Meditation Exercise 3: Passing Judgment / Juzgar

Passing Judgment: One Bean at the Time

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In therapy I develop awareness, the state of mind in which I radically accept the present moment, without judging or qualifying or placing any value on it. To surrender to the present implies no thoughts on the future or our possible legacy. It also means to abandon the weight of the past.

Early one morning, I start a simple experiment. I place a handful of beans in my right pocket and surrender to the practice of mindfulness. Each time I recognize a judging though I will pass one bean to the left pocket.

I start with my coffee ritual. Hold the coffee between my hands and walk to the patio outside to greet the day. “I made the coffee too weak.” I smile at the evaluation and move the first bean to the left pocket. An hour later, I am hiking downhill and appreciating the view of the ocean. A sad thought invades me, “My life could be so beautiful if …” I place another bean in my left pocket. In the supermarket, my eyes observe dirty feet. My mind says “pig.” I move one more bean to the other pocket.

The day goes on with its myriad of small insignificant events. At every instance I catch myself placing value in the images and experiences I live.

“The sun is too bright.”

“It is too hot.”
“I am not good enough at my job,”

Negativity weights, but I also think positive thoughts.

“That family seems happy.”

“She looks like a successful woman.”

“This essay I’m reading hits all the right chords.”

When I sit down to write, the flood of negative thoughts invade me.

“I am not a good writer. I lack discipline. Nobody is interested in what I have to say. That’s not the right word. Check the spelling of ….Who cares, nobody reads my blog anyway.”

I keep moving the beans from the right pocket to left pocket, passing judgment one bean at the time.

I don’t remark on how my body reacts to the sensory images I experience. I place moral value on the behavior of others. I qualify every moment of my day as good or bad.

I soon I discover I would need to walk around with a pound of beans in my pocket to complete the exercise. The next day, I narrow the exercise to just a couple of hours.

After a week of doing the bean exercise a few hours a day, I realize that the impulse of placing value on all my experiences takes away from the joy of living in the present. It will be necessary to repeat this exercise frequently and for a long time to break the habit.

 

Spanish version follows

Spanish version follows

Juzgar: un frijolito a la vez.

En terapia aprendo a desarrollar atención plena, el estado de la mente en el cual acepto radicalmente el momento presente, sin juzgar o calificar o dar valor alguno. Entregarse al presente implica no pensar en el futuro, o en nuestro posible legado. También significa abandonar el peso del pasado.

Temprano una mañana, comienzo un experimento simple. Coloco un puñado de caraotas (frijoles) en mi bolsillo derecho y me entrego a la práctica de conciencia plena. Cada vez que reconozco un pensamiento de valor pasaré un frijol al bolsillo izquierdo.

Comienzo con el ritual del café. Colocó la taza entre mis manos y camino hacia el patio a saludar el día. “Me quedó aguado.” Sonrío a la evaluación y paso el primer grano al bolsillo izquierdo. Una hora más tarde, camino colina abajo y aprecio la vista del mar. “Mi vida sería tan linda si …” Coloco otro granito en mi bolsillo izquierdo. En el supermercado, mis ojos observan unos pies sucios. Mi mente dice, cochino.” Paso otro granito al otro bolsillo.

El día continua con su infinidad de eventos insignificantes. A cada instante, me veo colocando un valor a las imágenes o experiencias que vivo.

“El sol esta fuerte.”

“Hace calor.”

“No hago bien mi trabajo.”

La negatividad pesa, pero también tengo pensamientos positivos.

“Esa parece una familia feliz.”

“Ella se ve exitosa.”

“Este ensayo que estoy leyendo da en la clave.”

Cuando me siento a escribir, me invade la avalancha de pensamientos negativos. “No soy una buena escritora; carezco de disciplina. A nadie le interesa lo que tengo que decir.” “Esa no es la palabra adecuada.” “Revisa la ortografía…” “Qué importa, de todas maneras nadie lee mi blog.”

Continuo pasando granitos del bolsillo derecho al izquierdo, emitiendo juicio un granito a la vez.

No presto atención a como mi cuerpo reacciona a las imágenes sensoriales que percibo. Le otorgo un juicio de valor a la conductas de los demás. Califico cada momento de mi vida como bueno o malo.

Pronto descubro que tendría que caminar con una libra de granos en mi bolsillo para completar el ejercicio. El día siguiente, limito el ejercicio a un par de horas.

Después de una semana haciendo el ejercicio de la caraota por unas pocas horas al día, me doy cuenta que el impulso de juzgar todas mis experiencias le resta al deleite de vivir en el momento. Va a ser necesario repetir este ejercicio con frecuencia para romper el hábito.

Listen to Your Mother Show, Orange County 2015

In April, I had the privilege and honor to read my piece “The Violin,” in the Listen to Your Mother Show, in the Orange County.

My video is the second on the play list. It starts at 0:40

It was a wonderful experience, one that I will cherish for a long time. It gave me the opportunity to meet a group of writers concerned with all the aspects of Motherhood. I am grateful to the producers of the LTYM, Orange County, and to Ann Imig for encouraging me to audition and find my funny voice.

Today, I have the opportunity to share the video with all of you. I hope you enjoy with me this part of my experience as a mother.

By the way, Ann Imig has edited her show in a book LTYM What They Said Then, What They Are Saying Now, where you can read the pieces by my friends Michelle Gonzales and Jenny Forrester among many other great essays on motherhood. Don’t miss it.

Spanish Version 

 En abril, tuve el privilegio y honor de leer mi pieza “El Violin,” en el show Listen to Your Mother, en el Orange County. Mi video es el segundo en la lista. Comienza en el 0:40

Fue una experiencia maravillosa que recordaré con cariño por mucho tiempo. Me dio la oportunidad de conocer a un grupo de escritores interesados en todos los aspectos del ser madre. Mi agradecimiento va a las productoras del show LTYM, Orange County, y a Ann Imig por alentarme a hacer una prueba y a encontrar mi lado cómico.

Hoy tengo la oportunidad de compartir el video con todos ustedes. Espero que disfruten conmigo esta parte de mi experiencia como madre.

Por cierto, Ann Imig ha publicado una compilación de su show en el libro LTYM What They Said Then, What They Are Saying Now. Donde ustedes pueden leer las piezas de mis amigas Michelle Gonzales y Jenny Forrester entre muchos otros ensayos buenísimos sobre el tema de la maternidad. No se lo pierdan.

Meditation Exercise 2 – The Ocean and the Rock

IMG_2807The cactus fruit greets me first. The warbler whistles its song at tune with the murmur of the ocean. Breeze against brushes rustles softly in my ears. The staff hits the rock as my boots lift the dust of the dirt road underneath. Shush, shush go my thighs against each other in their rhythmical dance. Continue reading

Walking Meditation / Meditación en Movimiento

Pass the door of the Peace Awareness Laberynth Garden in Los Angeles, one steps into an urban oasis that invites to reflection.  This small park provides plenty of opportunities to contemplate nature. The sound of water and the songs of birds visiting the garden complete a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere where to relax and find a connection with one’s soul.

At the center of that space, there is a laberyth, a circle of interconnecting paths with only one way in and one way out. On a sunny sunday afternoon, I took the challenge to practice walking meditation. The following reflection is the result of that exercise.

Meditation Exercise 1.

Each step we take moves the universe foward. My feet are instruments that lead my soul in the search of light and universal truths, like those writers reveal. The path branches or intersects others, or runs parallel to others, for a moment, or for a long, sometimes for a lifetime.

My steps are not of those that accompany me on the path. On the contrary, each one of us walks his/her own search of light and universal truths. My partners on the path share the joy of finding light, o hold my hand in the dark streches. But they have their own pace.

I shouldn’t judge those walking in the opposite direction. They are either on their way back, or they are just giving their first steps. Some will step off the path, and I shouldn’t judge those either. Maybe their search is over, or they are not ready to find their truth. At any event, I should not try to stop them; do not become their obstacle. Don’t change direction for the direction of other either. Continue on my path, and offer my hand only when they walk by my side in the same direction. Then, walk slowly, for they carry a heavier load.

Spanish version follows

Spanish version follows

Al pasar las puertas del Peace Awareness Laberynth Garden en Los Angeles, uno entra en un oasis urbano que invita a la reflexión. Este pequeño parque provee muchas oportunidades para contemplar la naturaleza. El sonido de agua y el canto de los pájaros que visitan el jardín completan una atmósfera pacífica y tranquila donde relajarse y encontrar connexión con el alma.

Al centro de ese espacio, hay un laberinto, un cículo de caminos que se bifurcan con una sola entrada y una sola salida. En la tarde soleada de un domingo, tomé el reto de practicar meditación en movimiento. La siguiente reflexión es el resultado de ese ejercicio.

Ejercicio de Meditación 1.

Cada paso que damos mueve el universo hacia delante. Mis pies son los instrumentos que conducen mi alma a la búsqueda de la luz y las verdades universales, como aquellas reveladas por los escritores. El camino se bifurca o se intersecta con otros, o corre paralelamente, de momento, o por largo rato, a veces por toda una vida.

Mis pasos no son los de aquellos que me acompañan en el camino. Por el contrario, cada uno de nosotros anda en su propia búsqueda de luz o de verdades universales. Los compañeros del sendero sirven para compartir la alegría al encontrar la luz, o para llevarme de la mano en los trechos oscuros. Pero ellos llevan su propio paso.

No debo juzgar a los que van en dirección contraria. Ellos o van de regreso, o apenas comienzan a dar sus primeros pasos. Algunos se saldrán del camino, y tampoco debo juzgarlos, porque a lo mejor su búsqueda ha culminado, o no están preparados para encontrar sus verdades. De cualquier manera, no debo tratar de detenerlos, ni debo convertirme en su obstáculo. Pero tampoco debo cambiar mi rumbo por el rumbo de otro. Continuo en mi camino y ofrezco la mano sólo cuando ellos caminen a mi lado y en la misma dirección. Entonces camino lentamente, porque ellos llevan mayor carga.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy / Terapia de conducta dialéctica

Rock in the Pine Wind Garden in Torrance, CA

Rock in the Pine Wind Garden in Torrance, CA – Photo By Constantino Badra

People who grow up in an abusive environment where their emotions are invalidated never learn to control their emotions. Simply, we don’t know how to calm down. For the most part, I can live a pretty normal life, but when stress takes the best of me, my emotional mind takes control and I harm myself in a cruel way.

I go to therapy once a week at the Harbor UCLA Adult Outpatient Clinic. There I learn the skills to regulate my emotions and to improve my interpersonal relationships. I trust that this therapy will help me control the impulses that make me harm myself and contemplate suicide as a solution.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy intends to teach the patient to accept the existence of opposite, but not exclusive behaviors; for instance, the idea that we can radically accept the present moment, and at the same time wish intensely for something different. A great part of this therapy is devoted to the development of wise mind as a balance between the emotional and rational minds. Continue reading

Overcoming Depression With My Nails / Superando la depresión con mis uñas

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I have been paying a lot of attention to my nails lately.

Twice a month, I head to the nail salon where petit women of few words trim, file, and polish my nails in bright trendy colors. They take care of my feet too, which they soak in warm water, massage and whose toenails they also polish in the same tone. My choice is usually a bright red. After grueling hours standing on concrete floor, working the cash register several times a week, both my feet and hands need care. Continue reading

In Celebration of Motherhood – Listen to Your Mother Show / En Celebración de la Maternidad

When my first son was born, I knew I had to develop my own brand of motherhood if I wanted to offer him a loving and healthy home. Without guidance or a model to follow, I used whatever life threw at me as a tool on the journey of raising my children. Creativity guided me to approach motherhood as an artist, shaping a vision with my own colors, values and dreams.

Continue reading