Pay Attention in October

I’m a bit late on my October tasks, but I gave myself a break after burying my father-in-law simply to meditate on life, its wonder and brevity, and focus on helping my husband through this difficult time. Without further ado, here is what my happiness muse tells me I should focus on during the month of October.

a) Meditate on koans.

When I first read this, I admit I thought she was instructing me to meditate on financial issues. However, once I read a bit farther, I realized that I was being instructed to meditate on the big questions. A koan is a story, a question or a statement which, in Zen-practice, is used to provoke the mind, to exhaust the analytic intellect and the egoistic will, readying the mind to entertain an appropriate response on the intuitive level. Two koans that I have encountered often in general nomenclature are: (i) if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? and (ii) the only way out is through.

The statement “the only way out is through” seems particularly relevant to recent events in my world, namely my husband’s father dying, and to a much lesser degree, my anxiety and sadness surrounding The Boy starting kindergarten and beginning to grow his independence in leaps and bounds that I haven’t seen since he first became mobile. So this month I will meditate on “the only way out is through” and in doing so, I hope open my mind to greater possibility and awareness of the ways in which grief and anxiety change me.

I realize I’m probably way over simplifying this whole task of meditating on koans, and I want to delve deeper into it, but my heart needs a little time to heal, so I will start small and meditate more and deeper as I go. Once I fix the cushion on my meditation chair.

b) Examine True Rules.

These are concrete lessons that come out of people’s particular experiences. Again, recent events are going to provide me with lots of these life rules. Perhaps the only True Rule I will find is that life is short and can be taken away at any time, so I should live every day to the fullest. I suppose that’s a cliche, but cliches are that for a reason: generally, they tend to be true, and thus become overused and cliche.

Right now the only True Rules I can come up with are (i) children grown up even when you don’t want them to, and (ii) everything changes.

c) Stimulate the mind in new ways.

This sounds suspiciously like “try new things.”  Of course, I’ve been trying new things all year long, so I’ll bite. I just don’t know what I can fit into my schedule right now ….  I’ll keep you posted.

d) Keep a food diary.

Um, okay. While I admit I’m not in the shape I was in before I had a child and I’m a few pounds over my ideal weight, I’m not sure that keeping a diary in which I record every blessed thing that goes into my mouth will be particularly helpful.  I’m stressed out enough about it already.

I’m a little more nuts about my weight and size than many.  Once you’ve had an eating disorder, even when “cured,” it never really goes away, and I find myself freaking out over my weight and calling my sister to talk me down off the ledge.  Intellectually, I know I’m a healthy weight, but I look in the mirror and see someone I don’t recognize, someone I don’t want to be.  I hate feeling the waistband of my jeans touching my waist – not cutting into it, just touching it.

Despite knowing that tipping the scales at 100 pounds when I’m 5’7″ is scary and unhealthy, I still keep that in the back of my mind as my ideal, and I admit that unless I keep that girl in handcuffs, she will sneak up from the back of the bus and knock me over the head in the name of taking over my eating and obsessive exercise patterns.  I still look longingly at the photos I have in which my collarbone juts out like a shelf under my neck and the my neck looks as if it can barely withstand supporting the weight of my head.  I fight every day, every meal, not to let that girl take over.

I don’t want my child to grow up with food issues.  I don’t want him to believe that eating or not eating will make anyone love him more or less.  So I keep those photos hidden away and hope that someday I will be able to look at them and feel that girl is gone.  I want to know deep in my heart that girl is unhealthy, and never again, even deep in my hidden heart of hearts, want to emulate her.

So, no, I will not be keeping a food diary.  I live a food diary.

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Filed under Just Life, The Beauty of Living

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