This might be a little sacrilegious… but I want to share these thoughts nonetheless. I want to preface what I am going to say with the fact that I am, deep in my heart, a Buddhist practitioner. I have a strong connection with Tibetan lamas from the Drikung Kagyu, Nyingma and Gelugpa lineages. Also, I am not expert, so it might be good to take my opinions with a grain of salt.
With that said, I have been practicing Tibetan Buddhism for 12 years now, in addition I have also studied trauma resolution and Craniosacral Therapy (a form of therapeutic touch and bodywork) for about the same amount of time. More recently I have spent time exploring and studying Pre- and Perinatal Therapy (Birth Process work) which looks at the world from a baby-centric perspective. Therefore I have a number of tools at my disposal for working with the body / mind.
I am presently doing a limited retreat. I am withdrawing from stressful situations, from stressful people and from stressful patterns within my own being. I am seeking to cultivate loving-kindness, joy and openheartedness. And overall I think I am doing pretty well with this intention.
Of course I need to make ends meet, so I am working a couple of part-time jobs and I am seeing bodywork and astrology clients when they set up appointments. But for the most part, my days are full of juicy Svaroopa yoga (gentle supported yoga which focuses on loosening tension in the spine and opening the pelvis), heart opening Zapchen exercises, beautiful walks by the river, spending time with good company and doing a little bit of meditation and Dharma practice.
One pattern I am looking at within myself is my tendency to be hard on myself if I miss a day of Dharma practice. Nearly everyday I sit on my cushion. But I have a commitment to finish my preliminary practices – to say the refuge mantra along with doing prostrations. So when I miss doing that, I feel a little guilty.
However, I need to be aware that this pattern may be something I inherited. Who in my energetic field (when I was very little) was hard on themselves? Who might have had a guilty conscience when I was young? Did I pick that up from Mom or Dad or another care-taker?
The stress of living in this fast-paced, rat-race-inducing, technologically advanced culture leads to my feeling a lot of compression. Physical compression of my heart and spine, emotional compression of my heart’s generosity and capacity to experience joy and lightheartedness, and energetic compression as I notice any stress in people around me. Yes, I am a bit sensitive.
I am also vitally aware of how much I need good unconditionally supportive company around me. I don’t want to spend time with people who are incredibly judgmental or critical. People who are stuck up in their heads, logically analyzing and discriminating about everything around them. No, I want people who have discovered a balance between the compassion of the heart, the potency of the pelvis and the clarity of the head.
I have been studying Pre- and Perinatal Therapy (PPN) over the past few years. And last summer I had the good fortune to go up to Nelson, Canada for 2+ weeks for an intensive workshop. And I have since discovered that the incredible levels of safety and trust which is cultivated has made for a container of support and good company which I have NEVER experienced anywhere else. And I mean anywhere else. When I go to my Dharma center, the majority of the people there are not exactly embodied. They mean very well and they have excellent motivation and intentions.
But the Sangha (group of students and practitioners) which I have experienced around this PPN work is something extraordinary. To come together as a group of equals who are all seeking to open our hearts compassionately to the terrible knowledge which existed for many of our childhoods, to build in solid resources and new kinder ways of being with ourselves. To work through psychological double-binds together and to touch each other in platonic, professional and unconditionally loving ways, is something extremely difficult to find.
The reason I mentioned this might seem kind of blasphemous earlier is that I am looking to see how I can build in more of this second Sangha in my life. If Buddhist practitioners do not work with their bodies and merely spend time focusing on the bigger picture (which is extremely important of course – looking to purify karma, planning for future lifetimes, and deepening their levels of renunciation), then I’m not sure I want to spend that much time with them at present.
How can I find a balance between Dharma practice (focusing on refining the subtle consciousness and moving toward Buddha-consciousness) and embodying kindness-inducing practices which move us toward greater compassion toward ourselves and others? The amount of kindness I want to practice toward myself is radical, basically not talked about in any circles of mainstream society. And I want to spend time with people who practice radical kindness toward themselves.
This is what I am sitting with at present. I might go up to the Dharma center next week, and I might choose to stay here in town and sit in my semi-retreat of kindness toward self. Because I am really looking at doing things differently. Being differently.
I don’t want any judgmental stuff coming through others, even if it is being projected through a Buddhadharma lens. I don’t want to spend lots of time with people who are repeatedly hard on themselves with no end to this pattern in sight. (Sometimes people beat themselves up and maybe they even use their meditation practice as a way to continue this trend..)
Wish me well in walking this fine line. I will continue this discussion soon.
Thank you for visiting!