Category Archives: Meditation

Balancing In The Sea of Creativity

I find I am unable to focus on multiple projects at once.  Multi-tasking between creative platforms seems beyond me, and so while I’m immersed in the world of acting, my writing becomes the forgotten child crying for attention.

It feels like I’ve been in rehearsal for forever, there are so many characters living inside me, like multiple personalities, that it’s beginning to feel a bit over crowded.  It’s a high-class problem, but my writing child is crying louder and louder and it’s getting harder and harder to put her back to bed.  I’ve got one more play, one more character to bring to life before I can slip out the backstage doors of the theatre and bring my writing child out to play again.

Finding balance is always a challenge for me.  Living a creative life can be exhausting instead of fulfilling.  As an actress I never know when the next gig is going to come, each job feels like it might be the last, each opportunity too good to pass up.

I’ve gone from Queen Margaret in Henry VI and Mistress Page in Merry Wives of Windsor, to Blanche DuBois in Streetcar Named Desire, to Annie in Alan Ayckbourn’s The Norman Conquests.  Great characters, all of them!  And now I’ve been given the opportunity to bring a character to life for the very first time in a two-hander written by a wonderfully gifted playwright friend of mine for the upcoming Vancouver Fringe Festival.  Grace, in the world premiere of Slumming, written by Barbara Ellison.

I’ve gone full out since early spring doing what I absolutely love, and jumping with both feet off the highest cliff into my deepest fears and my biggest, thickest blocks.  And I really feel in need of a deep rest.  This month of rehearsals and production meetings, heading towards our opening night September 6th, I’m working to find balance.  Giving myself permission to sit quietly and read out-side, surrounded by my over-run garden and allow my physiological, spiritual and creative batteries to recharge.  Finding balance.  Creativity needs some alone, quiet time.  Simmering time.  Meditation.  Balance.

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Filed under Meditation, Spirituality, Theatre, Writing

Building a House of Brick ~ Respecting My Boundaries

I’m sitting in my morning meditation, my wee pup, Bailey curled up on her cushion beside me.  It’s a peaceful morning and although the sun isn’t shining, it’s not raining either and the neighbour’s gardener hasn’t brought out his industrial strength leaf blower yet.  Nothing but my monkey brain to wrestle with this morning.  I smile as I realize I’m mind-writing this blog as I meditate.  My best writing quite often comes when I’m not writing.

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Just as soon as I become aware of how peaceful it is a loud rumble fills the room.  A semi-truck has driven through my living room right into my stillness room, the engine booming and reverberating until I can feel my blood thrumming with the noise.  Free radicals of noise pollution.  I hear Bailey perk up beside me.

I bring my awareness back to my breath, breathing in one of my favourite Blessings from St. Theresa of Avila.

May I be at peace

May my heart remain open

May I be aware of my true nature

May I be healed

May I be a source of healing to others

May I dwell in the breath of God.

Twice more I breath in the blessing.  My attention is pulled to the engine outside my house as it belches and coughs and seems to become even louder.  A tiny tentacle of realization slithers and sinks down into my depths, bringing with it frustration, annoyance and more than a little bit of apprehension.  I will my peace to come and my heart to remain open.  Instead, I lean forward and tilt open the lid of my zen meditation clock to see how many more minutes I ‘have’ to practice breathing in peace.  Four minutes to go…..stop or continue sitting….stop or continue….I lean forward again, press the off button and shut the lid.

Trampled boundaries.  Again.  I hate confrontation.  Which is the same thing as saying I hate standing up for myself.  Wow.  I’m sitting at my desk, typing these words as the realization of that filters through my being.  I don’t like standing up for myself.  No wonder my boundaries are being breached, even I don’t respect them!

I spend the day listening to the thrum of the generator, tempering my annoyance by turning my music up louder.  I say to myself, “This is good having a TV pilot filming here, maybe one day I will be cast in it.”  “You said you support the Arts here in Vancouver, well, here is a chance to show it!”  “It’s not that loud, you’re just being sensitive.  They have to park the generator somewhere!”

I argue back, “But you were very firm when they polled the neighbours that you were concerned about the noise of the generator.  You told the young PA that you had trouble sleeping and worked from home.”

I amaze myself at how easy I call on my shadow Victim archetype and slip automatically into “Woe is me, how can the big bad bully do this to me?”

These words are the sunshine that clears the fog away.  I had no idea I called in a low-lying fog to surround me whenever I felt my boundaries being assaulted.  A thick haze that obscures even the strongest wall.  Here I thought I was building a house of bricks to protect me from the big bad wolf, and instead I see that my house is built of straw.

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Night falls and still the generator rumbles, straw flying everywhere as the walls of my house disappear.  The wolf howls even louder through my bedroom window, as the filming continues into the early hours of the morning.  And still I keep silent, plugging my ears with small bits of squishy dense foam, which does nothing to block the booming base of my attacker.  It appears I’m willing to even compromise my health by sacrificing my much-needed restorative sleep, all to ‘keep the peace’ and not stand up for myself.  How much easier it is to see with the light on.

The weekend comes and the beast sleeps outside my door.  I walk with Bailey around the block, stepping over the thick, long, black wires that snake their way down the street from the film set to the hulking white truck parked opposite my driveway.  It turns out I’m not as excited about film sets and the accompanying entourage when I’m not actually a part of it; when it disrupts my ‘civilian’ life.

Sunday evening arrives, and with it the trepidation of the next morning’s waking of the fire-breathing dragon.  How this generator cur grows in my imagination and what power I give to it!

I’m having dinner with Lynn and my Victim is regaling her with all my illustrious “poor me” generator stories, pulling the blanket tighter and tighter around me as I speak.  She puts her fork down firmly and says, “No.  This is not right.  You told them not to park the generator truck where you could hear it and they did.  Someone dropped the ball and it’s not your fault they did.  Phone the production office and tell them to move it.”

My heart actually picks up speed as I hear the truth in these words, as my Victim steps out of the shadow and peers around into the light, knowing that I have to start mixing some concrete to lay the bricks to build a proper boundary.  One that doesn’t imprison me, but rather, frees me from the wounds suffered from weak boundaries.

Monday morning and I am awakened by the roar of the generator turning on.  I slip my feet into my red slippers, wrap myself in my fuzzy green bathrobe and head downstairs with Bailey.  Plugging the kettle in for tea, I look out the window at the pouring rain outside and the poor, orange-vested film crew carrying this and that from the grip truck.  They aren’t the enemy.  Neither is the grumbling, rumbling truck they’re walking past.

I pick up the phone and dial the film production office and ask to speak to Gordon S., the Locations Manager.  As I do so, I’m surprised at how easy it is.  I’ve stepped into my Femme Fatale Business Woman, donned my Ralph Lauren custom designed suit, twisted my hair into a perfect French roll, and am tapping my manicured fingernails against the table as I wait.  By the time Gordon S. is speaking to me, my spine is erect and my tone is firm as I explain the problem and my expectations for a solution.  As he backtracks and apologizes, dodging and weaving, I continue to stand firmly, yet kindly, in the conviction of my boundaries.  I hang up the phone, having received both his promise that the generator will be moved, as well as his personal cell phone number and that of his on-set assistant.  I’ve left him with my assurance that I will be following up.

The tea is seeping and I’m once more paddling about in my housecoat and slippers, but my spine still carries the vestiges of my Femme Fatale.  I’ve laid my first row of bricks and mortar against the huffing and puffing wolf.

Two hours later and a much smaller, quieter, off-truck generator is moved into place further down the street.  The rain has stopped for now and the bright sunshine of illumination warms the knots in my shoulders.  My story has changed and I have stepped out of the shadow and am animating the positive traits of the Victim.  She is the Guardian of my self-esteem, guarding and protecting the growth and awareness I am making.  My Victim is now a reminder of my own strength, of the power of my personal boundaries.

I will build no more houses of straw!

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Filed under Archetypes, Meditation, Spirituality

Scattered Meditations

Some days are more scattered than others despite my ever so hopeful intentions.  Today has turned out to be one such day.   Thoughts cluttering my mind like the books, papers and ‘stuff’ that are piled on every surface in my kitchen.  My son and I work opposite each other at the old pine table while Cliff, my way too frequent appliance repair guy works on fixing my stove and oven.  His sighs and mumbles join the energetic anarchy bouncing around the room.

Kitchen table clutter

I am unable to settle down or settle in.  Settle in to settle down.  I’ve been writing for two hours and I have one paragraph before me.  My thoughts are like scatter spray and my mind follows the trail of each one with equal importance, leaving behind all too easily the thesis I mean to follow.  Uncorralled divergent thinking.

My body happily follows my hop-scotching mind.  My fingers checking Facebook, email, NYTimes, I jump up to make a pot of tea and get side-tracked into unloading the dishwasher, into taking the bacteria laden dish cloth to the laundry room and putting on a load of laundry before sitting back down in front of my lap top.  I’ve put the kettle on three times and am still without a pot of tea.

My morning meditation was a rushing river of thoughts.  A reminder of why we call it a practice.  I sit in my daughter’s cast-off leopard print chair, a tiger-striped pillow at the small of my back helping me to sit upright with comfort, and my moss green resort blanket on my lap and bunched under each knee.  I am of the mind that it’s better to meditate in comfort than not to meditate at all.  I light a stick of Sage incense, set my BB alarm for just over ½ hour, turn it to silent, cup my left hand into my right on my lap, close my eyes and begin with a cleansing breath.

I practice Primordial Sound meditation, so I have a mantra upon which I focus my awareness.  Over and over and over, because my awareness is a bouncing rubber ball playing jacks with my thoughts.  It’s amazing how many gossamer layers of diversions I can maintain in my mind!  I am, at once, daydreaming about an upcoming episode of House, running through my grocery list, witnessing my distractability – all the while my mantra is running still silently at the bottom of the river bed.

The muscles around my eyes are tight.  I bring my awareness again and again to the tension and release it with an out breath.  Then keep my attention on my breath.  If I’m having difficulty slowing the parade of thoughts while meditating I usually find that focusing on my breath for a minute or two allows my inner Self to gain a foothold.  Not so in this morning’s practice.  My breath brings to mind the opening stanza of a nursery rhyme:

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He’ll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.

Clogged sinuses and the North wind doth blow inside my head!  So my morning meditation practice went until the alarm quietly chimed 35 minutes later.  It was a practice full of restless energy and near the end even my body joined my frenetic, kinetic mind. My usually upright seating position has degraded to a teenager’s insolent slump, my half lotus legs uncurled to rest on the floor.

But it is a practice with no goal of perfection and my job is simply to be present in body and invite my Spirit to my practice.  To help soothe and settle my restless mind I open my Living the Wisdom of the Tao by Wayne Dyer and am drawn to the 15th Verse.

The ancient masters were profound and subtle.

Their wisdom was unfathomable.

There is no way to describe it.

Once can only describe them vaguely

By their appearance.

Watchful, like men crossing a winter stream,

Alert, like men aware of danger.

Simple as uncarved wood.

Hollow like caves.

Yielding, like ice about to melt.

Amorphous, like muddy water.

But the muddiest water clears

As it is stilled.

And out of that stillness

Life arises.

He who keeps the Tao does not want to be full.

But precisely because he is never full,

He can remain like a hidden sprout

And does not rush to early ripening.

Labyrinth rocks Miraval Resort in Tucson, AZ

Moving sculpture at Miraval Resort

By evening the muddy water is clearing and I can feel the stillness that is always present in me rising.  Even when that place of stillness is buried deep beneath the sediment of clutter and chaos I know it is still there.  That knowing is enough.

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Filed under Meditation, Spirituality