Healthcare Reform

I watched a couple of days worth of the House Representatives going back and forth over the Health Care Bill this past week and was pretty much disgusted by the whole thing. I wouldn’t call myself a staunch Democrat, or a Republican either. So watching these two political parties bicker about Health Care so childishly and selfishly really was disappointing. I read somewhere that it’s perfectly legal for politicians to feed the people plain outright lies. Apparently if there were a penalty for lying, it would be a breach of the right to freedom of speech. I find this very disconcerting. Essentially, it’s OK for politicians to make up whatever they want and tell you it’s the truth. From what I can tell, this is mostly done to better their own personal situation, whether that be wealth, position, polls…. it’s shameful. When someone comes along that actually wants to do something good for the people, the opposition will do whatever it takes to fight for the exact opposite of whatever it is, even if that means hurting most of the people that they represent in the process. Now I realize that it’s the job of the ‘opposition’ to ‘oppose’….but how insane is it that they can NEVER agree or compromise fairly for the sake of the people that put their trust in them. From what I can see, altruism is a word that died with George Washington, reviving itself periodically, only to be beaten back by special interests and corporate greed.

If everyone in Washington actually worked as a team, so much would get done. But instead it’s like a High School Cold War, with constant predictable wars of words, occasionally spawning prepubescent-like brawls, threats, spitting and name calling, finger pointing, passing the buck and big fat lies.

And so as our leaders conduct themselves so well, it’s only natural that some of the people have come to adopt these behaviors. I’m sad to say that every day I have to meditate on my disappointment in people, friends that I consider intelligent and accomplished, all bickering on facebook, texting and tweeting maliciously and mindlessly. I too, have circummed to the temptation to interject in these offerings, wanting my opinion to be heard amongst those speaking out about theirs. But I’m coming to realize that it’s to no end. You can’t change a person’s opinion about something by arguing with them. They just get pissed off. They don’t want to see your point of view.

The irony is that half the time, I suspect that those making the most noise don’t really even know why they’re making it. I will be working on dissipating my anger and necessity to speak out every time I hear ignorance, even if I speak for a true cause, my words are lost on deaf ears, muffled by the 8 worldly concerns, and I must work hard not to get lost amongst them too.

Dependent Arising and Nothingness

Yes, I’ve addressed this subject before, but I’m sure it will come up again and again, since it’s such an integral part of what my meditation is about. So here I go again.

Tonight in class, Sifu has started to prepare us for Silent Retreat in the summer. Prompting us to go back over the philosophies we’ve already touched upon in class so that we might be more prepared to meditate effectively when it’s time for the retreat. She reminded us once again about the 3 poisons; Greed, Anger and Incorrect Wisdom. And talked about the 8 WorldlyConcerns that plaque the mind; Pleasure & Pain, Praise & Blame, Fame & Infamy, Gain & Loss……that an attachment is a thought, and that it’s origin is likely to be one of these Worldly Concerns. So as the nature of Dependent Arising suggests, if one can trace back the origin of an attachment, one would realize that it can be broken down in to nothing. So you could say, everything is nothing and nothing is everything.

So this is where my meditation is at the moment. Focused on alleviating worrisome thoughts from my mind and dissipating my angry tendencies by reminding myself that they do more harm than good, and are coming from a place inside me that is not working productively. I’m going to be trying hard to find the true sources of my anger and anxiety, break them down, and hopefully realize that they really consist of nothing. So that’s my intent. I will let you know if I have any revelations as I attempt this, but baby steps first……so far I haven’t been the most successful at controlling the anger, so I have a long way to go.

Promotion Ceremony

Today Rick and I got promoted in Kung Fu class. Rick is now an Orange Belt and I am now a Green Belt. This is now about my 6th Green Belt, in as many martial arts styles….but this is by far my favorite style. Looking forward to reaching my 6th Blue Belt next ;p

Today’s promotion reminded me of back when I used to competitively Kickbox and teach Korean Karate back in Cambridge, UK for my 2nd Sifu. I used to be such a fire cracker back then. I was just a kid, but remember having so much fire and anger when I would fight. I would never lose because I was relentless and so focused on kicking my competitor in the head. These days, although I’m still very angry and carry a lot of fire, I don’t have the killer instinct in the ring at all. In fact, when we’re sparring at the dojo, I really don’t want to hit anyone. I kick in the general area I want to hit, but try not to make contact because I just don’t want to feel that energy again. When I was training kickboxing, I would by reflex kick people whenever I felt angry. It wasn’t good. It took a long time to stop acting that way for me. Now, when I accidentally make contact a little harder than intended, I feel awful. I’m actually very surprised that this has changed in me to this extent. I think it might be something to do with maternal instincts. I really didn’t have any until I quit working out for a living. Now I’m somehow different. This might be why I have so much trouble controlling my emotional anger. For so long, I had a physical outlet for my anger, so never learned how to mentally control it. Now, I’m older and have chronic injuries that technically need surgery, so I can’t push myself as far as I would like to physically anymore……and now I have to deal with my angry emotions some other way. … and that’s hard. When I get mad, I still go out to the garage and bash a kickbag for 10 minutes just to get the energy out. I don’t like it though. It doesn’t feel good. I think it’s draining my Jing…..or at the very least, my Qi.

More meditating is required!

I’ll will never be angry again…..I hope.

The suffering isn’t over. I spent all night last night bent over in pain, felling like I was being stabbed in the stomach repeatedly all night, until about 8am this morning, then it started to simmer down. I kept my boyfriend up all night with my moans and groans. He was so sweet and kept getting up to get me Chinese Medicated Oil to rub on my tummy, and drinks and Maalox chewables. I had been starting to feel better last night, so had cooked some pasta and fish sticks and ate them a couple of hours before going to bed. It was definitely the food that started all the pain again….now I’m scared to eat!

My boyfriend said to me, ‘See what happens when you get angry?’. He’s right. He thinks I probably had some mild food poisoning and a period coming already, but that having the anxiety/anger attack sent my immune system in to a frenzy and it was unable to control what would have ordinarily been a couple of uncomfortable cramps. I’m sure that’s pretty accurate.

Oh why do I let these things happen? !!!  I haven’t worked in days and am now really behind with some huge projects…..not to mention that the house is now a mess since I’ve been too sick to keep it up.

Hopefully I’ll learn something from this, and work a lot harder in the future to not get so wound up about stuff, and to recognize that when I’m getting anxiety, I need to stop what I’m doing and meditate instead of letting the heat and rage fester in to a tornado.

Rage & Anxiety

So, I may not have previously mentioned, that one of the reasons that I am learning Chinese Medicine and Meditation, is to clear my mind of rage and anger. I can get myself extremely worked up over nothing and make myself sick. In fact, I did exactly this, this weekend.

I got myself completely worked up over a stupid piece of software that I’m having technical difficulties with, until I blew up about it, throwing my keyboard across the room in a total rage. I made myself really sick. Either that, or it was an utter coincidence that I got a terrible case of food poisoning right after I had this rage attack. I started vomiting violently, got terrible diarrhea, started a period, developed whiplash and a migraine, and the chills all at once. I felt awful! I spent all day yesterday in and out of bed, feeling dizzy and aching all over. Today, I’m feeling somewhat better, though weak and still dizzy. I’m booked in to spend a few hours with Grace, my acupuncturist this afternoon to try and fix it so I can get on with my week. I’m pretty convinced I did this to myself and that if I were better able to control my anger, I wouldn’t have had to go through all this. I definitely need to meditate more! I can’t quite believe just how sick I made myself.

The dilemma of comfort

How much is too much? We work to make money to provide for ourselves….and some of us lucky ones, like my boyfriend and I, get to do something that we love and enjoy doing every day for a living. We don’t make millions, we make enough to live very comfortably provided we aren’t silly with our income. We have an above average home, but it’s at the expense of having  below average vehicles, and we’re happy with that. We don’t want for anything really and I feel very fortunate for that, especially right now. However, my Sifu doesn’t seem happy with us. She doesn’t like that we spend so much on our home which is also our office, but not our car for some reason. She thinks it should be nothing for me to drop an extra $60/month for Hula classes, and doesn’t understand why I have to think about that extra commitment before agreeing to it. She called me selfish for not wanting to pay that much. I don’t understand why she is questioning why I have to ‘save’ for a new vehicle, and not just go buy a new one when I need it. I’m really confused about this. I think maybe she thinks we have more money than we do. I don’t know. Maybe she wants us to spend everything we have. She once told me that we could live off $2K a month in Los Angeles quite comfortably. I really can’t see how that’s possible when between Kung Fu, Hoola and Belly-dancing, I would be forking out several hundred a month alone. Yes, it’s possible, but I’d have to be ‘selfish’ and not pay for any classes at all in that case.

All I know is, I’m trying hard to build my company because I feel strongly about how important my work is to kids’ education, and I try hard to keep my financial situation in the black, not committing to extra expenses if I can’t afford them, saving for things I want instead of buying them on credit, and always paying my bills on time. With these practices, we’ve come a long way between us, and not being stressed out about how we’re going to pay the bills each month really helps us focus on other things…..like meditating. Now I realize that meditation is supposed to help you not get stressed out about this kind of stuff, and that if I were enlightened, I wouldn’t even be stressed about it at all….however, I’m just starting out and it’s just not that easy to do. You can’t just drop all your concerns and replace them with contemplations of a higher level. I wish it were that simple. If it were, I would think none of us would need to practice at all…we’d all just be enlightened.

I subscribed to Shambhala Sun recently, and it’s come to my attention that ‘Buddhists’ in America appear to be quite wealthy…at least those subscribing to this magazine. The articles are about successful Buddhists in executive positions, directors, writers and successful artists..all making a lot of money. Even millionaires at Google, setting up mediation classes at work. Companies like TED cater for way above average income individuals who can afford the $6K entry fee to experience lectures and presentations on how other similarly wealthy individuals are finding great new ways to do amazing things technologically, artistically and best of all, altruistically. These people are making a lot of money, but they take it and do wonderful things with it. They help develop syringes that break after one use so that children in India don’t get infected with HIV from reused needles in hospitals. …something that is a common practice…..and there’s so many other projects they come up with that are just amazing.

I don’t want to lose sight of what I could do if I continue building my business to become financially independent. I’m hoping that this doesn’t make me selfish. That it doesn’t mean I have an attachment that is not healthy. I want to be able to help more than just a couple of people in my life, in some way or another. When I see people at TED, it inspires me to think of ways that I can contribute to the well-being of thousands that need help. I haven’t come up with anything ground breaking as of yet, but I think eventually I will figure something out.

But for now, I’m still confused about what my Sifu expects of me at the moment.