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Thread: [HealthDharma] Turning Suffering Inside Out, chapter one, part one (p3-14)

  1. #1

    [HealthDharma] Turning Suffering Inside Out, chapter one, part one (p3-14)

    Dear all

    Thank you for joining us for the read along of Darlene Cohen’s book Turning Suffering Inside Out. I hope that you find it of value, and enjoy discussing what we are reading with others. We will be moving at the pace of around ten pages per week, but will take a break if people fall behind. All of the threads will be left open for discussion so don’t feel that you cannot comment if you miss a week.

    If you wish to join and do not have the book yet, I can send a scan of the first chapter.

    And so we begin, at the beginning, with the first part of chapter one (p3-14 inclusive)...

    In the first part of this chapter, Darlene presents some stories of people whose lives have suddenly turned around due to unexpected events, and shares her own story of how her life changed when she became sick with Rheumatoid Arthritis.

    She goes on to talk about how we are often so busy looking ahead to the next thing, or to when life will change for the better, that often we do not allow ourselves to enjoy the present moment. She points out that

    Our intelligence and dignity themselves are developed by our being alive for everything, including the mundane anguish of our lives.

    Our lives need not be perfect to enjoy the present moment, we can be alive to everything right here, right now.

    Darlene talks about the various events that can happen within the space of one day (or even just one morning) that can change our mood from good to bad and back again, often in short order, as we are pulled around by life’s normal fluctuations.

    She goes on to list three strategies people often use in order to deal with these fluctuations, namely distracting ourselves with busyness, blaming others and becoming addicted to certain states of mind.


    Question prompts, although feel free to talk about any part of the reading that resonated with you:

    1. Has there been a time when life suddenly changed for the worse for you? How did that feel?

    2. What are the ways, both positive and negative, that you deal with the ups and downs of life?

    3. Can you identify with what Darlene says about seeing all of the ups and downs of the day, and our reactions to them, as just the play of life which we don't have to hold tighly to?


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 02-20-2024 at 02:10 PM.

  2. #2
    Thank you Kokuu

    Can I ask that you include the page numbers in the posting title? It will be easier to see. Also I usually just use the thread title in my reminders app.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  3. #3
    I can do that, Tairin, and usually do, so thank you for pointing it out.

    Gassho
    Kokuu

  4. #4
    Thanks for the summary and prompts Kokuu.
    Here's my thoughts about your first question.

    I've had several instances of sudden onset of illness and worsened illness which have really shaken me. In 2017 at 55 I was finally diagnosed with ME/CFS, after decades of symptoms got dramatically worse, and last year at 61 after Covid I became much more seriously chronically ill and disabled. I'm housebound and mostly bedbound now.

    I'm still in some shock about what's happened to "my life". Knowing conceptually about impermanence didn't prevent an intensity of precariousness about my new vulnerability. So much fear about what was happening to my body, and grief and loss, and sometimes resentment and self pity too.

    That's all I have strength to write now. I hope to be back to reflect on your second question.

    Dee

  5. #5
    Thank you for this book recommendation, Kokuu. It feels that it arrived at the right time! I liked a lot when she says that for her
    our awareness of these things without preference is a meditation that synchronizes body and mind
    it reflects so much the attitude of Shikantaza. Also it surprised me that instead of being critical of the wheel of pain and pleasure she actually used it as an example of life affirming. Enjoying it so far!

    Answering the questions:

    1. Looking back to events that changed my life for worse actually made me overwhelmed and exhausted, I couldn't find the words or explanations until I she mentioned that in page 11, very insightful.

    2. Negative ways would be to recur to habitual patterns that numb my attention, long time addictions, not wanting to go outside, not eating, whatever contracts me. Positive ways I'm yet to nourish them, but I could say reading a good book, listening a podcast about a topic of my interest, listening to music, roaming around outside, drawing and taking photographs.

    Gasshō

    stlah, Kaitan
    Kaitan - 界探 - Realm searcher
    Formerly known as "Bernal"

  6. #6
    Kokuu, as others have said, thank you for this book recommendation.

    Answers:

    1) Oh yes. Many, many times.
    2) The way I've learned to handle things, I thought, was to handle them head on...tackling the meat of the problem so to speak. Now I'm wondering if I'm ignoring the experience of the mundane, the painful, the unwanted feelings. I am not one who swings very much emotionally. Am I ignoring my emotions? I mean, emotions can be a problem. Emotions can blind you to reality by introducing bias into your perceptions and skewing facts. I'm gonna have to sit on that a bit more. I am looking forward to reading more because the book is making me question things!

    Gasshō
    steve

    st&lah

  7. #7
    The author in the book mirrors what a therapist once told me about just sitting with the emotions and not running away from them. When my life was turned upside down for about 10 years — I felt lost, rejected by God, unlovable, and hopeless. I mostly tried to escape through all manner of addictions, and playing the victim. These days, things have turned around considerably as a father and a husband, but I sometimes exemplify compulsive busyness as a way to avoid stressful feelings, and I still use food to forget about my emotions too. As a relative newcomer here, I aspire for Zazen and daily mindfulness to become the strong roots of my life which maintain steadiness in both positive and negative experiences. I really loved the author's depiction of her morning as I identified with it so much seeing how affected I am by the comings and goings of this life. I hope to hold on to these reactions less and less through practice and good association with you all. Thank you again for this wonderful book reading group. I am very thankful to you all in my life.

    Gasshō,
    Austin

    stlah
    There is a very simple way to become Buddha. Do not commit unwholesome actions; be without attachment to life and death; show profound compassion for all sentient beings; respect those above and have pity for those below; do not have a heart of likes and dislikes, aversions or desires, nor thoughts and worries about things. This is to become Buddha. Do not search someplace else.

    ĖDōgen, Shōji

  8. #8
    I've had several instances of sudden onset of illness and worsened illness which have really shaken me. In 2017 at 55 I was finally diagnosed with ME/CFS, after decades of symptoms got dramatically worse, and last year at 61 after Covid I became much more seriously chronically ill and disabled. I'm housebound and mostly bedbound now.

    I'm still in some shock about what's happened to "my life". Knowing conceptually about impermanence didn't prevent an intensity of precariousness about my new vulnerability. So much fear about what was happening to my body, and grief and loss, and sometimes resentment and self pity too.

    That's all I have strength to write now. I hope to be back to reflect on your second question.



    it reflects so much the attitude of Shikantaza. Also it surprised me that instead of being critical of the wheel of pain and pleasure she actually used it as an example of life affirming. Enjoying it so far!

    Answering the questions:

    1. Looking back to events that changed my life for worse actually made me overwhelmed and exhausted, I couldn't find the words or explanations until I she mentioned that in page 11, very insightful.

    2. Negative ways would be to recur to habitual patterns that numb my attention, long time addictions, not wanting to go outside, not eating, whatever contracts me. Positive ways I'm yet to nourish them, but I could say reading a good book, listening a podcast about a topic of my interest, listening to music, roaming around outside, drawing and taking photographs.
    Darlene had practiced Shikantaza for a long time before she wrote this. I think that we all go through periods when life changes, I tend to think of them like falling into the Hell Realms spoken about in traditional Buddhism when suddenly everything seems like suffering, at least mine was like that.

    In addition to the postitive things you suggest, Darlene's view of the wheel of life as life-affirming can be a helpful one. My friend Irina, formerly of Treeleaf, used to say "This is what it feels like to be human".


    Gassho
    Kokuu

  9. #9
    Thank you Kokuu. Based on the first little bit of this book I think it is going to be quite good.

    1. Has there been a time when life suddenly changed for the worse for you? How did that feel?

    Iíve been laid off two separate times from jobs. As the sole income for my household it has led to stress, panic, anger, and in hindsight some depression.

    2. What are the ways, both positive and negative, that you deal with the ups and downs of life?

    In general I try to not react immediately to anything. I try to take a moment (or several moments) to reflect and let whatever soak in.

    Taking a moment doesnít always work but I find my initial reaction is usually not the best one.

    3. Can you identify with what Darlene says about seeing all of the ups and downs of the day, and our reactions to them, as just the play of life which we don't have to hold tighly to?

    I guess this is one of the benefits of doing my Shikantaza at night shortly before bed. Although it isnít my goal to reflect on the day there is no question that I do sit with the ups and downs. I try to see them for what they are. Scenery.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah

  10. #10
    1) Oh yes. Many, many times.
    2) The way I've learned to handle things, I thought, was to handle them head on...tackling the meat of the problem so to speak. Now I'm wondering if I'm ignoring the experience of the mundane, the painful, the unwanted feelings. I am not one who swings very much emotionally. Am I ignoring my emotions? I mean, emotions can be a problem. Emotions can blind you to reality by introducing bias into your perceptions and skewing facts. I'm gonna have to sit on that a bit more. I am looking forward to reading more because the book is making me question things!
    That is interesting, Steve, as I am not one who swings too much emotionally either and it can bring us to wonder if it is because our emotions do not fluctuate much or are we ignoring or suppressing them? Emotions can definitely be tricky in how they affect our thinking, but I tend to find that if I experience them, allowing them to be and then fade, the chances of reacting in the middle of them are reduced (although sadly not to 0%!). I think that most of us find that our responses when in the grip of strong emotions tend not to be ideal for the situation at hand. Even at Treeleaf I have had to leave comments unposted because I know I am reacting out of frustration or some other strong feeling.


    The author in the book mirrors what a therapist once told me about just sitting with the emotions and not running away from them. When my life was turned upside down for about 10 years — I felt lost, rejected by God, unlovable, and hopeless. I mostly tried to escape through all manner of addictions, and playing the victim. These days, things have turned around considerably as a father and a husband, but I sometimes exemplify compulsive busyness as a way to avoid stressful feelings, and I still use food to forget about my emotions too.
    I am sorry you went through that period in your life, Austin, but imagine that it has been part of what has made you the person you are today. Family life does give us less chance to escape but it is good to face up to the ways we try to avoid the parts of reality we don't like. I have been working with pain and illness for 28 years now and still find myself doomscrolling or going down YouTube rabbit holes instead o working mindfully with sensations and emotions. Knowing what our triggers and escapes tend to be can make it easier to see them.


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    Last edited by Kokuu; 02-20-2024 at 09:08 PM.

  11. #11
    1. Has there been a time when life suddenly changed for the worse for you? How did that feel?
    Yes, and it left me confused and overwhelmed for a few years, my anxiety had me all over the place, it took a lot to find "my center" again.

    2. What are the ways, both positive and negative, that you deal with the ups and downs of life?
    Busyness, both when there's too much on my plate and when I am bored (so, "too little on my plate").
    Also, control! I've wasted a ton of energy trying to control everything, only gained frustration from it... I'm starting to learn to allow things to be as they already are, whatever is, is... but this is scary so my learning is slow

    3. Can you identify with what Darlene says about seeing all of the ups and downs of the day, and our reactions to them, as just the play of life which we don't have to hold tightly to?
    Her mornings sound very much like mine, and some days I'm bored by my own mood swings, so her approach opens a new way of seeing it for me, it was refreshing to read this part, it made me realize that I could just let it be instead of being grumpy at my own mind.


    Gassho,
    Alina
    stlah

  12. #12
    I have ordered a copy of this book and the bookseller said the Mook will be here March 5, and I believe it will come from several locations.
    I will comment of the questions firsed posed and then read the commentary. In fall 1982,I was stricken with pain and depression that I could hardly think. I was teaching at a community college where I had excelled in literally every way but two that I was unaware would present a problem. I had presented students with an open book test for the final of the first 1/2 of American Literature, and one question created problems. I had asked students to comment on several poems, and short stories by Ann Bradstreet. by Nathanial Hawthorne, y their choice, Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson. There was a final problem question to draw a timeline placing noted authors at the time they had published. Students rebelled with the final question, and several came to my office to protest. Others approached the division chair. I was forced to drop this question and only grade the short essays and I closed the door of my office and attacked one girl. She informed her mother who waited to complain until the year I was up for tenure and I was dented tenure. I have allowed this to haunt my life ever since. About 14 years ago I was presented with a good thing. My therapist told me that this college sounded like a paper mill and that is sounded second rate. I had been unable to Land any job than this one thought at the completion of my third advanced degree, I still was told that I would only be treated as an MA employee, and that only my MA in English would ccount for pay; I had completed an EdS, and an MFA both terminal degrees, and during my stay there were many negative aspects to working there. When my wife and I moved to South Dakota, part-time teaching was hard to get and harde rto keep. I always had a second job in retail while I worked a spart-time English instructor for the time from 1993 to 1999. In 1999 I was forced to secure disabilitiy payments and they were about $700 a month. My wife supported our family and my type of arthritis became worse and wors while I was treated with old fashioned drugs, and my psychiatric drugs were old fashioned as well. These drugs destroyed my kidneys and today I am stage 4 kidney failure, My drugs have all been replaced but damage to my body is severe, my ego and self esteem for the failure at the is college have been destroyed, and finally at age 58 I could no longer. I have blamed myself since 1993 when tenure was denied although my performance was excellent, and still I blame myself. The dean of one of the finest state universities in South Dakota assured me that the denial was not my fault, the that college ghad been in deep financial trouble, had in fact, fired the entire business department tthe year after I left, and that the final loaf of classes I was forced to take, 8 classes, showed deep and very serious problems with this college. I was teaching 8 classes. When I moved to South Dakota, in the year I turned 60, I am 72 now, I was stricken deadly ill with three diseases and physical problems that nearly killed me. And I ended up in the best Behavioral Health Hospital in South Dakota, and one of the best in the Midwest. My new therapist, a PhD in C.B.T. told me that the college sounded like a paper mill, that the administration was paying substandard for my status in my education. I have a sever, and painful arthritic disease. Ankylosing Spondylitis, one of the most painful type of Arthritic pain, Today I am experiencing a painful day although I take a wonder drug, and several others. My mood is at an extreme low, and my body is in the worst pain since I can remember in the old days before Biological drugs. I know the physicaal pain is caused by trying to sleep in our bed in our bedroom. I have ben married for nearly 42 years, and we raised a brilliant. My wife worked for 32 years wit h the Federal Government with a very high salary and excellent benefits even at her age of 68, and in about one month she will be 69. T am 72. We are looking to death, and we are both in a slump though we try to busy ourselves with games, and I communicate with several friends including Kokuu, and others in Treeleaf Zendo, my church and my community. I am a recovering alcoholic without even one drop of alcohol since July 20th 1987. In that regard we raised a wonderful so talented daughter, who If finishing her PhD with several outstanding jobs including a tenure track position at fine university, and a contract to team translate a Japanese novel, and she translated a Japanese novella with runner-up in the pen award. I should be happy, and I am forcing myself to write this although my hands feel like they are in a vice grip. I am having one of the worst attacks of arthritic pain in my entire life. I practiced zazen twice today for 1/2 hour each and I led the second, that is I got to ring the bell. I must quit now, though I say that my mood has improved since writing this. I will see the exercise program leader OT who will work with me one on one for an hour this afternoon. I have considered going back to a second meditation group though I love Treeleaf and would never leave. I have been practicing Shikantaza for 10 years, and undertook Jukai here in 2016. I am Ubasoku and committed Lay member of Treeleaf, but I am very ill right with arthritis. I am on a new antipsychotic drug, and I should be very happy. I am in a low so bad since 1999 when my mother had died two years before, and I had quit teaching by walking out of a classroom in the middle of the term and gone on Disability, the next year accepting a jop for $7.50/hour, and I had beeb working second rate jobs in food establishments, and retail. I had tried being a rehab tech and was unable to do that, Since 1993, I feel my life has been a bust, and I am about to finish my third book of poetry. Since 1990 when I earned my M.F.A. in creative writing/poetry I have been trying to excell with my writing. This book in the best of the three, and I have plans for two more books, one a novel. I am 72 with numerous health problem which frighten me. I do not want to die right now. I have two books to write, and I want to be there for ly little family of three.
    I admit it now, I feel somewhat better after writing all this. After all, I am a writer and a poet. I have a great family and I can look beyond the pain of my hands.
    Gassho
    sat/lah
    Last edited by Tai Shi; 02-23-2024 at 04:27 PM.
    Peaceful Poet, Tai Shi. Ubasoku; calm, supportive, limited to positive 優婆塞 台 婆

  13. #13
    Hello Tai Shi

    After reading your post, I feel like giving you a hug, because I've also had some bitter experiences with the academic world, and it is simply not fair sometimes, if the coin flips and falls on a side that doesn't favor you, you can be left out, no matter your merits, capability, performance, initiative, knowledge, experience... Similar to you, I've being stuck with a mix bag of feelings about my career for over a decade now for things that happened that were 100% out of my control. Only a couple of weeks ago I was able to fully describe what I feel about it for the first time, and zazen is helping in letting go of what I cannot change, but it still feels like a heavy burden (something I hope this book will help me with).

    May you find relief from your pain (both physical and mental) and joy in all your activities.

    Gassho
    Alina
    stlah

  14. #14
    1. Has there been a time when life suddenly changed for the worse for you? How did that feel?

    A: Yes, unfortunately when I moved in with my now husband to take care of his grandma's place as she had to go into a home for her dementia. It changed for the worse from the get go, his uncle had charge of the bills, he originally told us he would only charge us rent at $500 total (cuz family or something) but then raised it over and over again (he never made us a contract as he wanted to avoid taxes, this was my first time leaving my folks place so I didn't say anything).

    Then from there it's just been worse, it's drained us financially to where we are back living and I mean, Barely pay check to paycheck and are getting kicked out in June/July 2024. As you can guess, it feels like trust is broken, husband has NO love for his uncle anymore and doesn't plan to rekindle the relationship when we get out.

    2. What are the ways, both positive and negative, that you deal with the ups and downs of life?

    A: For the positives - we celebrate every single "win" we can get, if we have the money we might go out, even if that means just getting out of the house to still go to a low cost place to eat or even to just walk together if we both feel up and able.

    For the negatives - Honestly this is a hard one, we both have low self confidence and low self esteem, I try to do my best even if I'm feeling down of he is as well, I rather ONE of us be a bit happier, and I rather that be him. Sometimes when I get down cuz he is down, sometimes I end up also getting happy again if I know I have helped him.

    3. Can you identify with what Darlene says about seeing all of the ups and downs of the day, and our reactions to them, as just the play of life which we don't have to hold tighly to?

    A: I can absolutely relate to Darlene's comments on the ups and downs of the day. 100%. But as for "don't have to hold tightly to", I don't have an answer for that yet.

    (Also I was wondering if we can have where we are supposed to be in the title also by name? I know it says read to page 14 but I am on Kindle and in bigger font so I feel like it left me off on a weird spot, page 14 has a smaller title of Addiction)

    Gasshō, Ryker

    Sat/Lah

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk
    Last edited by Ryker; 02-24-2024 at 08:18 AM.

  15. #15
    3. Can you identify with what Darlene says about seeing all of the ups and downs of the day, and our reactions to them, as just the play of life which we don't have to hold tighly to?

    I guess this is one of the benefits of doing my Shikantaza at night shortly before bed. Although it isn’t my goal to reflect on the day there is no question that I do sit with the ups and downs. I try to see them for what they are. Scenery.
    I really like that, Tairin, in seeing the ups and down of the day as scenery. Another metaphor I like is seeing them as weather.


    2. What are the ways, both positive and negative, that you deal with the ups and downs of life?
    Busyness, both when there's too much on my plate and when I am bored (so, "too little on my plate").
    Also, control! I've wasted a ton of energy trying to control everything, only gained frustration from it... I'm starting to learn to allow things to be as they already are, whatever is, is... but this is scary so my learning is slow

    3. Can you identify with what Darlene says about seeing all of the ups and downs of the day, and our reactions to them, as just the play of life which we don't have to hold tightly to?
    Her mornings sound very much like mine, and some days I'm bored by my own mood swings, so her approach opens a new way of seeing it for me, it was refreshing to read this part, it made me realize that I could just let it be instead of being grumpy at my own mind.
    I can understand letting things be feeling scary, Alina. When we do that, often our minds get really nervous about not being in control, but it is refreshing to put it all down, as we do in Shikantaza, and realise we do not always have to change how things are, and just let them be.


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-

  16. #16
    I have a sever, and painful arthritic disease. Ankylosing Spondylitis, one of the most painful type of Arthritic pain, Today I am experiencing a painful day although I take a wonder drug, and several others. My mood is at an extreme low, and my body is in the worst pain since I can remember in the old days before Biological drugs. I know the physicaal pain is caused by trying to sleep in our bed in our bedroom.
    I hope that your pain is more under control today, Tai Shi, as I know you can have excrutiating pain related to the AS, and trying to sleep in the bed. You are one of our sangha members who deals with the things that Darlene talks about on a daily basis.


    A: Yes, unfortunately when I moved in with my now husband to take care of his grandma's place as she had to go into a home for her dementia. It changed for the worse from the get go, his uncle had charge of the bills, he originally told us he would only charge us rent at $500 total (cuz family or something) but then raised it over and over again (he never made us a contract as he wanted to avoid taxes, this was my first time leaving my folks place so I didn't say anything).

    Then from there it's just been worse, it's drained us financially to where we are back living and I mean, Barely pay check to paycheck and are getting kicked out in June/July 2024. As you can guess, it feels like trust is broken, husband has NO love for his uncle anymore and doesn't plan to rekindle the relationship when we get out.
    I am sorry, Ryker. That sounds really hard, and it is hard to speak out when it is a family member.


    A: I can absolutely relate to Darlene's comments on the ups and downs of the day. 100%. But as for "don't have to hold tightly to", I don't have an answer for that yet.

    (Also I was wondering if we can have where we are supposed to be in the title also by name? I know it says read to page 14 but I am on Kindle and in bigger font so I feel like it left me off on a weird spot, page 14 has a smaller title of Addiction)
    I think that for most of us, the not holding on tight bit is a work in progress. Knowing it is a choice is a good thing, though.

    I am sorry for not thinking of Kindle readers. I will add the section titles by name to make it clearer. This section ended after the Addiction part, and we will start with 'Pleasure and Addiction' tomorrow.


    Gassho
    Kokuu

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Alina View Post
    Hello Tai Shi

    After reading your post, I feel like giving you a hug, because I've also had some bitter experiences with the academic world, and it is simply not fair sometimes, if the coin flips and falls on a side that doesn't favor you, you can be left out, no matter your merits, capability, performance, initiative, knowledge, experience... Similar to you, I've being stuck with a mix bag of feelings about my career for over a decade now for things that happened that were 100% out of my control. Only a couple of weeks ago I was able to fully describe what I feel about it for the first time, and zazen is helping in letting go of what I cannot change, but it still feels like a heavy burden (something I hope this book will help me with).

    May you find relief from your pain (both physical and mental) and joy in all your activities.

    Gassho
    Alina
    stlah
    I tell you that the writer often struggled with this or her market because of the model being alien to publishers. I have been searching for a moral code that includes an ethical code that subsume Jewish/ and Christian beliefs and I have found one only for the Precepts and only for myself.
    Gassho
    sat/lah


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    Peaceful Poet, Tai Shi. Ubasoku; calm, supportive, limited to positive 優婆塞 台 婆

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    I hope that your pain is more under control today, Tai Shi, as I know you can have excrutiating pain related to the AS, and trying to sleep in the bed. You are one of our sangha members who deals with the things that Darlene talks about on a daily basis.




    I am sorry, Ryker. That sounds really hard, and it is hard to speak out when it is a family member.




    I think that for most of us, the not holding on tight bit is a work in progress. Knowing it is a choice is a good thing, though.

    I am sorry for not thinking of Kindle readers. I will add the section titles by name to make it clearer. This section ended after the Addiction part, and we will start with 'Pleasure and Addiction' tomorrow.


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    Alright, thank you so much!!!

    Gasshō,Ryker

    Sat/Lah

    Sent from my Pixel 3a using Tapatalk

  19. #19
    Hi everyone, I'm grateful for everything that you have shared here.

    I don't have chronic illness myself, but am caring for my husband who has chronic heart and lung disease. I can't 'know' his suffering, but I witness it and my purpose now is to understand how to hold that suffering and bring relief to him in any way I can; at the same time I am exploring the nature of caring. what that really means, and the balance needed between helping him make good health decisions, without robbing him of his autonomy.
    I, on the other hand, live with the more mundane aspects of my ageing and all that that brings - mostly good but not always so.
    I'm really enjoying the book so far, and I think at the moment what I appreciate most is the approach Darlene Cohen takes to her life in this opening chapter. I loved the description of her morning because it was so completely authentic and so relatable to, and I love her opennes and acceptance of all of it.

    Has there been a time when life suddenly changed for the worse for you? How did that feel?
    There have been times of sudden change and the shock of that, and other times when change for the worse was creeping, insidious. I think I dealt with sudden change easier - I'm remembering being made redudant ( along with all the other staff) from a job that I thought was safe for life. I can still recall the absolute shock, the feeling of disbelief, of suddenly being cast adrift in a world I didn't understand. I felt as if the ground beneath my feet had disappeared. But by the end of that day, and even though I didn't have the support of Buddhism at this point in my life, I was able to see that perhaps this would open up other possibilities; which in fact it did - the worse thing became the best thing that had happened to me.
    Gradual change of circumstances has been harder. At this moment it would be easy to fall into thinking my life has changed for the worse, but I have come to see it has just having changed - I feel everything, grief, anger, fear, but also the joy of being able to care for someone I love, making sure their life is as comfortable as possible. Of course there are days when I feel almost overwhelmed by stress and feel super sorry for myself!

    2. What are the ways, both positive and negative, that you deal with the ups and downs of life?
    Fear about the immediate future sometimes overwhelms me and that manifests as a kind of unfocused frustration and anger with everything. I don't like myself like that so make the conscious effort to acknowledge that anger, but also speak to the fear, I say it out loud, I see you, I hear you, I am frightened. Saying the words immediately brings relief and softens the hard edges of that suffering. I don't turn away from the fear, I see it as trying to help me, prepare me and I can respond to that- If I tried to ignore or supress it, I wouldn't be able to work through it.
    I have great faith in the Three jewels and feel constantly supported and comforted by them. I should probably say that zazen helps with everything, but to be honest I sometimes find that a good cry or a secret rant are more helpful - and I admit to having done both while on the cushion too!

    3. Can you identify with what Darlene says about seeing all of the ups and downs of the day, and our reactions to them, as just the play of life which we don't have to hold tighly to?
    Yes, I can. In my last answer I wrote about the downs rather than the ups, but in the space of a day there are so many shades, tones and colours. I am aware that it's easy to be more focused on difficult moments, but I have great trust in the Truth of Impermanence, every moment, good and bad, passes. I can trust this because I experience it every day, and can see how it has played throughout my life. Holding onto this, if I'm having a moment of overwhelm, I know it's going to pass. I let all of this in, it's life just as it is, us just as we are, it's a precious experience.

    Gassho
    Meitou
    Sat&Lah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  20. #20
    Thank you, Kokuu, for introducing our new book discussion.

    1. Has there been a time when life suddenly changed for the worse for you? How did that feel?

    I had a tumultuous and abusive childhood—divorce(s), alcoholism, death, sudden moves. I spent time in a foster home. There were times it felt like my world was ending. I didn’t have any role models teaching me healthy coping skills so I developed some rather unhealthy ones of my own. For example, when I was diagnosed with an auto immune disease as an adult, it was after months of being very ill, and not seeking medical help because I tend to hunker down like a wounded animal and wait things out.

    It was very difficult to even contemplate this question. I hesitated to share even those small details, but maybe sharing will help someone know they’re not alone in having experiences like this.

    2. What are the ways, both positive and negative, that you deal with the ups and downs of life?

    I have fallen into the compulsive busyness the author mentioned. I sometimes eat mindlessly. Often I retreat, and lose myself in books or movies. That’s ok because I know I just need to pause. I try to do that in more positive ways, like being in nature and taking a long walk or doing a gentle, present yoga session. Because my first reaction may be to catastrophize I often ask myself, “This is real (what I’m feeling and thinking right now), but is it true?” (That’s an approach I learned from a Tricycle article. I think it was by Tara Branch.)

    3. Can you identify with what Darlene says about seeing all of the ups and downs of the day, and our reactions to them, as just the play of life which we don't have to hold tighly to?

    Yes, indeed. Some days are easier than others to loosen the hold and marvel at how many times I can bounce between heaven and hell in one day.

    Gassho,
    Naiko
    stlah

  21. #21
    Thank you, Kokuu, for introducing this book. I enjoyed the author's conceptualization of busyness, blaming and addiction as the ways we distract from our emotions. I often speak with clients about sitting with difficult emotions, rather than avoiding them (avoidance is maintenance!). For me, this was a helpful reminder of the need to practice this with the more "mundane" things of daily life as well. Practising with not getting swept up in the current of craving and aversion... *

    Gassho,
    Shinchi
    STlah

    Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk

  22. #22
    In my last answer I wrote about the downs rather than the ups, but in the space of a day there are so many shades, tones and colours. I am aware that it's easy to be more focused on difficult moments, but I have great trust in the Truth of Impermanence, every moment, good and bad, passes. I can trust this because I experience it every day, and can see how it has played throughout my life. Holding onto this, if I'm having a moment of overwhelm, I know it's going to pass. I let all of this in, it's life just as it is, us just as we are, it's a precious experience.
    Lovely!


    I have fallen into the compulsive busyness the author mentioned. I sometimes eat mindlessly. Often I retreat, and lose myself in books or movies. That’s ok because I know I just need to pause. I try to do that in more positive ways, like being in nature and taking a long walk or doing a gentle, present yoga session. Because my first reaction may be to catastrophize I often ask myself, “This is real (what I’m feeling and thinking right now), but is it true?” (That’s an approach I learned from a Tricycle article. I think it was by Tara Branch.)
    I agree that it is totally fine to lose ourselves in a book or movie. Darlene will actually talk later on about the role of distraction during illness because, like you say, sometimes we need to pause, and illness is tiring.

    Some days are easier than others to loosen the hold and marvel at how many times I can bounce between heaven and hell in one day
    Life can sometimes feel like being on a bungee rope!


    I often speak with clients about sitting with difficult emotions, rather than avoiding them (avoidance is maintenance!). For me, this was a helpful reminder of the need to practice this with the more "mundane" things of daily life as well. Practising with not getting swept up in the current of craving and aversion...
    That is interesting you work with clients in this way, Shinchi. I don't know about you but I will certainly admit that even though I encourage people to do this in their practice, it does not always mean I take my own advice!


    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-

  23. #23
    Thanks for the reminder about the "weather" metaphor / analogy, Kokuu. That's helpful F or me today.

    Gassho
    Dee
    Lah

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post

    I don't know about you but I will certainly admit that even though I encourage people to do this in their practice, it does not always mean I take my own advice!
    You and me both!

    Gassho,
    Shinchi
    STlah

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