After my mother died, there was almost an immediate panic that all of the "junk" my father had been putting up with would just vanish.  By junk, I mean trunks full of my grandparent's treasures.  For the most part it wasn't junk, just volume: two sets of demitasse china, three or four sets of silverware, and things they picked up while living in Austria and Japan.

By the time he moved in 1999 from a house to an apartment, my father had gotten rid of many things.  However, I had squirreled away a few things that I thought were beautiful, or had meaning to me.  Among those things were two Japanese incense burners in the shape of the Buddha.  Now, I had never met my maternal grandfather (he died in 1966), and my mom died (in 1994) before I could find out more about these two statues, but I have a sneaking suspicion that they were my grandfathers (that he bought them or was presented with them).

Siddartha sits with his eyes closed and a slight smile on his lips.  This was my first introduction to Buddhism.  It wasn't an epiphany, it wasn't a charismatic sales pitch:  it was the relationship I had with these statues.  They weren't idols and I wouldn't pray to them.  It started with the simple question of "what does he know that I don't?"  Like the Mona Lisa, I could read his face a thousand different ways -- some days contemplative, some days joyful, some mournful.  I realized that I saw in him what I was feeling myself.

This question and realization began an investigation not only into Buddhism, but into myself.  I read the writings of the Dalai Lama, Jack Kornfield, Thich Nhat Hanh and many others.  I began listening to dharma talks, eventually landing on a few people that I really enjoyed listening to, like Tara Brach.  I liked the message:  you have the ability entirely within yourself to handle whatever life throws at you.  The same word kept coming up over and over again--mindfulness.

About two years ago I got the guts to attend a Learnapalooza event--Introduction to Meditation.  And well, I wasn't prepared for what happened.  I had listened to the dharma talks and the meditations, but it wasn't the same as being in the room with someone telling you it was okay to feel whatever you were feeling.  And I couldn't help but cry.  I don't know why I was crying, but I knew at that moment that it was okay, no one was judging me, I wasn't judging myself.  I had touched a place of vulnerability within myself that I hadn't discovered before.  I was being mindful by sitting there with my self without even noticing it.  In the second sitting, they lead the beginners through a compassion meditation (metta practice).  With the suggestion that we start small and not deal with the large issues looming in our lives, we began to be kind to ourselves, kind to someone who might have hurt us, and kind to a nameless, faceless person in the future.  Again, I cried because I couldn't help but jump into the deep end.  Whether I did or did not forgive those people, I recognized the shift to wanting to forgive them rather than bearing a grudge.

So wow, this post took a tangent far from what I wanted to get on about..... which were the 14 Mindfulness Trainings.

Last night I had 4 glasses of wine.  That was enough to get me drunk, frisky, and ultimately dealt me a nice hangover.  I woke up feeling just a little groggy, a little foggy.  And all I could really think to myself was that all drinking does is lead me further from who I am.  I looked in the mirror and my face was puffy, my eyes had remnants of eyeliner gunked into the corner of my eyes, and my body was shaking from the intestines outward.

I walked to the kitchen to feed the cats and saw my white board where it says "no alcohol" and reminded myself of why I put it up there.  It undermines my goals.  I can be social and bubbly without it.  I cannot, however, be healthy with it.

from Mindfulness Training #5: Simple, Healthy Living
 I will practise mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs or any other products that bring toxins into my own and the collective body and consciousness.

Deep down I truly believe that my fat is a battle wound, and that under all of it is a person I will recognize as my true self, someone whose intentions and actions are the same.

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