But I also feel filled to the brim with words and premises and punchlines and ideas for jokes that I don’t give a crap about right now. Full of dates on a calendar and schedules and appointments and to do lists and plans for building the life of my dreams!
But this is in stark contrast to another life, where I spent many years stuck. Years and years holding back, fearful and not doing much toward getting unstuck. I worked, came home, watched TV and complained about my life. I call this sticky, stuck-y chunk of time The Couch Years.
During The Couch Years I was not saying yes to life. When life came calling I said:
“How did you get this number?” and promptly hung up.
Finally, the desire to become unstuck had become greater than the limited comfort of being stuck. Armed with my new found meditation practice, more clarity and my rediscovered gut…and I was OFF! Off the couch and running.
At first it was a slow jog, but in recent years it has become an all-out sprint.
So much to do! So much to be! Answer the call! Got to say yes to life after years of saying no!
Then in 2008, a life-threatening health scare landed me in the hospital and after almost kicking the bucket, I fully felt the preciousness of life. I was filled with a desire to live fully, even if my fear and doubt decided to tag along. Nothing could stop me. I ramped up my comedy schedule more and more, getting up to do comedy every chance I had. And I started teaching meditation on top of my job as a massage therapist. Writing and working and teaching and performing and keeping up with my Facebook page and emails and texting while driving (whaaaat?) and cramming 28 hours worth of stuff in to 24 hours a day.
And then I met my amazing boyfriend! I decided sleep was overrated as I added sheer bliss, romance and love on to my plate.
And this past year I re-invented my meditation workshops in to Comedy Karma and Creativity Karma, delightfully filling my schedule even more. Wake up, meditate, go go go, love, work, make people laugh, teach, work, make my boyfriend's cats laugh and keep saying yes to life.
People remarked: "I don't know how you do all of this!" and "You're always so busy!"
The Couch Years seemed long behind me. In fact, I forgot I even had a couch.
Oh yeah. I forgot about balance.
This hit me like a ton of bricks a couple of months ago when I got slammed with a bad flu and found myself…on the couch.
I realized something. After all those years of saying "no", now it seemed all I was doing was saying "yes". Balance is knowing when to say yes and no. When you have your eye on the bigger picture, saying no to some things becomes a yes to other things you value.
Thank Buddha for my meditation practice. Otherwise I don’t know how I could have done this schedule and all this craziness the past several years.
The thing about meditation is it gets you in touch with the experience of vast spaciousness so that creativity can blossom and form can come in to being. You begin to know the difference between your gut and fear. Meditation strengthens your mind so that you become very focused and very effective, wherever you place your mind. And there are countless other fruit it bears...
So my meditation practice has contributed to my being able to accomplish and do so much: alertness, focus, concentration, personal power.
But I still have lots of opportunity to practice the other things my meditation practice helps teach me: relaxation, openness, spaciousness, trust.
Trusting that things will unfold, rather than my having to jump in and make them happen. Rather than wanting results now. Or losing sight of the present moment. And gripping tightly to outcomes.
Enjoying what is, and acting from a place of enthusiasm and joy, rather than trying to make up for lost time…for all that time on the couch.
So I've cut back on performing and the gigs I'm saying yes to.
Comedy Karma workshops are on hold till June.
And in a couple of days, I’m leaving for ten day silent meditation retreat.
I want to start trusting that I won’t go back to the couch. Between the highway and the couch there is a path of balance. The couch in itself is not “bad”. The couch can be a healing, resting place when used in balance with action. Stillness and action. Rest and movement. Balance.
My intention is to empty out so that I can make room for the next steps on my path of balance. To empty out so that insight and creativity can arise. So that the familiar experience of oneness with the Universe can fill me up.
Shamatha is a foundational practice I’ll be using while on retreat. Buddhist meditation includes shamatha (tranquility) and vipassana (insight) practice. Shamatha is key to creating a strong, focused, tranquil mind so that one may have lasting insights in to the nature of mind and the nature of reality.
Follow your breath. No need to change it or "do" anything; just watch it. Hold it tenderly. Remain on the breath and after many, many breaths and the breath drops away, remain on the spot where you perceived the breath. Be led in to experiencing emptiness.
For instructions on doing shamatha at home, click here