There is an old Buddhist lesson concerning two monks who were traveling and came to a muddy stream.
I’m not good at intimacy. I can count the number of folks in my life who have known the Real Me on one hand, with fingers left over.
Charlie the cat is long and lean
The color of the night
And his eyes are green
He likes to snuggle…*
With Charlie, snuggling is a fairly formalized proposition. If he doesn’t invite himself, I do so by patting the bed next to me three times. He then waits what he considers an appropriate time–varying from a few seconds to a couple of minutes–to demonstrate that he is, indeed, his own cat and not responding to any orders. Then he hops up and walks back and forth a few times, purring. My position has to be just right; if not, he waits until I’ve completed my part of the ritual. Then he curls up so that his rear feet and head are in one of my hands, his body firmly pressed against my other arm and chest. Purring ensues, usually tapering off into little snores.
Charlie pretty much invented snuggling himself. Continue reading “Snuggles”
As we contemplate the chaos left by hurricane Harvey and look ahead at the unknown that Irma will bring, it’s good to remember that everything we think we own is on loan anyway. The only thing we can really leave behind is memories, and their content is entirely up to us.
We will all be affected by the storms in our lives. Staying in the moment is the answer, as always, but a little bit of luck can help, too. May yours be good, whether or not you recognize it at the time.
“The tides of populism and nationalism currently sweeping many developed countries have been accompanied by demands that unwelcome and inconvenient voices be removed from public discourse…
…Intolerance of alternative viewpoints is spreading to places that make me, a moderate and a liberal, most uncomfortable….I find almost everything that Mr Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there. His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine….
“If you seek the removal of freedoms from an opponent simply on the grounds that they have offended you, you have crossed the line to stand alongside tyrants who imprison, torture and kill on exactly the same justification.”
~ J. K. Rowling
How does this apply to recovery?
Am I open-minded about the recovery ideas of others in the rooms, or do I preach the gospel of my fellowship and suggest that those who disagree with what I consider the True Way find recovery elsewhere? Am I offended by the way some speak, or how they dress? Do I raise holy hell if someone mentions drug abuse at an AA meeting? Are my tirades tolerated; my right to my opinions honored, despite the fact that I advocate curtailing the rights of others?
Maybe I need to think about that.
In Buddhism there is a practice called “Bodhicitta,” that is essentially the desire and attempt to bring happiness and relieve the suffering of others as much as possible. Although that sounds like codependency, it really isn’t. Codependency involves the attempt to move an unwilling person in the direction we think they ought to go. Whether we are right or wrong, it is up to individuals to change themselves; we can’t do it for them.
Bodhicitta, in comparison, is more aligned with compassion, a response to the suffering of others that motivates a desire to help. That’s the sort of feeling that is hopefully engendered when we get into recovery. Continue reading “Bodhicitta”
We say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but we do. Sometimes we find that we were wrong in our assessment of other people, places and things, but we always use that first impression as a guide. Often we can’t explain why we feel that way about our encounters; we just feel an affinity. Certain feelings are triggered, and we act on the feelings.
On occasion, these reactions are pretty strong. “I haven’t been able to stand him from the first moment I laid eyes on him.” “I walked into that room, and I just felt at home.” “When I looked around me, I suddenly felt at peace.” In those situations, lasting relationships may develop. We may continue to visit that perfect, peaceful place. We may make new friends. Perhaps that person we couldn’t stand is really a nice guy, but he’ll have an uphill struggle to prove it — or maybe we’ll change our minds after watching him for a while. Nonetheless, first impressions are a powerful influence on our attitude and trust.
Sometimes we just don’t know how to deal with people. That can be especially true of first encounters. It is important to always remember that people respond to how we make them feel. If we seem to feel superior to them, that will most likely trigger anger. If our approach is parental, that’s sure to trigger old stuff. If we fail to smile, they will sense our disapproval — even if it’s only in their heads. If we seem indifferent, they will feel rejected.
Intentions speak louder than words. If it is truly our intent to welcome folks, they will feel welcome. If we think well of them until they prove otherwise, if we listen to them with compassion (wishing others well) they will feel safe. If we meet them with a smile, they will feel accepted. If we treat them with respect and compassion, they will believe they have value.
We all leave first impressions, individually and in our fellowships. We’re affected by the people, the ambiance, the sharing (Is it hard-core or loving?), the attitude of the greeter at the door, and so on. Creating a good first impression is critical, especially dealing with newcomers.
We develop the ability to put others at ease by becoming at ease with ourselves. If we learn to be mindful of the ways we think of ourselves and can begin to become aware of our own feelings, we can be more mindful of the ways in which we relate to others. Meditation can help us with that. It isn’t necessary to have wise words; all we need is to be ourselves — to be real.
It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.
Epictetus (55-135 C.E.)