to all fit into the time slot without feeling rushed.  I always feel like there is so much more I want to teach and share when the time is up.

The passion of this topic is bringing up in me the old thrills of feeling like this might just be a catalyst for someone moving to a higher level in their life.  To be part of that catalyst brings some of the greatest satisfaction I have known.

A moment on the highway

I'm driving down an entrace ramp to get on to Rt. 66.  A slow truck is puttering along in front of me on the single lane ramp, and my mind starts its litany - "What an idiot!  Can't he drive a bit faster!  Get out of my way, will ya?  Geesh, why does this have to happen to me?", on and on.  I've heard myself say those things a million times, but now awareness keeps kicking in.  My mind responds, "You know, this has to do with you, not with him.  He's not doing anything wrong."  The words soon have me a bit sober - all the stories in my mind - he should go faster, he shouldn't even be here, it's a bad thing that he's slowing me down, it's a bad thing if I am delayed 10 seconds, even though I am in no hurry - all the stories are twisting reality once again, as they have since I began to think.

So what's the big deal, I ask myself.  It's only a moment on the highway.  But no escaping that way - part of my mind quickly answers back, you're living in anger that is not only necessary, but is based on lies, falsehoods produced in your brain.  You do this often. Is this the way you want to live?  This incident may be trivial, but what about your feelings about life, or people, or other things?  How much trust are you continuing to put into this thing that repeatedly lies to you and distorts the truth?  I start to think about how many years I hated myself until I finally noticed what I was doing - not that it's "bad" to hate myself (a lot of good *that* belief does), but that I have the belief because of lies I swallowed a long time ago, and because I never questioned the subsequent story.  The story, having not a shred of truth in it, lived with me for much of my life, unchallenged, unquestioned, creating much misery, because I was never really aware of it to even question if it were true.

So I look again, because I realize how important it is to me to know the truth about myself and the world around me.  It is true the truck driver is doing nothing wrong - do I want to live my life being angry and upset at things that are in reality perfectly okay?  Doesn't sound like a characteristic I would be proud of at the end of my life, looking back.  So what is the truth I am avoiding, why would I create such a crazy story as he is bad for driving slow?

I start to smile.  I've found something else in me to love.  This foolish story is what so many of us do.  This is what it is like to be human.  We struggle with our own crazy twists, because of the fears and desires within us.  The realization of how crazy it is to believe a story like this no longer brings shame, no longer creates a secondary story of how bad I am to create stories like this.  I smile at this ignorant, foolish part of myself.  It is a bit like a precious child throwing his food on the floor.  Yes, it's got to be cleaned up, and it's exasperating at times, but the child is still just as precious.  I look at myself with partial exasperation and partial love, and I feel the connection with all of humankind's struggle, and it's okay.

So I look at the story again.  What is the real truth?  I want to know what is really happening in front of me, and inside of me, *without* any interpretation or story. The truck's going slow.  Check.  I'm angry.  Check.  I was carrying a story, and until a second ago, was fully believing it.  Check.  The anger starts to fade, and reality starts to dawn.  Why, it's only a truck, not an evil person bent on ruining my day!  How silly of me - why on earth did I ever think that?  Why, I don't have to hurry - I've got plenty of time to get where I'm going!  How silly to be caught up thinking I always have to rush!  I start to let that in, start to relax, and suddenly I am noticing the trees along the highway.  I start to see the crisp blue skies.  It feels so good to break free of what I created.

I am amazed at how much of the time I seem to live with story glasses on.  It seems continuous sometimes.  The stories repeat so often.  But I'm learning that when something never changes or moves, it's probably dead. These stories have been identical as far back as I can remember.  They don't change.  I don't learn anything from them.   I'm following the orders of a dead man when I'm in story.  But when I stop to notice reality, what a difference!  Experience hits me flat in the face, and I realize I have been dreaming, not living.

I breathe and notice the sky again, and move on to my destination.