Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sleeping Wrong & Other Things I Just Can't Get Right

Today I woke up with a pinch in my neck.  Ouch!  Every time I turn my head to the right - ouch!  People ask me what happened.

"I slept wrong."

They nod in understanding.  Humanity gets sleeping wrong.  We've all done it.

But saying "I slept wrong" sounds odd to me.  I mean, sleeping is as natural as breathing.  We all know how to do that.  Which makes me think: "If I can't get sleeping right, what the hell else am I doing wrong?"  And that line of thinking is a sure-fire downward spiral in to self doubt and criticism.  I mean if I can't even sleep "right" then how can I trust myself to do anything? 

OK, OK calm down.  Not you, me.  Ouch.

The thing is, there are habits and patterns we engage in every moment of every day that we don't even notice.  We don't even question these habits and patterns because we've done them so much, over and over again and there is a comfort, sometimes, simply in doing them.  "Yeah, I know this.  This is familiar."  The comfort signals to us we're in familiar territory and that we must be OK, that we're doing it "right", that we've maintained the illusion of some ground in our life.

And so I keep sleeping wrong.

This can't be comfortable.

When I start to drift off at night and am just at the edge of sleep, I turn over on to my right side.  I curl my knees up slightly toward my chest.  Aaaaah.  I've been doing this since I was a child.  I relax more deeply.  My head gets heavy.  And soon, in no time, I slip in to the velvety expanse of sleep and then - ouch!  I wake up in the morning with a stiff neck that plagues me all day.  Clearly the short term comfort of rolling over on to my side at night can't be worth the price of suffering all the next day.  As well as the questions I get every time I grimace.

"What happened?"

"I slept wrong."

"Yeah." They nod.

There is often a better way.  But we don't want to give up our comforts, the comforts of habit.  However, if we truly want change, want growth, want freer, happier lives, we have to give up our comforts and learn new ways.  What's on the other side of that is so much juicier!

Having a daily meditation practice continues off the cushion and in to our "daily lives".  Since our awareness has been developing, we begin to see more clearly what does not serve us.  There's no beating ourselves up over what we see, because we've cultivated a soft and warm heart toward ourselves and others.  Nice.  This loving awareness gives us the place from which we take action.  We've gotten pretty good at tapping our determination.  And because we've now cultivated a strong mind by bringing ourselves back to our meditation over and over again, we're able to implement change as well as the ability to follow it through.  And voila!  We've developed a new habit, a healthier habit.  And this gives us confidence to tackle bigger and bigger stuff in our lives.  No longer a slave to simply what is comfortable and what is known.  Willing to see what is and to also see things differently.  And brave enough to make necessary changes that take us out of our comfort zone.

"Relax.  I do this all the time."

And so I offer this to you: what are you doing that leads to pain and suffering that you wish you could stop?  Are you willing to get out of your comfort zone and do something about it? 

I am.  I'm sleeping on my back from now on.  This is a new practice.  In time it will become a new habit that feels "right".  And soon I won't even miss the comfort of rolling on to my side at night.  Or the pain in the morning.  But until then...is there a chiropractor in the house?  Ouch!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Beginnigs and Endings = Right Now

Where am I going?  Where am I headed?

We focus on certain parts of our lives and expect some sort of solid outcome we can point to.  Yet those parts and the parts of those parts are always beginning and ending.  Coming together and going apart.  Arising and ceasing.  Change is the only constant.  Buddhists call this mark of existence impermanence.  It is a spiritual truth, a reality that permeates everything.

But where am I going?  Where am I headed?

Relax!  Here's the thing.

We start a project that doesn't really come together, and it ends.  But we meet someone on that project who makes us laugh.  We start a friendship with them. Because we start a friendship with them, we spend more time having fun with them. And our house plant dies.  Oops!  So we decide to get a cactus.  This starts a cactus obsession that leads to creating a cacti emporium off of Highway 5, but not with the friend who makes us laugh because her marriage ended and she moved away and so we decided to do this all on our own which feels amazing and powerful and we ask: "How the hell did I get here?"  Beginnings and endings, my friend.  And karma.  But let's just stick to beginnings and endings.

Black Lace Cactus, an endangered species

At the start of every year I get all freaked out that not enough has happened in the year before and that I've got to do more this year.  And where am I headed anyway?  Is this all adding up to anything really?  And on and on and on blah blah blah.  I go meditate.  Aaaaah.  That's better.

Everything that has come before us, all the starts and finishes, beginnings and endings has created a matrix of where we are right now.  And where we are right now lays a foundation for where we will be.  More beginnings, more endings, all happening right now in the time it takes you to read this sentence.

Some say I've done a 360 with my life, yet where I am today actually makes perfect sense when I look at where I was ten years ago.  I can now connect the dots.  And ultimately, I am grateful for where I am.  So just because I can't connect the dots now to my future is no reason to panic.  And when I do panic, I take a moment and tell myself: "Maybe right now everything is perfect.  And maybe I am exactly where I need to be."  Aaaah.  I breathe a little easier and relax in to the present moment.  This relaxation and clarity helps me move forward with intention.

So yes: be mindful of the moment you're in now, for it bears the fruit of tomorrow.  Go where the energy is, do what gives you joy, take your vitamins, remember to water your plants, dream something big and start the first step and just trust.  And try not to despair as things die or end this year.  Beginnings and endings in themselves are neither "good" nor "bad".  They simply are.  And that's life.  Whew.  I feel better now.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My New Year's Intention: To Be Less Resolved and More Evolved.

It's the start of 2011 and like everyone else, I'm resolving to be more resolved about many a resolution.  But there's something stiff, firm and fixed about the words resolution, resolute, resolved. 

I'm all for having goals and working toward them and seeing dreams come to fruition.  In fact, I've made a few goals come to life just in the past year!  I have an amazing boyfriend who is on the same page as me.  I'm now teaching way more than I was before and am loving it.  I'm getting more paid gigs as a comic and an actor.

This feels great for me since I spent many years sitting on the couch eating Pop Tarts and saying no to life.  In fact, if you compared my life today to my life just six years ago, you wouldn't recognize me.  Physically, for sure, since I was about 4 sizes bigger.  Mmmmmmm, Pop Tarts.  But I'm also different energetically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually.  I was an over eater, over drinker and an under achiever.  But that's a story for another blog another day.

Simply put, my life is drastically different than it used to be.  It's not just better.  Most days, I wake up excited!  And some days I wake up overwhelmed, tired and cranky with morning breath.  OK, most days I wake up with morning breath.  I shouldn't eat garlic past midnight.  But the point is that overall, I'm inspired.  If the past several years are any indication about how a human being can change their life, then I have confidence that my life has endless possibilities.

At 10 I knew the secret to life: a balloon, a bikini and sensible shoes
The change I've enjoyed in recent years hasn't necessarily come from envisioning a certain life and rigidly sticking to that vision.  I got clear about what I wanted, but mostly how I wanted to feel: free, creative and self expressed, loving and being deeply loved by myself and others who I care about, inspired, fulfilled and happy. 

I took small, do-able steps and walked through doors where I felt the energy to be the most strong and delicious.  Most important, I continued to deepen my meditation practice so that I could have a strong, clear compass for myself and actually SEE these doors opening along the way. 

And I've been developing a barometer that helps me feel the difference between the true winds of change and being swept away by distraction or doubt or fear.  My relationship to myself and the Universe has grown stronger and stronger the more I sit and meet myself day after day.  And, like my meditation practice, I see over and over that life is about evolving with it all, rather than staying fixed or resolved.

I am letting go of some very firm, fixed ideas about how my life is supposed to be today.  No, I never won the Tony award or inspired a new dance craze called The Pop Tart or made a million dollars by the time I hit 30.  But wow I'm doing some things and meeting some people I never thought I would!  And thank God for that! 

At 17, I thought I'd be doing Shakespeare in the park and serious drama the rest of my life and I turned my nose up at making people laugh in comedy clubs.  I am so glad I listened to my gut and not my fear or fixed ideas when I started contemplating comedy and teaching and the beautiful relationships I have in my life today.

At 17, playing Kate in Taming of The Shrew.  Iambic pentameter and a bad perm all in one show.
So I resolve to continue to evolve.  I resolve to be determined and to stay in action, yet to be open and flexible.  To ebb and flow and lean in to the curves.  To get out of my own way and to change and grow as my path does.  That's not just surviving, that's thriving.  So wish me luck.  As a former resolutionist, I need all the help I can get being more of an evolutionist.