The Stress Test

Well , no new adventures to speak of, but I wanted to check in! I’m actually in Los Angeles at the moment (so, sort of an adventure, but not a new one for me…) and looking forward to an adventure with a girlfriend of mine next month… that is, if my cat doesn’t require me to return to France sooner. I hate having to leave my pets, but sometimes it has to be done. And once in a while, one or the other gets too depressed, gets sick, refuses to eat…. this time it’s my cat. And I do whatever I can, and the pet-sitter does whatever they can… but it doesn’t stop me from worrying. Life would certainly be easier without pets, but they are also one of the greatest sources of joy in my life (well. The cat. Dog has been irritating me more these days. I don’t enjoy cleaning up shredded tampons if I forget to close the bathroom door before I leave).

Anyway, I guess that’s the topic today. Stress. I don’t know that I’ve ever really dealt with it well. I was kind of a stressed out kid. Bit my nails a lot (never leave home without a nail file now!). In the past couple of years I discovered meditation, and in the past two years have gone from meditating like, once a month, to meditating nearly every day. From only 5 minutes, to 30 minutes a sitting. Even last summer, I couldn’t hold still for 20 minutes. My goal is at least an hour a day.

I realize as I’m writing this, that although I’m on a mission to de-stress my life… it’s more about learning to deal with the inevitable stress in a healthy way, rather than eliminating the situations that bring me stress. What I’ve been trying to do for years is drop things and people from my life that bring drama. Trying to find solutions for things that stress me out. Too many things in storage. Too many things at home. Finding reliable pet care (they are always with a different person every time I have to travel, most of the time in an unfamiliar environment). Uncertainty about income, about living arrangements, inability to plan too far into the future. I keep working through all of that, but it takes time. And even when some of these things get resolved (no longer dealing with a mobile home as of this year!), other things come up. I can make changes in life, but the unexpected will still happen. And I need to train myself to just deal with it. What happens, happens. Stress is optional.

 

serenity-prayer
Although my religious views are slightly different…

 

I have some internal stress that I think is a little strange, though, too. In the past few years I have had less motivation to focus my energy on work that doesn’t seem to have a real impact on the world. I love acting, I love dancing and singing and would love to do more of it. However, I’ve wanted to do something of more importance. I’ve wanted to work on myself, to make myself a better person. I’ve wanted to explore and understand the world and other people. I’ve wanted to lead a healthier life, and leave the urban settings I’m most familiar with. I’ve wanted to find a way to truly help others on the deepest level possible.  I’ve wanted to find more like-minded souls, and have felt a growing distance between me and those who have no interest in the spiritual realms. Some of those people were previously very close to me, and don’t understand where I’m at these days. It can make difficult relationships (at least for me), to not be able to discuss what is most important to me. To me, it seems that they don’t see the value in my time spent studying and figuring things out, or the time I spend meditating. To me, it seems they would rather me be doing something active, something they recognize as productive. And when I need time away, or feel the need to seek something without really being clear on what… I feel that they think I’m being frivolous. So I feel a lack of support, which causes some stress. I feel unsure if I can count on them to help me, since they don’t understand my path. So I feel the need to sooth their irritation while at the same time trying to move forward on my path. This can lead to some melt-downs on my end, sad to say.

inner world

My inner world is still a bit of a mess, I suppose. And I’ve been trying to deal with it from the outside-in, most of the time. Because we’re all more focused on the physical world and tangible results. There are still definitely days when I feel I have so much to do that I skip meditating altogether. Which is completely backwards, but it’s so hard to change the way you’re used to thinking. I know I wasn’t raised to think there was value in sitting with your eyes closed for lengthy periods of time.

meditation

But during a recent meditation session (actually, a guided one, not at home alone) I had one of my moments of “what can I do for the world?” and the answer that came to me was that this, meditating, was the best thing I could do for the world. Because it changes me, and then I affect those around me, like ripples in a pond. It may feel like I’m doing nothing, but I’m really doing some important work. And then the meditation leader spoke, and repeated precisely that thought. I almost laughed.

I often wonder how long it will take until I tame my brain. How long until I have a peaceful outer world reflecting a peaceful inner world. How long until I stop beating myself up over how I feel I fail others and fail myself. How long until I no longer feel like I’m searching, but have found. And what will it be like on the other side of suffering? Will I allow myself to even get there? Because I even feel guilt over feeling happiness and feeling satisfied with life, if I know that others are not. Sometimes I almost feel obliged to suffer (If that doesn’t make sense, picture that friend you have who perhaps owes you some money, but you see pictures of them on Facebook out enjoying drinks, smiling… surely you’ve had that thought of “hey, they told me they were broke and had no money, what are they doing out spending money having fun?” You expect them to be suffering). It’s a long, somewhat maddening journey… but I keep going.

4 comments

  1. Dave

    Thanks for sharing… Lots of deep thoughts. I appreciate it because I can identify with some of your struggles. I feel that the act of questioning yourself and identifying areas for self improvement is progress in and of itself.
    And yes…Although it may be a maddening journey, to keep going truly is the best answer….
    All the best to you.

    • thedreamer

      Thanks! And you’re welcome! I can get too introspective sometimes, it drives me crazy. This year my mind has been going in a loop: I don’t want to be here anymore > If you die, your family will be sad > also, would just get reincarnated and have to start over anyway > OK, can’t make them sad, don’t want to come back again, therefore, must live > must reach enlightenment/ascension/whatever then. Only chance. > trying to love everyone, but still want to smack a lot of people > why is the world so messed up? I don’t want to be here…. repeat. I’m just tired of being in a world where people are so selfish and mean. Not everyone, but enough of them to ruin things for a lot of people. Just watched Trumbo today and it depressed me again. I don’t understand humans…

      • Douglas

        Yes, I get challenged daily too… This world is a dojo for us to practice being conscious of our choices of thoughts, words and actions and the consequences to ourselves and others. Not an easy dojo. Every day is like being born into another cold, invigorating, and honest sequence of moments to remain in our highest self, and avoid the ego traps of fear, guilt, pride, anger, and shame, and move towards willingness, reason, love, joy, peace and enlightenment.

        Let’s all write the story we want to see in the world, and start living it… If we believe we can, we can! The cool thing about meditation is we realize negative thoughts are still just that, thoughts. That’s not who we truly are. Our mind is our instrument. When our mind thinks it’s in charge, that’s the ego. And the ego doesn’t want to give up power. It’s a daily challenge, and it gets more challenging the better we get… That’s why we keep up our practice, and like you said, surround ourselves with people who live to learn and love too.

        I love your introspection… You speak with admirable honesty and help us all see ourselves more clearly. Bless!!

        • thedreamer

          Ah it’s so nice to have some like-minded people reading my blog! 😀 How did you find me?

          Yes… some days I have to remind myself that it’s all sort of like a game, with challenges and levels and surprises, and I have to overcome inner demons and master myself to win. It can make it easier sometimes. It’s definitely challenging as you go on to higher levels. 🙂

Post a comment

You may use the following HTML:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>