Sunday, 28 August 2011

re-minders, re-learning the lessons.

This weekend, I took to doing something with this dumpy attitude I've been reveling in. Instead of repeating moments of weakness, I simply changed my process and my idea about it.
There's nothing like a massage, a yoga class, taking a bus which you're not sure where it goes, and going with your whim instead of sticking to the concept of a plan. That's what I did this weekend, and it did wonders for my morale, and helped me to feel more human, and more like Lachelle.

I checked out a Jimjilbang (which is basically a bathhouse--only not creepy like in the west) for the first time on Saturday. This one was a 5 story wonderland of R and R: sauna rooms, hot tubs (the women's one had large penis fountains spraying water into the pools. Ha!) aromatherapy steam rooms, massage tables, large areas with floor pads for you to lay around and relax, huge comfy massage chairs,  a little restaurant, and sleeping pods, just to scratch the surface. At a Jimjilbang, you don't pay for anything in the moment, you just scan your wrist band and enjoy floating from each experience without worry about fumbling with money or whatever else. They give you a change of what look like gym clothes, though in the saunas and pools, clothes are not permitted. Those that know me, know that I'm pretty comfortable with the openness and freedom of clotheslessness, and so this was a welcomed atmosphere for me to just relax and let go. You pay the equvialent to 8 dollars to get admission to a Jimjilbang, and you are permitted to stay for about 12 hours or so. This is a common thing in Korea; friends or family come and hang out at the Jimjilbang to enjoy some quality time with each other, or people just come there to stay after the metro has closed down (midnight) and they'd rather not pay a cab. It's like a glorified hostel of extreme indulgence!

You can also pay a little extra to get a variety of massages (I got a sports massage, but there are aromatherapy oil massages, reflexology foot massages, thai massages, etc.) or a body scrub (after being in the sauna, your body naturally wants to shed the dead layer of skin (yum!), and there will be a korean staff member on it in no time!  I asked for a therepudic body massage to work out the tightness and stress that my body accumulated, and I would say it was the best massage experience I've ever had. This big Korean dude knew his stuff, and when asked "Soft-u or Hard-ee?" (as in pressure for the massage), you know I asked for more rigorous version.  Often I've been a bit let down by the hard version of a massage by some massuses, but this guy was top notch! I even got a bit of a stuffy nose during and after the massage, proving that he totally worked through my lymphatic system, clearing some accumulated gunk and stress out of my system. It's amazing how much this 1.5 hour body experience flipped my perspective on what I've been going through here.  Your body knows when you're ignoring it, and responds accordingly when it's treated nicely!

I also made a pact with myself that I was going to do a yoga class today, even though it's quite an expensive endeavor here. I paid the equivalent to 30 dollars for a 1.5 hour class. However, it was like taking the stopper out of a plugged drain, and totally rekindled inspiration, body awareness, and an upturned mind at the world. I was reminded of that blissful feeling after a rigorous yoga class as a student, completely able to let go and give in to the teacher's lead. To be a student is such a gift. I love that experience. I walked home lightly on my feet, with a clear mind and a supple body. THAT is what life is about. That feeling, of following and indulging in what makes YOUR life yours. A welcomed reminder from the universe!

This weekend provided an clear opportunity to acknowledge the juxtaposition between rough waters and smooth sailing. They both have their purpose, and without one, you can't have the other. So thank everything under the sky that this weekend, I was treated with the opportunity to do these things. It was a glimmer of light through the skylights of the tunnel that I'm travelling through.

Man, I've been nothing but introspective since I've been here. I guess that's the way it's supossed to be for now. Here's a little somethin' somethin' to lighten the material a bit. Ha.

And here's something (kind of long winded, but let it serve as a reminder for the future) I read today that resonated pretty fantastically-- from Pema Chodron's Taking the Leap:

"When we begin to see clearly what we do, how we get hooked and swept away by old habits and thoughts, our usualy tendency is to use that as a reason to get discouraged, a reason to feel really bad about ourselves. Instead, we could realize how remarkable it is that we actually have the pacacity to see ourwelves honestly and that doing this takes courage... This involves, fundamentally, learning to stay present, but learning to stay with a sense of humor, learning to stay with loving-kindness toward ourselves and with the outer situation, learning to take joy in the magic ingredient of honest self-reflection.

Learning to stay is the basis for connecting with natural warmth; it's the basis for loving ourselves and also for compassion. The more you stay present with yourself, the more you realize what all of us are up against. Just like me, other people feel pain and want it to go away. Just like me, they go about this in a way that only makes matters worse.
Being able to acknowledge when we get stuck (in an unconstructive habit of thinking), this is the basis of freedom. Just being able to recognize what's happening without denial--We can rejoice in that! The, if we can take the next step and refrain from going down the same old road, which sometimes we'll be able to do and sometime we won't, we can rejoice that sometimes we do have the ability to interrupt the momentum. That sometimes is major progress.
We can rejoice when we're able to acknowledge and refrain, and we should also expect relapses. Sometimes it's one step forward, one step back. Then maybe one step forward, half a step back.... It's like that when we work with our firmly entrenched habits (or ones that resurface). We include the compassionate realization that people have relapses (including ourselves). Chogyam Trungpa said that if we had nothing but smooth sailing, if our habitual patterns just dropped away, continually, week after week, we would have no empathy for those people who get hooked and act out.

The ideal spiritual (or general life) journey needs the balance of "gloriousness" and "wretchedness" If it were all glory, just one success after another, we'd get extremely arrogant and completely out of touch with human suffering. On the other hand, if it were all wretchedness, and we never had any insights, and never experienced any joy or inspiration, then we'd get so discouraged that we'd give up. What's needed is balance, but as a species we tend to overemphasize the wretchedness."

This speaks directly to what I've been experiencing for this past month. It's been a rough, but I'm now able to pick up my multi-tool, and instead of using it like a hammer (survival mode), I am actually beginning to use a few of the tools for their intended functions.

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