Sunday, November 19, 2006

Day 4 (Part II): I Love My Mom

One of my sits this afternoon was dedicated to one of the most amazing people I've ever known: Mom. I love my Mom. It's not that I don't love my Dad, merely that it's beside the point (and, to be clear, I love him deeply). Dad's the kind of guy who mostly doesn't care about these sorts of acknowledgments. Weather through Zen mastery or social conditioning birthed from off-the-charts-cognitive-genius unmatched by another, I can't say, but I can say his heartfelt desire to serve and support his family and the selflessness through which he has demonstrated that through the decades is a trait I have long admired.

But I digress.

When I was a little girl, I thought my Mom was the most beautiful woman in the world. . Sure, she had a few extra pounds on her for as long as I can remember, but with her mile long legs, calf development to die for, high cheek bones, pouty lips and killer smile, who was I to think anything but how beautiful she was?

Did I mention she always - and I mean always - had the best collection of coolest shoes a girl playing dress up could want to choose from? (Assuming Mom didn't catch me in her closet with the shoes, that is.) Fortunately for my pocketbook and chiropractic bill, though perhaps less fortunately for my sense of aesthetics, I developed my Dad's sensibilities around my shoes... though I remember the best pair of spiked pumps I ever owned was a pair of black Andrew Geller net and suede shoes I somehow convinced Mom to give me over a decade ago. I nearly cried when I discovered they were worn out.

I wanted to grow up and look and be exactly like my Mom. She has always carried herself with grace and power and for as long as I can remember, there was something about my mom that was alluring in her physical form. I think that's why I'm so comfortable having a few extra pounds on me. It might be her swagger when she walks... or maybe it is her ample decolletage, or as Mark might say, maybe it is a both/and.

Mom was my hero for many years - how many girls my age can boast a Mom who is still married, has 5 healthy, well-adjusted kids and still managed to have a successful career? Well, perhaps a few. I imagine though there are not so many who can laud their Mom as a woman who successfully navigated the politics of the New York City School System such that they landed a job as Superintendent of Schools. Mom was one of the first women to do that sort of thing. It may be she was the first in her district - I can't rightly recall.

Sure, I could say something things about how I wish my Mom were this or that or blah blah blah. When it comes right down to it, my sister-in-law Ilona (thanks girl - you got this right!) pointed out the fact that as different as we are, we are very similar women in some life-shaping ways. We are women with committed work ethics whose passion and fire show through in all we do and, at the end of the day, if there were a battle to be fought, I'd rather my mother were at my side than on anyone else's team. She may be the most fiercely loyal, loving and passionate woman I've known... well, save her middle daughter (yeah, that's me) whose grateful for the gifts we share, even if there are some we don't.

Day 4: Holy Colon Blow, Batman!

Everything changed on Day 4. Before sleeping on day 3, I had profuse thoughts which kept arising and would not pass away that were of a sensual nature - something about showers and my lover. I finally indulged these thoughts so, there it was, precept 7 out the door. That of course led to precept 3 following 7 out the door. Now, technically, precept 1 was already violated - I was killing bacteria in my colon by the uncountable multitudes alone and let us not forget the stray ants getting killed in the refrigerator door jam every time I opened and closed the door. Beyond that, I'd already noticed myself actually say, "Ok" at some point on day 1, so, what was I left with?

A very humorous situation, I tell you. As part of the master cleanse, in addition to taking laxative tea in the evening, you do a colon flush in the morning. This consists of drinking 32 ounces of water with 2 teaspoons of non-iodized salt in it. I assume that the salt water ratio is exactly perfect that it simply passes through your digestive system without the water being absorbed through osmosis (or the salt through diffusion) into the rest of the body. If you've never done this, let me share, it is quite effective.

Having gone back to taking tea on the third day (see, the tea loosens everything up and the salt water flushes it out), and getting up sluggishly before light on day 4, I waited to drink the salt water until after sitting a bit. After sitting and taking the 10 minutes or so to prepare the days "food" (if, as V suggested, you could call subsisting on 600-1200 calories of maple syrup a day (while cloistered in your home) "food") I took my salt water solution and then sat to meditate again.

There are certain sensations which arise and do pass away. I'm familiar with many of them. Pain, itching, sneezing, dry mouth, running nose, aching guts, and even, to my great relief, my burning butt -- at least to some degree, though, as I stated, it was tender all week. However, there are some sensations that simply do not "pass away" without some action, including peeing and pooping. (Remember: Poop spelled backwards is poop!)

What changed for me on day 4 was what I'm grateful to relate as a humorous situation, though, I'm sure there would have been a time in my life when it was embarrassing. There I was, sitting for my first sit of strong determination (the first official one of the 10 day vipassana) doing my best to have at least some moment of noticing my sensations in between my rather creative monkey mind experiences. Mind you, I had already sat on the toilet 2 times, so I thought everything would be okay.

Oh no... it was not to be. Do you know what happens when you have a bowel full of salt water solution and you cough? In my case, you're really grateful you happened to have put on shorts under your pants to address your concerns about anal leakage because, in fact, they had come true.

Now Buddha might have thought it enlightened to sit in a puddle of that nature; I did not. And left with nothing else but a really long laugh at myself, I had to reassess what I was actually going to do with the rest of my 10 day retreat.

The urge to throw in the towel was certainly pretty profound at this point - I'd broken half the commitments, I was sneezing, snotting, coughing and having great colon blows. And V had said to me as only he could, "If you're going to wimp out, you might as well wimp out big." He clarified this by saying wimping out on day 2 made sense; on day 8 it did not. This, of course, was in an effort to get me to go to his Birthday Party which coincides with day 6 of this 10 day journey.

I decided I'd call my 10 day a success if I didn't:
- call or email anyone
- do any work
- make anything
- not kill any ants intentionally (they are still committing mass suicide in my freezer)
- actually sit for 10 hours a day (3 full hours as sits of strong determination)

I thought I'd get the laugh out of my system and I resisted the urge to call 10 people who I thought would laugh hysterically at what had just happened to me. Instead, I got on my laptop which doesn't connect to the internet, typed up the whole thing and then I would get back to work.

This of course made me get back to the real question: What was my outcome? For what reason had I actually chosen to do this 10 day retreat?

The answers were clear: to get centered (check), to take some time for myself (check), to stop working (check), to take a vacation (check), to change some habits and develop new ones (hmmm.... We'd have to see about that), to do something which would help me grow (check), to develop my witnessing skills more (check) and to go deeper into myself (check). While I could say, on some level, I'd achieved all these things, I knew there was more to be had. So off with the computer and back to the sitting.