Posts Tagged ‘frustration’


2016 has been a very chaotic year, hasn’t it?

I had told my friends in December that I sort of felt like 2016 would be a year Outside of Time: not quite linear with the past, but neither would it be free from past influences. Meaning, just because things went a certain way in the past, that doesn’t mean they’ll go the same way now. We’ll still have to deal with them though, and it may even seem like everything from the past is coming up to be dealt with at once.

That’s exactly how 2016 has been feeling to me. Year of the Id. Everything bubbling up at once, resistant to the old ways of dealing with them.

The upside of this is that we’re getting new opportunities to resolve things that have gone unresolved for far too long. And if the old ‘tricks’ and ‘tactics’ won’t work, then we’re finally forced to resolve them in new ways. Since the old ways clearly weren’t working, this gives us the opportunity to finally move forward.

So if you are also feeling the crushing waves of chaos battering you against the shore — or, worse, the undercurrent pulling you under — take a moment to ground yourself.

Take a deep breath, then breathe it out slowly, releasing your frustration at all that arises.

Take another breath, then slowly breathe out your grief at all that has slipped away.

Breathe in again, this time opening your heart as well as your lungs, letting the breath of fresh air sustain you.

Breathe in another sustaining breath, letting the oxygen nourish your mind, opening it up to fresh perspectives.

Through breathing, create an eye within the raging storm, and let events continue to unfold for you. As they do so, practice acceptance for what’s unfolding, learning to look for the new possibilities opening up.

I have a sense that 2017 has the potential to be a truly beautiful year, filled with progress and possibilities that we hadn’t before thought possible. To get there, we’ll have to make it through 2016, learning as much as we can about how to build the space for such a beautiful year to unfold.

May you find peace and wisdom throughout whatever events are surrounding you this year, and may they bring you to a better place. Just hang onto your center, keep your eyes and mind open, and I trust you’ll make it through.



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Today, I tried to accomplish a few things. Rather, today I failed to accomplish a few things.

The one thing I accomplished (mostly) well was getting some fresh air, playing with my son.

As I’m wrapping up my day and wondering how I did with it, I’m comforted I at least had my priorities (mostly) straight.

I suppose one of the difficult parts about not getting where you want to go is recognizing what you did well, so you can build on that going forward.

Tomorrow, among other things, I’m going to spend more time with my son.

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Since I’ve been practicing it as promised, I want to explain just a little by what I envision by “Have no more conflicts. Enjoy a positive association with everything.

For me, this phrase is a succinct reminder to maintain some measure of calm acceptance, finding a touchstone of positivity in each moment. Since the everyday frustrations seem to keep evolving over time, it helps for my strategies to evolve, too.

By having no conflicts, I mean, don’t get wound up about a situation being different than I might otherwise hope. Where there’s a disagreement or such with an individual, I’m trying to remember to address the actual issue rather than treating the person involved with it as a problem. Yes, I may perceive them as being the one who “started” the problem, but dwelling on that only interferes with finding a solution. Generally they’re caught up in their own maelstrom of frustrations, and having a little patience with that can help clear some of the storm for both of us.

And that’s where enjoying a positive association comes in. If an otherwise negative situation involves someone I like or love, I remember to focus on that while resolving (or accepting) the situation. If it’s a stranger, I remember to focus on the fact they are a human being, and I happen to like human beings.

If it doesn’t involve another person at all, there’s generally something about my situation or environment that I can focus on with a sense of appreciation, or even just humor. Anything that can help me enjoy that sense of positive resonance that we feel when we’re in the presence of something we welcome into our lives.

I hope that helps explain a little about how I’ve been practicing this, perhaps giving ideas as to how you might enhance your enjoyment of your own life. If so, please give it a shot! Just a little bit of trying out a new habit can make a world of difference in how we experience our world.

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I was talking with someone about how I try to be fairly strict about not eating not-so-good food and snacks. My body just does not react well to them. This means staying away from refined grains or starches or sugars or, really, most anything very processed. Also, just about no animal proteins (I’m allergic, for a start).

I said I have to be very strict because I don’t feel I have much willpower. My friend protested, saying that I show a lot of willpower by staying away from the foods. I explained further that when I stay away from them, I’m not tempted to over-indulge in foods I oughtn’t be having at all. It would be fine if I could have just a little bit here or there, and sometimes I do. Then, it’s not too long before I start to have a little more, and a little more, until I’m making it a bit of a habit.

The fortunate thing is, it doesn’t take long before my health begins to suffer from my over-indulgence. I then notice that I’ve been feeling a bit worse, do a mental inventory of what I’ve been putting into my system, and get right back on the wagon.

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I’m working at home this morning, and I turned to my home computer and saw where I had started a post last night before falling asleep. I’m not sure anymore what I was going to say.

I’m sitting here with a young puppy whining and barking to play some more, a sun conure squawking about how he wants to play too, and a fussy toddler leaning on me because he’s glad his mommy’s home and he wants attention.  All while trying to figure out how to arrange numbers on a spreadsheet so they help me pinpoint details in a nebulously vague issue.

Within all of this, the moment strikes me as part of a truly beautiful life. Every single annoyance is just one little part of something or someone for which I am truly grateful.

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I just wanted to give a quick kudos to my Commander Brain. There’s been several things that we haven’t been able to be in control of, including some things that have absolutely been my responsibility to ensure work out a certain way as much as possible.

My Commander Brain has rolled with it though, feeling less anxious about the loss of a feeling of control. Or rather, the feeling of there being no control. Sure, I know consciously as well as subconsciously that ultimately there is no real “control”; there are just too many variables outside the human grasp. There remains the habit though, of wanting to try to hold the imaginary reins even so.

With so many such things slipping from our grasp or staying just out of reach despite a promise to come closer… Well, I think my Commander Brain has done fantastic at keeping centered and allowing whatever comes to come. There’s been minimal super-frustration, and what has arisen has been pretty short.

This daily presence practice has been working out pretty well for me. Let’s hear it for Happy Zen Year!

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I was talking with someone about something she really hopes comes through the way she’s wished. She has so very many plans contingent on this one thing, that she just doesn’t know what she’d do if it doesn’t work out that way.

Goodness, do I know that feeling. I also remember all the times things absolutely seemed like they were on the verge of working out exactly how I had hoped-wished-dreamed-begged them to. I remember that anxiety, that hope, that trepidation…

And I remember the utter frustration and varying degrees of “negativity” when they failed to come through.

But a funny thing has happened over the past couple of decades: I have found myself living a fantastic life, that I wouldn’t have had if those other dreams had worked out. I’ve gotten here down a series of steps I wouldn’t have thought to wish for, but I’ve taken leaps of faith in following.

So my advice was to hold onto the hopes, certainly! Beyond that though, I’ve found it’s helpful to have some faith in your life for delivering what you really need to find happiness and success on your path. We don’t have all the information, and we don’t have all the answers. This means we don’t really know whether our happiest, most successful life lies down one particular path, or another.

In times like those, I’ve been trying to practice being grateful to my Inner Self for helping me navigate my way through. I’ve tried to be grateful for the great times that we’re working to create together, and the support I need when they aren’t going so great. I’ve found holding the gratitude in the present moment has helped me receive more to be grateful for in the moments that followed.

Not to say I always succeed in holding that gratitude, but I feel it’s important to practice feeling what it feels like. That way, it’s that much easier to find again when it’s needed most.

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There were many tests to my patience and fortitude today, and I’m not entirely sure I passed all of them. I lived them, though, and I was aware of my limits even as they were being pushed… and pushed past.

So I was sure to take a moment or two a few times throughout the day to re-center, and recharge. Even if I didn’t do completely stellar today, I did a lot better than I would have in times past. I also took this opportunity to practice a little better for next time.

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I used to talk to someone about having a relatively Zen Buddhist approach to life, and he got onto me about how much I like certain things. “Isn’t the whole point to have no attachments? You’d be upset if you lost your computer, so you can’t really be Zen.”

I told him how I prefer Alan Watts’ translation of the concept as “no hangups”.  Sure, I can be upset if I lost my computer for example, but I’d do well to not let the event carry me away with it.  It also wouldn’t do me any good to get bogged down over the idea of it making me upset.  Entanglements can become pretty recursive like that.

What’s funny is that relatively recently, my computer did get fried and took a while to be properly fixed.  And I wasn’t that upset.  Maybe that was one of life’s little pop quizzes.

Speaking of, tonight something came up that made me pretty angry and upset.  Now that I’m sitting here already getting over it, I got to thinking about the process I just walked through. Yeah maybe I shouldn’t have gotten mad to begin with, but I’m not gonna get all that hung up over it.

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I’ve likely shared this story somewhere in the early days when I was doing this right, but it’s time for a retelling, regardless.

In some ancient town, there was this master calligrapher and zen artist who received a visit from a pretty well-off local. The visitor wanted to hire the artist to draw for him a cat, in that zen way of communicating the cat’s essence in pure and simple lines. The artist nodded and agreed, letting the local know that he would inform him when it is ready.

Well, time passed. A couple weeks went by with no word, making the local think that perhaps his drawing wasn’t as high on the artist’s priority list as he’d have liked. So he popped in to gently ask if the drawing was ready, and was politely told no, but he would be informed as soon as it was.

So the local waited until the following month before visiting again, enjoying tea and conversation, hoping the topic of the drawing would come up, if not the drawing itself. No dice. So before leaving, he asked, “Oh yes, the drawing of that cat, I don’t suppose I could pay you for it now and bring it home with me?” The artist apologized, replying, “No, it is not ready, I will let you know.”

Month after month, the local paid a visit, sometimes asking, sometimes not, but never going home with that darned cat. Finally, he visited on the anniversary of the day he’d first commissioned the work.

“Master, you are a busy artist I grant, and I respect your work and your time. But it has been a year! I insist you produce my drawing of a cat, or I shall have to withdraw my commission!” The local had tried to be patient, but was concerned he had come across as angry as he’d felt.

If so, the artist had the grace to pretend not to notice. Instead, he nodded respectfully, then sat down to his table. He set upon it a fresh, clean square of parchment, and dipped his brush into the ink. With one fluid motion, his brush moved to form the lines that drew a cat.

It was beautiful. It was simple. It expressed the stillness-before-action that is the very essence of a cat. The soul feels a “click” of understanding that nature, just by its contemplation.

The local was taken aback at first by the perfection of the drawing, then he became more angry than before. “If that’s all it took, why did I have to wait a year for this? Why didn’t you do this that first day?”

The artist was unperturbed, his patience still firmly in place. Humbly, he replied, “Because I could not do this before today.”

He then turned to his work cupboard, opening the door. Out spilled hundreds of smudged drawings of imperfect cats.

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