Thursday, February 23, 2017

Blogging as Therapy

My psychiatrist gave me a list of six activities I can do; one of them is writing.  So, I decided that it is okay to keep this blog.  I love to draw but he told me that isn't one of the six activities I can do so I am not doing it, which makes me quite sad.

I think a lot of people pick up blogging as therapy.  There are a lot of wonderful blogs out there by people who have learned a lot by blogging and share many important things they have learned.  I have shared some of mine here.

One thing I can share today is that I go to extremes and that a person should never go to extremes with anything.  When I was told I should study mindfulness I decided to become a Buddhist nun and Bodhisttva.  That is not the mindful path to take.  With therapy I have been able to realize this. 

So, if you have BPD than take my advice and try to just stick to DBT.  Don't try to become a Buddhist or anything like that:  it's just too much.  Religion, according to Freud, is a form of neurosis and so I have decided to stay away from religion and focus instead on the here and now and my therapy.

This is my journey to wholeness, to a better life, a life I would like to document here, even if only a few people read it.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ant Meditation

Today I did ant meditation.  It's a really wonderful meditation to try to help you see the value and worth in your own life and to help you live fully in each moment.

It's pretty simple:  find an ant pile and disturb it with a stick.  Notice all the tiny ants that run around.  Aren't you like an ant, small and insignificant?  Your life, like a little ant's, could be over in a flash.  There are so many ants, in just one pile.  No one thinks of them...certainly you didn't until you tried this meditation.  Don't step on any of the ants:  try to value ALL life.  Just notice them, observe them, describe them...little ants running around, fearing for their lives, so small, so tiny, tiny little insignificant ants in a small ant pile on the side of the sidewalk.  We are just like ants, aren't we?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Path of the Bodhisattva

A Bodhisattva is a being who decides to liberate herself from suffering for the benefit of all beings.  A Bodhisattva, out of deep compassion, does not pursue meditation or Buddhism for herself, to liberate herself from her own suffering, but for the suffering of all beings.

To many this is a hard concept to get one's mind around.  Too often people think only of themselves but if we practice meditation, and not just mindfulness but other types of meditation such as Loving-Kindness meditation, than we can open our hearts up to great compassion.  The way of the Bodhisattva is known in the Mahayana school of Buddhism or at least more emphasis is placed on Bodhisattvas than in other Buddhist schools.

Taking on something like this is quite a serious task and responsibility for oneself and should not be taken lightly.  One has to remember that she will be liberating herself for others and will be developing compassion for others and not for herself.

I think many abused and disabled people have the ability to become Bodhisattvas.  For some of us marriage and having children is not an option.  Yet, we feel a desire to do something more with our lives than merely be vegetables.  So, what is one to do?  Being a Bodhisattva is an option though it takes rigorous study.  If you cannot find a teacher locally than one will have to study alone but it isn't impossible to become a Bodhisattva if one studies alone.  There is a wealth of information from teachers to find online and forums you can use for your questions. 

I read in an online Buddhist magazine that the way of the Bodhisattva is the way of the true adult.  I think this is true.  Many adults act as pseudo-adults and do not have compassion towards other beings.  To be an adult is to have great wisdom and great compassion and one can develop this as a Bodhisattva.

Before one takes on the great path of the Bodhisattva, though, one needs, in my opinion, to study meditation and Buddhism first.  I do not restrict myself to just the Mahayana school of Buddhism, I study all schools of Buddhism.  In fact, I do not limit myself to just Buddhism:  I also study Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism and basically any religion I have heard of to open my spiritual life.  The Buddha himself, who was not a God but a human being like you and me, stated that one could take what wisdom one wanted from his teachings and apply it to her life; if one found something to be unwise one did not have to follow it.

I do not like to restrict myself to one school of Buddhism or not read books by other religions because I feel that all schools and other religions have something to teach us.  In my opinion one should be open-minded and do this and apply what one sees fit into one's own spiritual life.  Don't try to fit yourself into a box:  be open, be in a field of flowers with the sky and white clouds and mountains in view on a spring day rather than in a cardboard box.

There are many books and articles of the Bodhisattva way.  Before one takes such a vow, though, I recommend just reading and thinking about it.  It takes years of study and meditation practice to take on such a vow.  I have been practicing meditation for years and studying Buddhism just as long and I am just now getting into the idea of it.  I think, though, it is something that people should know about, to help make a better world.

Monday, February 6, 2017

How Should You Hold Your Hands in Meditation?

An issue that has come about for me recently, since using my meditation cushion, is what to do with my hands when I am meditating.  When I meditated in my recliner I placed them face up on my thighs, when I meditate lying down I place them next to my body.

There are different hand positions I am going to try.  I'm currently researching about "mudras," the hand positions one uses in meditation.  If you are a beginning meditator than you don't have to worry much about your hands:  just place them wherever you feel comfortable.  If you are a further along in your meditation journey than I recommend studying about the different hand positions you can use in your meditation.

I am currently learning more about mudras myself and am going to experiment with different ones.  The concept is fascinating me and I have found links to over fifty different mudras one can hold their hands in while in meditation.

Another option while meditating is to use mala beads.  I recently purchased my first set of mala beads to use in meditation.  With mala beads you typically recite a mantra, though, although if you wanted to you could also use mala beads to focus on the breath, using each bead to count, "in/out."

This morning I meditated and held my hands in a mudra position, the Gyan Mudra.  This mudra is done by holding your first finger to your thumb, like in the above picture.  I was more focused on my breathing this morning but I did notice my hands in this mudra and it was...concentrative to have my hand in this position.  I liked having my hand in this position because it helped me focus more intently.  I suppose the purpose is to do the mudras while thinking and being aware of your breath at the same time.

I ordered some mala beads and I'm also going to practice with these, probably when I do lying down meditation in the evening because my current goal is to practice meditation for only fifteen minutes a day on my cushion.  But, maybe in a month I can add the practice of mala beads to an evening meditation.

And that will be another entry.

Using a Meditaton Cushion

I recently purchased a pretty nice meditation cushion for $70 from Etsy.  I wanted a nice one because I planned to use it a lot and because I wanted to do something nice for myself.  I just finished a short, ten minute meditation with it outside and here are some of my thoughts about it.

I don't recommend a meditation cushion for beginning meditator.  The posture that you can sit in can be quite rigid and you are also low to the ground.  If you have been meditating for awhile and think you can handle sitting in the lotus position for lengths of time than you should try a meditation cushion. 

If you are a beginning meditator I recommend either sitting in your bed on sitting upright in a chair to meditate rather than use a meditation cushion.  A meditation cushion is a big commitment:  you can buy it and have it sit in your room staring at you, like mine has been doing for the past two weeks.  Or, you can get it out and use it.  I decided to take mine outside on the porch and did a short ten minute meditation.  I'm happy with the results and it feels good to meditate in an upright lotus position, better than lying down and in my recliner.  A warning, though:  it's a commitment and if you buy a meditation cushion and don't use it that could just make your meditation routine go down hill.  It is also a physical commitment:  you have to sit in the lotus position with your back straight and hands folded into your lap or resting on your legs so if you have back problems it might be a little bit of a problem.

Don't be like me:  don't buy a $70 meditation cushion and then have it sit there for two weeks.  Get it out, try to use it at least once a day, even if for only five minutes.

I found I was more easily able to concentrate on my breath and center my mind when I used a meditation cushion.  I don't think I would've been successful if I had used it as a beginner though because it's 1)  a commitment and 2)  you have to sit in the lotus position.

If you have been meditating for at least a year than I suggest looking into using a meditation cushion.  If you are just starting meditating than I recommend either using a chair or sit in you bed to meditate.

My Meditation Journey

I have been meditating for ten years now.  When I first began I could only do it for about five minutes; now, I meditate for more than an hour everyday.  It took me ten years of practice to get to the point where I could meditate for more than an hour a day but realize that it is possible; if I can do it than you can, too. 

At the age of eighteen I became interested in Buddhism and Hinduism.  I began to practice meditation and did yoga everyday for about a month before I quit for some reason that I cannot remember now.  I stuck with meditation, though, because I read that it helps reduce stress and I had (and still have) a lot of stress in my life.

I would meditate sitting up in my bed and then I developed a practice where I meditate lying down before I went to sleep.  Buddha advised against lying down to meditate because you might fall asleep but I have found that I can meditate for about an hour or more before drifting off to sleep.  Sometimes I do lying down meditation in the morning and do not fall asleep.  Usually, though, I meditate in a chair outside in the morning and then do my lying down meditation at night.  Currently, it adds up to over an hour everyday, which I think is a good accomplishment.

Meditation has been so helpful to me.  I suffer from a mental illness known as borderline personality disorder and mindfulness, a Buddhist practice used in meditation or alone, is used in the therapy I receive for it called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).  I am still in the beginning stages of DBT but I really find that mindfulness, meditation and Buddhism is quite helpful and has really increased my quality of life.  If it can help me than it can help you, too.

I'm attempting to make meditation, Buddhism, DBT and talk therapy and other forms of therapy my life.  That's why I'm here writing this blog, to chronicle the journey of these things in relation to myself.

I recently bought a meditation cushion off Etsy for about $70.  I wanted a nice one because I planned to use it a lot.  I've had it for about two weeks now and sadly I haven't used it much, which causes me to be disappointed in myself.  I think I don't use it because I find that getting down on the cushion is a chore (I am overweight and physically disabled) but I like it once I get down there.  I also don't have my meditation cushion sitting in a very nice place:  it is in my messy room when it should be somewhere else, maybe outside or at least somewhere more mindful.  I do have it facing a window though because I have found that I really enjoy meditating outside.

Tomorrow I am going to take my cushion outside and try that instead of meditating in my recliner.  My recliner is comfortable to meditate in outside but it has drawbacks because of the recline of the chair so you aren't in a good posture.

After ten years I am working on concentrating more in my meditation practice; I think my cushion will help with this.  Currently, and for the past ten years, I have just been focusing on my breath.  Now, I wish to do more mindful meditation and try different types of meditation, such as loving-kindness meditation.

I am looking forward to using my meditation cushion tomorrow and continuing on my meditation journey that I hope to share with you.

First and Again

This is not the first blog I have had.  No, far from it.  I have had many blogs but this one, this one is a bit different.  In this one I am not going to be afraid to write about my life and my feelings; I am not going to try so hard to be part of a blogging community; I am not going to write posts to suit others needs (although I am big on helping people and compassion so if I see one needed I'll write it) but my own; I'll post more original photographs...

Basically, this blog will be about the life of a disabled girl. Mostly, I am making this blog for myself and a few people close to me (family, doctors, therapists) though if anyone happens to find my life interesting they can surely read about my life if they want to.  Sometimes I happen across a blog that I like and actually read it.  That doesn't happen very often but maybe this blog will be one someone random around the world wants to read.  Maybe I can inspire someone or help someone with my own life and struggles.  With the world wide web, you never really know.

I'm not really sure why I'm beginning this blog but part of me wants to chronicle my studies and thoughts and writings in and about Buddhism, DBT, therapy, mindfulness and all that stuff and hey, if someone comes across my blog and likes it or finds it helpful in some way than that is good news to me.

I am currently in intensive therapy for mental illness.  I get DBT therapy and also talk therapy.  This blog, I think, is going to focus more on the DBT aspect because that is all I currently wish to discuss in a public forum; I also think I might be able to help and reach someone out there.

For a long time, years, I would begin blogs because I was lonely and was looking for someone to talk to.  This time that is not the case; this time I am chronicling my own life and writing about my own journey, with an open heart full of compassion (or I try to be) and an open mind (or I try to be). 

I hope you, the reader, if interested, will find interest in my blog as another human on this planet.  And hey, maybe you'll even find something helpful or interesting.