Tuesday, January 30, 2007


It's late and I'm awake finishing off sewing cushion covers for a rocking chair I plan to use for nursing. It will also be good to use it now for getting up, especially as it is newly covered. On my windows media player is a tape of one of the senior monks from Ian's tradition talking about mandala's. Although these figure predominantly in the Tibetan tradition I have little idea about them or how they are used, so I've been listening along.

From this, I get the gist that the 5 Buddha families are represented as points on the mandala, and that each of these has it's own representation as a "hindrance" ie greed, rejection etc. That the nature of each of the points is both hindrance and Buddha is wonderful. It means that each hindrance is to be considered a Bodhisattva.

In this light, it's is pertinent for me to realise that mum is my very own Bodhisattva, symbolising for me hatred, and ignorance. As I mentioned before there is a dark side within me that is almost glad to be able to use my own upbringing as an "excuse" for "failing" with my child. If these feelings are understood to be points on my own personal mandala, and often personified by the various people I meet on the way, how much more useful are they? I have been so grateful for this situation arising, as it's one I have always struggled with, and I have felt that I am really getting somewhere on the very superficial level of addressing my relationship with mum. On a more personal level, then what does this mean? In the same teaching, the monk talks about how women need to avoid hiding behind inadequacy and over adequacy - ie behind a traditional female role, or the more aggressive persona often adopted when we find ourselves battling in the workplace etc. I can see the link here between my fear (the inadequacy) and perfectionism (the over adequacy). So again, I am dealing with my two friends, but it is at a more subtle, certainly less physical level than the ME operated. Mind you today I have been fighting nausea, so maybe it is manifesting there too.

As the monk says, the guardians of the mandala points often have terrifying appearances, and it has been a bumpy ride recently. I am grateful however for the bumps and the scary faces, and for the continual power of Dharma to point me back to myself. I have written to mum with much love, I do feel it is a kindness to someone to say "its ok to let go" which in some ways was the essence of my letter to her. But, it is more important for me to take that kindness to heart and practice again just recognising and letting go of my 2 good friends, fear and perfectionism.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Health Visitor

Had my ante-natal visit from the health visitor today which I knew was going to include screening for the likelihood of post-natal depression. So I got in first and discussed the condensed version of the past few weeks... Happily I score low risk for it - she asked me what did I think was it about me that meant I was able to overcome the abuse. I said determination, and I wish I'd also said practice, but the two are related. Without the Lama it would be much higher.

Thanks are also due to Rev Olwen, we talked yesterday about drawing boundaries for my mum. Apparently Eckhart Tolle talks about the existence of a pain body - this feeds on pain in order to survive, and is why we crave pain, and cause it. Mum needs a lot of pain to feed her pain body, and on reflection as I was dropping off to sleep last night, so do I!. I see so many relationships I have soured to cause pain, it really is a comfort zone. Even in my thoughts about child -rearing I sometimes catch glimpses of a darker side that is pleased to have been abused, as it will be a get-out clause for any failures I make with my child. I haven't read "The Power of Now" yet, so I don't know what Tolle recommends one does with one's pain body, but I shall certainly start to honour it's presence.

Mum is getting to quite a handful again, according to Rev Olwen it is her child desperate for attention. I agree, Mum's pain body is also addicted to drama (as is mine) so she realistically only has a few weeks to get in there before my real baby is born. I'm going to write to Mum asking her not to mention her dead babies or expect me to solve her problems. If she feels like she needs support for that, then please seek it elsewhere - if she does persist, then I shall lovingly, but firmly refuse to speak to her. That way, the ball is in her court, she know's what the problem is, and also, she is empowered to do something about it. I think one of the problems of the long-term mentally ill, is that people around you are great at saying, "Oooooo aren't you doing well now...", which realistically can only be helpful for a bit. After a while I feel there must be the recognition that doing well is actually a long-term project, and the longer I make it ok for mum not to do well, the less viable that long-term project will seem to her.

My belly is growing every day, I now have beautiful stretch marks which means baby is growing ever bigger, and becoming more of a presence. As we are approaching the end of one phase, plus the beginning of the next, I feel the need to both honour and enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Beautiful Sunset

Sitting upstairs pulling a few rogue hairs from my chin (pregnancy is SO glamorous) I looked up and was spellbound by the glory of the setting sun. A chimney stack with aerial was highlighted in front of the setting golden globe, and white clouds scudded across the deepening blue sky. I pray for baby that it will see the beauty in moments like that and that they remind it of it's real nature. In fact, it's a nice thing for all of us, young and old!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Wheel turning

I think Wibbles put her finger on it - the wheel is turning! I also think it will probably always be difficult to some extent with my mum but that's not something I can resolve. Christmas showed me that. I now see it as an opportunitiy to really sit tight and sit deep. And that's cool! Very cool, as obviously that's about having confidence in me. Confidence inspired by Buddha nature and the strength of my practice. Rather then denigrating my meditation all the time, perhaps it's about appreciating the beauty and power of the practice for what it is and letting it ROAR! Roar dharma indeed!

Merit to all beings.

Friday, January 12, 2007

36 weeks

We went to the midwife yesterday and she was able to confirm that baby is now 3/5's engaged. This is a measure of how far into my pelvis it's head is. The prospect of labour is exciting and daunting, but more exciting. We did parentcraft classes and the lovely midwife who took them, explained that during labour the cervix and vagina are stretched to become one gate through which the baby comes. I found this really resonated with Dharma but not in a way I can define. Something about that the moment of birth is the moment of passing through this gate and how momentous yet commonplace and non-eventful this is.

I was writing to a very dear friend of mine last night, and was talking about Christmas. I'm being a bit like a dog with a bone - it feels useful and productive now, but I'm aware of the need to drop it in the future. Anyway I said to my friend, " Thinking about it last night I remembered one incident from my teens where she[mum] really put herself out for me, and then took me back under her roof when I'd made a real hash of things, so I'm allowing the memory of that love to sit side by side with the abusive memories." So I feel things are moving in the right direction. Billy Connolly talks about the hidden side of childhood sexual abuse "You know, it feels kinda nice", and although there was none of that going on, it's the same sort of dilemma. I knew I was loved, as when I left home at 17 under a raincloud, I was allowed to move back in after a few months. That takes a huge act of love and courage and faith on my parent's behalf. And of course that same love had also cherished me for years before and afterwards. Maybe it's because I'm trying to resolve the pain of the child who needs things in black and white, needs to know love without fear that this is so difficult?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I just noticed the date

... Baby is due a month from today! How exciting!

ROAR Dharma

I went to see the Lama just before Christmas to catch up and to gain advice for the next few months which will be huge for me. One of my questions was about my continuing inability to get to his teachings - something always seems to come up. For some time I battled it, and all that happened was that my ME symptoms got worse which I was able to deal with. Latterly people and animals around seemed to be getting ill so I felt it appropriate to leave it for a bit. This is not to imply in anyway that the teachings were having an effect on my nearest and dearest, it's just sometimes Dharma seems to have a need to manifest itself particularly clearly! Also the things I'm facing atm are in a very real way for me, much harder than attending teachings, the lessons I'm being offered are getting to my core. I checked this feeling with the Lama and he confirmed it with a kind smile that I'm right in the middle of raw Dharma right not, and it's good to go with the flow. I like the way that raw and roar sound the same, and also the fact that I do feel that Dharma is ROARING at me right now. It always is of course, whether or not it's in Chenrazig's gracious smile or in Manjushri's sword cutting through delusion.

Someone very close to me is having a re-emergence of a long-standing health problem. It's not something that can ever be resolved, and will get worse although it can be helped by pharmaceuticals, so in a way it is to be expected. Pregnancy hormones are not known for making women rational *sigh* and nor does our flawed understanding of the world through attachment to objects. Of course behind and perhaps in front and running right through the situation I can hear the roar of Dharma, calling me back to that place of ... well I don't know really. I'd like to say something wise (well a first time would be nice) about the illusion of shared paths, whilst the reality is that we're all on our way. I think that's it, but the expression is lacking. It feels on the one hand like a very isolated position, but on the other hand of total unity with Buddha nature. Maybe it's like carrying this baby - for 9 months we are sharing almost the same physical space, yet this person is still a stranger to me. As I feel they should be - the Lama said something about a woman's body being a perfect expression of Buddha nature through it's ability to nurture and give birth. Again badly expressed, but the original sentiment was rather better expressed.

The Lama also told me (not literally!) to put my mum in the corner - I think for years I've misunderstood the limits of responsibility and compassion. For me part of the challenge of being a Buddhist is learning to retreat back into me and not divert someone from their path by my mis-guided but well meant love. It's proving hard with mum - she senses change and is resenting it, becoming more clingy and needy in response. So hard to stand in my Buddha nature and just stand. For some time now I've understood that this will do my mum no end of good if she is encouraged to stand on her own 2 feet and not be pitied for living with manic depression, for years the hushed conversations of "isn't she doing so well now!" or the reverse have been my triggers - they are so hard to let go of. Now I'm faced with understanding that I have to make these changes for me, and really for me alone. Like the baby in my womb, me, my close someone, mum is simply another sentient being. Buddhism is beautiful in it's simplicity.