Friday, June 22, 2018

Post Traumatic Stress

Last night over a candlelight dinner with friends in a peaceful, upscale neighborhood, we reminisced about the day we met walking our 5-year-old girls into kindergarten on their first day of school. How sweet that over the years those little girls have grown into wonderful thirty-something women with grace, intelligence, and beauty. How heartening that they love to be with us, the parents, instead of seeing us a necessary chore. How special that our families have remained close and intact.

And then, of course, the conversation turned to the inhumane crisis as immigrant families from south of the border are torn apart when they reach "America," land of opportunity. How cruel this myth and even more devastating the reality.

Ten-twenty-thirty years from now we will have a population of thousands upon thousands of deeply traumatized children grown up to be adults with terrible scars. Like all dehumanized populations, many will thrive nonetheless, but the majority will live with nightmares of all varieties, coping as best they can with deeply inflicted wounds on the psyche. Families will also suffer the horrors thrust upon them as they experience the worst possible nightmare...losing their children at the hands of a fascistic police force called ICE.

Post-traumatic stress is a real and debilitating factor that makes this current state of affairs a toxic brew. Unless the evil doers -  45 and his minions - are stopped, we will have a failed experiment called the United States of America.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Dreams and Reality

My spectacular husband Michael died four years ago this month. We were together 24/7 for 30 years, working at home offices next to each other, always within earshot. I have dreamt about him a number of times but the one I had early this morning was the most fascinating of all.

In my dream, I dreamt that I was in bed asleep and dreaming. In my dream within a dream, I was imaging the presence of my husband sleeping next to me. In my dream within a dream, I thought to myself, I am only dreaming that he is here. He's not really here, he died. Then, in my dream within a dream, I woke up and realized that he wasn't just in my dream but he was really there and I was so delighted that he was actually still alive. Remember, this is when I woke up from the dream within the dream so my perception that he was really there was still what I was dreaming.

In that dream within a dream Michael and I had a typical good morning conversation about plans for the day when we were to get up, and indeed the dream continued throughout the day as we hurried through a busy life.

And then it all ended. I opened my eyes and was back in what we call reality; in this case, a sunny bedroom in Los Angeles with a large picture window looking out on a landscape that promised to heat up as the morning fog lifted.

A mystic or psychologist might be able to explain this clearly than me. Perhaps the dream was a longing for me to wake up and realize he is still here. And maybe it is so.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Anger and Compassion

I am facing a conundrum. When confronted with a situation that angers me, I default to my training as a Buddhist, mediator, and advocate of reconciliation versus retaliation. Thus, my voice remains in the range of normal speaking decibels, I try to put myself in the other person's shoes even if they aren't my size, and not express my dismay at the other's actions, words or perceptions.

This is all good if one does not want to start a family feud, lose a business partner, or on a grand scale start a snowball effect that creates chaos and unrest in every corner.

But herein lies the problem. Being rational with others does not address the irrational, subconscious aspect of myself that buries the anger. Apparently, buried or unreleased anger is not good for one's health. So how to let out the toxic steam that builds up and festers on the inside?

Of course, there are methods for exorcizing anger; having psychological tools is a good idea. Yet, in the end, the only workable solution is having compassion for self and others.

The proverbial words from the cross, "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do," gets to the heart of the matter. If we were all steeped in sublime awareness and love, we would not hurt each other. We could not speak or act from a paranoid, ego-centered worldview. The problem is that we are not aware. We are not awake. And herein lies the rub.

Are we to hate each other or ourselves for our ignorance? That chastisement creates and perpetuates the cycle of doom. Can we force others or ourselves to wake up faster than the process would allow?

So while waiting for the light to illuminate the dark shadows, a little patience and compassion would go along way.

Have a better day.

Between the Frying Pan and the Fire

When the first inklings of a pandemic started brewing in late January, I was in Bodgaya, India, the place where the historical Buddha attai...