I write this blog for those who want to feel better and have a more peaceful life. But I also write this blog for me. It is a record that shows how determined I am to keep feeling good and experiencing less pain in daily life, as time goes by. I do walk Honey Girl every day and that helps. But where she can just chomp on some grass to get relief (like she was doing this morning), the various disturbances I feel now and then get stuck deeply in my system. Recreating a peaceful mindset is more of a challenge. Chomping on grass doesn’t work.
This blog reminds me that peace is possible, despite it all. But it is a daily effort.
Let’s take today as a case in point. This morning, I encountered a cluster of alarming icons on my phone screen. (I admit it: as soon as I opened my eyes, I looked at my phone. Bad habit, I know! But I’m just like you. We’re all addicted to those phones.)
Immediately, my stomach flipped and my shoulders tensed up, as I saw that my husband had called twice around dinner time, and my faraway son had called after midnight. Neither had left a message, as is their habit. I never know what that means, but it did not look good. Then I saw some texts. My Chicago-based son (with whom my husband was supposed to be dining last night with my brother and sister-in-law who were in town specifically for that purpose) texted the following message at 12:36am: “Hi, I just received an alarming call from Nick that you and Dad were worried about my whereabouts. If you can, can you give Dad my cell phone number. I forgot the details of his email for dinner reservations tonight and forgot to go. So I assume they were worried. Can you also tell him I’m sorry that I forgot.”
Well, as you can imagine, I immediately texted back to him and in no uncertain terms told him to deal with his own mistake and make his own apologies. Then ensued more texts. YUCK! Whatever happened to waking up slowly on a peaceful spring morning?
Well, I tried to recapture the moment. I looked out the window, and opened it wide to take in the sight of a pear tree covered with white blossoms, to listen to the songbirds in the trees, and to admire the powerful St Joseph River flowing swiftly by down below. But that sick feeling remained in my gut. It remained for a couple hours, until after I took Honey Girl for a walk and did my morning routine. In retrospect, it just makes me a little sad. And a little tired. (Actually, very tired.)
Anger management has been an issue with this family. I am a bit worried about witnessing the remnants of Rich’s anger at that son when he gets back later today. (See the book by Mason and Kreger on the bibliography: an essential help for living with hotheads.)
So what can meditation and T’ai chi do for all that emotional turmoil? Like most people, I exist in a web of relationships. For better or worse, I do not seek to extricate myself from that web or to adopt monastic vows. So I must cope. And it is the coping that brings the joy, because it allows me to spread peace to the ecosystem where I am planted. It is a sad fact, however, that joy is personal. You cannot force others feel it. Nevertheless, it can be yours!
Bob Klein describes the typical person’s nervous system as a dammed-up mountain pass or blocked riverbed. T’ai chi and meditation are tools which allow one to chisel an opening in the stone, and allow the water/spirit/energy to flow through freely. For daily practitioner of T’ai chi, life can be transformed. As he writes inspiringly, “When you speak or act, the channels have already been opened; you are satisfied with what you have created and now your creative spirit flows through. In other words, after you work on yourself, transform yourself, empty yourself, then you must trust yourself. You must trust that when you act or speak spontaneously, good things will come out.” (Movements of Power, 161).
Let’s give trust a chance.