Monday, October 14, 2013

The Zen Way to a Balanced Life

 Bring it On - That is the title of this charming sumi-e painting from Nine Lives Studio.  I feel a little like that kitten - rather fluffy (gained a couple of pounds recently) and not quite sure on my feet, due to tardive dyskinesia (yes, brought on by a medication).

Nevertheless, I am leaping.  I am offering a course called "The Zen Way to a Balanced Life," to begin in November and meet for four weeks, ending before Thanksgiving.  I'm trying out a Saturday morning meeting time (10:30-12:00) so those who work during the week or don't care to drive at night can attend.  The course will meet in my home.

What, am I crazy?  You know I am.  That's actually my primary motivation for sharing Zen.  It has helped me have a life despite bipolar disorder and PTSD. 

I began meditating in 1997 because I was afraid my breast cancer would kill me.  I still get acutely anxious sometimes - there is no cure for being human - but I'm alive. Two years later my practice helped me get through the mental tornado of being yanked off  lithium - twenty years of over-medication and toxicity was harming my kidneys.  No one had told me it could do that.

Many practices begin the way mine did - with suffering so acute that you're motivated to do something.  That particular problem passed, as all things do, and then came the next car in the train of human life, which always has plenty of dark cars.  More, as you age.

Zen can help you survive these things with some grace, if only because it teaches you to let them pass.   Along the way, zazen builds some of the skills needed to live a peaceful life.  Maybe most important to me has been equanimity.  The ups and downs of life are bigger for people with emotional disregulation.

Of course bipolars are not alone in experiencing joy, depression, frustration, dissatisfaction.  We may be  more intense than the temporarily normal, and have often had more bad luck, but it's all about being human.  As the Buddha said, life is hard.  Practice helps.

You are invited to e-mail me for a description of the course.  My address is in the sidebar to your right.
p.s.  If any guest doesn't care to have a cat around, we put Tashi away.  That does sometimes mean faint plaintive meowing provides an opportunity to practice patience.
Photo: I fold myself, thank you.
Self-folding cat


  1. On a cold fall day, take a big bunch of clothes, fresh out the dryer ….throw them on your bed and lie in them….you'll instantly understand the cat's sense.