Otherwise known as ritual distractions.
I know it’s been a while, but isn’t it always?
I cannot say that I haven’t been writing – because I have – but as usual, I haven’t been posting as often as I’d intend.
There’s something about the ritual of sitting in this chair and writing that works for me, and yet, posting rarely seems part of that process. I have been thinking a lot about processes and rituals as I am currently overthinking..er, writing…a small collection of rituals.
Perhaps it is more of a devotional, as much of what I’ve written leans more towards personal devotional rituals for the solitary practitioner.
At any rate, it is as it has always been…though I have been writing, I have not been posting in this blog.
It occurred to me that I have been dragging my feet lately, as I resolved in the new year to focus more upon not just writing but organizing my devotional practice into something much more coherent than it has been. Long have I been getting the nudge to consolidate the jumble of notebooks and computer files into a consistent organized whole.
I know that my life could benefit from a more structured approach…and yet, the more I focus upon the task of collection and consolidation, the more scatterbrained I feel. I feel like a student all over again, hunched over my desk, busily compiling five years’ worth of devotional writing from the stack of notebooks, the relevant pages clinched by paper clips with worn covers peppered with Post-It notes.
In an attempt to help, my son suggested that I try using a ‘fidget cube’ – a desk ‘toy’ designed to help one focus – as he claims that being allowed to use one in class has improved his ability to focus while writing.
So, I held the fidget cube in my left hand while I transcribed my notes on Anglo-Saxon runes and a Beltane bonfire ritual into my laptop.
Later that evening, when I was sitting in front of my altar, attempting to meditate, my mind kept wandering toward other things.
Distracted by thoughts of runes, bonfires and masks, I struggled to push those thoughts and attendant vivid imagery aside.
I opened my eyes, and my gaze settled upon the mala beads that lay atop the cigar box in the center of my altar.
Recalling how this mala had helped me focus in the past, I reached for them, closed my eyes, and settled into the words of the prayer that I had created for them. While the prayer I created for them is simple and almost repetitive in its rhythm – as that is exactly what I need when I have difficulty focusing – I have said this prayer so regularly… that it suddenly became clear that something wasn’t working.
My breathing felt off, and my thoughts kept trailing off in strange ways so much so that I kept losing track of the words.
Disturbed, I opened my eyes, and looked down at the beads in my right hand…as if the beads were the problem.
Funny that…because I know better.
But it definitely occurred to me that I needed to do something else to focus.
I thought about that fidget cube on my desk in the other room.
And it got me to thinking of the similarities between this mala and the idea of fidget cubes as the concept is perhaps the same:
It seems to have always been true of me that in order to force my mind to be still, I have to be doing something.
I have to be moving in some way, however small or slight.
And so I reached for the fidget cube.
It has six sides – each side requiring a different movements of the fingers: pressing a button, flicking a switch, rolling the thumb over a ball bearing, or spinning a small dial that makes a satisfying clicking sound…
(Yes, that one….)
Clickity. Clickity. Click.
And so I settled into that.
Odd…but it *worked*
So here’s to a different technology, I guess.
Though now that I think about it…it did sound a lot like typing.
“I think everyone feels like they personally own, somehow, all the many possibilities inherent in their lives. But I think that only lonely people, or frightened people, really celebrate that fact or enshrine it as the most important fact of all.
I co-own all that I have experienced thus far, and I’ll co-own everything that happens from this point, with someone or many someones.”
I’ve heard it said that everything in life happens in cycles. Sometimes I am comforted by that truth, and other times, I am horrified and despairing of it.
While I don’t know if I would define what’s happening to me as the result of some sort of cycle, I do know that I have been thinking a lot about the facts of my spiritual experiences, and how much they have affected my life and my identity.
And the simplest way I can identify this cycle is to accept that
3am on YouTube:
As it is with most people, I thought this song was about a romantic relationship.
But when this acoustic version of ‘3am’ came across my suggested YouTube feed today, I actually assumed it was going to be ‘3am (Breathe)’ by Ana Nalick.
Instead, I was surprised to see Rob Thomas at the piano, informing his audience that it was actually meant to be a song about his mother. And he continued on about how when he was 12 years old, his mother was dying of cancer.
Upon hearing that, I suddenly burst into tears.
Not that my mother is dying of cancer, mind you, but I am estranged from her (for reasons which many of my longtime readers may be aware –but I don’t feel like repeating the long and sordid story of our toxic relationship right now….)
Though suffice to say, I sometimes find myself uselessly mourning for the relationship we did not have.
Related to this, I have been dreaming of my father – who did die of cancer – 10 years ago as of last month.
I have been dreaming of him a lot lately…and in every dream, he has come to me asking for me to make amends with my mother.
And of course, sometimes I cry about that too. As much as I would like to oblige my father, I am a stubborn bastard just as much as my mother is. As well, while I know that what is wrong between us could likely have been fixed long ago if one of us could relent, I am tired of being the only one who relents …over and over.
You see, my mother is one of those people who can never admit to the wrongness of her behavior, and so it is unfortunate that she has continued to insist that she has ‘never done anything wrong.’
Thus I haven’t any contact with her since 2009.
And so here I am.
Some of my long-time readers have begun to notice that my devotional practices seem to have shifted a bit.
A major feature of this surprising change has manifested in that while I still work primarily with Loki, I have begun some major work with Odin.
(Yes. Believe me, no one was more surprised than I was concerning that change – trust me on that.)
The bulk of this work – regarding runes, astral travel, and energy movement – often occurs somewhere within the liminal hours, especially as Tuesday bleeds into Wednesday….
Which lately, has led me to have some rather restless nights, full of much sleep interruption.
Despite how I feel about that, it is the way it has been for the past several weeks now.
So, while walking one of my dogs this AM, this song came up:
….as I was thinking thoughts on how it’s been going concerning working with the Two of Them, and I realized that there are several aspects to these interactions that are expressed rather well through this bit o’ pandoramancy.
They *do* seem to know just what I need
And They might just have the thing…
because They *both* know what I’d pay to feel.
And… since I’m often prone to being a touch melodramatic when I’m sleep-deprived, I have been known to ask Them to – y’know –
put me out of my misery…
The suicide king being Odin
and you know the drama queen just has to be Loki.
I love Brene Brown…even when she is throwing out some hard truths.
So you can gather what I am talking about, you might want to watch the video.
Y’see, I , too, am a ‘blamer.’
It’s true of me that when something bad happens, my first thought is often whose fault is this? – and, more often than not, I twist it in my head until I’ve found a reason for whatever happened.
I need to know why. I am a person that needs to know why.
Even if -more often than not – I end up blaming myself for whatever it is that happened in some way.
Yeah. I know that that’s unhealthy.
Yep, I thought that that was holding myself accountable.*
This mindfulness and this desire to hold myself accountable for myself and my reactions to bad things happening is often the way that my thoughts go. And I’ve had enough therapy to know that I’m only doing half the work, too, when I stop and actually think about it.
Why is it only half the work?
Because the full work would be the realization and implementation of the fact that some bad things happen because they are random. Sometimes there is no reason.
Yes, it’s true that sometimes bad things happen because someone wasn’t mindful of themselves or others – and I include myself in that – and rash decisions get made. Things get broken, or feelings get hurt, or what have you, and often emotions fuel those decisions.
But the key is – the process of thinking that there has to be reason somewhere. That there has to be a reason, there has to be a fault. And that there has to be this endless overthinking and wasting of time and resources trying to figure out why something is, why something happened, or what led to this or that result.
As Brown points out, the fault-finding and blame is a discharge of discomfort and a desire for control of the situation, including getting control of one’s emotions and reactions.
And that gets me to thinking about my zen Buddhist therapist who speaks a continuous refrain of how I need to work on letting shit go, learning that the only person one can control is oneself and one’s reactions to the world, and the constant reminder that the only moment is the present moment. He talks endlessly of the fact that the present is the only moment in which we can live, and how when one has realized this, and one focuses on mindfulness and control of oneself in the present moment, only then can one create inner peace and happiness.
Oh yes, it gives me a headache sometimes…this zen business. The letting go, the reactive vs. proactive paradigm, the mindfulness — so much jargon. I cannot deny that this all feels exhausting sometimes, and I’ll admit that I fall back upon ingrained reactive habits and value judgments, and and and….*sigh*
I wallow in self-blame, another waste of time.
I seek control.
But the only control I seek in the end is self-control.
*This video opens my eyes to the mistake I’ve made concerning what accountability is.