Awareness

I have been too frightened to meditate, for months, but last night knelt in my ritual space; and this morning did too, just for five minutes by the timer. I rose, realising- I am confused. That confusion feels good: it means I am thinking things through. It is conscious incompetence: I will improve.

I am truthful, and this is how it was, as clearly as I may be. Confusion was terribly threatening to me. If I understood what was going on, I might react well, but if I were confused I might not, and then the monster might get me. I feel cheered by my confusion, for at last I see it is a good thing. So I feel happy. My happiness may be caused by an illusion which will lead to a serious downer later, but I will cope with that if it comes.

Confusion was too threatening for me to allow it into consciousness. It had to be denied and suppressed. Now it is not. My feelings are good, for they drive me the way I should go.

I felt sadness which seemed to overwhelm me, then I named it “Sadness”, and it felt bearable. The name allows me to live with my sadness, I know that being “sad” is OK. I shared on fb, Tao called Tao is not Tao. Words get between the self and reality: they mediate our understanding, and block it. Words can never express reality, and the goal is to perceive and respond to reality without getting in the way. However, words give some understanding. Words can bring feelings together into some coherence, which is bearable and comprehensible. This is a bad thing- reality is not comprehensible. The map is less than the territory. And words can build understanding, give a foundation for greater understanding. Words are like stabilizers on a bicycle: helping us develop trust in the process.

It seemed to me if I could simply feel without labelling- ride the bicycle without stabilisers- I would respond better. Wanting to name the feeling to make it bearable gets in my way- though it is better than suppressing the feeling. Someone said that we need words to communicate with others, and for many things that is true, though not always for feelings. Someone suggested- I must reword this, to get my best understanding, which may be less than hers- that if I need to impose a “self” that feels “sad” then the “self” is as illusory as the word is. There is the sadness. One can be aware, or aware of being aware, but not both. The self cannot know anything, only the words, only the map.

Or, I might feel sad, then retreat, consider, name the feeling; then feel, again. We are the Universe, conscious. Or, I Am; and my consciousness is tagging along, for the ride.

One said that words shape our perceptions so that they become as close to reality as we might get; they mould our reality. One said that intellect is a different category from feeling, needing words. In silent meditation one might come to a decision without words, only encoding it in words after. One said “The words themselves have no meaning, the meaning is always in us”- they are only symbolic representation of meaning, which may be different for each person in a conversation.

Or: words give us past and future rather than eternal present. Words allow planning, recollection allows metanoia (change).

I will live with this.

goya-la-marquesa-de-lazan

Magnificat

My vicar said two things which drove me out of the Anglican church: “I will try to ensure you are not driven out of the church,” which seemed too negative; and “Do you want to look like that, all the time?”

I thought recently, Yes. I would of course rather pass perfectly and look beautiful, but when the choice was between looking a fairly ordinary bloke, and looking like an obvious tranny– beard stubble, no idea of dress sense, bad wig, ungainly and awkward- I would still choose transition. I don’t know that I could bear it, now, but though I have considered reverting the drive is as strong as ever.

I have not been in the ritual space for months, and that rug needs a good brush. I knelt on Saturday evening.

I feel sad– but this is not painful, as I am not resisting it. I don’t tell myself, Don’t cry– because that would make me cry harder, to get the message across. I permit it. I don’t cry.

Later, I feel angry. It isn’t, but I see how that can be energising– I admit it is reasonable, and it becomes heat to warm me, rather than to burn me.

I did not want to go to the Quaker meeting, but did anyway. Certainly I am in “low functioning me”- depressive, not really wanting to talk, though chatting away in the car with Peter. I went immediately into the meeting room.

And it felt like this LFM is- real me– or at least, part of real me which I need to accept and integrate. These are my authentic feelings.

This bit-

I know I want to hide away, but it seems to me I have worked that out, from what I have done; the way I chose my career, how I behave now. In the meeting room it seemed that I was feeling the desire, there and then, consciously-

for the first time?

These are my most powerful drives, affecting me so strongly.

The Quaker shared lunch was quite fun, as usual Ann doing most of the cooking, and rather than contributing anything I took sausage rolls away. Peter came back to my flat, where we chatted and grazed on left-over food from the shared lunch, until it was time for the concert.

All Saints Church is a great barn of a place, seating 400, from the mid 19th century. The local amateur group had an orchestra of forty, and a large choir; they started with the Bach Toccata and Fugue on the organ and ended with the Magnificat. The audience was uneducated, clapping between movements: “I don’t know when to clap,” said the man behind me, plaintively. Sitting between the Gothic arches, with the darkness outside, I was reminded of the beauty I loved in the Anglican church. The woman beside me was embarrassed by her angry husband, who was disdainful of some nervousness in the organist. But this is Swanston, not Edinburgh, or even Norwich. I opened myself to the beauty of the music, took less notice of infelicities, and the first movement of the Magnificat moved me to tears.

Blake, God blessing

Resistance

Why don’t I meditate? That moment in the evening when I repetitively check blog statistics and facebook rather than kneeling. I know if I stop it, and kneel, I will sleep far better, and carry on scrolling-

I have been kneeling in my ritual space, on and off, for years, but rarely regularly. Whatever it is- opening my chakras, counting breaths, reciting my affirmation- it is all good, and I know that. Why don’t I do it?

Because kneeling, I touch reality. Humankind cannot bear very much reality. I leave the facebook fug, where something pleases or irritates me but not much, not affecting me, and face my feelings about my own life and day. Real feelings frighten me.

And those real feelings work for my good. However difficult.

It may be beneficial to turn to meditation earlier, when I have the mental strength to overcome my initial resistance, or turn my attention to the blessing as well as the work of it.

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Why do I not practise the piano?

On Saturday, I went through the music on H’s piano, and played those pieces I knew- not well, because I have not played them for ages, but sort-of. Possibly, it is because it is a real piano rather than a digital one: my digital piano has weighted keys, authentic sound, three pedals, but has a dinky little loudspeaker rather than a huge iron frame which vibrates in sympathy when I cough at a certain pitch, or to which I vibrate in sympathy as I play. That Romance sans Paroles by Fauré: I will always remember picking through it, before I learned it, and how the chord progression at the end moved me to tears. I was so far from tears and my femininity then, in my teens.

The wrong notes creep in, and they irk me. It is too much work to maintain a piece playably. I do not want to just bash through it. Yet on someone else’s piano, I bash away, affecting not to care.

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My friend visited, and told a story, a memory of which he is proud and happy, which he had told me twice before. I told him I had heard it, and he just stopped. It took telling him I had heard it to realise that I should not have. The feeling it evokes in him is delightful to him. I can allow that feeling and enjoy sharing it.

Margaret Macdonald, Queen of Clubs

This year

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/da/%22Florero_con_pl%C3%A1tanos%2C_limones_y_libros%22%2C_Juan_Echevarr%C3%ADa.PNG/417px-%22Florero_con_pl%C3%A1tanos%2C_limones_y_libros%22%2C_Juan_Echevarr%C3%ADa.PNGBeautiful day yesterday. Just after noon the sun was high enough to feel warm on me as well as blinding. I walked into the village, and with an unexpected twenty minutes to kill went into the library. There I find a sign from the Marsby Historical Society that Charles Weston, who has an IMDb entry but not one on Wikipedia, made films in Marsby at the start of the century, including shots of the High st, still recognisable in places. IMDb tells me that he killed himself having been unable to get work even as a strike-breaker.

The librarian has a short sleeved top and heavily tattooed forearms, surely showing that tattoos have completely lost all edginess whatever. She said hello as I went in, and though I felt uncomfortable in the heat, not needing my sweater, I said hello back, then admired the beauty of the children’s section. Those low book boxes reminded me of similar displays at Gartcosh Carnegie library: I had a sudden feeling of sitting on the floor, and how big and exciting they had been.

Beautiful day yesterday, dreich day today, but I was thinking of this post before being cheered up by the sunshine. My year has been unused, which is not good. I stopped volunteering at CAB last November, and have skulked around the house, mostly, since then. The blog has been my main activity. My resources have depleted, my CV got more ridiculous, and I have hidden away, not Screenshot 2013-12-18 20.10.34 (2)even getting emotional as much as I had, as I have excluded emotional stimuli.

I have not particularly grown in self-knowledge or self-acceptance. I still have the internal war between nagging myself and answering sulkily don wannoo. Then I thought, today, it is a failure of imagination: I cannot see how I can improve my lot, however much I dislike where I am, however lonely I am.

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“It’s a horrible, incomprehensible world and I want nothing to do with it.” Mmm. Play with that a moment. I do not want it to be true. I think it untrue: I have no reason to call that librarian “horrible”, though my discovery that the Straights were as screwed up and ashamed about sex as us queers can be was. And- various things I have moaned about here before.

Kneel in the ritual space. I am doing this irregularly at the moment. I need a handkerchief, I might cry, though I am not doing that much either. I count breaths noticing my tendons are tight, but feel relaxed. After I stop counting, my reverie turns to saying something sweet, and the person asked if I was being sarcastic. Had I been, I would have been being particularly mean: I cannot now remember the context. That frees me to weep. Before, I had had the thought that weeping does no good. I am so concerned at one instance of miscommunication, where I am good with words; and while some people call me intelligent, I do not appear so to myself. One is good at the things one is most concerned about: perhaps my spurs and whip really benefit me.

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Comments

Choices

File:Environs de Louveciennes, 1876 - IMG 3565x.JPGI know that it is better for me to get up around 7.30, keep a routine of counting breaths, and shower before breakfast, and in the evening to count breaths before ten, then go to bed. In the moment, at eleven, I choose to watch more TV rather than to count breaths. I know that checking the dashboard on my blog is pointless, and I still do it. The choice I make in the moment is different from the clearly obvious choice in quiet contemplation at another time.

Mmm. “Counting breaths”. “Meditating” has so many connotations, not all of which I think I deserve. “Counting breaths” is more neutrally descriptive. I must not claim more than I do.

Those “bad” choices in the moment numb my feelings. Meditating makes me face myself, which I find difficult and unpleasant. “The one person whom I cannot avoid”-

OF COURSE I CAN AVOID HER! I can avoid her for years at a time! I can deny and suppress her, stick my fingers in my ears and chant loudly, turn away. After I glimpse her, I can keep doing that, and though I know at some level when starting that next programme that counting breaths, being with her, is better for me I often choose not to.

There is no health in us– Oh, there is health, so many times I make the right choice.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Well, I do understand it: fleeing myself makes a great deal of sense, and when I decide to face myself I must realise how difficult this is, and not try to do it all the time. Don’t run before I can walk.

Counting breaths

File:KamakuraDaibutsuSlide.jpgHow could you get breathing wrong? Well, you could hyperventilate.

I kneel in my ritual space to count my breaths, and notice how I second-guess even my breathing. It is supposed to be natural, unconscious, autonomic, but when I observe it, it becomes self-conscious. It fits what I have been taught to think about breathing, what I have learned about it. A deep breath calms, relaxes and centres a person.

Though at the poetry slam, before starting to recite, I took my deep relaxing breath too close to the microphone, and it echoed round the room HOCHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

But here, I should be simply observing. Is that first deep breath then learned behaviour, or is it what my body does, assuming this position? How could I know?

My anxiety to get things right:

Ah. Positive self-management. How to think of this, to feel the right thing? My anxiety has spurred me to learn many things, but it has also been too much for me. I have given up, rather than fulfil my own demands. If I practice observing, before jumping to conclusions (oops, that is judgmental) If I practice observing, I will see everything is alright really. Deep breaths…

Jack has the theory that people breathe more File:Man sitting under beach umbrella.JPGshallowly as a method of social control. We are taught this in childhood, and it keeps us quiet- then and now. If we breathe more deeply, we can be raucous, or boisterous, or Stand in our Own Power.

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I have no mind’s eye, but I can think in pictures. It seems that some people, with their eyes closed, can visualise things, which seems to be similar to actually seeing them. So I read of an NLP technique: imagine a bad memory as a small monochrome photograph, and a good memory in as much detail and colour as you can.

Some people cannot: a trick to develop the skill is to imagine a sandy beach, sea, blue sky, three elements, two straight lines, the photo on the right is too complex. I have tried that.

How to explain my experience?

I have actually thought in pictures. I thought, I could drive home by [] or by [], and this was a total shock to me: I am thinking in pictures– and the shock of realisation remains in my memory, ten years later. If I close my eyes, what I see is blackness, or light through my eyelids, and if I imagine something, like that yellow parasol-

sometimes I can know what it’s like. As if there were a black veil, but I somehow perceived what was behind it. This may be worth practising.

Elgar’s mind’s ear was so good he could hear an orchestra in his head from looking at a score. I can hear an orchestra in my mind, remembering a piece of music. The fidelity gets better if I concentrate.  I can hear the sound of a violin playing a tune I have not heard it play: that too needs concentration.

Everything

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I know some people listening are thinking,File:Seurat Angelica (après Ingres).jpg “That’s a bit sad”, and- some people are thinking, “Yes. Mmmmmm….”

I heard the first bit, and thought, he is projecting. He thinks his own interest in the ZX Spectrum computer, with its 48 kilobyte memory- it could barely hold that Rich Text File I just emailed- is a “bit sad”. And then he says something positive. Is he projecting then, too?

There will be people who dismiss his interest as a foolish failure to interact with the real world, and there will be people who sympathise- all kinds of human reactions- and all these reactions are in him. Even though he is interested, he judges his interest, and finds it wanting. All those reactions are in me- so I can feel with the man who rejects, and with the man who affirms. Actually, the phrase “that’s a bit sad” was the words used by the man on the radio this morning, but I have not quite remembered the words he used after. They were affirming, but “Yes. Mmmmmm….” is my expression, I think slightly different from his- though I am not sure quite how. Like trying as an adult to make a sound in a foreign language, Japanese or German, or even a different English accent such as Scouse. Others can hear a difference I cannot.

Or it is the way I want to recall it.

In my ritual space, after hearing this, before putting on my gi, I feel playful. Yes, I could channel Qi to my chakras, but that is not the mood I am in, now. Such a wide range of human emotion and reaction in me, that I may relate to so many different humans. Yet with my own accent or idiolect; some seen and recalled, some seen at a slightly different angle. And- of that wide range which I can be in my ritual space, some I can recognise and welcome, some feels strange or frightening- conditioning, it seems.

The All is in me, or its Emanations, with a distinct Clare flavour. So beautiful, when I can bear to look at it.

Control

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Kneeling in the ritual space, in the dark. I am not entirely sure the timer is working. I could just kneel here, or get up and put the light on- I stayed, and the timer did actually bleep. I could take control, or let it happen.

Morning kata. My mind is wandering: I think of something which made me angry. Merely a distraction, something to be held down in order to concentrate on the kata, or- something to energise it, and give it focus. Anger channelled into intention. Something to add to the mix.

Try it. Yes, it adds. Two ways, which could be so close or so far apart- it seems as if-

either I intend the strike, with anger in my intent, which lessens it

or I let the strike happen, and my anger sharpens it.

Though, of course, it is I who perceives, my perception, not necessarily the best way of judging. Again I notice that the feeling announces itself by calling to consciousness a past situation which has made me angry.

Kneeling in the ritual space, and I have the sense of being and loving and perceiving all of me. Not just the acceptable bits and not just abandoned baby Clare in pain.

Another way of looking at it. I am an idiot, grasping the wrong end of the stick, understanding too late if ever at all, endlessly just not getting it. For a social animal I am peculiarly unsociable, finding fitting in, sticking out or attempting to hide in the background equally impossible. I am a weird, pervert deviant: wanting ones gonads removed is clearly disordered, the product of replacing reality with a sick fantasy. I am all that which I ought not to be, and not what I ought. And yet- I survive. I am still here.

Dive in. It is Shadow because I cannot accept it. And yet it is Me, and it is Human, and therefore it is Not Wrong.

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Spiritual moments

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0a/Ki_obsolete.svg/500px-Ki_obsolete.svg.pngTwo moments this morning. Oh, the sweet clarity when I know the human body in front of me is my enemy, and I must incapacitate it: one body, mind and purpose. And- seeing the faun in the woods.

In the dojo, we are working on kicks. We repeat series of ten mawashigeri, taking turns to kick the pad, all full focus. I need to relax into presence to keep this up. So I do. Then side kick. In kumite, the kick has to be above the belt, but in self-defence that is harder to manage and vulnerable to the foot being grabbed- so we practise the kick to ankle level, which would break the foot. When Andy stands in front of me, suddenly this becomes real for me, and I kick that spot. A possibly incorrect translation of Seiunchin is “storm within the calm”- I love that. The calm of Presence and the storm of the attack.

I am groping towards it, and I would love to understand- this presence, or unity of purpose, or clarity of mind, which sees the task in hand and carries it out, whether the task is a physical confrontation or cleaning the house. In an interaction with another human being, what has this to do with the unconscious ways we establish our pecking order, or build relationships? In what sense is it something in me, and in what sense something in us? But, more than understanding it, I would like to do it. So, in my morning kata, sometimes I just fall prey to my tail-chasing thoughts, and sometimes I perform the kata; but it feels quite different, facing another person. It seems possible to me that I was enabled to reach that state through Andy’s generosity. The control we impose, to prevent hospitalising each other in kumite, comes after this and not before.

https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/60/Character_N%C3%BC3_Trad.svg/500px-Character_N%C3%BC3_Trad.svg.pngThe other moment was kneeling in my ritual space, before class. I have been channelling Qi to my chakras again, it feels good so I do it, and this morning I felt not in the right place to do that. OK. Be where I am, in the moment, in the ritual.

I went back to the two ways of being, centre of the universe and worthless and the way between, I am a human being. Now, I am in my shadow self, which I have learned is unlovable. It is as if my Qi ritual is for the lovable bits, as if this part is unworthy. Therefore, this part is what I must love especially. A friend compared me to a deer poking my nose out of the woods, daring someone to come and play with me- possibly Paul felt the same, 1 Cor 12:22-23- those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honourable we treat with special honour. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty.

I felt so vulnerable, coming out of my ritual space before I ritually put on my gi for class. That ritual may also affect my spiritual state.

Bassai-dai

Sword and daggerI start the kata Bassai-dai with my feet together, knees bent, right fist touching left fingers, forearms at 90° to each other, fist in front of my mouth. It is a strange posture. You would not think it a power pose. My mind is whirring away: I want to memorise the kata, because I am fed up doing it in the centre of a group, trying to see what the others are doing, and following them, and barely getting the stances right. That looks like the arms windmilling again: actually it is the third block, then the second. So I have the video.

Alex said he watched the video over and over again, each count repeatedly to see what was going on, then to copy it, then to do one after the other, starting from the beginning, venturing a little farther in each time. So I do too. Which block is that? Which foot moves, and how? This morning (Tuesday) in over an hour I have learned the first ten counts in order, though I will have to refresh my memory tomorrow.

So I stand, tense, mind whirring, knees bent, mouth covered, tense. Suddenly, I- step through the looking glass. Or turn 1º away from the shadows at the back of the cave. I relax. From frightened and submissive I expand. This is my world, and I have a right to be here. I may do what I need to do.

Only in my living room. Only for a moment. I am not certain of it: there is an arguable case that thoughts like this make me less, not more, able to face the World. And yet it seems to me that my habitual way of being is frightened and angry and hiding away, and this is an alternative way of being, and the more I access it the easier it becomes. It is that meditative state of presence which I sometimes reach, kneeling in my ritual space, which I wish to reach in action and movement, and in social situations.

It is a state which I fear, and avoid. So I put off meditation and watch TV, or “play” spider solitaire repetitively, compulsively. In practice I do not simply relax and go there, reliably. This verbal analysis, probing and thinking, who am I? How am I?- is how I make myself more able to be in that state, for I notice it, approve it, pat my own back, pat my own head.

It might be useful to challenge myself. Not going to the Quaker meeting frightened me. Rather than dragging myself unwillingly I want to encourage myself to go back to CAB and other situations I find uncongenial.

Sanctifying had something to do with a sense of constant wonder – feeling gratitude and finding significance everywhere, in every action, relationship and object.
– Vanessa Ochs

Stance 18, pictured, is definitely a power pose. Doing it naturally, I sag. I have to think about standing properly upright with my arms like that. Count 18“Gratitude and significance”, I say to myself.