Tuesday, December 4, 2012

To Study the Self

Sycamore in fall
After a ragged week or two I am back to alternating up and down days or, as I prefer to call them now, high-energy, low-energy.  The best thing about this is that the moods are more moderate than they were this fall, which makes the high-energy days especially good, since I can be creative without angst, without my mind tending to flare off in every direction.

The reason I am noting this here instead of in my private journal is that I realize I never felt this good before.  Before the bipolar broke out, and broke me out of my attempts to live according to conventional standards.  Before I got off the 20 years of over-medication wished upon me by one psychiatrist after another. Before my kidney transplant, when I was just too low-energy to do anything but survive.  Before I got back on minimal and judicious psychotropics.  But especially, before I had cancer, which was when I set out on a dead-serious meditation practice and years of retreats and study of the Buddha way.  That made the difference. 

If I summed that up, I'd say now I'm able to just be here, doing what I'm doing without a lot of conflicting desires and ideas messing me up.  I've developed some equanimity and contentment.  I feel centered.

I didn't get here through psychotherapy, though it was necessary.  Getting to know yourself takes more than an hour a week of someone listening to you.  The idea of zazen (the Zen style of meditation) is that we spend many hours watching our own minds and selves in action, and opening ourselves to the bigger mind.  My Buddhist readers know I am about to quote famous lines from Dogen's Genjokoan:
To study the Way is to study the self. 
To study the self is to forget the self. 
To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things of the universe. 
"To forget the self" means to me that I am no longer in the grip of my impulses and conditioning.  I do this blog because I hope to inspire readers a little, or just give them a bright spot in the day.  I can't make anyone happy.  You have to do the work, a lot of it.  I'm just here on the path beckoning, saying, You really ought to try this for six months or a year.

If you are a beginner at meditation or keep losing your way, here is a post I found recently on how to form the habit of meditation that makes sense to me.
[p.s. And please take in the comment below. - he knows what he's talking about.] 


  1. And please tell everyone, that there is no "Bad" meditation, so that when you are feeling like you want to run or go do something, it is not perceived as being worse than a calm sitting.

  2. Mind Deep has some good information if one has a few years into practice: