Category Archives: bipolar

Today's Lessons

Get up and do something first thing in the day.

Be active.

Be motivated by love.

Don’t be silent anymore.

Simplify life — remove whatever and whoever does not inspire, inform, add personal value and friendship, or provide a needed service

Clean it up, and make it easy to keep clean.

There will always be more things to learn and do as the day progresses, but you have to start somewhere.

Peaceful

It’s always great when things that were going wrong with your world begin to go right again. I’m feeling really peaceful and enjoying the quiet of the moment and the peace I am feeling. In about a minute I’ll get up to feed the dogs, and they will fill the space with their energy. But this moment, just now, is peaceful and calm.

Hope all is well in your world, too.

My summer vacation

I’m finally back from my vacation time in Florida, and have been going through a lot the last couple of weeks and am still sorting it all out. I’ll be back to blogging regularly eventually. It’s been an interesting and challenging time for me, and I’ve been busy making major changes in several people’s lives. Hopefully for the better, but we’ll see in time. With so much changing in our world right now, it feels difficult to keep up the pace, so I’m slowing mine down for a while. Meantime, I’ll post some less intense and more fun things here.

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You are The Empress

Beauty, happiness, pleasure, success, luxury, dissipation.

The Empress is associated with Venus, the feminine planet, so it represents,
beauty, charm, pleasure, luxury, and delight. You may be good at home
decorating, art or anything to do with making things beautiful.

The Empress is a creator, be it creation of life, of romance, of art or business. While the Magician is the primal spark, the idea made real, and the High Priestess is the one who gives the idea a form, the Empress is the womb where it gestates and grows till it is ready to be born. This is why her symbol is Venus, goddess of beautiful things as well as love. Even so, the Empress is more Demeter, goddess of abundance, then sensual Venus. She is the giver of Earthly gifts, yet at the same time, she can, in anger withhold, as Demeter did when her daughter, Persephone, was kidnapped. In fury and grief, she kept the Earth barren till her child was returned to her.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Reality is all in Your Head

The key, then, to self responsibility is taking 100% ownership of our thoughts, feelings, and actions, while at the same time remembering that we don’t know much for sure.

It is quite immature for adults to stomp their little feetsies, and say, “I don’t understand, I don’t believe it, and I’m not listening to another word!”

Such an odd thing. People are stuck in a pile of shit, and insist that

a) it appeared by magic,

b) they had nothing to do with their being in it,

c) someone else is to blame,

d) someone else should dig them out, and

e) they don’t want to even consider how they got into the pile in the first place (as they place their fingers in their ears, and start humming.)

If I assume that what I know is provisional and incomplete (what Zen calls Beginner’s Mind…) then life actually becomes kind of simple. If I am standing in roses I can enjoy it, then move on. If I am standing in shit, I can extricate myself, and then devise a way to not end up there again.

The Point?

The entire universe is going on right in your head. You are creating everything through the stories you tell, and experiencing everything as you choose to. Your experience, your feelings, your thoughts, all are you — you are choosing out of many, many options, those specific things. If I have Beginner’s Mind, I can start again, and pick some other way.

via Reality is all in Your Head | The Pathless Path.

Fashion and the Slavery of Self-Imagery | Daily Renewal: Freethinking Bipartisanship

Thoughts and words can do more damage than many of us imagine. A number of my counseling clients found that they had been held back or obstructed in their natural psychological development by a single sentence, phrase, or idea from their youngest years, which had entered their minds at a critical moment of fear, exposure, or self-consciousness, and become stuck there, like a computer virus on a hard drive, repeating its insane demand or neurotic claim. Every one of us has the wherewithal to become free of such ideological microbes; all we need do is commit ourselves to the quest.

via Fashion and the Slavery of Self-Imagery | Daily Renewal: Freethinking Bipartisanship.

Narcissism

waterhouse_echo_narcissus
John William Waterhouse – Echo and Narcissus

“Narcissus does not fall in love with his reflection because it is beautiful, but because it is his. If it were his beauty that enthralled him, he would be set free in a few years by its fading.” — W. H. Auden

“As individuals and as a nation, we now suffer from social narcissism. The beloved Echo of our ancestors, the virgin America, has been abandoned. We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves.” — Daniel J. Boorstin

“America has been knocked-up with democracy’s mutant love child. She has finally borne the demonic spawn of greed, narcissism and civilian indifference. (Congrats on a second term Mr Bush).” — Jules Carlysle

“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.” — Diana Vreeland

“Narcissism and self-deception are survival mechanisms without which many of us might just jump off a bridge.” — Todd Solondz

“Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.” — Andre Dubus

“We’re making far too big a deal out of our sexual preferences. It’s just another form of narcissism, and I think it can be a big problem and a tremendous obstacle.” — Andrew Cohen

“Whoever loves becomes humble. Those who love have, so to speak, pawned a part of their narcissism.” — Sigmund Freud

some quotes via Ritholz

“ I think you live more and become more familiar with the workings of your own mind — the darkness in it, the narcissism — and the desperate attempts the ego makes to cover that up.” — Patrick Page

“The paradox about narcissism is that we all have this streak of egotism. Eighty percent of people think they’re better than average.” — Mark Leary

“In males, narcissism is something that has been associated with immaturity. Classically, it’s something men are supposed to abandon to become adult males. Today, consumerism tells all males that … they never need abandon their narcissism. That they never need grow up. Just so long as they buy the right products.” — Mark Simpson

“Narcissism is an occupational hazard for political leaders. You have to have an outsized ambition and an outsized ego to run for office.” — Stanley Renshon

“Because that’s what narcissism is all about; looking in the mirror everyday and thinking ‘Damn, I’d like to shag myself.’” — Eddie Izzard

“I have come to realize that we live in a society that encourages narcissistic behavior. And there is an explosion on the internet of sites devoted to narcissism, as well as narcissistic web sites; youtube, my space, etc…” — Stephen McDonnell

social-media

T-shirt logo via despair.com

“Narcissism doesn’t mean you think you’re the greatest person on earth, but rather that all things in the world are relevant only as they impact you…. Being on YouTube, having a blog, having an iPod, being on MySpace– all of these things are self-validating, they allow that illusion that is so important to narcissists: that we are the main characters in a movie. Not that we’re the best, or the good guys, but the main characters. That everyone around us is supporting cast; the funny friend, the crazy ex, the neurotic mother, the egotistical date, etc. That makes reminders of our insignificance even more infuriating.” — The Last Psychiatrist

Desire


Desire — Justin Simoni

That was no beast that stirred,
That was my heart you heard
Pacing to and fro
In the ambush of my desire.
To the music my flute let fall.

– “Neither Spirit Nor Bird” (Shoshone Love Song), trans. Mary Austin

The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.

The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.

— Tao Te Ching: Chapter 7
translated by Stephen Mitchell

Heaven and Earth last for ever.
Why do Heaven and Earth last for ever?
They are unborn,
So ever living.
The sage stays behind, thus he is ahead.
He is detached, thus at one with all.
Through selfless action, he attains fulfillment.

— translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English

Transcending the ego is equivalent to transcending suffering. Your ego, which is your false self, keeps you identified with your mind. The ego keeps you tied in thinking about your past and it also makes you think about the future. The ego wants you to be anywhere other than where you are at this moment. The ego makes you believe that something is lacking in this current moment that is keeping you from being at peace. Maybe you believe that you need a new car or a dog or a shirt in order to feel better. There is nothing wrong with purchasing any of these things or wanting any of these things but if you believe that they will make you feel better then the desire is probably ego-based. Unfortunately, under the rein of the ego you will never be at peace and you will never transcend suffering.

The ego is the source of desire. When you remove desire you can remove the ego. This is definitely easier said than done; however, just being aware of the impact your ego will help to remove its grip in your life.

The next two hindrances are raga (attachment, desire) and dvesha (aversion). Within these are the more specific hindrances of attachment to pleasure, or sukha, and aversion to pain, or duhkha. Sukha and duhkha in themselves are simply natural human reactions. Sukha and duhkha become raga and dvesha when attachment is present, for it is in the attachment to pleasure and the aversion to pain that we get into trouble. — Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat

“The man whom desires enter as rivers flow into the sea, filled yet always unmoving — that man finds lasting peace.” — Bhagavad Gita

So much desire in the world today
So much of everything you can’t give it away
You could be happy but you’re feeling so bad
About what you never have
Because you can’t look at nothing without wanting it
And you know that’s the truth

There’s always some scene you think you got to break into
Or a new sensation to intoxicate you
Ain’t it a drag
Staring through the glass at something doesn’t touch you really
Or bring you laughter or roses or stroke your hair so tenderly

Desire
Stealing you away from me
Desire
You’re living in a dream
Desire
Is getting the best of you…

Who was it told you
You have to have everything you see
Same one who sold you that last fantasy
Roll up your sleeves and use those hands for something
That’s gonna work for you baby
To fill your arms and your heart with joy

Desire, Boz Scaggs

Positioning (repost)

Heron stands in the blue estuary,
Solitary, white, unmoving for hours.
A fish! Quick avian darting;
The prey is captured.

People always ask how to follow Tao. It is as easy and natural as the heron standing in the water. The bird moves when it must; it does not move when stillness is appropriate.

The secret of its serenity is a type of vigilance, a contemplative state. The heron is not in mere dumbness or sleep. It knows a lucid stillness. It stands unmoving in the flow of the water. It gazes unperturbed and is aware. When Tao brings it something that it needs, it seizes the opportunity without hesitation or deliberation. Then it goes back to its quiescence without disturbing itself or its surroundings. Unless it found the right position in the water’s flow and remained patient, it would not have succeeded.

Actions in life can be reduced to two factors: positioning and timing. If we are not in the right place at the right time, we cannot possibly take advantage of what life has to offer us. Almost anything is appropriate if an action is in accord with the time and the place. But we must be vigilant and prepared. Even if the time and the place are right, we can still miss our chance if we do not notice the moment, if we act inadequately, or if we hamper ourselves with doubts and second thoughts. When life presents an opportunity, we must be ready to seize it without hesitation or inhibition. Position is useless without awareness. If we have both, we make no mistakes.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

I’ve been thinking a lot about this one. One of the comments my yoga teacher often makes is that yoga is about creating “steadyness of mind”. I think this is what this passage means. We have to steady and quiet our minds, creating awareness. Then, when opportunities are presented to us, we can easily know what needs to be done and take action.When your mind is confused or distracted with conflicting ideas or feelings, it can be impossible to know what to do. But Tao trains us in quieting and steadying the mind, just as yoga does. The two are very effective together.

I think I would like to learn other techniques for this as well. I know the medications I take have a great effect on steadying and quieting my mind and my thoughts, which is very helpful. My gardening becomes like this for me as well, as I get into an almost zen-like state of seeing what needs to be done and doing it, without doing so much that the overall effect is ruined. Not that I have a zen garden, it’s far more of a cottage garden. I don’t care for the over-manicured look of most meditative gardens, really. I prefer a natural look.

People often remark these days on how calm I am; how so little seems to upset me. Oh, sure, I can get upset when it matters. But little things don’t bother me. I am learning to trust Tao to work things out, and start to look for what comes to me when my plans are upset. Often I’ll find just what I’m looking for when things seem to have gone awry. So I’ve learned that sometimes Tao is telling me that what I need may be different from what I have planned, and learn to be less upset.

I suppose a lot of people would say their belief in their God is like this, but it’s different for me. I don’t look to a god, unless you could consider everything in life some part of god. For me, it is all a connected whole. I don’t see myself as separate from god, or other people as any better or worse for what they believe in. Perhaps I’m more Hindu in that, just accepting all gods as part of the pantheon. But I go further in accepting all spirituality as basically the same. What I don’t accept in religion is the imposing of one’s beliefs on others.

So, I guess I am learning to stand more quietly in the stream, hoping to catch more fish. Hey, last night I caught a pretty great salmon, all nice and cooked and brought to my table in a tasty sauce. The fishing doesn’t get much better than that.

(originally posted on Friday, January 14th, 2005 )

Mudita — Empathic Joy

from Wikipedia:

Mudita is a Buddhist (Pali and Sanskrit) word meaning rejoicing in others’ good fortune. Mudita is sometimes considered to be the opposite of schadenfreude.

The term mudita is usually translated as “sympathetic” or “altruistic” joy, the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being rather than begrudging it. Many Buddhist teachers interpret mudita more broadly as referring to an inner spring of infinite joy that is available to everyone at all times, regardless of circumstances. The more deeply one drinks of this spring, the more secure one becomes in one’s own abundant happiness, and the easier it then becomes to relish the joy of other people as well.

The traditional example of the mind-state of mudita is the attitude of a parent observing a growing child’s accomplishments and successes.

Mudita is also traditionally regarded as the most difficult of the brahmaviharas to cultivate. To show mudita is to celebrate happiness and achievement in others even when we are facing tragedy ourselves.

The “far enemies” of mudita are jealousy and envy, two mind-states in obvious opposition. Mudita’s “near enemy,” or quality which superficially resembles mudita but is in fact more subtly in opposition to it, is exhilaration, perceived as a grasping at pleasant experience out of a sense of insufficiency or lack.

Somehow, I am still working on this one. I received some excellent news from a friend this week, and it was a bit hard to just be happy for him. He’s one of those friends who has cut me off to a great extent, though not as completely as others, and sometimes I simply miss those people very much. The saddest part of bipolar is that people are often so unforgiving of things that happened during a manic time, in a way that is hurtful. And even when they do forgive, the closeness that was there is lost and can’t be recovered.

Still, I am happy for my friend and wish him all the best. He has all that I ever wished for him and all that I tried to show him how to attain – so I should simply be pleased with that. But intentions are often misunderstood, especially when they are expressed by someone in a hypomanic state, as I’m sure anyone who has dealt with bipolar disorder knows all too well. Even those fun shopping sprees can have repercussions we don’t expect later on. It’s good to not be in that state anymore!

So while I don’t work to “just be normal” anymore, now I think I work beyond that even, to try to come to a place where I can be glad even for those who do not wish me well. And finding joy even for those who cannot let me be a part of their lives is a difficult, but necessary, step for me.