A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Monday, September 27, 2010


I notice that there is a strangle-hold of guilt on every cell in my body and it has been there for decades. Unnoticed. Wow. What is constant becomes invisible and completely unnoticed.

It's a nameless, constant guilt, and it has been choking me for a long time.

And what am I guilty of?

One thing only. I'm guilty of not doing all the things I think I should do.

When I wash the dishes I'm guilty of wasting water by letting the tap run. When I drive through McDonald's I'm guilty of destroying the environment and my body. The drip of guilt in the veins is continuous.

I try to out run it, to throw off the dreadful weight of guilt in a thousand ways every day. I donate to charity. I pay the fine for my transgressions by punishing myself with an internal barrage of self-criticism. I meditate, I pray, I read, I try to find some refuge from the guilt, I rest in the purity of open awareness. I clean the house, hug the children, give undivided, silent, loving attention to the people I work with, look my husband in the eyes and tell him he is the best man I have ever known. I scurry frantically from one good act to the next all day long in an effort to stamp out the feelings of guilt, as if I were stamping out a fire in the house.

Still, the guilt hunts me, it finds me like predator finds prey.

I'm telling you this because I see this circle of running from guilt  has been the substance of my life as seen from the point of view of the mind.

Guilt is a mind-created fiction and it drives people nuts, me included. "Might is right" says guilt as it uses whatever tactics of coercion it can to manipulate the body towards the idealized behavior.

Guilt is supposed to be the inner police man that prevents wrong acts. Yet maybe it is the fuel that propels acts of destruction.

I've been running from guilt all my life and now I am looking at it directly. In this looking it disappears.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Being present with pain

When I was a kid I was horrified to hear that wheat was being dumped in the ocean to drive up food prices while people were dying from lack of food.  

Today I wonder if there is a dumping of emotional pain into some inner psychic ocean when that pain holds hidden nourishment that could revive dying parts of the soul.  In other words, pain is rejected, run from, hidden, dumped onto some "bad guy", etc. but not metabolized, not received, not acknowledged, not integrated into the whole. Externalized pain turns into paranoia. It turns into blame and resentment, it crusts into mistrust and an intensifying sense of alienation.

What doesn't run away from pain?

What can meet pain truly, remaining unshielded by judgment, condemnation, rationalization, or any other armor of the mind?

I've wondered about this for a long time in my work as a psychiatrist. I've seen and felt my own heart clamp shut in the presence of pain many times, passing the box of tissues, wanting the tears to turn off.

It's shutting out the pain that causes pain. Closing the heart hurts; it doesn't block out hurt.  It shuts it inside.  When the heart opens wide enough for me to fit inside it I disappear.

Sometimes it seems like we're a planet gone mad in our rush to run from pain--  turn on the TV, turn up the volume, order another helping, plan another project, buy another gizmo, throw another bomb, but for God's sake, keep all the pain at bay however you can.  Maybe each day we are being backed up closer against the wall of our own avoided pain.

How do we avoid pain and what are the costs? And what is the alternative? And are we running from a hidden wealth? And can we feel mercy for the way we shrink away from pain?

There's only one thing that can meet pain and it is not a thing.

Let pain be an invitation to the one thing (non-thing) that can meet it.

Gratitude for photo: Steve Satushek/Getty images


Unglued is an apt term, and often, a good thing.

I came unglued during some drama with my family yesterday. My upset-button got pushed, not by my family, but by my believed thoughts. 

Un-gluing is painful, like birth pangs, the birth of openness, the birth of nothingness, the void.

My self-image was threatened and a cascade of protective measures shot into action in the form of blaming, accusing, projecting, shouting, arguing. Protecting what? Protecting the cherished idea in the head of who I am. Protecting the image in the mind's mirror.

Unglued, pulled apart, taken off the pedestal in my own mind. Who do I think I am?

Today there's some fasting, some thought fasting. There's a part of me that is sick-unto-death-of-thoughts-about-me. 

Those me-thoughts clunk themselves out, self-reflection is an old habit, but at least I'm a bit unglued from the insanity in my head.
And I've apologized to my family, both in spoken and written words, and my apology is real, and I wish to make repairs and amends however I can, and life goes on.  And I hope the thought-structures of the imagined egoic identity become more unglued in the usual bumps and bruises of daily living.

Let all the bombs be inside of me not outside of me and let them blow away delusion.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Stop trying

I was sitting in some long meetings today and these words arose in awareness: Stop trying. Below the radar of conscious awareness there was a lot of chronic trying going on. Trying to look good. Trying not to mess up. Trying to stay safe and comfortable. Trying to do a good job.

But does the trying produce a
 job well done? Perhaps sometimes, but more often the trying seems to impede the flow of energy.

Effortlessness is the valve through which good pours forth into this world.

The words repeated softly a few times throughout the day: Stop trying. Stop trying. This is another way of saying: allow what is to be. There was an upwelling of energy and quietness as the habitual contractions of pointless efforting eased.

I shared these thoughts on Facebook and my friend Vicki Woodyard made this comment:

"One day I will have a needlepoint pillow to remind myself: 'The answer is not Try Harder.'"

Amen to that!  The less driven I feel, the more genuinely productive I am.  We need a new work ethic where work is experienced as play....



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