It’s Up To My Head

If this elephant of mind is bound on all sides by the cord of mindfulness,
All fear disappears and complete happiness comes.
All enemies: all the tigers, lions, elephants, bears, serpents [our wild and uncontrolled emotions];
All the keepers of hell; the demons and the horrors,
All of these are bound by the mastery of your mind.
And by the taming of that one mind, all are subdued.
Because from the mind are derived all fears and immeasurable sorrows.

Eight-century Buddhist master Shantideva, as quoted in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche

My head-space has been in a less than joyful mood for some time. I’m cynical beyond words that complete happiness is within my grasp let alone anyone’s.  I force snippets of laughter and silliness into my days in an effort to create bliss out of thin air. It’s probably the way it is for most folks and truthfully, it’s not a bad thing. I’m not knocking it one bit; any way one can get a modicum of bliss in a day is better than finding absolutely none.

Still, the difficulties of this past year are not quite what I expected following our move out of middle-earth. I realize joy is entirely within my hands and my hands alone but for heaven’s sake, I’m thoroughly annoyed that drama-filled days still seem to define my life! Harrumph.

I honestly believed those days were behind me with the passing of my mother (may she rest in peace). God seems to have other plans for me. I suppose the intent of it all falls under the umbrella of that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

So, in an effort to get control of this messy head-space of mine I’ve turned to just that: HEADSPACE.

HEADSPACE

That would be the meditation app that claims to have over six million people using the app just last year. In the App store it has over fifty-eight thousand resounding thumbs up.

I first heard mention of this meditation and mindfulness training app last year (or so) in the Wall Street Journal. I barely gave it a passing notice since I was trying to go the do-it-on-my-own route, and because (the actual reason) after the first 10 free days, it’s an expensive subscription. Meditation has been a difficult practice for me to wrap my head around. I tried to start in earnest two years ago when life was inordinately stressful due to the challenges with mom. I managed to get myself up to a solid five minutes on most days of the week before fidgeting began. Everything went on the back burner, including yoga, for a plethora of reasons excuses.

So here I am today. With the return of my son, now flat-broke and living in my basement (for a spell), I am teetering on the edge of a balance beam, every fiber of my being shaking as I threaten to topple over. I used to be able to handle life stressors when I was a long-distance runner. There is nothing like a trail run on a crisp autumn day to melt one’s cares away…..

Sigh. Cannot do that anymore.

So, plan B (or is it plan D about now?)…

Get a teensy-weensy bit more serious about a meditation practice…but this time with a little help from the digital world.

The genius behind HEADSPACE, Andy Puddicombe and his business partner Rich Pierson, just may be the ticket to more joy in these stressful days.  Andy’s soothing UK voice has lulled me out of anxiousness for three days straight.  I’m back up to five minutes of guided meditation and hopeful for ten before my free trial is up.  At this writing, I’m contemplating jumping in with both feet into a year-long subscription.  Still dealing with the stress of a second mortgage, I’ll even cut back on my Starbucks indulgence in order to fund the taming of my head-space.

Ahead of the holidays, there is hope indeed for more joy-filled moments.

It’s all in my hands…and up to my head.

Time Traveling Again

I’ve got painters in the house today. The entire house needs a couple of good coats of paint but finances dictate only the front foyer which includes the high ceiling, trim and hallway. Strangely enough The Poodle lays quietly in a chair nearby as four strangers in the house get on with all the prep work of positioning drop cloths, sanding, spackling, sweeping and taping. I ask the painters what kind of music would they like to hear as they work away. English isn’t their primary language. Still one guy is able to say “Eighties music, please ma’am.”

“Sure thing,” I say.

“Alexa, play eighties music from Spotify,” I command.

“Playing songs from the eighties on Spotify,” comes her reply.

Whoosh! 

Lord have mercy! I’ve been listening to classical music for too long.

So, It’s a blast-from-the-past moment on this crisp October morning.  Boy George’s Karma Chameleon fills the room.

Alexa…turn up the volume!

I’m time traveling…instantly transported back to our modest military quarters in Kansas where I lived for two years. I’m an Army wife with a cherubic baby boy whose got a lovely head-full of red curls framing his sweet face.  He’s immersed in tearing apart the pages of a T.V. Guide magazine.  It’s just the right size for his fourteen  month-old hands.  He was a good baby.  I take comfort in that part of my time travel.

I sing along as I put the breakfast dishes away paying no attention to the fact that I obviously have an audience in the house besides The Poodle.

Oh pish-posh I think.  With the immense upheaval of the return of my recalcitrant son, I need all the silliness I can muster to get through one moment and on to the next.

MUSIC… instant stress reliever!

With passion, SING OUT ALOUD! I say.

 

…Karma, karma, karma, karma, karma chameleon
You come and go, you come and go
Loving would be easy if your colors were like my dreams
Red, gold, and green, red, gold, and green….

 

The Poodle lifts his sleepy head to all the racket. Did I note rolling of the eyes? If it were possible, I’m quite sure it would happen.

Oh my.  Next on the playlist it’s Whip It by Devo!  Now I am singing AND dancing across the kitchen floor!

The Poodle’s expression seems to suggest: Um…exactly how long are these painters going to be here today?

HA!  There is bliss amid the chaos of this messy life.