I’ve stepped into my 3rd week working at the Buddhist retreat, so I’m reflecting over some of the experiences I’ve had this week …
As the new becomes more familiar the nerves lift, and I begin to relax into my new roles and routines. There’s so much to love about BEing here, but sometimes it’s hard to put my days into words because it’s an experience that’s difficult to define. So, my words feel somewhat inadequate to describe what’s occurring, which is why I’ve been sharing more photos than words I suppose.
Yesterday I was rostered on in housekeeping, so we were cleaning one of the monks homes. Its up the back of the property, so its a bit of a hike up there, but well worth it for the view. When we arrived, there were several large cockatoos on his bird feeder and in the tree in-front of the house, which was wonderful to witness. He offered us a blessing, which was 3 seeds to swallow that had been blessed by the Dali Lama. Although Im not a religious person, I definitely have an appreciation for divine energy, so I digested them with immense gratitude.
Today is my rostered day off, which is welcomed after 4 early mornings and busy days. Its 10am and I’m still in my PJs with no intentions of getting dressed soon. The nag champa incense is burning, a relaxing melody is playing, it’s raining outside and I’m still reflecting over a conversation I had with a nun yesterday. I requested a meeting with someone who could help me with grief and loss, so we met in the Café after my shift. It was interesting that she chose to sit where I had captured the orbs a few days previously.
I didn’t seek counselling when our parents were diagnosed or when they died. I’m so familiar with the “theory and practice” of grief and loss, so I trusted my own insights and felt supported by my family and friends, but now I seek spiritual support, which is why I’m here having the conversations I need to have.
I shared my story and struggles with the nun and she confirmed what I myself know. That it expands beyond the grief and loss process because of the multiple sudden losses and how it all unfolded and impacted upon me. That I’m dealing with PTSD because of the trauma and unresolved inner conflicts involved in those experiences, which is why I was struggling with my work.
Recognizing how I innately express myself through words, she said, “I wonder how long it will take us to get under the words?“ which triggered my defenses because it felt like she was suggesting I wasn’t “feeling” my way through this experience, which I openly expressed to her. She explained how I have sat on somethings which is why those things have been surfacing, which is true. Although I did process and feel my way as best I could, there were times we had to prioritize the practical aspects of Mam and Dads end of life care or focus our attention on aspects of our own lives. That the conflicts in my head are connected to being stuck in the complex grief process and unresolved inner conflicts. She suggested an exercise to help me express and explore the intuitive side of my brain. To think about those I have lost and draw a picture, first with my right hand and then with my left hand. To gain a less intellectual understanding and help me explore those things I may be still be sitting on, which could help me to get underneath the words.
I wasn’t in the right mindset to do it last night because my mind was far too agitated and I wasn’t in the mood for meditation. I’m not sure what I had expected to hear, but I suppose I wanted to hear something that would unstick me. Instead, she validated and confirmed the process and offered to help me get under the words, if I was ready to go there. She gave me almost 3 hours of her time yesterday, which I was ever so grateful for and she will check in on me on Sunday to arrange another catch up. We spoke about lots of other things and I asked a few questions about her own journey, which she shared.
After our conversation I asked if I could hug her because I wanted to express my love and gratitude. Then I called my sister because I needed to talk to someone close to me, but I didn’t really say what was in my heart because it was hurting too much. Truth is, all of us are struggling with loosing Mam and Dad because we all have such a strong connection with them. We were their world and they were such a huge part of ours. I notice how my biggest triggers are around Mam, so my tears are mostly for the loss of her. I still don’t feel like I’ve fully grieved for her yet, which is why I’m struggling to fully process and feel the loss of Dad and Christie, but I’m feeling the weight of those losses too. The inner conflicts are preventing me from experiencing inner peace, which creates an agitated mind. The agitations are caused by traumatic memories, conversations we didn’t have, a future we were robbed of and unresolved inner conflicts.
Sometimes it feels like a cycle I cannot escape …
I came back to the house and fell asleep but woke a few hours later in tears and couldn’t stop them from flowing. So, I got up, made a cup of tea and started reading a book I was given. It’s another introduction to Buddhism book. “An explanation of the Buddhist way of life,” which is a little easier to read, digest and understand than the other I just read.
I still feel emotional this morning and I’m so very tired, so I’m glad its my rostered day off. I plan on meditating and doing the left- and right-hand drawing, but as a writer, I needed to write down my thoughts about the changes occuring. There are the obvious external changes that others are seeing because I’m settling in, eating healthier, sleeping better and being more active, but there are those subtler shifts occurring within me that are less obvious to others. These are the changes I find difficult to put into words right now because although they are subtle, they are having a big impact.
Although I’m still struggling with an agitated mind, I feel a renewed sense of enthusiasm about what I’m doing and the direction I’m heading, which is a welcomed shift within myself. I suppose it helps knowing I’m where I need to BE, doing what I need to DO and I’m surrounded by those who practice and teach the skills I need to achieve peace of mind.
I’m not here to devote myself to the Buddhist faith because I’m far too heathen by nature. As a wild woman, I seek the freedom to explore various experiences, so I don’t align with any one faith-based belief. I don’t want or need to confine myself to a certain set of beliefs, but I DO seek liberation from mental suffering, which is why I am here. I’m still wrapping my head around the teachings and practices, but the more I read the better I understand my own journey.
According to Buddhist faith “SAMSARA is a conditioned, illusory and cyclic existence. It is characterized by deep-rooted ignorance, which manifests as seeing the world as a plurality of sensory objects that are separate from oneself. NIRVANA is attained when dualistic thinking is transcended, and the mind is freed from all karmic conditioning.” Samsara is an agitated mind that creates our suffering. The Buddhist trains in higher wisdom, concentration and moral discipline, which is motivated by something they call “renunciation.” This is a state of mind that looks in 2 directions. Towards suffering (birth, ageing, sickness, death) and its causes and towards LIBERATION. We are either seeking liberation from our own suffering, or it expands beyond our sense of self. Seeking to rid others from the suffering of samsara.
I’m not afraid to dive into my own sense of suffering to FEEL and better understand it, but its my strong sense of compassion for the suffering of others that continues to motivate me to seek deeper understandings. I still feel called to serve the Greater Good, which is why I feel a stronger sense of the collective. I know my experiences are changing because my direction is.
Trust the process and embrace the journey ❤️