Why am I so angry?

I’m not sure how long this has been going on?  Maybe a year?  But I’m angry and annoyed with Christians and the Christian church.  Not any particular Christians or churches, just kind of as a whole.  I recently drove by a new church in the city I live in and I thought to myself, “Oh great.  That’s what we need here is another church!”  I live in the south/mid-south and there are an abundance of churches, to say the least.  Probably more churches per capita than any other city in the US.  Are my feelings and reactions just delayed?  Most people are angry when they first leave church/Christianity.  Mine seems to have surfaced, years later.

Ok, let’s back up a little bit.  I quit attending church on a regular basis in 2006.  I wasn’t angry with the church or hurt or anything like that.  At that time, I had begun to see how ineffective the institution of church is at communicating God’s love to people and helping them to discover who they are in that love.  That was my opinion at that time.  And I just thought there must be a more relationship oriented way of doing this.  Some call it an organic way of sharing God with people, outside the walls of the institution of church.  Then my views on things changed more and more until now, I really wouldn’t consider myself a Christian anymore.  Again, this was not out of hurt or anger or spite or anything like that.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Christian church.  I just started seeing things and asking questions.  And voila! Here I am.

I’m wondering if the meditation and mindfulness and other practices are bringing out repressed feelings that I didn’t know were under the surface?  Hmmm… could be?  Most of the Christians that I know are kind and genuine and loving people.  I’ve encountered hypocrites who claim to be Christians, but I think most people are hypocrites to some degree.  Everyone is fighting battles and has issues.  I’ve known that for a long time so I don’t think it’s anything like, I’m mad at hypocrites.  When I drive down the road and see Bible verses on billboards, I get annoyed.  And often when I pass a church, I just feel angry.  I’ve caught myself a few times taking sides with other people who are angry at church and Christians and God.  I don’t want to take sides.  People will always have differing opinions.  Especially with religion and politics!  But I want to be able to disagree without it becoming personal.  This is an excerpt from Timber Hawkeye’s book, Buddhist Bootcamp that sums up where I want to be regarding these thoughts:

You don’t have to agree with, only learn to peacefully live with, other people’s freedom of choice. This includes (but is not limited to) political views, religious beliefs, dietary restrictions, matters of the heart, career paths, and mental afflictions.
Our opinions and beliefs tend to change depending on time, place, and circumstance. And since we all experience life differently, there are multiple theories on what’s best, what’s moral, what’s right, and what’s wrong.
It is important to remember that other people’s perspective on reality is as valid as your own. This is why the first principle of Buddhist Boot Camp is that the opposite of what you know is also true.
No matter how certain we are of our version of the truth, we must humbly accept the possibility that someone who believes the exact opposite could also be right (according to their time, place, and circumstance). This is the key to forgiveness, patience, and understanding.

Well said.  I especially like, the opposite of what you know is also true.  Yep.  Something that I’ve learned over the last few years that is very different from the way I used to think, is how to deal with something about me that I want to be different.  It used to be that I would fight the anger and annoyance and find scriptures to read that I thought would help change the way I look at things.  One thing that I’ve learned from tai chi is that when you fight or resist something, you give it more power to be able to defeat you.  In many Chinese martial arts there is a saying, yield to overcome.  I first heard of taking a different mindset when reading Eckhart Tolle, and then other authors.  Simply notice the thoughts or feelings or behavior.  Notice, in my case, the anger toward Christianity, without judgement.  And be curious about it.  What triggers it?  What thoughts arise?  What feelings does it produce in my body and where?  Things like that.  This noticing and curiosity often will simply dissolve these “negative” feelings without any combative effort on my end.  So why is the annoyance and anger in me still hanging around?  I don’t know?  I have to admit that I haven’t been consistent in my noticing and curiosity.  So maybe by writing this out, it will help me to be more mindful about that.  I do want to say that I don’t believe that you shouldn’t resist saying or doing things that are hurtful.  For example, I might have the urge to slap the stew out of someone for some reason, but it is best if I restrain myself from acting on that urge.  LOL  And it’s probably also good to go back and read things like what Timber talked about, similar to when I used to read Bible verses in the past.   I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt me to do so.  🙂



Go with the flow, revisited

I’m becoming increasingly fascinated by the Taoist concept of Wu Wei.  I wrote about it to some degree in the “Go With the Flow” post back on March 8th.  I recently found the following short definition of Wu Wei that I really like:
Wu Wei (Chinese, literally “non-doing”) is an important concept of Taoism and means natural action, or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort. Wu Wei is the cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life.

It sounds great, right?  Right!  Now, how do you that?  I don’t know.  LOL  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I have some idea of what this concept is and have been adjusting my thinking a bit to help me go with the flow if what is going on.  But it’s not really anything that I feel like I can sit down and teach someone how to do, yet.

But, it seems to be happening in my life to some degree.  One thing that I noticed recently is that I seem to be more productive at work.  I have a very stressful, high paced job where most things are very time sensitive.  So customers want what they want, now!  There have been times where I’ve been up to 5 days behind, even though I was working 60-70 hours a week.  Crazy.  Right now, I’m less than a day behind on emails and I’ll put in about 50 hours this week.  And it’s been that way for a little while.  But I can’t say that I can think of a point where I purposely did anything to make that happen.  But I have been reading about Wu Wei whenever I get a chance.  I’ve also been thinking about it a lot.  So is it possible that by having that on my mind on a pretty consistent basis has caused it to somehow work its way into my life?  I think that’s a definite possibility.

I also think that the concept of Wu Wei and many of the other things I’ve been practicing are connected.  It’s kind of like losing weight.  There have to be certain mental adjustments that take place.  I have to change what I eat and how much I eat.  And I have to move more.  It’s a pretty simple formula, but if I leave any of those three things out, it makes it more difficult to accomplish my goal.  But if I practice those things consistently, the weight loss happens.  Similarly, I’ve been practicing things like mindfulness; accepting what is happening without judgement of it being good or bad; going back to my breath; tai chi, yoga, and meditation; and thinking about the concept that I want to be happening in my life.

But how do the things that I’m “doing” fit into Wu Wei, “non-doing”?  Well, there are days where one of the things I’ve been practicing just seems to come easier than other things.  Or, I can tell that I need one of the tools more than others on certain days, or at times throughout the day.  So I go with that flow.  That fits in with our definition, “…means natural action, or in other words, action that does not involve struggle or excessive effort… cultivation of a mental state in which our actions are quite effortlessly in alignment with the flow of life.”

Wow.  That last paragraph just came to me while I was typing it out! I love it when that happens!  You guys just shared an “aha!” moment with me where I got a little more understanding of Wu Wei.
Cool.  🙂
And (another aha!), I just realized I’ve been practicing this to a degree with my body.  Even though there are times where I discipline myself to do some physical activity because I want to get better at it, I’ve also been listening to my body more.  Some days it seems that my body needs tai chi more than it needs yoga.  And vice versa.  So I follow that and do what I feel like my body needs that day. Whoa!  It really is all connected…

How fun!  Ok, so where do we go from here?  Hmmm… this might be a good stopping point for now.  In terms of people who are public speakers, there is a saying; “The short winded shall be invited back”.  I think there is some truth there with bloggers as well.  🙂

Until next time.  Smile.  Breathe.  Go with the flow.

Monday Monday…

Hey all.  Whoever “all” might be.  🙂

I’m still here.  I’ve got a few drafts of some possible posts, but nothing is really coming together.  I’m reading a lot and trying to digest a lot as well.  Maybe it’s too much reading and digesting?  Could be…

I did find an interesting article on Taoism that I’m working through.  In case anyone is interested:

Even though I’m reading a lot of stuff, I’m endeavoring to keep my daily practice simple.  I’m paying attention to tension in my body and trying to let that go.  And then just going back to the breath.  Oh, and also smiling.  On purpose.  That can be hard to remember to do, sometimes.  Especially on a Monday.  LOL  Yep.

I hope everyone is well.  More soon.


Go Back to the Breath

I’ve been reading some pretty heavy stuff lately.  For example.  If you Google, “A Buddhist view of interdependence”, the first thing that should come up is a very interesting article that is actually a book excerpt by Alan Watts.  But I’ve read it a few times, and I’m still trying to grasp it.  I had read lots of Tolle in the past, and I’m reading “After Zen”.  With a whole bunch of other stuff in between.  I read stuff about how grasping causes suffering.  So I try to let go of my grasping.  But I’m told that by trying to let go, that is really my ego in control, and it’s actually a form of grasping, in itself.  Yeah…  Stuff like that.  Things that make you say, WTF?  I have a feeling that when I’m through with my current reading phase, I’ll probably go back to some Thich Nhat Hahn.

I like reading TNH because he is very simple in his approach.  When the deep philosophical questions arise, and it’s just a little too much, I can remember that he says, just be where you are.  Be as fully present as possible.  I won’t spend much time on that here, please see the blog post from March 9, Being Where I Am, On Purpose.  But I will say that it’s a simple thing to do without having to have all kinds of spiritual insight of any kind.  Just be as present and I can be, right now, with what I’m doing.

The other thing that I often remember TNH saying is go back to, or follow the breath.  What does that mean, exactly?  It just means to pay attention to your breathing.  Pay attention to when you are inhaling, and pay attention to when you are exhaling.  You might even say to yourself, “inhaling” when you inhale, and “exhaling” when you exhale.  You don’t have to make yourself breathe, you are doing that already.  Just be aware of it.  It’s that simple.  You might also notice things like what the air feels like when I inhale, and what does it feel like when I exhale.  Like the other things that I practice, this is not a cure all.  But I do find that it helps me calm down, it quiets my mind, and just helps me feel better.

Sometimes I do intentionally breathe deeper into my belly.  And then try to relax with the exhale.  I try to notice tension in my body, and keep my focus on that spot as I naturally exhale.  It’s like when you blow up a balloon and let it go.  It makes that ppphhhtttt sound and the air just comes out as it flies around the room.  🙂 That’s what I try to think of exhaling.  Don’t force it.  TNH talks about saying this to himself when he breathes: “Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”  Sometimes I’ll say “I calm my body”, just because it’s shorter and fits better for me.  And I’ll also substitute “a wonderful moment” for “the only moment”.  I’ve heard him say that as well.  I’ve used this with good success in stressful situations.  Whether at work, or allowing an intense alcohol craving to pass when I’ve decided not to drink, or getting shots in the palm of my hand to numb it before stitches to sew up a bad cut… yep, ouch!… it helps.

I encourage you to give watching or following your breath some practice during some not so stressful times to just get the hang of it, if that is something you aren’t used to doing.  And as you learn to pay more attention to your breathing, start to work it into the stressful or intense situations that come your way.  I think with some regular practice, you will start to notice some positive things happening as you go back to the breath.

Now I feel like I should say, “namaste”, or something like that.  🙂