‘Finally, I can begin’

Today’s journal:

Several days of refocusing on sila in the aftermath of another cycle of practice. The urge to rededicate to practice from the ground up, and wholly.

Not trying to be furiously mindful, the frenzy in the mind warns me off that. Holding off the sensation seeking habits that I know are holding back my practice: overeating, smoking, drinking, sexual seeking, wasting time on the internet. Some of these I’ve not done for months now, others are a day at a time. I will admit readily that they are all addictions, whether minor or major.

I’m on night shifts, I have to parcel out my energy. I feel bad accepting a lower standard of practice but I know it’s in fact getting out of the habit of heroic straining, to instead practice little by little. I accept a little distraction here and there. I read Christian blog posts that, with synchronicity, talk about self-forgiveness, calm courage. I want to have that courage, and I pray for it in as matter of fact way as I can. A sense of normalcy, a lack of drama, but a feeling that practice is everywhere.

I try to be humble in my interactions. With more typical timing, a client I rather liked suddenly turns into a ball of rage and frustration over a misunderstanding, declining all my help so that they can complain all the louder, making prejudiced, vicious comments about coworkers and slamming the entire institution. I de-escalate, say metta for them, pray for patience, hold off on reacting with the righteousness I want to until finally I remember why I felt the urge to hold off: it isn’t personal, and it says nothing about my identity.

At home, I have a lot of energy, but also a dragging feeling of anxiety. I feel nauseous, which is rare for me. My back aches, which is less rare. It comes in waves. I have the urge to get up, scream, run the length of the beach until my energy is gone and I am too exhausted to be anxious. I do some very gentle yoga instead. It is interrupted by thoughts of guilt, shame, fear. They are particularly foul when felt in the body, really something I’m scared off, but there is an unusual clear mindfulness, with no taste of rapture or over-effort, merely a space around them. Not ‘crystal clear’, just neutral, empty, accepting, grounded.

This is all purification, I am sure of that, it all needs to come out, and that is highlighted by the mindfulness that has emerged to deal with it. I don’t have the energy or the urge to avoid this, or crow about it as an achievement: it’s tough enough that I am reduced to exactly my own stature in reality. I’m not the expert practitioner I think I am. I suspect the next few days will be filled with prayer. ‘There are no advanced practices,’ goes through my head. ‘Finally, I can begin’, I think, with relief.

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