Tag Archives: attention

You Are Just What I Needed

I feel like I told you everything.

You listened so completely that I didn’t need words any more. You opened me up so that all that I was, am, and will be lay stretched out before you, comfortably naked. I believed you could handle everything I shared, nothing would be a burden. I heard myself too. I really revealed myself to us both.

You made me feel beautiful, resplendently adorned with every detail of my past. I got drunk on you. You saw all of me and I felt entirely seen. Your attention undressed me before my clothes could come off. You unpeeled my layers from the inside out.

You made me feel safe, wrapped in your arms or even just in your presence. Your gentle strength amazed me (how did you get so strong?), and my trusting you amazed me more. You sheltered me while I removed my protective barriers. I saw how freely life could be lived without them.

You touched me like I have always wanted to be touched. You showed me what is possible. I have never felt more like a woman, a strong feminine woman, than I did that one night with you.

You taught me what I deserve to receive from a man. I lacked for nothing with you. And whether or not we see each other again, you were just what I needed.


A History of Problem Solving: A Selection from The Alphabet Versus the Goddess

“Long before there were cities, books, and inkwells, there were clans, caves, and middens. Human societies were shaped by the exacting rules of evolution: losers became extinct, winners survived. The crucial module guaranteeing the tribes continuance was the family unit. All members prospered under this arrangement. A man was cared for by a solicitous woman and learned about the pleasures of playing with small children. A woman enjoyed the security she needed to devote her time to her offspring. Each gained a friend, lover, confidant, and helpmate. Children matured in a safe atmosphere guided by two caring role models. The tribe as a whole could count on the steady replenishment of both skilled hunters and pregnant mothers. This system works better than any alternative ever tried.

A husband and wife, over time, begin to resemble one another in physical appearance. The melding of their physiognomic features is also reflected, to varying degrees, in their souls. A woman’s presence in a man’s life tends to soften his hard edges, just as her proximity to him tends to stiffen her central core. A mate increases the possibility that each member of the couple will exhibit that difficult-to-define quality called common sense.

Men and women often arrive at conclusions and plans of action differently. Some situations are best addressed by focused, step-by-step “masculine” logic, while holistic, “feminine” intuition comprehending many components in a complex whorl is better in others. Couples benefit from having access to each other’s major hemispheric processes, which over time also strengthens their own personal minor mode. The blending of feminine knowing and masculine reason in each individual and each couple generates good sense. The wisest figure in the mythologies of ancient cultures was often a hermaphrodite- a male-female- such as Tiresias, a blind seer.

Humans belong to that class of animals called “social predators.” Their hunting strategy resembles that used by wolf packs and lion prides; all members of the social unit hunt in concert to kill prey. The protracted childhoods of human young made female participation on these forays unfeasible. The all-male hunting party came into existence in only our species and with it the ethos of the left brain.

The template for all subsequent male projects remained the original hunting party, the ultimate purpose of which was to kill. Therein lay the problem. When men began to spend extensive time in each other’s company, they amplified each other’s hunter-killer instincts. When the hunting party became an “army,” the prey became other humans. The result has been a historical record pungent with the acrid smell of fear, havoc, and death.

The greatest counterbalance to men’s death-dealing inpulse is to engage them in the lives of women and entangle their legs with children. The most dangerous result of these all-male cultures bereft of the input from women is the loss of common sense. The phrase “common sense” has several meanings. In one, it is the wisdom of all the senses, a holistic and simultaneous grasp of multiple converging determinants. In this meaning common sense is intuitive and is often the opposite of logic. In another meaning, it is the wisdom of more than one person. It is the result of the give-and-take of face-to-face conversation with another, which allows one to ‘hear oneself think.’ In this second meaning, common sense is wisdom generated ‘in common.’

Confronted by a knotty problem a person of turns to a trusted adviser, not so much to receive the solution as to engage in a problem solving dialogue. A man can resort to two entirely different advisers: his female significant other or another man. His interactions with these two most likely will be quite different.

There are certain conventions men generally obey when talking to each other. Dialogues occur in the light, with no physical contact, and both men are dressed, facing each other vertically. When a man consults his woman, it is often at night, in the dark, while both are horizontal in a position of repose, and there is frequently skin touching skin.

In both these colloquies, he talks in order to bounce his ideas off his listener and evaluate his or her response. The male adviser or woman confidante serves as his sounding board. Men, over many centuries and across a diverse range of cultures, would concur that in interpersonal matters, the best “sounding board” is often a soft pillow with a woman’s head on it. Further, this syzygy of skin, night, and goose feathers is conducive to sleep. A thoughtful person when confronted by a difficult dilemma for which others demand an immediate answer will frequently withhold his reply until after he has “slept on” it. By using this common saw, he tacitly acknowledges the vital importance of talking over the problem with his mate before falling asleep and then letting the right hemisphere dream its wisdom into his response. Come morning, horizontal thinking has worked its magic and the individual has arrived at an answer that makes common sense smile.

Men need the counsel of women to help them sort out what is important from what is folly. This need is particularly acute if the man is the head of a vast enterprise. In such situations the other men to whom he might turn for advice-those under him-will often have their own personal agendas, which may influence the opinions they give their alpha male. The wife of the alpha male is often a truer resource-sharing his life, her fate is intimately entwined with his. And the alternative kind of wisdom she brings to his problem make her counsel so uniquely valuable to him.

Few men who have enjoyed a good relationship with a woman would disagree with the proposition that a woman’s assistance in male problem-solving is indispensable. Eliminating her from the process greatly increases the possibility that a man might make a wrong-headed decision about matters of import. History books are filled with such examples.”

~Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess


Learning to Receive

Lately, I have been on a quest to discover what authentic feminine energy is, and this is harder than I expected. I found a lot of advice about how to dress more femininely, or how to use some feminine wiles to get a man, but I don’t think that is what I was looking for. 

One piece of dating advice that I do believe is important, is that “alpha” women should learn how to receive from a man, not just give or take. Feminine energy has been described as receptive, so this is something I am trying to practice. Some examples of receiving that can be practiced include accepting a compliment (no modesty needed), fully following a plan not laid out by yourself, allowing acts of chivalry (women are partly to blame for its near death) and waiting for him to ask you out (what’s your hurry?).

Since I am trying to live what I am learning, not just write about it, I am trying this out too! I do not want to be considered insane, for persisting to use masculine energy to “chase” men, while expecting them to also chase me. We both cannot do that and get together; we would just be running around the mulberry bush!

Right now, I am trying to wait for the men who said they were interested in me to remember I am back in NYC from a week away and contact me themselves! This is very, very hard for me to do! I was ready to make a plan last week with one of them so we could get together this week and…boy, do I sound impatient! There is no urgency, no rush. I have never paid attention to the fragility of a not-yet-started relationship; my passion (and desperation?) demanded something happen as soon as possible, now if possible. I have to stop that.

Yesterday, I told myself that I would give him (the one I am most interested in seeing) until Wednesday, then I would contact him myself, but today, I am telling myself to keep waiting. Try it! Let go of the attachment you already have to the outcome of this encounter and just live life as you would without men in your life. Remember, Self, you have dance tomorrow and philosophy class on Thursday, so this will be easier when you are actually busy. Tonight, write some more, work on that project you keep neglecting…let’s try to embody femininity tonight! Remember, what you put your attention to grows…


The Art of Feminine Presence

A quick and easy exercise to increase your personal presence immediately, so you can walk into any room and attract the attention you want.

http://www.theyinproject.com/Yin


Doing vs. Being…vs. Analyzing?

Recently, I have been reading the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu. A theme of integrating seeming opposites pervades: yin and yang, emptiness with the material…similar dichotomies come to mind, such as desire and action, and of course,  being and doing.

As I meditated this morning, I had many thoughts arise which I remember even though I was actively letting go of them per my practice. These thoughts concerned my past attempts to meditate and how I seem to get it now. It seems to me that I was not ready for meditation when I tried it in high school; there was no desire or need for it and it upset an established way I operated which I did not want to disrupt.

My Mind has dominated me for a while. I have striven to be more knowledgeable, more educated, more rational, even more open-minded…and it has gone too far. My mind had usurped my self-control. I had forgotten how to just be, and was beginning to forget how to do (making decisions was hard now)…but what I was good at was analyzing.

I was self-analyzing, analyzing other people, analyzing any and all problems, analyzing for fun, analyzing when I was bored…basically, I was analyzing myself away. I lost touch with my inner self, the calm, still, observing self.

My Mind had gotten too large so that there was no room for my Body’s needs, my Heart’s needs…and no ability to see all of these as parts of myself. Without being able to see all of myself, I was not able to begin my work to let go of needs and connect to the inner peace I now feel I have. Mind was not kept in check and balance, so I wasn’t in balance…and so now my practice is very important to me. It is hardest for my Mind to grasp what We are doing with our practice, and it fights against the new parameters I had to create.

My journey is good…my struggle is good. I now feel I can be, do and sometimes analyze with proper attention and control. That is pretty amazing!


Compassionate Dating?

Dear Heart,

Let me first commend you for taking the bold step of starting to date again! Well done! I know you were very anxious about dating again, because you prefer being in a relationship to searching for one. Let Us take a moment, to remind Our Self that attitude matters so much when dating. If you can approach dating with an excitement, thinking, “I may meet a great love today!” you can transform your dating jitters into something far more enjoyable.

I am not sure what part of Us can take responsibility for Our dreams, but We had a nightmare last week about this blind date. So many factors in the dream led to greater and greater anxiety before even meeting the date, so Our dream self was in no fit for anything…and We woke up with our physical heart thumping and the rest of Us very unsettled. To avoid having the chance to get anxious We scheduled the date right after a discussion of the Tao Te Ching (and I was actually a bit late as a result).

I came to the date, fully present and engaged, practicing Buddhism’s lovingkindness for this other individual who was seeking love. We were both searching for happiness, both for the evening and for our future. I came without expectation, without desperation, without a need to find a body to touch, or a heart to love. My attention was open, come what may.

So, Heart, you were open, but i also sense you were guarded in some small way…but no, that cannot be true. What I can see as being guarded is just less desperate and eager to find love. You were calm! It is amazing to see how you have evolved.

Our Mind was quite entertained and engaged by our date, wouldn’t you agree? The conversation flowed well and was deep while still being quite playful. Mind was definitely intrigued, but thankfully, not the only part of Us that was engaged…

A truly important feature to the experience of human love is physical chemistry. And, Body was not feeling intrigued by this date. Basically, Body was enjoying the wine and not expecting to be called up to bat on a first date. I had made it clear that I was not someone what wanted physical intimacy on a first date. Well, our date decided to kiss me, and We let it happen, but Body was shocked by the absolute absence of any feeling in response!

How many times have we all heard that the first kiss can really help determine if there is chemistry? I only partially bought it…I never had fireworks explode on a first kiss, but I have had bad ones before…but mostly I knew already that I was not interested before those former kisses occurred. Mind thought We wanted to see this man again, Heart was waiting to be more appealed to, but Body vetoed this poor man absolutely! Our kiss was so bad, that my lips did not feel like they were mine, and neither his nor mine felt like living flesh! It was too long for a first-date first kiss and it was not executed well. Our overall opinion went from an optimistic “there is potential here!” to a confident “there will be no second date!” in seconds.

Unfortunately, our first kiss was not our last kiss. He kissed me goodbye in the same way, causing me to endure it out of lovingkindness, but then having to laugh it away after I was safely in the subway station alone.

When this gentleman texted me eagerly this morning to ask for a second date, I had to reflect on how my open,genuine enjoyment of our time together could be perceived by a date as confirmation of equal attraction. I knew I had to refuse his request, but could not anticipate the task with joy. The truth of the matter was, I did enjoy myself, and I was glad to have met him. I think we had lots of things in common, but it was just simply and truly not enough for us to have a romantic relationship. I employed lovingkindness again in my reply.

I am curious, Heart, what you feel is the best way to date with compassion. There is so much advice that recommends being yourself when on a date, but in this world where love is so hard to feel on a day to day basis from strangers around us, I worry that my attitude of lovingkindness is not truly kind to the people who are misinterpreting it to mean I am really interested in them. Mind, is whispering these worries in my ear, so I am going to just say one more thing on this subject…mainly to Mind…

By practicing lovingkindness last night both my date and I had a wonderful night. By practicing lovingkindness as I told my date I was not interested in pursuing our relationship further, I received a very lovely and respectful response that seemed to only express gratitude as well. So my dears, let Us continue to practice lovingkindness, since it seems to be working just fine!

Kindly,

Self


Letting Go with Compassion is Hard!

Dear troubled Mind,

I have been once again watching you think yourself into knots and traps of your own making. You are trying to learn to be more aware of what you think, but there is no rush to get it right. You have always striven to be the best student, but you are too hard on yourself. It is ok to do things in the order and at the pace at which they need to be done. You have committed yourself to improve your powers of attention as We increase our awareness of Our Self and Our loving nature.

Remember, Mind, We are in this together and you do not have to do it alone. Trust in us, and relinquish your belief that you are more right, relinquish your pride. If I may suggest, try to stop and listen before shouting out an answer. You are just a beginner at this kind of mindfulness, so there is no need to pretend to be an expert. No one is fooled by you here. You have read about this and you have studied this quite a lot, but you have not practiced it yet, in truth. So be humble, and listen, observe.

Both Heart and you, Mind, have many tendencies towards egoism. You want your issue to be the center of attention, and you can be quite demanding and petulant about getting quick results. This just reminds me of how much you need to learn, but I am still new at practicing compassion to you. I apologize for trying harder to cultivate compassion for people outside of me, rather than for all of Me. [Side note: I used “me” to show that when I experience separation of self and others in a very concrete way, I have not acknowledged the unifying “Me” to which all of us belong.]

We have all agreed we want to be free of attachment, but we have not fully defined what this means. Heart wants to be free of the pain that accompanies believing We need to be in a defined love relationship to this other person; Mind wants to be free of the negative (i.e. untrue) stories that spring up so easily from speculation and expectation; Body wants to be free of the worry that no one will love it if it does not conform to societal standards of beauty; and, as for My Self, I would like to practice being free from My attachment to Heart, Mind and Body more and more, so as to connect with the stillness.

Sitting here now, calm and peaceful, isn’t it easy to observe how much progress We all have made? How wonderful! 

We can celebrate this moment and when another moment arises in which suffering again returns, which it inevitable will do, we can remember that we are not fighting suffering, but letting go of suffering. We can read texts that remind all of Us that there will still be suffering, but we do not need to fear it. Let’s recommend to Our Self, this passage from Lovingkindness, by Sharon Salzberg.

“[We] are brought up with the feeling that suffering is somehow wrong, or to be avoided. We get the idea that suffering is unbearable and should not even be faced.”

She tells us that the first step to develop true compassion is to accept that suffering exists. If we are are unable to face this fact, we will never be able to let go of our pain. Our beliefs limit us; they too are thoughts to which we get easily attached. If we have hold to our belief that pain is bad, than we inevitable cause ourselves to feel more pain, in the form of self-directed negativity in the face of our pain. We have become attached to our pain

No wonder then, my darling Mind, that you have been struggling to let go. As you started to let go of certain thoughts, did you believe yourself to have gotten free? …only to struggle more and more, finding yet another belief holding you back. Perhaps you even thought you were going in the wrong direction because there just seemed to be getting more entangled? Did you even realize that you were getting frustrated with yourself and making up stories about doing something wrong?

This struggle is to be celebrated and commended because it shows how aware you are becoming! You have been confined by many, many thoughts, beliefs and opinions, unknowingly! So as you begin to truly know yourself, you are discovering more and more restraints which you will now be able to let go. You have witnessed how easy it is to be tricked into this almost invisible cage. I cannot help but be amazed at how easily we have been lulled into captivity where we feel safe and comfortable. We are living in the Matrix or on the set of the Truman Show.

So Mind, be easy, calm down, accept what happens, and keep up the good work! I know you are on your way to being compassionate with yourself as you keep letting go…the process is the end in itself.

Compassionately,

Self


Dearest overactive Mind,

First of all, let me express how sorry I am that our Body has returned to enjoying so much coffee. You are quite jumpy as a result, I see. It seems very likely that hormones are at work today too. It is a good day to practice self and be very attentive of all that is transpiring.

You are being very willful about how We all spend Our time today. I am inclined to liken you to a petulant child who is tired of being stuck inside on a rainy day and has decided to take out his angst on everyone around him. And I, like the parent who is losing patience, have grown quite tired. By increasing Self-awareness I am attempting to help you choose to use your incredible power of thought to Our advantage, but We are still learning.

I have let you have your way for so long, Mind, and change is coming even if it is hard for you accept this. I am setting boundaries with you, because it is not OK for you to harbor so many negative thoughts about Us or other things in the world. This does not promote happiness, but only perpetuates suffering.

I have heard what you thought, and instead of commiserating with your plea for pity, I am charging you to turn your complaints into some form of constructive action. So, if you feel We erred in some way, find away to atone for this mistake. Likewise, if you creating problems because you are bored, look for an actual problem that could benefit from your attention.

My last address to you concerns your present treatment of Heart. Our dear, dear Heart has a lot of emotions to deal with today as do you. We are being mindful of the affect of hormones on all of us. But you and Heart take very different approaches to your respective concerns, so give Heart some space today. Today is not a day to analyze what is happening to Heart. The best help any of Us can offer each other is love and acceptance. 

Now, let you both be off to your separate corners of consciousness, to practice being self-reliant. You are both safe here, I am watching, everything is ok here.

Firmly,

Self


Thoughts for the Heart,

Oh Heart,

I want to help you deal with this situation, but all my ideas don’t seem to help you, I want to take action, stand up for you. I feel like your big brother and I just want to go fight the problem, because I hate to see you hurting. I am not too good with just listening to you, letting you cry. I am trying though, and I hope you can tell.

So, here is what I understand about how you are feeling; let me prove to you I was paying attention this time:

We have already determined you are hurting over this break-up, but I also get this idea that you still love him. I think that is so weird. Can’t you just stop that? This would all be over then? Well, anyways, this love may be different than the love you had before, right? You are learning to transform the love you offered actively to love that you feel for all beings. I think that is what you said, I can understand that, I guess. 

You must be struggling to do that though, because I know you want to be able to take him back. You want it, even though we both know that it wouldn’t be a good idea. I know our Self has been helping you understand that you were doing too much in that relationship for us all to be healthy. We want you to still love our Self too. I hope I have helped you understand that you are ready for a big Love and none of us here think that guy was ready for it himself. 

I know you have a much shorter memory than I do, so I want to offer you my services whenever you need it, to remember how much you were hurting towards the end. How much you were trying to get him to notice you again, to love you back even a little. And remember too that you figured it out it was time to leave, you LEFT HIM! All of us are so proud of you for doing that, even though you hated doing it so much. We remember your pain then too!

You are such a wonderful Heart! You have so much love to give, and you were doing all you could for him, and he no longer wanted to accept it and give any back to you. That is HIS loss! I am barely holding back my own desire to march over there and DEMAND an explanation, but I know that wouldn’t make you feel better. This is hard for me too. I hate not understanding why this happened. I thought he loved you better than anyone before, and I really saw his potential to become your true partner, but he wasn’t ready for that.

When you wanted to go back to him, back to loving him, I understood that. You thought you had made a mistake and I know you were not the perfect lover in that relationship, so you told him how you felt, and you really wanted to believe he felt like returning to you. I am sorry that I encouraged you to believe him then. If I had my say in who you love, it would be someone that doesn’t confuse ME so much, but I know it is not fully up to me.

Your anger at him makes so much sense too, dear Heart. It was a shock when you returned from that trip to hear him being so cavalier about your feelings. Perhaps he showed his true colors to you then. Something I read recently made me think of you: I was reading Sharon Salzberg’s Lovingkindness and she said that passion and sentimentality can both be confused for real love. The way she described sentimentality made me think of how he treated you. Let me see if I have the quote…

“Sentimentality, the other mental state that masquerades as love, is really an ally of delusion. It is a facsimile of caring that limits itself only to experiences of pleasure.”

-Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness

Do you recall, how he did not want to deal with you when things got difficult or challenging? He would run away from problems and always said everything was OK, even when it wasn’t. He is not ready for LOVE if that is how he deals with you. Hopefully, you have helped him get a little closer to being able for that, Heart.

Just stay strong, and heal. We all know how to give you your space, and I hope you come to us for support if you need it. Remember to pay attention to yourself, perform the act of loving (which you do so well) for your own benefit.

Thoughtfully,

Mind


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