How to dissolve cheap beer hiccups with meditation.

I’m sure I learned what meditation was sometime before college, but I didn’t spend much time absorbing the concept until then. I had an Eastern Philosophy teacher that is still probably the most self-assured person I’ve ever met.

He genuinely did not give a shit about what anyone thought of him, as he said, “other people’s thoughts are none of my business”. I found him to be hilarious, and always unintentionally so. (The best kind of funny.)

He said the purpose of meditation was to widen the gaps between thoughts, allowing for observation of the peaceful quiet that exists behind them. And that we’d enjoy a more pleasant mindspace as a result. He shut off the lights, had us put our heads in our folded arms, and asked us to focus on our breathing. Whenever we had a thought we were supposed to acknowledge it without judgment, let it go, and return to our breathing.

Most of the time I thought about a guy, wondered if he liked me. Thought about how cute he was. Replayed our recent conversations. I kept returning back to my breath just to have my mind pipe up again, “He’s so cute.  He reminds me of Floyd from Dazed and Confused…”

But then it happened, I thought—“…………..”, for a few solid seconds.

“Oh! And that’s the same dude as in Out Cold!” — But it had happened, however briefly, I experienced my first sizeable gap between thoughts.  I wanted more of that peaceful feeling. And, apparently, whomever that dude was.

Though I enjoyed the peace I discovered in that philosophy class…I lacked focus. The first real application of meditation to my life was using it to get rid of the hiccups. I drank a lot of cheap beer quickly in those days, so I’d get them pretty frequently. At some point, I realized that all of the solutions offered up (swallow a spoonful of sugar, stare at the ceiling whilst hopping on one foot, BOO!) were all just various ways of *not thinking* about the hiccups.

So I tried using meditation to do so, and low and behold — it works like a charm! In those days most of my meditation was done in graffiti-covered bathroom stalls. Focusing on my breath, calming my mind, and dissolving those cheap beer hiccups.

 

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Lucid Dreaming is the Shit

Lucid dreaming is the experience of realizing that you are indeed, dreaming. Once you gain awareness of what’s happening, you’re able to control the dream. You can conjure up any experience that you want: from flying through the space, to fascinating conversations, to swimming with whales, telekinesis – whatever you can think of!

The big trick is simply remembering to question if you’re dreaming whilst doing so. Because once you do that…it’s on.

Here’s a few tricks to get there:

  1. Remember your dreams. Start a dream journal, either writing or babbling into the mic of your phone. The point is to train the mind to think about dreamtime, to create awareness of it and a relationship to it in your waking hours.
  2. Dream Checks. During your waking day, ask yourself, “Am I dreaming?” Do so every time you do something routine; like every time you check the clock or look out the window, ask yourself “Am I dreaming?” The habit will carry over into dreamtime.
  3. Plan what you will do. Do you want to fly? Get laid? Chat with Albert Schweitzer? Daydream it as practice for the real thing.
  4. Watch the movie Waking Life. That’s how I had my first, after watching this amahhhzing flick, and without even trying!
  5. Think about lucid dreaming as you fall asleep. After you’re all cozied in, simply remind yourself that you are going to go lucid dream now. Focus on it, intend on doing it.

That should do ‘er! Don’t worry if it takes some time, all of the coolest things in life have a learning curve.

 

 

Enlightenment is a destructive process.

I came across a photo meme the other day with this quote by Adyashanti:

“Make no mistake about it – enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of… untruth. It’s seeing through the façade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”

I’d like to add my own perspective…

The path of enlightenment (which never ends) has everything to do with becoming better and/or happier! It also involves an extremely uncomfortable process that will totally ruin the perspectives you’ve spent your whole life creating. (Paradoxes are big in spirituality.)

The crumbling away of paradigms that no longer serve us can be painful, for sure. However, it is necessary to clear the old before creating the new – you wouldn’t want to build a shiny new building on a crappy old foundation, would you?

Destruction is essential to creation.

After the dust settles, you have a new set of tools with which to handle life’s obstacles and challenges. You have access to internal wisdom that will always point you in the right direction. Relationships become honest, your mind becomes clear, and the inherent worth of yourself and others becomes apparent.

You do become better.

After the dust settles, you are left with a profound feeling of possibility, freedom, and expansiveness. Personally, I don’t think I even knew true happiness before undergoing this process. I knew it in beautiful fleeting moments, sure, but I had no idea that it was just chillin’ in the background the whole time – constant access to sheer joy!

You do become happier.

It feels like you’ve been let in on the cosmic joke. It’s freakin’ awesome. Don’t let a little destruction deter you, but do be aware that it’s part of the process. The path is different for everyone, but meditation is a damn good place to start!

The juice is totally worth the squeeze.

What is Meditation?

Is it just sitting on the floor, not thinking? What is it really for?

Meditation is a mindfulness tool that can teach you to use your mind in a more effective and beneficial way.

It does this by creating mindfulness, which is simply being aware of what’s happening in your mind. Most of us just let our minds run about doing whatever the hell they want — but after some meditation, watching your mind, you will find that much of this business is very unhelpful, and not what you want to be up to all day.

Meditation is very simple. It will lead to experiences that are the opposite, full of intricacy and nuance, it’s a journey, for sure — but the how-to part is super duper simple. Here we go:

Sit. Sit however you like to sit. (Though Ron Swanson prefers to stand, and I totes respect that.) Notice the air slowly going into your nose, filling your lungs, and slowly leaving your body again. As thoughts bubble up, note them without judgement, then let them go. Repeat for as long as desired, the longer the better.

See? Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy! At first you may find that you are indeed just sitting there, feeling a bit bored — and that’s okay. The experience gets richer with time. Keep going. You will eventually experience a significant thought-free break, and you’ll understand what all the meditation folks are on about. It’s an incredibly peaceful and connected feeling to be without thought, it feels very good.

The good feels during meditation are just the beginning though. You will start to understand and see your mind clearly. You’ll see where you’re being cruel to yourself (or others) in your mind, and hopefully, stop that nonsense.

You’ll see how you spin around old memories around in your mind like a toilet that just won’t quite flush. And they’re probably memories that you don’t even like! You’ll stop all that nonsense too.

And on it will go. Meditating, cultivating awareness of your mind, smashing useless mental constructs. (And all the other benefits!) But after awhile you’ll be like, “Sheesh, well what should I think about, then?”, and it might even feel like a legit issue, you might even get those bored feels again.

But then, in that new empty mind space — ideas will start to bubble up. All kinds of ideas. Your mind isn’t at all short of awesome things to say, it just needs the clear space to say some good shit. You’ll see…

meditation

So this fish walks into a cave… (Playing with Plato.)

(A tale inspired by Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and An Old Joke.)

Three men stood chained to a wall, deep inside a cave.  The wall all that they could see, and it was also all that they knew.  Just that one wall, in that one cave.  At one point they could remember life before the cave, but now it had all vanished.

Was it due to poor cave diet?  A coping mechanism?  Did they bump their heads when they got there?  Who knows…but life before the chains had vanished from their minds without a trace – and the only life they knew was the one where they stared at a wall.

There was a huge fire on the other side of the cave, and a path that went down the center.  The free men would walk down this path, to and fro, doing their own cavey-cave thang.  The chained men started to know the others by their shadows on the wall.  They gave the shadows motivations, stories, and powers.  This infused their lives with some order and meaning.

Early one morning when the chained men were sleeping, the third man was blindfolded and taken outside.  His blindfold was removed, and the man stood paralyzed with shock at all there was to see.  His eyes shifted from the green grass, the sparkling river, the glowing sun, the lush trees, the colorful flower—he was crazy overwhelmed.  He suddenly let out a wail of both desperation and gratitude.  (It was akin to the cries of the now-extinct Belieber tribe.)

This piercing wail continued for a while, then he eventually tired, and popped a squat in the warm grass.  He slowly started to remember it all, this was life before “life”!  He soaked up the juicy bigness of it, of all the things he had forgotten that he once knew.

They then returned him to his chains, deep, deeeep, inside the cave.  The other two men were still sleeping (what else are they supposed to do all day?), and the third immediately woke them with his tale.

“There’s this bright glowing thing in the sky, kinda like this [he pointed at the fire’s glow on the wall], but different!  And there’s like soft but prickly blades on the ground that are, uhm…I don’t know the word for that…”  He continued to struggle with a lack of words for a long time, frequently trying to use his hands to explain, forgetting that they were once again bound.  He had no proper tools to express his experience!

Initially, the other two were excited to hear anything about anything, but their excitement quickly turned into annoyance.  “Sounds like some stupid dream, dude”, #1 said, rolling his eyes.  #2 agreed, “You’re losing it man.  This is reality, this is all there is.”

At that very moment, just fifty feet away in a lovely sun-filtered river (whose existence was currently being debated) two young fish were swimming along.  An old man fish passed them, flipped his fin hello, said, “Hey boys, how’s the water?”, then swam off.

One of the young fish looked at the other with concern and said, “Poor old man Gilly, he’s really lost it.”
“Yeah”, the other young fish agreed.  “What the hell is water?!”

 

 

My Words, Their Website: Published Fun

Huffington Post:

Ravishly:
“Resting Niceface” Made My Invisible Illness Go Undiagnosed for 25 Years
How Tarot Cards Saved My Life
My Chronic Illness Left Me Broke and Homeless So Meditation is My Medication
Why People with Chronic Illness Fake Being Healthy

SheKnows:
How a Vitamin Deficiency Nearly Killed Me
What I Learned from Months of Being So Sick I Couldn’t Leave My Studio Apartment Sans Help
My Weight Made Me Invisible and I Kinda Miss It
My Sex Life Needed Some Time Off: Lessons from Abstinence

Elephant Journal:
What I Learned During My Time in Prison

The Numinous:
Spiritual Shrooming: My Awakening

Offbeat:
6 Lessons for Introverts That Love People Time
How I Stopped Giving a Shit about My Size
Single Living vs. Couple Living: Game On
7 Tips for the Chronically Ill

LifeHack:
8 Quotes from “Say Anything” that Teach Us to Rock at Life
How Losing Someone’s Approval Can Set You Free

Tiny Buddha:
Do you constantly think about your relationships?
How to Live a Full Live and Smile Your Way Through It

Long Beach Post:
Being Homeless in Long Beach

Yogi Approved:
5  Tips to Support a Seriously Struggling Friend

The Mighty:
How I Learned There’s No Shame In Being Ill 

XoJane (R.I.P. Jane Magazine, you were beloved.):
How I Went Gluten and Dairy Free without Losing My Damn Mind
How to Throw a Fundraiser for a Cause You LOVE

Dethroning the Queen of Shitgibbers

Once upon a time, I was a teenager. My favorite hobbies were dancing, gymnastics, figuring out who’s parents were going out of town next, and gossip.

I relished in knowing what was going on with everyone else, and was sure to fill anyone in who didn’t know. I’d like to say that I was the girl reading Catcher in the Rye and rolling her eyes at girls like me, but I was not. Not even a little.

I remember the first time that I realized that this behavior was a bad thing. It was normal to me, it was how all of my friends behaved, and how we had behaved since sometime in elementary school. It just was.

But then one day someone finally called me on my shit.

Myself, my high school boyfriend, our friend, and another girl had gone a double date – their first date. I can’t remember exactly how it went, but at the end of the night I was sure they were going to “hook up.” The next morning at school I spread the word in the usual fashion. (It didn’t take a lot of effort, I went to a very crowded high school of bored kids in a small Alaskan city. Word got around fast.)

Turns out, they did not “hook up” as it were. Things had turned awkward, and their first date was to be their last. So everyone was coming up to my friend all like, “Yeahhh, dude, heard you got some!” When indeed, he had not.

He came up to me in the hallway that day and called me The Queen of Shitgibbers.

I was a silly lil’ teenager, but even then I knew that was a title I shouldn’t have earned and sure didn’t want. I had done a shitty thing, and it was the first time I really realized it was a shitty thing to do.

I’ve made huge strides in kicking the gossip habit, but it happened the other day. I cracked a joke about someone else, to someone who I knew would find it funny. It was a cheap shot, not even remotely clever, and remembering it later made me cringe with regret.

Why was I posturing like that? Fucking fucks, I thought I lost you. (Clingy buggers.)

So the next time I get the urge to discuss another person behind their back, I hope that I remember it’s a very fleeting satisfaction. For a split second I can connect with another, get a laugh, feel empowered, a little bit superior…but then just awful. This is kinda trite, but Eleanor Roosevelt once said:

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

I will strive to be great. I will frequently be average. I will even spend a huge portion of my time discussing the weather or my lunch. (Burrito, B-, overnuked.) But behaving in a small-minded manner like this just isn’t worth the squeeze.

gossip

Haunted: Invisible Illness

Due to a problem with my nervous system, I am disabled and chronically ill. My symptoms often become incorporated to my dreams, sometimes it’s almost funny: a man getting an electric foot massage on my back when the machine shorts out. (Okay, weird/scary, not that funny.) More often, it’s just me trying to keep up with the dream and sorely falling behind.

I just woke up from a miserable one. A repeater. Familiar people are telling me that I’m faking it. That I’m pretending to be weak to get attention. That I’m just irresponsible and lazy and need to try harder. Or worse, they roll their eyes and give one another a knowing smile like, “Won’t this be fun to dish about later?”

It’s bad enough to have to constantly having to explain what’s wrong with me and why I can’t do x, y, and/or z just like everyone else––but then to have convince them that you aren’t telling falsities, and to do so when your brain can’t even recall basic information reliably––I can’t explain how awful it is. How demoralizing. How it just makes a person want to give up.

But then to also do it every night in my dreams? Shiiiiiiit, this has to stop.

I clearly still have issues with people from my not-so-distant past, that’s where I can do work. Forgiveness. Self-love. Continuing to hang with empathetic folks.

But the real problem lies with society. The people in my dream aren’t “bad” guys. They are very “normal” people. We, as a society, still don’t have a strong understanding of invisible illness. (Even though it’s pretty darn common.) And we definitely aren’t aware of how to behave with empathy in regard to it.

Just because you can’t see a person’s pain doesn’t make it less real. To us who deal with invisible illness, it’s all the more real: because we’re so often received with disbelief and even bitterness in place of compassion. Can you imagine? No, like, really try to imagine.

Take a couple of minutes: Imagine waking up in agony, trying to shake off dreams like I just explained. Knowing that you have maybe 3-4 usable hours, that this agony is as good as you’ll feel all day, that it’s just going to get worse. Pushing through everything that you can get done despite your symptoms––which is never even close to the amount that needs to be done. As far as keeping up with life goes, you’re fucking drowning.

And then the pain levels rise so high that you can’t think straight. And then the fatigue levels get so high that just taking a bath is daunting. The television, and all sounds, feel abrasive; so all you can do is lie there until you feel tired enough to pass out despite the pain. But once you actually get to bed that’s rarely the case, as your memory foam feels like pavement––squishing your tender body and making it scream all the louder, a cacophony of miserable symptoms that you just have to lie there and bear. For hours. Every. Single. Night.

Imagine getting through a day and night like that, and then having someone say to you, “Man, I’m jealous––I wish I could stay at home all day!”

Do you see how demoralizing that could be to someone? It’s a private fucking hell, it’s truly awful. Not that my whole life is awful, but more days than not are indeed this bad, and all too often that’s people’s attitude. It really wipes my resting niceface right off, and totally screws up my “fake it ’till you make it” coping strategy.

But how can you really know if someone’s sick if they don’t look it?

WITH THEIR WORDS, dummy. LISTEN TO THEIR WORDS.

Trust the people in your life who tell you they’re not feeling well. Your reaction to someone else’s admittance of that, which often doesn’t happen until a breaking point––can have a HUGE impact on their life. Be the person that helps them find the right doctor. That googles their symptoms in-depth to help find answers. Or simply be the person that listens to what’s going on with them, instead of hurrying away uncomfortably or changing the subject.

We’re doing it all wrong when it comes to our attitudes about chronic illness, and it’s at the detriment of those of us already in a very precarious place. This is off-topic for the website, I know, but it’s really important to me––so I suppose my sharing here is fuckless.

Thanks for listening.

 

You Need a 2017 Board

Ahhhh, can you feel it? That’s 2016 finally taking its last breaths, transforming today’s rubbish into yesterday’s lessons––maybe only metaphorically, but that’s not nothing, and soon it will be obviously true as well.

So, what’s next?

I’ve been working on my 2017 Pinterest board to figure that out. I like the ease of pinning info with website pages, they’ve got that add-on button. Pinterest isn’t for everyone though, use an organizing tool w/images like this, or go old school in a sketchbook or something of that sort.

Just pick something that incorporates images and text in a way that you’ll like looking at over and over.

First, map out your top goals for your year.

What are the first things you think of? If something seems random, note it anyways, as it could be your subconscious peeking out. Then purposefully move on to other “outside” areas: health, hobbies, relationships, love, work, etc.

Then it’s time to move on to “the invisible you.” (nods ❤) What qualities would you like to work on cultivating this year? Have you been hearing repetitive feedback from those around you? Maybe it’s time to listen better, or to say what you mean. Pick at least one. (That’s super easy.)

For each experience or quality that you’re fruition-ing in 2017, choose an image. Choose one that makes you think of the idea in a quick glance, ideally that also makes you feel good. For example, if it’s listening better: Don’t pick an image of someone droning on and another trying to focus, pick one that makes you think of why you want this thing in your world–ex., something that makes you think of harmonious relationships.

In the text for each image remind yourself of why this is a badass addition to your life, “A reliable car that gives me freedom to go wherever I please.” Also, articulate specifics that’ll help you focus over the year, like if you’re working on bringing new relationships into your life, what kind of qualities do you want in them? Warmth, honesty, kindred interest in Star Wars? Get specific.

I highly recommend setting options to private, or keeping your board somewhere personal. It can be easy to accidently account for others’ opinions and bullshit if you think it’ll be seen. (I don’t care if you love and trust them, that’s not what this is about, it’s about connecting to your authentic needs and wants.)

Now go about your year, remembering to look at your board at least weekly!

It’ll just be a few minutes of your time, but the effects on your focus will be a delightful surprise. Why haven’t most of us achieved our dreams, or become the people that we want to be?

Because we were busy doing other stuff and forgot.

Not out of sight, in your mind where you can remember to do something about it.

Alllllright, 2017!

 

What is Detachment?

What is detachment? How is it helpful?

In the world of woo, detachment is often first encountered via Buddhism where it’s an important principle meant to release from desire and consequently from suffering. I find this area of Buddhist thought to be a bit of a drag, it’s a whole lot about releasing desire, which I think is a ridiculous thing to do.

No longer having desire is a symptom of depression. Desire provides direction. Direction to joy if you do it right. Reflect on why you desire things, fo sho, learn what truly gives you joy in this life. Be honest with yourself. And then desire away!

Desire. Want. Dream. Plan. Do.

*And then let go.*

That last bit is where detachment does its magic. Detaching from the outcome creates energetic space, allowing for openness and receptivity. Do the work, seek inspired actions, daydream about the most desired outcome–but that’s it.

Don’t think about how much you want it. Don’t focus on how you don’t have it. Don’t stew in how you are more deserving of it than someone else. Don’t place the ideal of your future happiness in it. Don’t pressure it. Leave it be.

Even wonderful outcomes are temporary, and every outcome leads to another one–sometimes you just gotta shrug and have faith that the right things are happening in perfect timing.

Or combat attachment with acceptance by embracing this mantra: it is what it fucking is.