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Archive for the ‘About Kirby’ Category

This is a post about my recovery from Lyme’s disease.  If you are a regular visitor, you may have read a previous post describing my struggle with Lyme’s disease (borrelia burgdorferi).

I am now realizing that I have probably been infected with some sort of tick-borne issue for longer than I thought.  I say this because actually over the past 5 years or so, I have been noticing a very slow, but steady decline in my hand-eye-coordination and in mental clarity.  It definitely started before I was officially diagnosed with LD.  And now I think I have finally put a stop to that said decline (thank goodness!).

Go back and read my previous posts about Lyme’s for further information.  I will be describing what I am doing now and just briefly brushing on what happened in the past.

So what is different now than 6 to 12 months ago (you might ask)?

I am still taking (in low doses) the Lyme’s specific homeopathics – which I think do a great job of slowing and halting the LD progression, I’m not sure if it erradicates the Lyme’s by itself.  Rather I would suggest adding in immune boosting herbs like astragalus and andrographis (*** see warning below).

For about the past 2 to 3 months I have been taking the Cat’s Claw bark powder, the Eleuthero tincture (ginseng) and the Japanese Knotweed root powder – these are the main herbs in the Buhner herbal Lyme’s protocol.

In the past month, I have added in 4 things, which means I don’t know exactly what is making me feel so much better…  but I am just happy to have more energy and less inflammation!!

Here is what I have added in the past few weeks:

  1. I am taking an herbal anti-inflammatory blend – it has some knotweed (resveratrol), some turmeric, some green tea phenols, etc.  This is probably going to help reduce inflammation in the body – but by itself, this will not treat Lyme’s (btw).
  2. I have started taking Andrographis.  I am taking doses in the amount recommended by Buhner – meaning I started out taking 1 tablet every 4-6 hours (400 mg) for a week or two.  I did not have any reactions.  And now I have built up to taking 800 mg every 4-6 hours meaning I take 2400 mg of it daily.  Andrographis is rapidly excreted by the kidneys – Buhner mentions that in just 4 hours, 80% of the herb is excreted, meaning we have to take it often.  I might up my dose to 1200 mg every 4-6 hours soon.  Will keep you posted.  Andrographis is a known immune booster (and this is most of the battle against tick-borne disease infection).  In fact, a number of Northern European countries recommend their citizens take this herb in the winter.

In addition to the above two supplements, I also got an acupuncture session a couple weeks ago which focused on my extraordinary meridians.  These are a mystery to me (look them up but make sure it is a good resource) – but I noticed myself feeling better about 3 – 5 days after this treatment, so I have to mention it.  The meridian that got worked on for me had to do with the Jing Qi and it ran up the inside of my legs, she also put needles in my neck (near the SCM) and on the inside edges of my inner cannulas (first time ever having needles so close to my eyes!).

Finally, what I did not mention in my previous post about going up to Pittsburgh…

I had a dream a few months ago – maybe back in January or February that doing a certain Buddhist Dharma protector practice would lead to my feeling better.  It is a rare practice – it is rare I think for anyone to do this specific practice on its own (rather you hear about this Dharmapala lumped in with the others).  But I have been doing it since returning from Pittsburgh a week ago.  I think this is an efficacious practice for me.  I was also told that this particular wisdom being was associated with healing – that nomads in Tibet request lamas and monks to do the practice when their Yaks get sick and start dying.  I wish I could say more about this, but I think you have to have the karmic connections (ten drel) to benefit from these types of practices.

In the meantime, if you are desperate, you could look up Green Tara mantras and chant along with them, or Chenrezig or Medicine Buddha mantras.  Better yet though, find a Tibetan lama who you trust and ask their advice about a healing yidam (deity) practice for you, if you want.

Whatever is causing my health and vitality to return, I am grateful.  Having spent the past four to five years watching my energy slowly sap away and my inflammation slowly creep up and up, I am very happy to be coming out the other side.  Which, in the realm of Lyme’s disease is often difficult to do.

I am still taking it slow.  No need to shock my system!  But I have the energy to give multiple bodywork treatments in a day or to go for a 10 mile bike ride or to have several activities in a day without being worn out or irritable.  So far so good!

Thank you for reading!

~km

 

*** a little word about andrographis: about 3% of the population is allergic to this herb, which manifests primarily as rashes and skin issues.  Most of the time this allergy is not serious.  However, due to this risk, always start out taking a small dose and work your way up after a week or two to make certain you are not in that small percentage of people.

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I just recently got back from a trip to Pittsburgh, PA.  It is closer to Charlottesville than I was thinking, so I will try to head up there once a year if it is easy.

On Saturday there was an empowerment by H.E. Tritsab Rinpoche (Chenrezig).  That day was a lot of driving, so I kind of collapsed after that session.  I filled in as make-shift attendant.  My friend who I went up there with is from India – he does months of meditation retreats at a time (he is a bit of a dedicated yogi).  So I was the low man on the totem pole and I was happy to fill in as cook.

Saturday was at a beautiful church about 20 minutes away from the Dharma center.  At least 40 people attended – quite a nice crowd, an interesting blend of new-comers and experienced practitioners, and older and younger attendees.

Sunday was a bit more of a special practice.  His Eminence, Tritsab Rinpoche, is actually a highly regarded Lama.  Way back (like 600 years or so), an earlier incarnation of his was one of the lineage Lamas of the Drikung Kagyu.  And at that time, Rinpoche had a literal face-to-face with the Dharma protectress Achi Chokyi Drolma.  Tritsab Rinpoche was given a small scroll that had Dakini script on it (meaning he received a terma or a treasure text).  The current Rinpoche said that that lineage holder could not actually decipher the scroll – but that when he meditated, the words to the practice came to him.  Therefore it was more of a mind terma (I think).  Also, it is a little complicated in that this is a pure Drikung Kagyu practice – most termas are from the Nyingma tradition, having been hidden by Guru Rinpoche and Yeshe Tsogyal.

Anyway, on Sunday we got the Terma Achi empowerment.  This was held in the Dharma center (see below) and about 25 people showed up for this.  Great group, a little tight, and warm (because Rinpoche speaks quietly, we had to turn off the air conditioner!).  I did not have a seat 😦   until Khenpo said, you sit up here with me.  So I was literally front and center for this empowerment.  I appreciated how Khenpo had Rinpoche do all the technical details for the empowerment – he actually poured water from the sacred vase onto our heads, just a few drops.  There was a delicious pot luck lunch which most of the attendees stayed for.

Then in the afternoon, we did the Terma Achi practice.  I had heard of this before, but had never done the practice.  It is most fascinating because we can take Achi Chokyi Drolma as Lama (Guru), Yidam (deity) and Dharma protector (Dharmapala) and these are all included in the practice.  This is a short practice, so we finished early.

Then members of the center took the four of us to Mount Washington.  By the way, Pittsburgh is a very interesting city geographically – with the rivers and valleys and hills and tunnels, it would be a nightmare for a city planner (just saying!).  Also, I heard a quote I liked: “Pittsburgh is the city where you can’t get there from here.”

And it turns out that evening, that quote could not have been more accurate!  There was a gay pride parade downtown, and the Penguins were about to win the Stanley Cup (hockey tournament) and there was a big concert downtown as well.  On top of that, many of the roads were under construction.  So after driving around in circles for about half an hour, we finally found a way across the bridge to get to Mount Washington.  [side note: being stuck in a car with a serious retreatant and 2 authentic Tibetan lamas, even when lost and driving around frivolously, is still remarkably enjoyable!]

Mount Washington is a large hill (and I guess neighborhood name as well) that overlooks Downtown Pittsburgh.  It was quite beautiful – seeing the 3 rivers coming together, looking down on the concert and the parade and the sky scrapers.  It was well worth the journey!  Plus we had dinner up there as well, so we got to see the city as the sun was setting.

Monday, we went to the Pittsburgh Zoo.  This was actually a great experience.  As we were walking in, Khenpo Choephel, being a tougher Khenpo (which means Abbot) told us to chant mantras for the animals’ liberation and freedom from suffering.  He suggested we do Chenrezig or Vajrasattva mantras.  Therefore, at least for the first 30 – 60 minutes, I was mindful about how the animals’ might be suffering (although for the most part, the animals looked to be well taken care of).

There is an aquarium in the zoo as well, so we stayed for close to four hours total (including a long relaxing lunch).

I’m not quite sure, but I think we had some curious karma going on as a group (the four of us – Kirby, Ryan, Khenpo C and His Eminence) because on Monday we got stuck on a tight road that road construction forced us to detour onto.  I was literally pinned in (as a car) as I waited for several large trucks and garbage truck to creep by, praying they would not scrape the side of my fenders!  So Sunday we had driving obstacles, along with Monday.  It took us about 30 minutes extra to get to the zoo.  Which was fine!  I had great company around me in the car  🙂

Khenpo Choephel reminds me of a solid, modest, serious practitioner and teacher.  I suspect he has great levels of realization (and as a Dharma practitioner, I do my best to see him as Vajradhara or primordial Buddha).

The center is quite interesting though.  It is in a poorer neighborhood, but the neighbors are awesome, friendly, diverse and a few are curious about the Buddhadharma.  The house itself is very narrow – so there are only 3 rooms per level.  Ryan and I stayed on the 3rd floor, which was a little unfinished, which was completely fine!  I was just happy to have a bed and a roof over my head!  The nice thing about the location though is that the members were able to buy the house right out, meaning no debt to worry about.  They did have to put in about 1000 hours of labor over 3 months though as it was a serious fixer-upper.  But it gets the job done.  It has a beautiful shrine room with dozens of thangkas (Tibetan scroll paintings of deities and lineage lamas and Dharma guardians, etc).

I am very satisfied with my trip to Pittsburgh and I would go back in a heartbeat.  I received several impromptu Tibetan language instruction sessions as my Tibetan is okay (I probably speak at a 1st grade level, whereas I comprehend at a 6th grade level).  They were very happy to assist me and point out words that I was getting mistaken.  Plus, Khenpo even gave me a transmission of a specific practice at 11:11 pm on the night before we were about to leave – I had asked him for it a day earlier, but we hadn’t had time.

Oh – and the funny thing was, Khenpo is big into watching the local sports.  Apparently Pittsburgh is a huge sports city (which makes sense), and they have even gotten a Tibetan lama hooked on hockey and basketball!

Thank you for reading!

~km

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I am going to write about how clarity can arise during meditation.  And it can also arise when we are offering bodywork.

Garchen Rinpoche is one of my heart teachers.  He is one of the few individuals on the planet who I honestly think, loves everyone and everything around him.  He is the embodiment of loving-kindness in my eyes.  And he is more than that as well, his wisdom fire is vast and deep, so he also embodies the wisdom-gnosis of Manjushri.  If I get the chance to attend his teachings, I make every attempt to go.

In a recent post of one of his teachings, he mentions that with devotion to the Guru or to one’s root lama, that clarity can arise when we meditate.  If we have the dedication of years of practice, and if we are truly devoted to our heart teacher, then clarity can easily arise when we do Guru Yoga or offer a Tsok feast and Lama Chopa practice (offering a delicious feast to the blessing-bestowing lineage holders of one’s particular Tibetan Buddhist lineage).  If we have a question, we might not need to ask our root lama in person, unless it is easy.  [Of course it is good to check in from time to time to make certain we are not being blown about by the winds of delusion]  Rather, if we have a question, we can ask it at the beginning of a meditation session or before we do Guru Yoga, and Garchen Rinpoche says that by the next morning, we might have our answer.

I believe there are some definite parallels between meditation and doing professional, compassionate, skillful, ethical bodywork.  I personally practice Craniosacral Therapy, I work with a little bit of trauma resolution by working with the Vagus nerve and the Polyvagal system and I am starting to get into Pre- and Perinatal therapy (PPN therapy) and Birth Process work.  I have been giving and receiving bodywork for over 12 years now, and I feel that the levels of embodiment I am discovering are very difficult to describe in words and that my body communicates with me on a regular basis.

If we are doing bodywork and something comes up in the session, we can get to the point where we can ask our own bodies – “what is going on here?”  And we can get a definite, accurate answer.

Here is an example of this:

I was giving a treatment a little while ago when I started to feel the client’s pain coming out into my hands.  This can occur anytime someone has emotional or physical trauma and we as healing facilitators are both wishing them well and attempting to get their body to release old stuff.

The problem with the above situation though, is that I want to be able to give a treatment session and have some energy remaining to enjoy my day.  I want to be able to give at least four treatments in a day without feeling drained.  So if I am starting to take on my client’s stuff, I have to pause and notice the yellow flags my body is raising.  “Hello Kirby – do you really want to continue down this path?”  No, I don’t.

Therefore, I paused and asked my body – specifically my gut and my kidneys, “What do I need to know right now?  Why am I taking on this person’s stuff?”

And it was pretty wild.  I got an instant response of, “There is nothing to do, nothing to fix, nothing to make [as healing facilitator].  I am merely connecting to this person’s innate health which is never lost.”  I stated something like this out loud – that their body knows how to heal itself and that I am just coaching their process.

And within seconds, I stopped taking on anything from this person, despite my hands remaining on them the whole time.  I got them to do a little technique to move the energy through and out of their body (without me as middle man!) and they deeply appreciated the session.

It is always good to remind ourselves of the basics.  Going back from time to time to review the basics is very helpful for me.

I think I was taking on this person’s stuff because I had temporarily fallen back into an old pattern of trying to help or fix one of my parents (an old pattern of mine).  Once I named and noticed it and shifted my intention and my awareness, I was able to no longer be hooked by my old pattern.

Likewise, we can get questions answered when we sit on the meditation cushion.  Or we can answer our questions (sometimes instantly) by having years of experience working with our bodies and having a tradition enhanced with wisdom to lean into.  In other words, we can bring meditation into various contexts we are working in.

Thank you for reading!

~km

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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!

Gratefully,

~km

 

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Hello to all my dear readers, seasoned and new!

I have been slowly and delicately describing my transition from old self – feeling stuck in certain areas of life and not doing anything about it – to new self: making necessary changes and reforms with mindfulness and kindness to self.

So to recap: I left my partner of three years in January – some elements of that relationship were not healthy and it was time to change it.  I left nursing school in February (again).  This was very complicated because due to a health crisis last year, I also left nursing school.  So I re-entered it this January only to discover that due to my working late nights at my full time job, I could not sustain a healthy body and mind and attempt to complete nursing school the way things were.  Let’s just say I hid my head in the sand for a few weeks after that stomach churning decision!  And just this month, I have put in my notice at my restaurant job (where I was feeling stuck and listless) and I am ready to move forward!

I am feeling better about my transition now.  At first, resting in “I don’t know” mind was very difficult.  I think change is difficult for anyone – and the transitions I am going through this year are staggering.

I have applied to numerous jobs at UVa in clinical research and I am applying to the local community services organization here in C’ville.  So hopefully something will pan out shortly.  I am okay with a couple weeks of not working – enjoying nature, hiking, sitting by the river, doing some writing and reviewing old Dharma teachings.  But I would rather be working by May 1st!

I am also excited about an opportunity to give some basic Dharma teachings myself.  Not that I am at all qualified!  But I have been asked to do the majority of the teaching at a weekend retreat at the end of April – two days of teachings on the common preliminaries – the Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind toward Enlightenment and basic teachings on taking refuge – what to visualize, when, how to do prostrations, why we do them, etc.

So that is where I am at.  I finish up my long relationship with the food and beverage industry this coming week.  And that is all to the good.  I am so relieved to be saying that actually – I feel like it is years too late..  But enough with beating myself up.

I am realizing (through dream guidance) that nursing may actually be the best way for me to move forward.  I am disappointed I could not complete this semester, but I had to take care of myself.  Hopefully they will let me back in, or if not, I will transfer to another school.  Nonetheless, clinical research or offering community services type work will both be good as they are in alignment with nursing.

Thank you all for wishing me well and continuing to read my random missives!

~km

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I had a much better day today (than yesterday).  This could be the effects to two (different modalities) bodywork treatments in two days.  It could also be that I spent time with more good company today as well.

The most fascinating aspect of today is this: I quit nursing school recently.  A part of me is nervous about hanging out, direction-less, purpose-less, less-goal-oriented-than-I’m-used-to…  It is tough to unhitch the horses and just rest.  It is difficult for me to quiet the heart for more than an hour / day!

But with that said, I am doing a fine job of adjusting to this new change of pace.  I am even doing pretty well coping with resting in not knowing.  I don’t know if I am going back to nursing school.  I don’t know if I am choosing a different type of schooling to plunge into.  I don’t know if there is an option “C” that I am not even aware of yet!  Or option “D” just in case Midwifery is on the table.

Speaking of Midwifery, a friend drove me to dinner and a play tonight.  It was entertaining, the food was so delicious (Zenodoa’s restaurant in Staunton) but it was on the way back that surprised me most.

Somehow we started talking about birth and how my personal birth mirrors my present predicament, and then how Nurse Midwives differ from Certified (Home birth) Midwives, etc.  And of course I was stating the virtues of home birth and natural birth and what babies need.  Somehow she talked me into considering midwifery as a possible career.

But then I started to decompress from the long evening and I asked the I Ching about this possibility and it gave me Kua 5 (Waiting, Calm Abiding, Confidence, Relaxed Anticipation) with lines 2 thru 5 changing.

So basically I am not in a good place right now to plunge forward boldly into the unknown. Rather I need to abide patiently, knowing that things are working under the surface and that they will work out fine in the end.

My favorite words from the lines are from line 3 – “You have altogether missed the point of this time.  You have shrink-wrapped your attention to a reality much too small for you. …  If you can, change the shape of your mind – greater spaciousness brings greater opportunity.”  This is from Julie Henderson’s interpretation of the Yi Jing – the Somatic I Ching, revealing story, training mind.

Sounds like that is much easier said than done…(!)

So back to the drawing board.  And back to resting in awareness.  Time to put up my feet and rest my kidneys!  And calmly and patiently abide.

Thanks for reading!

~Kirby

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artwork December 2016

kirby_lion kirby_circles

I did some adult-coloring-book-esque painting and coloring on a canvas recently.  I think they both turned out pretty good.  The art took me 30 – 40 hours per piece.  I had soothing (Craig Pruess) mantras playing when I did the mandalas (circles) piece.  Maybe it shows?

kirby_circles

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