June 13th, 2013

Tonight, I went to an “Open Sangha.” The Encyclopedia Britannica defines a sangha as: a Buddhist monastic order, traditionally composed of four groups: monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen. In this case, it is a community coming together for meditation and discussion of Buddhist principles. This was my first time, and I found the meditation very relaxing, until my sitting position caused pain in my neck. And I found the discussion very interesting and helpful. It is the topic of that discussion I wish to write about here tonight.

We talked about letting go of attachment, not to things or people, but to outcomes. We talked about the desire to succeed, to be perfect, to be as good as, or better than. We talked about competition, and pushing too hard. We talked about wanting to prove something. We also talked about fear of failure, and it being so paralyzing, that we never try. We talked about attachment to expectations, our own, other people’s, of ourselves, and of others.

The answer we were looking for was how to let go, and sometimes when to let go.

We talked about trust and confidence. That having trust in other people, or confidence that things will turn out well, can help you let go of stress and worry over outcomes. If you can believe that what needs to happen will happen, then you can relax your death-grip on the details and be at ease with making it happen.

I am often obsessed with the details. Organizing things and people, so that everything gets done when and how it is supposed to. I can get so obsessed that I try to do all the work myself, because I get impatient waiting for other people to do it. Group projects are something I fear. I am so attached to how I think it should be done, or when I think it should be done. That the idea of depending on other people to do it scares me. When I’m ready to go somewhere, it’s time to go, I find it hard to wait on someone who is moving at a slower pace. This is something I have gotten better at over the years spent with hubby, but it is something I still struggle with. Being able to let go and know that nothing is perfect, arrival times vary, and what needs to happen will happen.

We talked about examining your intentions and your reasons. Are you doing this because you want to do it? Or because someone else expects you to do it? Are you trying to prove that you can? To whom? Is it really important to you? Or is it important to someone else? Is it your passion? Does it bring you joy? Or is it causing you harm? Just because you started something, doesn’t mean you have to finish it, unless you want to. Make sure you are doing things for the right (for you) reasons.

This is something I’m looking at in my own life, right now. And have been for the last couple years. It was a big question with the marriage – am I staying because that’s what is “expected” and other such thoughts. Am I doing MDQ because I want to? Or to prove I can? It turned out that, while MDQ was fun at first, it wasn’t really where I wanted to be putting my energy. My job is another example, having a steady job was important to me, but it stopped bringing me joy a long time ago. Now, I’m working towards a better job, that holds more meaning for me. On the kink side, my service. Service brings me joy, I like helping and serving, I am doing it because it is what I want to do.

We talked about my favorite topic: failure. We talked about learning that failing at something does not make You a failure. We talked about learning from failure (and success), instead of letting it define who you are. In the same vein, we talked about it being okay not to know everything. That asking questions, and learning, is far better than pretending you know everything, or staying silent so as not to lose face.

This is a hard lesson to relearn. I thought I had learned it in college, when I started sending out poems and stories, and collecting rejection letters. I didn’t take any of them personally. I thought I understood, but this was different. I could rationalize the letters – they were trying to fill a magazine of specific content, mine just didn’t fit their vision. It wasn’t a failure, I had succeeded in writing a story, it just wasn’t what they wanted. But things I actually want to do, that I don’t manage to do, these I label “failures” and I have to work very hard to not take that label on myself. It helps when I can learn something from it; when I can sit down, analyze and build myself up to be better.

We also talked about having fun, and feeling free to be or look silly. Not being attached to being unable to do something physical perfectly. I have a really hard time with this. I spoke of my RA, and how I’m fairly certain the forces of swinging a bowling ball with one arm would do no end of harm to me at this stage. Not normally important, but a group I’m in is thinking of having a bowling outing or league. Another group has a regular bowling night. I have my own ball, in a bag. I was never great at bowling, but I was passable for a kid. The thought of not being able to swing the ball properly is demoralizing to me. Some of my friends have suggested that I two-hand granny bowl the ball, and I could probably manage that without hurting myself. But the thought of looking that silly, standing up in front of everyone on the lane… It’s bowling, it’s supposed to be fun. These are my friends who see me drunk and silly every other month or so. What’s the problem? If we ever do get it organized, I’m going to have to just let go. And it will be ever so good for me to do.


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