A Brief Offering

Don’t get excited. I’m not making any resolutions to be less wordy or more diplomatic in 2015. I just wanted to drop a little gem that has been resonating with me for weeks now. Maybe some already practice it, perhaps it will comfortably widen the connection others have with their own life force.

About six weeks ago, I attended a Buddhist Psychology workshop given by Jack Kornfield.

I was first exposed to a few basic Buddhist philosophies while having no idea for over a year that that’s what they were. They were lovingly woven through a weekly Yin (as opposed to Yang) yoga class I took a few years ago. And I noticed as infertility tightened its grip they were the only tools that were holding any water for me.

My teacher’s perspective, when I asked her what in the heck this stuff was because it was really helping me, emerged as a funny one. “Well, the philosophies I teach in class are rooted in Buddhism, but I don’t like to tell people because I don’t want them to get turned off by that.”

Hmmm. I myself wouldn’t have been. If something is both kind and functional in facilitating a deeper connection with my own being, I really don’t care much about the label of its roots. But she made an interesting point. So, should you think this stuff is not your cup of tea, try not to get turned off. At least for a few more paragraphs anyway. Then you can run if you are so moved.

Mr. Kornfield was talking of the Dali Lama’s inability to understand self-hatred that he had observed when hearing the Dali Lama speak. He pointed out that there is actually no word for self-hatred in Tibetan. And that in that way of life, the approach of compassion is always there.

I paraphrase: “The question really is how do you touch your own fear, pain, and trauma? The question is not whether or not we have it, as all humans experience some level of fear, pain, and trauma during their life-times. It is not that you have it, but how you touch it. Do you touch it with judgment, or with the loving ability to recognize yourself as something bigger?”

Though potentially useful for anyone, I immediately thought of the infertile community.

A community that grapples to reconcile hard-hitting larger than life emotions on a daily basis. A community that is perpetually judged for those emotions as well. And all too often by our very own loved ones, most notably in the form of abusive “You should be happy for her” scoldings.

The tough, unfamiliar and all too often taboo emotions that are inevitably included with any loss and life crisis are almost always the most overwhelming component. I venture to say dealing with them is, above all else, a practice. I may not always be able to lower my resistance when intending to beckon my pain closer. The embrace I seek with my jealousy may sometimes only result in a handshake, the snuggling I need to do with my fears, a polite wave. But I will try, try and try again as I walk this lifelong path of welcoming ALL of my pieces.

Tomorrow is my blogaversary. I don’t even know if that’s how you spell it, but that’s true with me and a lot of words. When I figured this out a few weeks ago, I laughed. Who hauls off on the social injustices of infertility on December 29th of all times? Random! Perhaps my fire needs a few pats on the head while I’m at it, this self compassion thing.

Mr. Kornfield also talked about being a witness and how every human being needs one. So true. And no one knows this more than those of us who are the recipients of any pain, loss and trauma that goes widely unrecognized and unvalidated by society. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for being mine.

I’m officially signing off from 2014. I’ve got many rambunctious perspectives and deep (or annoying, depending on how you look at it) thoughts coming in 2015. Hope to see you there.

14 thoughts on “A Brief Offering

    • It can vary, depending on the teacher. My teacher studies with and has been trained by Sarah Powers. She recommends her DVDs, and although I’ve never tried them I attended a weekend workshop with Sarah and her husband Ty. They were both so practical and amazing. http://www.sarahpowers.com – it looks like the dvds are under the media tab.

  1. Self-compassion is what helped me heal. You’re on a good path.

    • I really appreciate hearing that from someone who knows – thank you!

      And as far as being open to learning more, as my Mom is, I agree that’s all we can ask for. And do. I’ve been open to learning along the way with my friend who was tragically and unexpectedly widowed 3.5 years ago. But in doing so I have had to face my own weaknesses and that I won’t get it right all of the time. Making the effort is by far the richer experience, and it’s a heck of a lot easier than what she’s going through!!

    • Thank you! I’m glad I can contribute, and I’m always grateful to those who paved the way. This is quite a lonely road, but I imagine easier when there are others visibly traveling on it.

    • Thank you! As far as the writing, I have to do it either way. Since it has to happen, it’s nice to know someone else is glad too.

  2. I’m so glad I discovered your blog in 2014. It is so insightful and thoughtful. I really, really enjoy reading your perspective. I agree with you that this definitely applies to the infertility community.

    It’s interesting when I think about this in relation to cancer. Once I was out of the initial woods (no chemo or radiation), I got a lot of “you are fine, be happy you are alive!” which so ….invalidating to the trauma I had been through. It was fascinating how I had to look within, acknowledge my pain and know that it was valid. I have been thinking about Buddhism lately and your post reminded me that I need to read more.

    • Thank you! And thanks for sharing your perspective on your experiences, it always makes me think.

      I’m on my way to realizing that if I haven’t been through something myself, then I know very little about it. Maybe that’s what those who were telling you how to feel overlooked?

      What fascinates me is that the “you are fine, be happy you are alive!” feeling is perceived as “better than”, when in reality, we feel how we feel and it is temporary and neither here nor there. I think what it really is is “easier than” as it requires less effort from others when we feel, or feign feeling, good and one dimensional.

      I want to get around to reading at least one of Jack Kornfield’s books….let me know if you venture into any good reading on the subject of Buddhism.

      • I totally think that is what they overlooked. And I get it, they want to focus on the positive, help bolster my spirits. It’s all so well intentioned, but just not quite getting what another person needs. Since this experience, I am much much better (I believe) at more properly supporting my friends and actually hearing their grief and giving them the space to be what they need to be.

        I like your point on better than vs easier than. That’s definitely describes the problem well.

      • Maybe it’s fair to say that those of us who have encountered significant traumatic loss know all too well that the bright side of things, though important, does not cancel out the harsher realities and experiences of a situation, and that in order to survive both sides need to have the space to breathe.

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