Pandemic Pensive Perils

Two weeks ago there it was — vacillation between going to the gym or not.  Tarot cards said ‘no, don’t go’.  A day or so later the gym was closed; and day-after-day since, no need to tell you! Everything else shut down too.  Doesn’t it seem like longer than 2 weeks ago?

Well, I’m washing my undies by hand (usually go to a laundromat), cut my own hair (just the bangs), have taken to the streets jogging and found the very last set of hand weights in town.  No kettlebells, no dumbells anywhere and that included the big box places too like Academy Sports and Dicks Sporting goods (even though they still have curbside service–store otherwise closed).   Amazon? Yep, will ship some out in June.  Right; it’s March.  Kept looking and found a set (a wee bit too heavy) of 12# dumbells very used at Play it Again Sports (curbside service there too).  So this is for me a heavy set (ok back and chest) and I have a light set (2#, feels like a feather) and while I can double up with them, I really would like a set of 8’s#.  What else?  Anyway. . . grateful for the 12s.

Meanwhile, my daughter is buying my groceries — she takes my card and shopping list and brings back what she can find from the list that they’re not out of.  I don’t want to talk about toilet paper!!  She insists that she go to the store and not me; it’s so hard to give up even more control of my life that way.  But I’m healthy and that’s a good thing so I will shut up about it.

Nightmares have been happening — bad enough daytime nightmares while watching the news but in the nighttime now too.

Watching Trump’s afternoon briefings caused jaw clenching and now’ve got a good case of TMJ happening.  It’s okay, massaging it out and being aware when I’m clenching.  Geesh!

Thus, I’ve cut down my news watching time down to PBS evening news and not even listening to NPR radio in the daytime anymore.  Pandemic pensive perils!  Better for my neighbors that way I guess,  because after watching the horror and seeing them NOT social distancing, the temptation is to . . . well, best to leave that alone I suppose.

I’ve wanted to get back to jogging a bit and now that’s happening at least.  Happy about it and the knee is bearing up.   I’m doing outdoor walk/runs as well as doing arm/shoulder and chest/back workouts accompanied by Peloton instructors.  Link here: https://www.onepeloton.com/ They are streamed live and on-demand.  Those are really saving me!  

Tomorrow plan the sad call to the gym to put my membership on hold.  I miss the instructors and all the friendly faces;  Libby, Kathy, Martha, Diane, Debbie, Lynn, Donita, Sam, Chet, Tom, Denise, Aaron, Finola, Mary, Nancy . . . oh, I will cry if I keep going.  Really miss the gym and the peeps.

Some other news.  The library is closed and so is the park well, that’s not good news BUT we are still going to have the writing group in April via a platform called Webex.

Two of my daughters work for insurance companies and are working from home.  As the ‘stay-at-home’ orders became extended they had to buy larger desks and desk chairs!  My other daughter is a Nurse and they must wear double masks their entire shift and she has been issued a letter from the hospital with her photo on it in case she is questioned   (since there is a lockdown in both her home city and work city).  The letter explains she is a nurse and is, therefore ‘essential personnel’.   This, as you know, means she is allowed to be out and about in her car going to and from the hospital.

So much has changed in two weeks!  But you know that and are living it too.  We are not either of us alone dear reader!

Speaking of reading, I am reading C.G. Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections which is his autobiography; so far all I’m reading is so very relatable.  I should be writing (my book in progress, barely) but with shell shock, it’s been a bit difficult to hold the mind still.  I will try this week to get back into that.

Well, ‘long day’ as they say.  Will end this post for now with wishes for your good health.  Stay balanced; let us all do our very best.  Today I am feeling so grateful for the very small and gentle gifts of the earth.  Trees are blossoming lovely colors, birds are singing and flowers starting to bloom.  They know nothing of any pandemic and their lives go on.  Same with the cats; the feral cats of the neighborhood who hang around with me if I’m out on the porch doing yoga or reading.  Love them!

Be well friends, remain in love with life, do what is asked of you and dedicate the merit of any and all efforts, especially your meditation efforts, to those who are fearful, sick, dying and need our energy intentions.  And of course to the brave and dedicated health care workers!

final thought:  This, too, shall pass.

 

Attachments to rituals and thoughts on the pandemic

 

Attachments to rituals.  I’m looking at that right now.  Grabbing my cards at 2 am on a Saturday night to help with a decision.  That’s going to help me to get to sleep.  Wait.  What am I writing about?  This coronavirus scare has my energy off a bit.  Should I buy more toilet paper?  (just kidding). No that’s not the problem, although my gosh one does begin to wonder if the stores don’t restock what a mess it could make of things.  Yeah, let’s not go there.  It’s the gym, you know?  That’s what’s got me out of bed so my mind will shush up about it.  As the fear began to loom about the virus and with a strong desire to do my part for my fellows, I skipped my gym time on Friday.  Yet, today I dashed in after notices on the gym’s website that they are taking all these precautions with cleaning and providing extra wipes and sanitizers.  I felt guilty doing it but I was craving cardio and did a vigorous hour on the spin bike.  The crowd at the gym might have been a bit smaller than usual today, but not that much.  YET, now the governor of our state has closed all the schools for 2-weeks.  The gym did shut down certain gatherings and is limiting the number of members allowed in classes and our library has canceled all group type meetings and activities for 2 months!  I’m taking my temperature each day.  I felt like my luck was being pushed by getting a few more groceries the other day.  I’m rationing the stray cat’s food (there are 5 of them!) and find myself holding back from eating what’s in the freezer and cupboards.  Hey, and that’s a good thing.  I’ve gained near to 5 pounds over the winter.

Yeah and now I’m looking at giving up my gym time and cringe when envisioning . . . well, let’s say that its likely to be another damn test in letting go and non-attachment.  Contrast that with the PBS Evening News weekend edition report from Italy where some people are dying in their homes and they are being left there due to fears of collecting the bodies and spreading the virus further.  Many older adults are being triaged and not treated due to not enough respirator equipment to keep them alive.  The entire country is being told to stay at home unless an emergency and the police are enforcing by violators being jailed or fined.  Imagine being given a citation for being out of your home.  Intense and really scary!  And then there’s me boohooing about missing my workouts!  I feel ashamed.  Like many people are doing, however, there’s that part of the mind that says, nawh, that’s not going to happen here; everywhere else maybe, but not here, not us, not me.  

I’m certainly not alone with this struggle right? Now I want to delete this blog feeling ashamed to even be writing it!  But, full disclosure.  I just completed a 40-minute vow meditation — vowing to sit in complete stillness without moving at all.  In this deep metta-meditation,  the concentrated focus involved in not moving a muscle, and the tonglen (exchanging self for others) were all offered (the merit and energy) for any and all who may be in fear or in any way suffering especially in relation to this coronavirus.  Point being just had the thought that maybe tonight’s earlier meditation will balance things out with my selfish gym concerns.  Who knows.

Lifting weights 3 times a week in a group choreographed releases is addictive!  But if I spread a virus as a carrier without knowing (they say you can have it and not know it), then oh no!  I better not go. Right?  I take my temperature every day and feel fine, but still . . . right?

Anyway, do you get the feeling that the authorities know more than they are telling us about the virus?  I watch the news but still feel there’s something missing there.  Here’s a gross report.  One TV reporter said that the virus came from bats and then tonight I read about it originating from snakes.  Ugh. Let’s let those thoughts go; shouldn’t have mentioned it.

Stress is not good for anybody, right?  Therefore, I must stop stressing about this question and my attachment to the spin bike and the weight lifting classes must be handled.

Right; well then.  A quickie. Turning to my cards.  Yes or No spread.  Is it in everyone’s best interest, including my own, if I avoid the gym until they sound the all-clear?  Yikes; That could be months!  There go my mental withdrawal symptom alarms at the very thought of that!

Such an oxymoron, right?  Going to a gym and working out is supposed to be a healthy thing to do!

Right.  Anyway. The cards.  Okay. Here we go . . . No, let me add timing to this question.  I will ask for one week and then decide weekly thereafter.  Here we go . . .

The revised question is this:  Is it in everyone’s best interest, including my own if I do NOT go to the gym for one week? Yes or No? 

Alright.  It’s a YES.  Ace of Swords, Three of Cups, Ace of Cups.

(Ace in the 3rd pile of 13 cards is the strongest indicator of YES and the Ace of Swords in the 1st pile of 13 adds to it.

The middle pile of 13 cards displays the Three of Cups which adds to the meaning.

The first impression in seeing that card was about how being with the other women (oops, guys in the class too) lifting weights to music week after week is group power and fun.  And there’s the community and bonding stuff going on.  I see this card as a validation of the question that is being asked… women lifting cups, bonding.  Me lifting weights and doing the same at the gym.  Get it?  It’s like the cards are telling me that they hear the question, loud and clear.

But with this decision, the Three of Cups card also indicates that there are joyous possibilities that can come from my withdrawal. I will find a way to do cardio and increase at-home yoga to not lose my fitness level.  THAT will be a challenge but what can I say?  I may actually really enjoy that — yeah, well, keeping an open mind, I will re-asses in one week.

Done and done!  Right now I’m going to say that I’m going to bed.  My mind will shut up now.  The decision’s been made.

My heart extends to all who are suffering from the effects of this pandemic.   May you, reader, be safe and protected.

PS —  image at the top of this post was a random photo but that looks like one of our group power moves, actually chest press is my favorite and my bar is loaded with 3 plates too and we lay on the bench just as the people in the photo; probably my 3 plates are not the same weight as the people in the photo but looks the same anyway… yeah, it’s late and I’m not making sense now.  Goodnight; didn’t intend to go on and on so long.

 

 

Highway Robbery! Rude Awakening!

Have you gotten a speeding ticket when you were not speeding?  Highwaymen steal from travelers… there’s a long history of such activity.  Have you ever been falsely accused of something?  I have, and those are soul triggers.  Anyway, these themes appear in this post.

I was robbed, as I see it, yesterday, being pulled over by a highway robber in the guise of a police officer.  I want to share my thoughts about the experience here just in case it may soothe the wound of someone else out there who is reeling after an episode similar to my own.  So here goes . . .

Highway Robbery! Rude Awakening! I awoke this morning and very first thought was that even the honored British-born Theravada Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto in his travels throughout India retracing the Buddha’s footsteps on a spiritual pilgrimage was robbed by highwaymen. More than once if I recall from reading his book. My pilgrimage is only to the gym and I too am a spiritual seeker. I don’t care! I’m going with the comparison. It works for me.

Highway Robbery… that’s what happened to me yesterday. I didn’t sleep all night with flashbacks of the red and blue lights swirling behind my car. I reviewed the whole thing willing to admit to myself if I could have been mistaken. No. All night long. No, no mistake, I was not speeding.

The cop was a good actor. I assume a highway robber has to have some type of convincing skill in that way. Maybe they coach them on the approach to use. Right off he said, “Didn’t you see how many cars you went past?!” I thought he stopped me to say a tail light was out.

How many cars did I pass? there were 2 lanes and I was in mine and didn’t whip around anyone…just was minding my own business driving straight on. Again, there were two lanes. I was in my lane. I have no memory of passing 4 cars who were driving in the other lane next to mine.

And there was no traffic … its a lightly traveled road which is why I usually drive that way. I take back roads whenever I can.

His next line was about a radar clock and how fast he had to drive to catch up to me. What??? I drove that road every time I go to the gym and was not driving fast, was not in a hurry. I was not upset, had nothing in particular in mind but maybe my grocery list. Planned on stopping on the way home.  Anyway.  Nada. My conclusion. Highway Robbery!

Again, even the honored British-born Theravada Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto in his travels throughout India while retracing the Buddha’s footsteps through India was robbed.

For me, it was $200 that I had to put on a charge card of which I was robbed. For Theravada Buddhist monk Ajahn Sucitto it was his begging bowl and some precious survival items.

He had to let go and not argue about what happened. That’s why I’m not a monk or nun material. I argued. Well, I mostly disagreed and kept saying so. Either way. I’m letting go but it’s not been immediate.  Maybe blogging it all out will help me but others who will need to move this kind of business.

Strange how it happens, you know.  The moment you up-your-game, there comes a challenge right off to give you the test.  Suppose you vow to live healthier and the next thing you know, you get sick.  Practice for getting healthier.  Vow to be more peaceful and there comes a highway robber to give you practice for that too.  Anyway . . .

Highway Robbery! I am not my money nor am I my driving skills.  Here’s another consolation:  Buddha said in The Discourse on the Not-self . . . ‘This is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.’  That’s a good mantra if you are up to speed on the Non-self teachings.

I have listened to many of Ajahn Succito’s audio teachings and have read both of his books about his pilgrimage through India. Today I will pop in one of the CD of his dharma talks while working on watercolor painting and connect back with his energy to heal further from this experience.

Just as a footnote, it’s not so much the money (but yeah, losing $200 right now does hurt) but it is more-so being accused of something that I feel certain that I wasn’t doing and then to avoid a hassle of going to court (which is what they count on most people doing!), admitting guilt (had to check that box online) confessing to something that I didn’t do in order to pay the ticket.  Highway Robbery. This being accused of things that I haven’t done is an old soul wound that life circumstances trigger. How it goes has to do with when one is working more consciously and conscientiously on the spiritual path, it brings up those old grudges and defilements–impairments to peace.

Ajahn Succito released his possessions to the thieves without anger or resentment with an attitude of maybe they needed those things more than he himself did.

I am trying to consider my own experience of highway robbery with an attitude of giving a generous gift to the city’s police department — maybe they all need a raise or have higher operating expenses.  Not that I don’t!  but still, there it is— a better attitude for me to embrace such as given by the example of Ajahn Succito.

I think that it can be seen as a self-measure of where one is on the path based on how one handles those experiences and deals with the uprising kleshas. Kleshas, in Buddhist thought, are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kleshas include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc.  I had some anger going on mostly stemming from pride — in that, I do believe myself to be a safe and careful driver and obedient to the laws of the land.  Right, so that’s that. The robbers got their money and I got my measure of active kleshas are the strong conflicting emotions that spin-off and heighten when we get caught by aversion and attraction.  In my case yesterday, aversion!  And maybe too much pride in my perceived driving skills — active defilement.

Should I thank the highwayman for the rude awakening he gave me by helping me see in what state my spiritual progress *(or lack of) exists? Should I wonder about his karma?

Not really there yet.  Maybe that gratitude will take a few more days.  Meanwhile, I’d love a $200+ refund; but not holding my breath for that one.