The End of Frustration

With palms together,

I wish you all a Good Morning

It’s a little after 10:00 AM and outside I see a blue sky which promises to provide a beautiful weather background for this Fourth of July. My heart is taking in this beautiful morning, a morning which followed a week complete with frustrations, joy and solitude. It often felt as though every day of this past week has been filled with more downs than uplifting moments. It is weeks such as this which challenge me. I make time every morning to ensure the day begins with the skills necessary to ensure a smooth transition from personal life to professional life and back again.

I believe I am a typical individual; as things get in the way throughout the day, frustration often rises and I find myself forgetting the skills which have allowed me to successfully manage the frequent turmoil. When the skills feel to be completely lost, I find myself resorting to a more primal response; swearing. To swear (paribhasa or sapati) is to utter rude or insulting speech, usually when angry. The Buddha described such speech as “rough, cutting, bitter about others, abusive to others, provoking anger, and disturbing the mind.” For many of us, despite our desire and the spiritual path which we follow, it becomes an easy path; a path of least resistance on which we find ourselves walking.

As with all life stressors which we may not have the ability to control, we are responsible for our response. When I discover that I lack adequate information to complete tasks at my job, when I discover there was misinformation and discovered or admitted I have no control over these stressors; calmness is all but forgotten. It becomes easy to rely on those primal responses. Those same responses which, when used again and again become second nature. I find myself going on auto-pilot and if left unchecked will find myself crashing and burning. We struggle with the knowledge that there are many life stressors over which we have no control and blame others for our life situations. Autopilot is nothing but a click away. We feel justified in our response because “everyone does it.”

I return to my daily practice in life to make sure there are many  other options than simply returning to autopilot. I sit quietly with my mind in meditation and letting it be what it is. When I am out on a run, especially a long run, I often do battle with my mind, my thoughts. It becomes easy to resort to autopilot and this skill of sitting quietly and training my mind to not reactively respond to thoughts is integral to my success each day. My mindful practice allows me to see things as they are when they happen as opposed to what I would prefer or like them to be as they happen. When I allow my mindfulness to take the front seat, it becomes easier to make adjustments in mood, behavior, and demeanor. It’s not that I am not frustrated, angry, sad or fearful; it is the ability to recognize these feelings and be able to create a space between these feelings, the thoughts which accompany them and my response. I can easily admit I do not always desire to take this the higher road. It is easier to yell, scream, swear and stomp our feet. This produces more stress which may not be noticeable at first but will certainly be remembered by those around us and give use the appearance that we respond reactively to everything in life. This causes a lack of trust by others in us and in our abilities. The more I practice mindfulness, the easier it becomes to not allow myself to enter this “danger zone.”

Our spiritual path accepts us as we are. We are not going to Hell for our responses. It is that we create our own Hell here on Earth.


It’s happened again…

It’s happened again. I’m not even sure what to call it and I’m certainly not sure about what to do about it.

Saturday was an awesome 10K run and a pace which I was pretty happy about. My only concern about this run was my reluctance to run with a water bottle. The temperatures hovered about the mid-fifties and there was a cool breeze which I counted on keeping me cool. Four miles into the run I began to overheat. No problem. I stopped briefly by the river, cooled down, took in the sights and sounds and finished the run.
This morning was my first run since Saturday. I slept well last night and when the alarm sounded at 4:30 I easily jumped out of bed. I followed my normal routine, walked to the street and two steps into the run I knew it was not going to be pretty. My legs felt heavy and my breathing never quite got into synch. The inside of both calves began to hurt indicating I was over-striding. I abbreviated my stride removing the pain almost immediately. I felt the urge to void my colon again; disgusting I know but if you ask most runners they would agree that running is probably the best natural laxative available to man. Mind you I had completed this act before going to bed the night before and just before setting out on my run this morning. In addition to feeling out of synch, I knew with this nagging issue there would be no way I could complete the distance I had hoped to complete without having an accident.
I have a nasty tendency to over-think things. i started running in a new pair of Nike Free Run 2’s and noticed this is when the difficulty began. This is despite having a pretty awesome 5.50 mile run in the same shoes just one week ago. This is also despite having run the past several months in another pair of the exact same shoe. Like I said, I have a nasty tendency to over-think things.
I have fallen into the same trap as that of the patients with whom I do counseling. I know what needs to be done. I also find myself falling into the same trap as my patients which is using denial to keep me away from what is usually the “easy” answer and instead steering myself in the direction of the more complicated answer.
I’ll get home tonight, change, eat dinner and hit my meditation cushion. It’s this centeredness which I have been lacking. I know cognitively that I can’t make excuses for my decrease in meditation in the hopes that those “good vibrations” will carry over from week to week. I’ve become one of those individuals who has used the excuse “there’s not enough time.” There is never enough time. I’ll be making that time today. I want to get back on track and I want to stay there.