Tuesday, September 8, 2015

SRSLY, Kentucky?

What could this county clerk POSSIBLY have to say? The news is swarming, eagerly awaiting her "statement". Perhaps she will say: " I just hate gay people SO MUCH!!!"  Or maybe "when the law comes between you and the people you want to discriminate against, you do what's right and stand up!!" OMG. And I love how ALL of the irrelevant presidential candidates turned out for this. SMH. Really? This is news??

Monday, May 25, 2015

I just got back from my FIRST ever silent meditation retreat!  3 days long...wearing my refuge bracelet with pride;)  I earned it!

So, the first evening, we gathered in the meditation building for guided meditation and instruction, and took the vow of noble silence:  that means no speaking, and no eye contact.  We were to ignore each other. It was very weird at first--uh--where do i look?  I soon found that my big floppy hat was most helpful in keeping my noble silence and respecting that of my fellow yogis as it shielded my eyes and theirs from meeting accidentally.

Day 2 was the first full day, and I found the sitting familiar enough and the walking meditation quite pleasant.  Most sessions were 30 minutes to 45 minutes, one after the other.  But they treated us like grownups--we could do what we wanted.  I chose to adhere to the schedule and to substitute one walking meditation for Yoga, as permitted by the retreat teacher.  As is common, I struggled with a bit of drowsiness due to deep relaxation and the sudden bubble of sensory deprivation I was in, not to mention lack of sleep....I had elected to camp, which i do NOT recommend, as the retreat center is basically along the side of the highway.  Not so peaceful at night with 18-wheelers and semis roaring by at 3 in the morning with their blinding lights penetrating my pathetic little tent.  ANYWAY. Day 2 was easier than expected. Until work meditation.

My shift was at 5:15, so I arrived at 5:15 for Pot Scrubbing in the Kitchen.  No problem.  Anyway, for practical purposes, I asked the staff how long a shift was, and they didn't know. there was one other girl there, and then me, scrubbing a HUGE pile of bowls, pots, pans, utensils, baking sheets, chafers.  By myself.  but no one else came.  and I was HUNGRY.  I had nearly passed out during the sit right before--was it from hunger? Dinner was served at 5:30, and I could smell the delicious food and see the yogis lining up to eat.  pretty soon the line was gone, and FINALLY a young man showed up to help scrub pots.  He seemed to know where everything went and how to do it...what did i miss? I asked him (not silently)  when his shift was and he said 5:15.  That's when I realized that my shift was a cruel joke and no one cared if I ate or not and maybe all the food was gone and I'd still be scrubbing pots when the bell rang to get back into the meditation hall for a sit.  Whoever scheduled me for a 5:15 totally hated me and was out to teach me a lesson about being a real yogi.  Wow did I spin out!  My head went bananas with this being some kind of personal trick to teach me a lesson about virtue or something and finally the kitchen began to fill up with pot scrubbers so i spoke to the woman who was there first and as I hoped, she encouraged me to go eat!  So I did.  I realized, later, that my first work meditation was on day 1, but for whatever reason I assumed that it definitely did NOT start the first evening.  I mean!!!!!

Day 3, again, not the most restful night, but eager to go deep into meditation and glide through another day.  Not so.... I found all day, my mind was completely out of control.  In spite of my best efforts to concentrate, I was whisked easily away into fantastical scenarios and could not fight it! SO frustrating!  I had ZERO concentration.  And no ability to detach from my thoughts they were so consuming!  I was powerless!  Not to mention the pain in my lower back that seemed to be radiating from my glutes, probably because I had been sitting for a day and a half in the traditional yogi cross leg position knowing that I have tightness in the outer hips and that is NOT a comfortable position for me but I wanted to sit like i'm "supposed to."  SO, fortunately, Mary introduced compassion practice, and so I began to reflect on compassion for my self and I had to really think long and hard about where I went wrong and what a compassionate response to my current situation looked like!

I began to recognize that I was "supposed to" sit in a position that is comfortable for ME, not what everybody else is doing.  AND that also compassion meant spending some time lying on my back with my knees bent to relieve this lower back pressure, and gently stretching my spasming glutes.  Compassion was NOT forcing my body to contort into yogic outer appearance, but being with what is natural for ME.  Fine.  So I entered the next meditation sit kneeling, which was still tensing my back and hard to maintain even though it was MUCH more comfortable, my spasming muscles were tender. Again with the irresistible scenarios, playing out in my mind, hooking me completely and I powerless to resist them.  I found my body twitching, and I SO WANTED TO  QUIT!  I really, REALLY wanted to give up!  I was SO uncomfortable, and achey and twitchy and spasmy and my mind was everywhere but on my breath forever and ever.  on and ON.  It felt profoundly unsuccessful.

After lunch, I was prepared to just face really rough meditation for the rest of the retreat, but a miracle happened:  My heart broke open, thanks to meditation instruction and guided heart practice from Dave.  He invited us to breathe into our hearts.   Even acknowledging my heart was something i hadn't done often or intentionally since I was a child.  Then he suggested that we acknowledge that though we pretend every day, up to this moment, life has NOT been an easy ride.  we offered this phrase to ourselves over and over again:  "I see your pain, and I care about you."  i could hear sniffling all around me, and I know I was among a room full of yogis with tears streaming down.  It was a powerful, moving, and painful release.  Immediately after that, my meditation was TRANSFORMED.  I could focus clearly on my breath with very minimal wandering off for the entire half hour!!!  Dave had helped me break into what was blocking me!

I have to say, I got what I came for.  I had dismissed heart practice as easy, and guided practice as lightweight, the "real" practice was the naked concentration with no "crutch" to lean on.  Well, I was wrong.  It is the heart practice that I need the most!  without the ability to engage with my heart, there is no concentration.  Powerful, meaningful lesson that has transformed my practice forever.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Well.  That was the first time I saw him since I decided that the reason he stopped inviting me to do stuff, or when I invite him to do stuff he's busy, whereas before he would rearrange his schedule, is because I've stopped providing sex.  Because we broke up.  It wasn't a long relationship, but its the freshest wound i have, and its not the first time that I have experienced a significant amount of pain around a breakup of a short relationship with someone with whom i was not "in love".  The thing that hurts SO much in each of these cases, is that it confirms my beliefs that my value is my sexuality, and that when sex is withdrawn from the equation, spending time with me is no longer of value to this other person.  Maybe I ought to choose another perspective on this.  perhaps I am "choosing" to believe this is the scenario, and I can rewrite the story to support another conclusion....but i don't believe it.

I DO believe in my agency, responsibility and empowerment, and yet, I keep falling into this trap!  I take full responsibility for my choices in this event, including ignoring the milestones recommended by authors of dating books as to how long to wait before having sex with a man.  It seemed safe.  He seemed different.  I felt ready.  but NOW i feel totally different.  He's just like the others.  It just hurts.


I don't blame men.  Men are just as much victim to these toxic ideas as women are, and not ALL of them are perpetrators.

Its a scientific fact that repetition is effective -- this is why advertisers do it.  and the repetition of this message is hurting me, and i'm not alone.  it hurts all women, and it hurts the men who want to have relationships with them.  This repetition is further reinforced by my experience, or my interpretation of the experience--is that a result of my existing internalization of cultural status quo?

There's nothing I can do.  I tried talking with him about it.  He denies it.  but believe what they do, not what they say.  I guess if i've learned anything from this, it's that.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Usher!! WHAT are you DOING???

I guess Usher has sold out. In his latest release, "I don't mind," which is an ode to a stripper, he sings that it's ok for her to objectify herself for money as long as he retains sexual possession of her.  He praises her and encourages her for making money exploiting the men who come to the club.  This encourages women to become strippers, and men to patronize them.  Is everybody ok with this?

Theres a double standard in our culture because no sane parent would encourage their own daughter to dance provocatively for money and yet someone is buying this album and listening to it.  Praising women who pole dance and writing SONGS about it--this is creating a culture that accepts and encourages exploitation of sexuality in men and women, fosters unhealthy relationships to sex including obsession and compulsion, fosters a culture that VALUES self-exploitation and materialism above humanity.  There is a price that men and women pay who participate in sexually exploitive transactions that makes it a careless, degrading and harmful choice for all involved.

I guess Usher has never claimed to be a feminist or an advocate for people of color or for disadvantaged or impoverished communities in this country, but I guess i'm disappointed in his lack of sensitivity to the pervasiveness of  inequality in our culture.  I know, some people claim that stripping is "empowering" for the women who do it, but OFTEN women who choose this occupation have compromised emotional and psychological health as the result of abuse, making it that much more exploitive and an extension of the abuse.

There is not a SINGLE man i have spoken to who has said, "YES, i'd LOVE it if my daughter worked as a stripper" but none of them can articulate why.  They claim that its OK to patronize strip clubs and objectify the women who work there because its the women's CHOICE.  Many men have said that they would definitely NOT date a woman in that profession.  Why?  None of them can tell me why this double standard is acceptable to them.  Its definitively unacceptable to ME.

Here's why:  The stripping industry harms men and women.  Exploitive behavior harms everyone involved.  Objectification harms everyone involved.  Legal, encouraged and serenaded objectification creates a culture that exploits men and dehumanizes women.

Why do i feel like i need to speak up about this?  why can't i just let it go and say "well, its their choice"?  BECAUSE it harms me and the people I love directly.   Commodifying the objectification of women makes it culturally acceptable to commodify women and women's sexuality.  This dehumanizes women and contributes to a culture of disrespect toward ALL women.  a culture that accepts this transaction does a disservice to its men by blurring these boundaries and cultivating mixed messages, and disrespect for women as a cultural standard.  Usher's song cosigns the dehumanization of men and women and therefore, Usher actively participates in the oppression of women and the exploitation of men.  I wish he felt ashamed.  Instead he is proud of his success, praised by all who benefit materially from the production of this song and the listeners who finance their own dehumanization.

This song is an act of terrorism.  Its a burka.  its casting a veil on the humanity of women and enslaving them to the role of servitude forever.  its a cultural disaster and it makes me so, so sad!  The lack of compassion that it takes to ignore all these deeply harmful side effects is beyond irresponsible.  Until we recognize all women as our daughters, and cherish and respect them by treating them as valuable human beings, we participate in our own oppression.