e/u: meditation. mindfulness. equanimity.

Blog

Posts tagged practice
Deconstruction

In thinking about writing this blog or posting anything on the e/u social media or Patreon, I kept coming up blank. Where do I start? What do I say?

So we’ll start from the beginning.

In August, I was diagnosed with very early stage cervical cancer. As you might imagine, this threw my world for quite the loop. My boyfriend and I were getting ready to move, I had had some other medical things going on, I still hadn’t taken my acupuncture licensing board exams, etc. Because we caught it early, we anticipated from the beginning two surgeries: one that would hopefully find the margins of the cancer and another, a hysterectomy.

Cancer was never something that I thought I’d face personally, but with something like 1 in 2.5 people being diagnosed with some form of cancer, it shouldn’t be surprising. Cervical cancer itself is a pretty rare these days with the regular use of Pap smears, but it still happens and (like many gynecological cancers) it often doesn’t have a lot of remarkable symptoms. After finding out more about it myself, I had a lot of “ohhhhh….” moments.

Having the word “cancer” thrown around a lot in your general direction kind of gets your brain working on different cylinders. As someone who planned to live for as long as humanly possible, what on earth would it mean for that? What does the rest of my life look like after this? I don’t want children, but it’s still weird to have to have the choice taken away from me because… cancer. What are the lifestyle changes I need to make? What sort of plans or “affairs” need to be put in order?

I remember that there was a very specific time when I decided that I didn’t want to die. My prognosis from the beginning has been good, but regardless of that cancer is scary. It gets you to face mortality in a different way. For the most part, I try to be at peace with the idea that we inevitably all must leave our bodies, but I had a very specific moment of “No, not yet.”

On October 5th, I had my first surgery. Leading up to it, I worked very hard on staying close to my breath, being prepared for post-surgery, and so on. The surgery went well! We found out last week that there were clear margins and everything looks good for my next surgery in another month or so. I’ve had some unexpected hiccups along the healing path, but no major complications. I’ll meet with my doctor in another week to go over the next step thoroughly.

Since diagnosis and all the whirlwind of other things going on (who knew moving was stressful?), I have stepped away from e/u to focus on life. What’s happened has been a bit of a deconstructing process. I’ve had to look at lots of areas of life and see what’s helping or hurting. I’ve had to find my willingness to accept and ask for help (from my boyfriend running an errand to friends bringing food or setting up a gofundme), which is not an easy thing for me. I’ve had to look at my own expectations of what a day looks like or what my timeline of life looks like. It is sort of as if every area has had to take a little piece from here or there to cobble together what life is for the time being.

In the deconstruction, my practice looks a little different now too. I’m meeting the moment as it is in a new way and bringing a different awareness to each day. I don’t sit as formally, though this is something I am steering back toward. It’s been an interesting ride and experience to find the places in the day where the breath fits, where the awareness catches. I watched my heart rate change with my own breathing while waiting in pre-op. My chanting practices have been with me throughout this experience so far, but I am also interested in getting them back to a more formal setting. I’m starting to further experiment working with pain, the breath, and visualization. I’ve had to re-assess what yoga looks like for now.

I’m honestly quite grateful for this taking apart and rebuilding. It isn’t the process I’d have asked for, if I’d had a say. I had expected life to look a lot different around now. But this is it for the time being and we do what we can with it.

So what does all this have to do with e/u? I am happy to start offering a little something.

I’m hoping to be a little more present and engaged on social media, the blog, and so on. But more importantly, I’m starting to offer individual meditation sessions. For now, these will be available via phone or FaceTime and run 30-45 minutes. I’m not setting a sliding scale for these, but rest assured that no one will be turned away if it’s outside of your budget (just contact me to schedule). Hit the button below to book a spot.

I hope to see your name on my schedule and to spend some time in meditation and mindfulness with you. As life continues to change, I’m hoping to offer a little more as I am able.

Take good care of yourself and we’ll talk soon. <3

Let's Get Real

What good is the love and light smoke people are blowing up your ass if you can't apply it to your life? What good are all the inspirational Rumi poem memes if you can't do anything with them? When you can't get dinner on the table, what is any of that worth?

 

If you can't apply it to your life, why talk about mindfulness? Meditation? Yoga? Real love? Why bother? 

 

I find myself trying to wade through different yoga teachers or light workers on social media. I think about what their lives must be like if they have time for all that production, and what I come up with sounds great. Personally, I work multiple jobs and go to school full time. I need things that feel real and reachable. I need things that I can apply to make my life better, especially when I have trouble finding time for that dinner. 

 

Don't get me wrong: I'm a sucker for a sunset and some trees and adventure. I like to talk about your breath and being present. I like to drill down past the illusion of reality to what's really real... And that real reality can sound pretty dang crazy. 

 

But how do you APPLY it? How do you make it real in your life? 

 

Well, the best example I can give is what I have: my own life. If we rewind a few years, we will discover younger Kirsten: angry, depressed, anxious, avoiding all emotions at all costs. My real journey with all of this started following a break-up, a death, and a bombing. You could say that was enough to make me switch gears, but it doesn’t have to be that drastic.  

 

So what does life look like now? Why do I bother when I clearly have "other things" that I could be doing? Well, in part I find a seat on the meditation cushion or a space on the mat just to make it through the day. Our brains are loony tunes and if you don’t think so, try to sit still for a minute. I sit and I practice so that I can look past all the crazy stories my brain tells me about how hard my schedule is or hard school is or how terrible it was that time that person did that thing to me. Is my schedule hard? Sure. Is school tough? Yes. Was it terrible that time with that person and that thing? It was indeed. But telling myself the ramped up stories of those experiences didn’t help then and won’t help now. Learning to meet those things with compassion and openness, welcoming the feelings, recognizing them, and letting them go: that’s the priceless part. That’s the part that allows me to live my life as I do, finding tiny steps to freedom and fulfillment, baby steps to awareness and presence.

 

Angry, anxious, depressed, robot Kirsten fades into the distance slowly. It’s a practice. Things take time. I spent 30some years learning how to be bitter and cynical and scared of love. It’s going to take some time to change the patterns. But every day, I try to be a little more present. It helps me. It helps others. It lets that tightness in my chest unwind.

 

Your life doesn’t have to look like a perfect beach sunset. It doesn’t have to be totally organic and non-GMO. It can be imperfect and totally fine. We talk about love and light and breathing and presence for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is making your every day a little easier to manage. Anger and depression (or whatever it is that’s holding you down) can be happy little homes we build for ourselves to live in, but if you don’t want to live there any more, you don’t have to. Little by little, we can change the landscape. 

 

Note: Patrons get early access to podcasts, blogs, as well as additional posts and meditations. Check out the Patreon for more.

In Search of the Ideal

Practice can be hard, even on some of the best days.  As I sit here chugging orange juice while surrounded by used tissues, it seems a little impossible to practice. There are times that I can barely breathe through my nose. I don’t want to sit on my cushion so much as I want to lay down in bed. 

 

We so often look for the ideal scenario to practice in: “I can’t sit today because I didn’t get enough sleep.”  We do this to even begin practice:  “Oh, I’ll start after I get that job and life is less stressful.”

 

Life is never going to be what you think is ideal.  I can’t wish away this cold any more than you can wish more time in the day. What if you don’t get the job you think will change everything? Why are you holding back from something that could benefit you in whatever the situation? Putting off my sitting practice until I can breathe through my nose just means that I am missing out on an important part of my day and overall experience. 

 

Practice is a thing that is designed to help us, even in the moments when we don’t/won’t/can’t practice. Your practice can support you wherever you are, if you let it. For me with this cold, it’s helping me to slow down a little bit and just experience what’s going on, as opposed to pushing away the sickness.  The cold is going to run its course and no amount of force on my part will help (though I’ll stick to my orange juice because it’s delicious). Practice helps me to see that and be okay with it. It helps me find a little patience in the cloud of tissues.

 

Searching for the ideal when/how/why to practice is just as fruitless as searching for the car/job/thing that will create your ideal life. You’d be surprised at what ideal really is when you get down to it. Maybe the ideal is now.