Thursday, October 28, 2010

Circles and Cycles

I forget I have this blog. Then I remember.

The biggest thing since the last time I posted anything is that Lana and I are Expecting. We are basically on the cusp of the Second Trimester. Lana is dealing with all the physical and emotional changes admirably, and the biggest day-to-day issue is her nausea, which we are hoping will subside now she's in the 2nd trimester, and changing dietary urges. Many things she usually loves to eat just don't taste good any more, and so we are trying new things, preparing things differently, that sort of thing. Our baby-to-be is about the size of half-a-banana. Which is just as well, because Lana has been eating plenty of those, plain and in shakes.

For me, it's an interesting time, because Marian is now 17, a senior in high school, and living with her mom most of the time. When she graduates in June, we'll be there with a one-month old, and there will be pictures of Marian with her cap and gown and diploma, holding her newborn sister or brother. I am not sure which part makes me tear up more -- our newborn child part, or my precious Marian being a high school graduate and going off to make a life for herself.

So we are having a very 21st Century wedding next August, complete with a baby that will be three months old. One of the things that I have to do for the wedding is arrange the Officiant aspect. This has been a stumbling block for me, because I am a religious and spiritual person, but I can never seem to get straight WHICH religuous tradition, or blend of traditions. So having to choose something, and soon, has put me in a mindset of questioning and pondering. I have been floating around rather aimlessly, not doing Jewish practices, not doing much of anything.

Thankfully, Chrissy Cox of The Infinite happened to send me an event invite on Facebook for Zen Meditation a few weeks ago. I have loved the idea of the Infinite and wanted to take a class there, but nothing was any good. Hoops? Yoga? Belly Dance? Um, no. But Zen Meditation? Zazen? You just sit? Oh, I can totally do that. And I got the invite on a stressful Monday, and something deep inside reached up and embraced this thing, and I went that night. What was even better was the fact that I got in a shouting and cursing exchange with a driver who was honking at me for daring to take the lane on Pine, as I rode to The Infinite. Then there was the three-car fender-bender that happened outside The Infinite during the second period of Zazen. All this conflict and collision and anger. And all there was for me to do was sit.

I used to practice the SGI/Nichiren Shoshu form of Buddhism, and a lot of it really resonated with me, and I internalized a lot of it, even though that particular practice was definitely not for me. But I kept interested in Buddhism, and loved the work of Thich Nhat Hanh that I read, Peace is Every Step and The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching. Developing a practice of Mindfulness, of using things like phones ringing and red lights to bring oneself back to the present... this stuff is very powerful for me. It is simple, and very difficult, but even doing it a bit here and there has palpable benefits.

The practice of Zazen is similar. It really works for me in groups. I have NEVER been around other people and been quiet and still for such long periods before. It is hard to do -- one evening I got panicky and stressed about not knowing how much longer we would have to sit, and it was really neat that I was able to sit there and breathe, and do something that Thich Nhat Hanh suggested when you have emotions you experience as negative come into your awareness.I recognized the anxiety and called to it "hello, old friend! I remember you" and I welcomed it into me and held it and soothed it. I didn't judge it as inappropriate and declare it unwelcome. I just held it as I sat there, and I marveled that I was actually sitting still, not moving, while I had a freakout, and that by embracing my feeling, I was no longer experiencing it the same way. Part of me was still anxious and eager to move, and part of me was observing, and consoling my anxious part.

Anyway. It's an ongoing thing. I try to practice alone every couple days and just sit for 15 minutes, and sometimes it seems to help, and sometimes it's all I can do to sit there. But I keep coming back to it, and it feels good.

The group that teaches the classes at The Infinite is from the Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center, which is affiliated with the Soto Zen lineage. For some reason, I feel drawn to this group and Soto Zen, so I am planning to learn more and practice more with them and see what happens.

And to bring it back to the wedding, I'm thinking maybe we could have a Zen officiant. Not sure. We'll see. But I have to make up my mind pretty soon. :)

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