Sometimes, half asleep in the night, caught between the worlds of wake and not, Les stumbles to the bathroom and stares at her face in the mirror. Dark half circles under her bloodshot eyes, her face pale and frightened make her look ‘like a demonic raccoon.’ The night has been rough and as she laid awake, thoughts terrorized her. She doesn’t recognize the woman looking back out at her; it is a mere error of someone else. After a while her focus changes and she is inside looking out at herself looking in. These are the days when the depression is swallowing her up, beginning to digest all of her, her own feelings, thoughts, ambitions. Even the prescribed pleasure pills cannot save her. Pain would be pleasure now; it would tell her she was still alive.
Les sometimes anthropomorphizes the little pills, giving them a life of their own. She believes that one time the pills even devised to take her, unaware. Disguised as a bringer of sleep, a reliever of pain, first one melting under her tongue, her inhibitions were lowered. The one became a handful until later, hours later, she woke up in emergency her mouth black and gritty from liquid charcoal, the elixir of life. Foggy and disoriented, constipated for days, Les still wonders what happened. Those days fragmented and forgotten lay jumbled and jagged in her subconscious. They are like a picture puzzle made mostly of sky with key pieces lost.
Then there are times when Les knows that it is the chemicals in her brain that are responsible for her behaviour, her skewed thinking. Yet the same deceptive chemicals that tricked her into her demise by pills try to hurt her in other ways. They try to lure her to the sweetness of death. She has yet to buy the Exacto knife, shiny, sharp and ready. Looking in the mirror, she traces the path with her finger, from underneath the left ear, under the jaw and, if she should make it, to under her chin. She imagines the sound when she hits the jugular vein; is it like pressure released, hissing, a red geyser of life gushing on the bathroom wall? The mere thought makes Les feel faint and she sits on the toilet. The urge to pee momentarily brings her to her senses. These thoughts, ghostlike and elusive, haunt Les in the blue days. In the morning, she forces herself to go out some time before her scheduled psychiatrist appointment. Mechanically, she gets dressed, knowing that fresh air and familiar faces may help her feel better. That’s what they’ve told her in therapy. Les pastes a phony smile on her face and ventures out. This is a small city. She prays not to see anyone; she prays someone will notice she needs help and offer it.
“Hey Les, how you doing?” She contemplates hurrying across the street, avoiding the friendly face that goes with the cheery voice of her good friend, Cheryl. “I’ve tried calling you but you haven’t called back. Is everything okay?”
She mumbles a perfunctory, “Fine, I’m okay, just busy. I’ve been busy.”
“Hey, wait a sec, Les, you don’t look fine, those dark circles. You been wrestling with your demons again.”
Les nods her head. Her lower lip quivers. She tries hard to hold back the tears she knows will fall if Cheryl says one more thing, tries with genuine words of concern to comfort her. One more thing and she won’t be able to hold this illusion together. The next thing she feels is Cheryl’s arms around her, she’s embracing Les as if to say, “cry it’s okay or if you cry, cry on my shoulder, no one else will know.” After what feels like an eternity of warm, fuzzy, ‘I’m here for you hugging,’ she says, “Come on, let’s go for coffee and a muffin.”
Les feels Cheryl tugging on her arm and like a disembodied spirit she floats behind her. She feels like she’s looking down on herself, a balloon bobbing on the wind, whichever way the current pushes her. The only thing keeping her grounded is Cheryl’s firm hold on her arm. One thing Les has always appreciated about Cheryl is that Cheryl can carry on a one sided conversation so she can just relax and come along for the ride. “I’ve missed you at the gym, too busy for workouts I guess these days. Are you working on a special writing project?” Without missing a beat or waiting for an answer she goes on to tell Les about her work and her day and the week before and Les is lulled into a dreamless nether world. The voices around her drone on and on, sounds of coffee cups clinking, the waitress making change at the cash. Compared to her night terrors this is a welcomed euphoria. The psychiatrist calls it dissociative. It’s not considered useful. It’s one of the benchmarks of Les’ illness. Sometimes it’s Les’ only tool for survival.
Today is Les’ weekly psychiatrist appointment and she begs off Cheryl’s extended luncheon invitation. She waits in the waiting room, just the right amount of time to look around at the place, like any other medical practitioner's office, the requisite Reader’s Digests on the table, other nondescript, uninteresting psychiatric journals and business magazines. She waits long enough for the lump in her throat which she recognizes as panic waiting to attack her. Then just as she is about to make a quick exit, the receptionist calls her name and she is led to Dr. Markson’s office.
Dr. Markson looks up from her reading, over her glasses, “No doubt my file,” Les thinks. “Just like any other crazy, she needs to remind herself of my classic case which is the same as everyone else’s.” As if reading her mind Dr. Markson says, “Now, where were we?” It’s like Les has walked out of her office to go to the washroom and has returned five minutes later. Les feels like shouting in her face, “We weren’t anywhere, we haven’t been anywhere in the ten months that I’ve been seeing you and I feel like this is going nowhere.” But she doesn’t, she smiles a slightly pathetic smile and simply says, “The thoughts are back again.”
Dr. Markson says, “You mean, the suicide thoughts.” Les thinks, “Of course you fool, what do you think I mean, warm, fuzzy thoughts of happiness.” However, she says, “I don’t know what it is, the thoughts they come into my head. I don’t want them there. But, I can’t think of anything to keep them away.” The conversation continues like this for a better part of an hour. The same kind of questions from the doctor; the same answers from Les.
Dr. Markson finally says, “This really isn’t going anywhere Les.” Les thinks, “That’s the most sensible thing I’ve heard you say.” The doctor continues, “I want you to bear with me, humour me if you will. We both know you are suffering from a deep depression. I don’t believe institutionalizing you will be of benefit. And, I don’t believe upping or changing your meds will make an appreciable difference. Try this instead. I want you to practice loving yourself. That’s all I want you to do. Spend as much time as you can in front of your mirror. You do have a mirror, don’t you?” Les nods. “Good, stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself, how much you love you. Even if you don’t believe it, just fake it. That’s all. Would you try it? One other thing though, you must say it out loud.”
Les thought, “Encouraging the crazy to do crazy things.” To Dr. Markson she said, “Okay, why not, it’s nuts, but then so am I.” And for the first time in a long time, a little, albeit sarcastic laugh, escaped from her lips. “Okay then, that’s our time for today, please make an appointment for next week. And, good luck,” said Dr. Markson.
She thought back, months ago, when she was first starting to see Dr. Markson, the doctor simply said, “You don’t want to kill yourself.” Startled Les said, “I don’t.” “No, if you did, you would have done it by now. You’re a smart woman. I’ve heard your elaborate descriptions of how you would suicide. Yet, still you make your weekly appointments. You’re still here.” Les was speechless. She’d never thought of that.
Now she was thinking of that statement as she stood in front of her bathroom mirror. As she gazed into her eyes. For a moment an overwhelming sense of compassion flooded up from inside her, she thought, I know that face but it is so sad. Out loud she spoke, “This is stupid.” She looked in the mirror and said, “All right then, I love you.” She thought that didn’t feel so bad. The face looking back at her seemed startled in disbelief. She said once more, “I love you, I really do.” Her face softened and for a moment she saw the woman as a young child so full of love and hope, then as a teenager confused and hurt by her own mother’s suicide. And then it struck her, an epiphany, if she didn’t love this person in the mirror who else would. Over the next few days, many times, she would stand in front of the mirror, practicing her I love yous.
One day, a familiar emotion, a flicker of a feeling, came over her, it was there still, a sense of happiness. It wasn’t gone, only lost, always here, just waiting to be found. At that moment, she reached over to her makeup bag and picked up a tube of the brightest, reddest lipstick she could find and with a flourish drew a giant heart on the mirror. The gesture surprised her and made her chuckle. But the creativity didn’t end there. “I need more,” she thought. Digging in the back of her closet in almost forgotten dusty boxes of Christmas decorations, she found a string of blue tracer lights, her favourite kind. And in this daring mood she strung the little blue Christmas lights around the mirror. The lights gave her a happy, festive, upbeat feeling. Looking into the mirror and saying, “I love you,” became even easier. And now the heart, the blue lights and the words made her smile.
One night she woke up, dripping in sweat, shaking from a familiar nightmare, the one with her finding the lifeless, colourless body of her mother and Les’ open mouth unable to scream out the terror. Tears streamed down her face. She shakes as she gropes her way to the bathroom. “It’s just a nightmare, just a very, bad dream,” she says out loud. “It’s over now.”
Now Les is standing in front of her mirror. The blue tracer lights flickering around the perimeter, her face framed by the red lipstick heart. A faint smile, at first no more then a small upturn at the edge of her mouth, blossoms into a grin. She reaches over for the bright, red lipstick and applies it. Lips relaxed. Carefully evenly into a perfect pucker. And then leans over and with freshly coloured lips kisses the mirror, smack right in the middle of the heart.
Well, how fantastic is this!! Today, I finally managed to open the .lwp extension that’s been preventing me from viewing some older writings. In fact, it was six years ago when I saved these to CD and today they’ve been freed.
So, here is something from the old days, when love’s labours lost and found.
Your passion plays my heart like a strand of pearls.
And I let you fondle each one lovingly.
They are my gift, I give to you.
Each one cups the innocence of my youth.
Gently holding it as I embrace your experience.
You whispered sweet nothings in my ears.
And I am swept away by pleasure's passion play.
You wanted me only for the moment.
I wanted you forever and a day.
Here I am, a promised June bride clutching a faded rose in July.
Each petal pouts and falls to the floor,
To join the pearls scattered at my feet.
Wow! Today is the 1st birthday of The Pigasus Project Blog. So blessed as of this moment, this morning 991 sets of eyes have gazed on the Pigasus.
Pigasus offered me a life line when struggling and suffering last year.
Oh my, what a difference a year makes. So many changes. Even though there is sometime still the swirling, sinking of depression and the panicky sensation of anxiety more and more is this being able to find the presence to access gifts that help a turning and facing of the skeletons. There is a recognition of these bones of old and the joy in asking them for a dance.
This would not have happened without the generous sharing of these teachers and their teachers and their teachers’ teachers.
Ven Eshu, Ven Doshu, Ven Soshin
Yushin, Sesshin, Kozan and all my brothers and sisters on the dharma path at the Victoria Zen Centre
My own Sister Shauna and Brother Steve,
My amazing children, Rebecca, Sarah, Fraser,
The teaganerrific Teagan,
Past partners, Greg, Deb and Trish
My most amazing new friend and healer Marina.
The Wonderful World of Yoga has brought folks into my life like:
Ida Manley, Owner & Yoga Teacher at Moksana
Jennifer Piercy, mentor and Yoga Teacher
Misha Butot, mentor and Yoga Teacher
Mary Jane (MJ) Yoga Teacher
All my fellow yogis and yoginis, friends, acquaintances
Jules Payne and Michelle Schroeder at Ajna Yoga Centre
Love, thanks and appreciation to those who have gone beyond:
Mom and Dad
Nana (my greatest gift of embodied compassion) and Papa (Dad’s parents)
Listening to the printer perform its task, the carriage moving back and forth sounds like, “Feel good; feel good; feel good.” And, I do.
It’s a miraculous thing that the clever mind can take the sound of a printer or the call of a bird that sounds like "jeepers creepers" and translate it into words. We would do well to remind ourselves of this in all dealings with the mind. What we think we hear is only an interpretation or a translation of what we want to hear. I want to feel good, be happy, wake up. That’s what is heard. When listening with a soft, compassionate heart, the inner ear fine tunes to the higher frequency, a wake up call...
Wait, now the printer’s chanting “inner peace, inner peace, inner peace”
Yoga Nidra is described by Richard Miller in his book of the same name, as "The Meditative Heart of Yoga".
In our hyperactive, hyper-connected world, we are experiencing greater levels then ever of stress and dis-ease, both acute and chronic. With these many and varied modern stresses and fears many of us are in a constant and habitual state of heightened anxiety.
Some scientists and doctors believe that up to 90% of all disease is caused by “stress”.
We live in a Type A society and time when if we are not constantly on high overload, multitasking and accomplishing there is something wrong. Napping, resting, relaxation, being still are thought of as a waste of time.
Now, one of the biggest noninterventionist recommendations from many doctors is that of meditation. Meditation essentially is being still and being present with “what is”. Yoga Nidra is an easy and astonishingly comfortable experience of meditation.
In the words of my mentor Jenn Piercy: “Yoga Nidra provides a way of contacting and resting within Pure Awareness as it exists beneath the waking and dreaming or imagery states of mind. It refers to a yogic practice as well as the state of conscious deep dreamless sleep it is meant to induce - a wakeful state of deep introversion and inner awareness.”
Dr Milller writes:
“Yoga Nidra is a time-honored, re-educational process that teaches you how to blend profound relaxation with innate wisdom into every moment of your waking life. The practice of Yoga Nidra leads to sweeping changes within your mind and body, as well as in all of your interpersonal relationships. It’s a fundamental resource for transforming your physical health as well as reshaping your personal, interpersonal and professional relationships.”
There is much research and history on Yoga Nidra. However, the best research is personal experience. Do wear comfortable warm clothing. Bring an open mind, your yoga mat, a blanket, any other props, (pillow, bolster, eye pillow) that will help you melt into the moment.
This body mind connection seems to be going through another profound change. Seems the last mask started before Fraser was born, when I was pregnant, is now becoming exposed. At that time, something began percolating in the subconscious. I became aware of the seed of this emerging disguise, my eyes were attracted by the same sex. I felt this stirring inside of me.
As it grew stronger and was eventually acted out with infidelity, this being believed or perhaps justified the behaviour by remembering the same sex attraction, mostly of others towards me, in my childhood. Looking back, it is easy to see how this stream of sexual cognizance (or confusion?) began to take root.
Naturally, the seed of sexuality starts at conception, it is nurtured and grows, until at puberty it reaches fruition. For this being, as a survivor of both sexual abuse and much sexual impropriety, this seeding, rooting, growing beneath the subconscious and then blossoming into the consciousness was, with apologies for a mixed metaphor, short circuited. Were the odd behaviors simply the natural exploration of childhood or were they a distortion of “what happened”? Likely this will never be known, what is apparent though is that a dysfunctional way of socializing and communicating with the world has been the cause of huge angst. Beneath the jolly, “earth mother” and the “cute” tom-boy, there was much suffering.
Was the foray into the relationships with the same sex a response to this? Did this sexual realization provide a place of safety? Or were the relationships with women a way for me to save my own “mother” who I projected on others? Or perhaps was this an inclination hidden that had now been discovered? A guess would be that it was all this and more.
This existence includes all things; all joy, all horror. All of what happens and the response to what happens lay the foundation for navigating the world with the outward eye. It is a world where appearance matters more then substance, it is where the surface aspect of a being appears as “self-serving”, “placating”, “victimized”, “entitled”, “abusive” to name only a few.
For much of my life, there was an inkling that this was not real; that what was valued was superficial, an illusion. This is the stirring of spirituality, awakening, self-realization. God or whatever you choose to name the unnameable. At times in this earthly existence this search has been a desperate one, a search for mentors or sacred knowledge that would help me realize the truth of who I really am.
Certainly, this search has provided valuable lessons enroute. The mistake, the simple error has been in the belief that I was on a journey elsewhere be it in consciousness, the energetic level or the physical. Our language couched in a belief of existence as linear, as a path from here to there, is on a absolute level and using the same linear terminology, as far from the truth as we can get.
I am both what I am searching for and at the same time running away from. (It is difficult to move away from the use of linear language.) Gangaji’s “Diamond In Your Pocket” is a sticky pointer that has coalesced all the searching into one simple, clear instruction, that she received from her teacher Papaji, and was transmitted to Papaji by Ramana. Stop; be still. Eckhart’s reminder of now is the same pointer. Ram Dass's book title "Be Here Now" is also a strong indicator. (You think, lol.)
All self aware beings have pointed to this simple truth. Most beings, I believe, yearn for the truth. In this western world, our gaze has lit on what we believe is out there. Somehow we have been confused into believing that “stuff” is what matters. Begin within. There lies true you. As science and spirituality merge in awareness, we have learned that matter begins with energy. All is energy. All has the potential to manifest as matter. What does this mean to our mixed up world, to our abuse of our home and one another, it simply means to be still. The truth of who we are is right here, right now.
What does this dissertation have to do with the changes I am going through? This life with its apparent trials and tribulations, errors and successes, joy and suffering is all just a game of awakening. True self hides and in a life time of physical existence, we search until we realize that what we have longed for has always been here; we are it.
Today, I was thinking about the last line of Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese.
"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–over and over announcing your place
in the family of things."
This poetry nourishes my soul; it is a poignant wake-up call. This feeling of loneliness seems to be a companion of depression. Yet that primal call, like the call of the wild geese or the lone loon beckons the heart to open up. It invites a coming home yet knowing that we’ve never left home. Where we are, it is. This home is not a place, it is spaciousness, it is presence. It is that from which all things arise and all things dissolve.
Sitting still; being alone, where we are home, in the family of things.
Struggling with this, I am aware there are a number of ways I can navigate this experience. As I explain to my grand daughter, Tiggy, all things come and go. All stuff, all feelings, all thoughts, all beings. Yes, this too will pass but what do I do with it while I’m in it. Well, I can submerse myself completely into this body/mind experience of depression. In completely surrendering to that which is, in stopping the argument with reality about why I am feeling down, I stop piling suffering on top of more suffering. Perhaps I can stop being depressed about being depressed.
Maybe I can tenderly and compassionately look at these thoughts that remind me that I should be grateful for what I have but, in fact, are self deprecating. That I should realize that many people struggle with depression that goes on for year after year. I should acknowledge that others because of the strangle hold of depression subsist on very little. I should be thankful, like many others, I do not self-medicate.
Now that I’ve finished shoulding on myself, I must gently remind me of the insidious nature of thoughts. Just as they bubble up so too do they burst. They are insubstantial. Thoughts are transient, they come and they go. Thoughts are not really an accurate take on reality but are more of the same. Using gratitude as a weapon is contrary to the experience of gratitude.
Yes, I feel flatter then pee on a plate. No, that is not who I am. This is an experience of the emotional pain body.
As I write this, there is a glimmer. It is in the sun streaming through my garden doors. It is Sparky lying in the warmth of the sun’s rays, his coat sparkling. It is sitting outside on my garden patio eating a poached egg and noticing, really noticing how the yolk is golden yellow.
As I read this, I now feel gratitude that with words I am able to self soothe, with time and compassion this feeling of depression will also pass. (And, truthfully, may return.) Enough of doing, gently I remind myself to be with this depression and to know that it is not who I truly am.
The Pigasus Project has had 902 peeks as of this writing. Wow! i'm grateful to you for stopping by and perhaps even reading this somewhat random, inconsistent blog. What stops me from consistently sharing thoughts and cleverly arranged words is me. Exactly. Me, my biggest critic with my biggest block, fear. Fear of judgement, fear of making a fool of myself, fear of... you name it.
Marianne Williamson writes:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Mostly these days, i don't know. All my life, i thought i could protect myself with knowledge, words and ideas, safety plans and social protocol. i thought, but i know not. i can rehearse and prepare until the cows come home or i have my ducks in a row but the script i am writing is all just a story in my head. It's a story of fear and inadequacy. It's a story of shame. It's a story of the need to get it right. And, it's this story that prevents me from actually experiencing life as it's happening. Instead of savouring the freshness, the wonder and the mystery that is both the joy and challenge to really living, i view the world through the perception of stories.
Really though there is nothing wrong with stories, we all love a good story, be it a horror or a love story. When we start to believe the stories and thoughts of who we think we are we miss who we truly are. Before words, before labels, before symbols, before definitions, we are all one consciousness co-creating this human experience; individuation arises from singularity. As MW says, "We are all meant to shine, as children do."
Let's wake up from this illusion, this dream, this story line.