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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Moment of Clarity...Aparigraha

Have you ever participated in a conversation that sticks with you for years, but probably wasn't even a blip on the radar of the other participant(s)? A decade or so ago, I decided that martial arts would be something my kids should investigate and started asking around for schools and teachers. During one conversation, another mother said, "My kids go to X school and I really like it because they don't do anything with Eastern religion or philosophy. It's just straight X-brand martial art." At the time, I questioned how one could do martial arts without the non-physical side being at least discussed, but I was brushed off as being anti-Christian. And for a decade or more, this has stuck with me because I still don't understand how being exposed to different ideas is harmful. None of which is neither here nor there. It's hard to find a true martial arts class in NW Ohio, I went on to find out.

I've heard that the yoga classes in BG proper are similar in approach...more focused on the physical and little to no emphasis on the non-physical. On the advice of someone I've known for years and who knows what I'm looking for, I have begun studying yoga in Monclova in the Still Waters Yoga school.

Tonight, we were exposed to the concept of Aparigraha, which basically is the concept of non-possessiveness or unselfishness. Accordingly, I don't think this concept is anti-Christian, especially given this explanation: "...the collection or hoarding of things implies a lack of faith in God and in himself to provide for his future." In essence, "Thou shalt not covet." But again, neither here nor there, given what I wanted to write about tonight.

What I did want to comment on was how Apargigraha relates to last night's "I'm over this shit" post. I can't change this. I can facilitate the journey through diet, exercise, supplements, and good doctors. But otherwise, it is what it is. It is what it is (which I understand is a sports aphorism). I need to stop get rid of what is bothering me. I can do this in several ways...I can accept it. I have no choice, really. I can educate myself. I have started this. I can figure out ways to alleviate the side effects of chemo. I can prepare myself the best I can for surgery. And in doing so, I can stop collecting and hoarding the negativity.

Which is not to say that I have to always put on a happy face and always be positive in the face of frustration, exhaustion, illness and pain (and, yes, that is the order of significance of what is bothering me lately...order subject to change). In fact, be prepared to hear the truth from me in the future although I've pretty much been forthcoming when people I know-know ask me how I'm doing. I'm not going to hoard my experiences.

Also, I'm going to focus on letting things make room for new, better, more vibrant things. This might be where hand stitching themed clothing for cement goose porch art comes into play. Or maybe I'll take up an instrument. Or other art form.

I need to make room for new friends, and perhaps that means cutting other friends loose. Actually, Facebook is facilitating this. I'm also reconnecting with other virtual friends who have dropped out of sight online over the past 5 or so years. It's hard to believe I've been part of online communities before it was a cool thing to do, 1995. Aidan was a nursing babe-in-arms when I joined my first email list. And I'm still in daily contact with some of those people. This is not the first time my online friends have gathered round to offer me support. When Nathan nearly died from e. coli poisoning, I came home from the hospital to shower and change my clothes and immediately sent an email off to an online group. Katie Granju and Amy Scott were the first to reply. Online friends pitched in to help with the hospital bills (when I talk about the need for affordable health insurance, I know from whence I speak...we weren't insured during that illness). My online baby shower was awesome, too. I need to find time to more concretely appreciate the deep and long lasting friendships, both real and virtual, that I have. And phase out the ones that provide me with antagonism and frustration and negativity.

And of course, stuff. We've gotten rid of so much stuff over the past few years with all the moving house we've done, but we are also good at accumulating stuff. Stuff causes work. Work takes time away from other activities. Stuff needs to go. Not to mention that accumulating physical possessions generally means spending money. Lack of money leads to the accumulation of stress. Stress is bad and takes time away from more productive activities, which then leads to more stress.

On the other hand, shopping therapy has been working quite well lately. Fortunately, I'm perfectly happy shopping at Saver's and Goodwill. My husband not so much so. At least he's happy shopping sales. The big problem here, though, is that he is comforted by being surrounded by stuff and clutter. It feels womb-like or something to him. If you've seen his office, you will know what I mean. Do-dads, piles, plants, photos, things. I, however, find that very discomforting. This dichotomy can be directly traced to the homes we grew up in. My father organized his pencils by height, our shoes were lined up by the door by size, the books were organized by subject and size. The home he grew up in, not so much from what I understand. Color was more important than clutter. But yet again, I'm issue I've always had with writing (and speaking) compounded by massive amounts of steroids today during chemo and orally.

What I've decided, though, is to engage less in "this will suffice" and more in "I really like this and it will bring me happiness of some sort" when it comes to accumulating things. Hence, the spiral suns I allowed Louis to buy last week. Normally, I'd look at them, decide they were too expensive to just hang on a wall. Think, "I bet I can find something similar at Big Lots" but the truth is, the ones I might find at Big Lots wouldn't be the same quality. If Louis feels the need to hang things on the living room wall, it might as well be something I find meaning in (making it art with a purpose, something important to me). If I have a spiritual symbol, the spiral is it. My tattoo will have a spiral in it. Each of my henna tatts has, including the one Amy did on my belly the day before Tynan was was a sun and a spiral. Oops, digression yet again.

I'll buy my clothes at Goodwill and Saver's, but I won't buy Kmart, Target, and Wal*Mart brands there. Today, I came home with Croft and Barrow, Dress Barn, and Banana Republic. Colors I like. Fabrics that are comfortable. I'm thinking ahead to clothes that will be easy off and on after surgery this winter. In doing so, I realized that nearly every single shirt I own requires being pulled over my head. Erm...that would be because nearly every single shirt I own is a tshirt of some sort. Not true after this week's shopping therapy. In an effort to simplify my life and not hoard, there is also a large donation heading to Goodwill tomorrow. What to do with my fat clothes, though? I've known a lot of people who have gained weight during chemo and surgery. Should I keep them or let them go?

Back to my original thought though...I must let go of fear. When we are fearful, we hold our breath. When we hold our breath, we can't allow in more breath. When we hold pre-conceived beliefs and especially un-examined beliefs, it's much harder to discover new ideas and deepen our own beliefs. As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living."

And I think that's what I've taken all this time to say: I now have the perfect opportunity to engage in self examination. Yoga may be opening up opportunities to do so. This blog is giving me the opportunity to put some of these more nebulous thoughts into concrete words (the rest of the work keeps personal journals, but I've always failed miserably at that...I need real people to write for).

Just now, in searching the web for more information on Aparigraha, I just stumbled across this essay, which really says what I've been attempting to say here. I suggest you read it. Clearly, the author is in better shape than I am right now. No digressions in his or her writing.


Theresa Williams said...

This is so beautiful, Dawn. I can see you are a person who thrives on taking an active role. When I went through my crisis, I took a lot of comfort in Jung's idea of the "Night Sea Journey." There is an explanation of it here:

In this writing he uses the metaphor of being swallowed by the whale. He says that although we may seem trapped in our situation, we are really moving toward something. When we get through the crisis, we are reborn to a new life.

I don't know how your situation will ultimately change you. Mine made me more compassionate about people with mental and physical illness.

I think each new challenge requires something different of us. So with each challenge we are learning something else, something valuable.

I also used to fail at personal diaries. I found blogging to be helpful in giving me a reason to write. Blogging actually reawakened my creative life.

I want to try to keep some art journals and maybe post them on my blog. I also have The Letter Project Blog and my Author Archives where I can post things. I find I get excited at the thought of sharing things.

Thank you for being here and sharing your thoughts. I am enjoying your posts ever so much. Love, Theresa

Anonymous said...

Hang on to any "fat clothes" that button up the front. I went to the very same Goodwill Store in BG and bought a few mens silk shirts, one I'm wearing right now. Really nice soft silk shirts were just the perfect thing for me after surgery. Easy on and off, and something loose on your body is the best thing...of course you'll want to be warm in the dead of winter, too, so maybe a nice, soft, already-broken-in long sleeve flannel shirt will be more appropriate.

Also, have you heard of Yoga Nidra? I've mentioned it a few times in my is a "sleeping yoga" which is right up my alley at this point in time. I find radiation to be quietly tiring. There is another class at the 577 Foundation in Perrysburg on the 22nd.