living with sadness

IMG_1896
Image courtesy of Maria Wilson

Without announcement or bothering to knock, she sneaks in, lying beneath cushions where I sit, or below the floor where I walk. Her breathing is just loud enough to let me know she’s here again. Sometimes she even bashes on my heart, grips my throat, or tears at my jaw inflicting enough suffering to have me imploring: I just want to know the truth.

Sure there is an initial impulse to run from her, however these days, this is usually followed by a turning, a looking, a nudging, back onto the viewing platform.

I watch myself hopelessly wonder one moment if she will ever leave, only to observe in the next that I am quietly singing while cutting up fruit.  Where is the sadness now? I ask myself.  What was so sad this morning? 

Memories from my childhood and youth abound… Flashes…. Thoughts…. Feelings… out of nowhere. It feels like a shock each time they appear.  Why now? Haven’t I dealt with these concerns years ago? However it becomes obvious they have no intention on stopping, so I encourage myself to relax and breathe.  I’m here, I’m listening, tell me what you need to say, I’m not going anywhere.

I’m finding seeing my psychologist again is self-loving and insightful, in particular, where the feelings are felt both within and surrounding the body. Her somatic work and presence feels deeply supportive. At the last session I became aware of feeling ‘I am nothing’, with a deep deep push for desperately trying to know the truth in a way that is perhaps obsessive. The ‘nothing’ did not feel joyful but rather exhausting. I’m not sure what it all means. I’m just going with what somatically arises in the sessions and am not wishing to spiritualise too much. As I said, the main question and longing is: I just want to know the truth.

And I feel I have no idea how to find the answer, and the heart aches again. What is this driving within? Is it the mind? I have been told that this cannot be worked out by the mind and I have even tried stepping away from ‘trying’ to work it out. And yet, like my art practice, it returns, again and again. The wanting to know.

Mx

Note: found this draft post written a few months ago and felt to share it anyway. 🙂

 

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the black line

The breath is heavy, the arms are weak, the legs are struggling to keep up with their leading counterparts, and the mind is bouncing from breath to arms to legs to….

follow that black line… just keep following the black line.

Then in less than a gasp all thoughts dissolve, weighty physicality disappears and awareness shines on the effortless rhythmic experience of…

breath in

breath out

swinging arms

kicking legs

beautiful sunshine

warm blue water

and joy… yes joy, as the body slips into its natural rhythm.

The moment lasts for maybe half a lap until the wall signals the end of another… what number is that?

Pause, take a breath, turn, push off and it’s a change of stroke. Breast stroke. A childhood favourite. A chance to take in the scenery, enjoy the sunshine, stretch the body in full length as arms glide out in front, and legs kick back behind like a frog making its way across a pond.

Swimming twenty or so laps has become a thrice weekly ritual of late. It’s a great all rounder in exercise and a life-line when morning melancholy is lurking in the shallows.

What a blessing to have this fifty metre outdoor pool just ten minutes from home. What a blessing to enjoy the sensual pleasure of slipping into warm water and heading down a lane with a black line in sight, until it can’t be remembered how many laps have been travelled. What a blessing to have the lurking of melancholy to motivate the movement to this beautiful pool, amongst friendly folks, that also love this morning ritual. Mx

Image: Mullumbimby Pool on Instagram at MelindaBlairPaterson

depressingly aware

Depression is not who I am, it’s merely another experience, and sometimes it ‘appears’ I can have an influence over how long it stays…

IMG_1627like death, there is nothing to grab onto – collage + digital – 2013 – melinda blair paterson

In the previous post I wrote of anxiety. Well it seems the dial of life decided to turn towards depression in this past week… probably just a notch or two to the right.

A friend of mine asked me this week, “how do you experience depression?”.

When I wake up in the morning it feels like bricks are sitting on my chest and then I carry them around with me all day. It’s exhausting. And like the black hole of the Milky Way it seems to suck in any negative disturbing thought in its path.

Most of the time I can sit and watch as the thoughts come and go, however, I have an agreement. When the suicidal thoughts come I reach out for help. I make contact with people I feel can support and check-in with me on a daily basis.

I fully embrace the so called journey of ‘waking up’, with all its experiencing, allowing and embracing of thoughts, emotions and sensations. And then there is the innate knowing of not getting lost in a concept. In other words, I tether my camel, to love and look after myself in whatever way feels right.

So I exercise, see health practitioners, eat well, and stay connected to loved ones. I tell people what is happening so that I’m not hiding, and I keep it real. Depression is not who I am, it’s merely another experience, and sometimes it appears I can have an influence over how long it stays. This time is seemed to vanish after a conversation with my partner and a resolution of a joint decision…

but the truth is I don’t know.

What is seen is… what’s here before depression, is still here during and after… unchanged. Mx

anxiety aware where?

The surfer knows, as the wave crests and collapses into itself,
he must surrender, 
to be delivered to the surface for the next breath of life.

Bondi Sunrise by Melinda Blair Paterson

Anxiety, when it comes, wraps itself around like an incolsolable child clinging to its parent… suffocating, demanding and exhausting.

Totally aware when it is happening and yet there seems no control or power as to when it arrives, how long it stays, and when its departure is due. I’ve learnt over the years to deny it, speak of it.. and not, nuture it, watch it, breath through it, sit with it, and these days… allow it.

And please don’t think the ‘allowing’ makes it any easier, because it doesn’t. It just seems to create space for gaps, a breath of Awareness, whilst anxiety is having its play with a ‘me’.

Sometimes the excruciating pain of the mental turmoil is all that is known in the moment, as one dark or irrational thought/image after another is ridden like a surfer on a wave that seems sure to deliver his end. The surfer knows as the wave crests and collapses into itself, he must surrender, to be delivered to the surface for the next breath of life.

And so the surrender, the allowing of its presence, and the uncomfortable experience is accepted and played out. The door is opened, the visitor is welcomed, and never asked to leave.

I can tell you one thing. When so called ‘anxiety’ is having its play and the so called ‘mental pain’ is at its worst and being fully experienced, there is no ‘me’. There is only the experience. There is only Awareness.

Mx

Our Self, the light of pure Knowing, is completely empty and, at the same time, the substance out of which the fullness of all experience is made. Rupert Spira

It’s a Yellow Day…

image: detail from artwork by Colleen DaRosa

I woke up this morning with images of yellow paintings stalking my thoughts. Only the corners of paintings mind you… a peculiar phenomenon. I’m an artist, and at the moment I am back in the studio playing with paint again. I went to art school a few years ago and came out of it with lots of great technical info but also lots of concepts. Prior to art school I called myself an intuitive artist. I use to paint people’s Soul Essence, whereby, I believed I was able to tune into a client’s soul and express this on canvas in an abstact way. It was just where I was at… at that time. I did this quite successfully for about three years before attending art school. Since leaving art school I have really struggled with my artistic expression. Whenever I approached the canvas and made marks all I could hear were my teachers in my head. I felt I had lost my artistic intutitive or authentic place within, subsequently I choose to put the brush down and just wait… wait for the voices to subside… wait for an authentic place or movement towards the canvas to arise… wait for inspiration!

About two weeks ago I picked up the brush…  and I also started jogging. Finally there was some movement at the station after months of depression, anxiety, ‘couch potato’ and an expanding waistline. In this time I have watched a lot of things fall away… beliefs, concepts, interests, friends… but I have refused to let go of chocolate!  During my period of abstinence… painting not chocolate… I started to explore this idea ‘what would ‘Void, Stillness or Silence’ look like on the canvas?‘ Initially I approached this like art school. I did my research on the internet, cut out images, read art magazines and non duality books, did some sketches, kept a journal… which all came to a pretty disappointing end. Again, I put it all away and just waited eating chocolate. Months went by. Finally the day arrived. I got up… I went for a jog… and in the afternoon I went into the studio. My first couple of canvases have been pretty bad… doing what was familiar… crosses… I’ve always had an obsession with crosses. It’s one of the first symbols I ever painted and turns up again and again in my work. I thought ‘oh no, not this again!’ and wondered if I needed to put the brush back down. However, over the next few mornings I began to see corners of paintings in my mind just on awakening… and I mean corners. I was seeing corners of colour in the corner of a canvas. I ignored it for a few days and kept on with my bad paintings and crosses…. working, reworking, overworking… until in frustration I painted the corner thingy. Stepping back from the canvas I watched within and realised… for now it speaks to me!

So at the moment I am experimenting with paintings that have corners of colour. Perhaps this may lead to a representation of ‘Void, Silence, Stillness.’ Yes I know… it’s still a concept, but hey… it speaks to me for now.  What do they look like you may ask? Pretty blank… colour… minimalist. I heard Adyashanti in his radio broadcast yesterday say “When you believe with every fibre of your being that content (thoughts) are untrue… it all falls away.” Hmmm maybe that’s what is happening on the canvas also? M x

Morning!

image: ‘just passing thru’ by melinda blair paterson

I spend most mornings heading towards the beach for a walk… and of late… a slow jog. I’ve never really got into running before, but had a vision of myself running on the beach a month or so ago, and one day it just started happening. Who knew?

Mornings are not always the easiest time for me. When I say that, I really mean those first waking moments. As I come out of the dream state or sleep into awareness of the day I notice my first thoughts are often disturbing, and what I would say… not like ‘me’ at all. I have no idea where they come from… they just appear in my awareness. A couple of times I have even been aware of the moment ‘I’ focuses or grabs onto ‘thought’. You know what I mean? When the ‘I’ starts it’s day. I’ve also felt the movement from the sleep state into the awake state as moving from an expansive lightness into a dense contraction… my response being ‘Oh  no, not this again… not another day of this!

Of course it’s not all doom and gloom. I am learning to just wait… just rest… and it passes… and with that is a dawning (sorry bad pun!) that these thoughts are just an illusion. This morning I was in one of these contracted moments waiting for it to pass when I found myself pick up my iPhone and check me emails. Now I never usually do this first thing… however, as is becoming the norm of late (or I’m just noticing it more), I do things and then catch on a second or so later that it’s happening. Anyway… in my Inbox was an email from Peter with a link to a video of Mooji called ‘All delusions will fall‘. Perfect timing!

The video goes for about 20minutes and is a dialogue between Mooji and a man. Mooji is gently trying to point the man towards Awareness, that which is All with no ‘I’ of separation etc etc… you know what I mean. I found myself feeling a bit impatient… wanting to stop watching… get up… get away… distract. You know  this one too don’t you? Then that ‘thing’ arose… Wait, listen… and my awarenss shifted. I heard Mooji speak:

“The space from where I’m speaking and towards what I’m speaking… that all delusions will fall… and it appears that there are forces internally, as part of the play of consciousness who’s work is to block that from happening. To keep your focus on your physical being, on your terrestrial existence, because as long as you are in that, you see, it can procreate.”

Thanks Mooji… thanks Peter…  M x

 

Just Rest

Like children… we all want to see what’s inside!

It’s been a week or so since my last post…Ummm. What can I say? I forgot (which is true), I didn’t think anyone would even find this blog (which apparent is not true), and even if they did find it they would probably hit the ‘get me out of here’ delete button or back arrow faster than you can poke a stick at it! (as my mother would say). Also, apparently NOT true!.

Why?… because tonight I sat down and turned off the telly (cause I just can’t stand it anymore), and watched that ‘thing’ inside me pick up the laptop, connect to the internet and open this blog. OMG… someone left a comment! Shit… what do I do?

STOP… Breathe… Laugh. (thought arises “maybe I had better check my email address for this blog”). OMG… people have been writing me emails for the past week and I had no idea! Instant mixture of joy, overwhelm and shock. So thank you, thank you , thank you to all that have taken the time to make a comment, email me and share yourselves… or whatever it is that we are not! I am deeply touched.

In the last post I was wishing I was a mermaid. Well that has continued as I venture into the cold currents along our Byron Bay shoreline at this time of year, however, there has been a lightness feature in my being this week and I’m not really sure why. I was certainly having a torturous time last week to the point where, yet again, I was in the fetal position on my bed feeling the absolute ‘pointlessness’ of every thought, idea or belief the mind could muster and ‘so called’ throw at me. It’s in these moments (and thankfully they are few and far between) I have enough inner wisdom and learning to know to just relax, breathe, embrace, surrender and it does pass. Moments later I am up, doing dishes, getting breakfast and heading out the door for my morning walk and ocean dip. It’s a weird life I live that’s for sure… and certainly not for the faint hearted. I mean, you have to be some kinda Weird Warrior to ride the wave of thoughts and subsequent emotions that occur on this journey of awakening… which is going nowhere. I mean… how many people in their right mind would sign up for a journey going nowhere? And yet here I am, and if you are reading this, here you are too!

So a couple of days later… having emerged from the fetal position and catching my breath till the next dip into awareness oblivion, a friend of mine suggests I listen to the Balanced View teachings. Have you heard of them? I have actually found them quiet helpful. The founder, Candice, is American, lives in Northern California and they have centres in India and Sweden. They offer a training program called Balanced View and have all sorts of material you can download for free on their website. Anyway… my friend gave me a whole bunch of downloads and I started to listen. What did I hear Candice say? Rest! Just Rest!

At first I was like… what does she mean ‘just rest’? Does she mean lay down, take a nap, take a deep breath? Then somewhere, sometime in the listening, I got it… I just felt the internal world shift… and I relaxed. Ahhhhhh. I have no idea if this is just a momentary thing… or perhaps a day or two… or more. I’ll keep you posted. What I have noticed is an inner calm and an openness. It’s seems too simple. Hmmmm… let’s see? Mx

ps A big thanks to Jerry Katz of nonduality.com for kindly featuring my blog in his recent newsletter. It seems that’s how most of you guys found me. X