Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Focus Frenzy!!!!!

Life in the country! What’s it like? Simple. Great. This is definitely the lifestyle I’ll end up in.  Everywhere you look it’s pretty... and also a job that could be done :).  Everything you do takes effort. The chores, the garden, the transportation... a lazy person’s nightmare, a project lovers dream :).  I love having to trek up to the bathroom. I love dumping the compost scraps. I love that we have a compost. Mostly I love living with nature. I see deer almost daily. One day on the deck as they were trying to steal the apples!! :). This property is 35 acres, with a creek that runs right thru it, dropping 1300’ to the Yuba River a few miles down the hill. One day my run had me feeling super energized, so cruised all the way to the river. Hiked and climbed and jumped my way back up along the creek. Awesome :). 

My typical run... thru Yuba State Park. Sweet

The outdoor kitchen (closed for winter), the garden, and a sweet sunset

The creek!!! 

A deer!  I took this pic thru my front door

Ahhhh.... yess..  I love this :) 

The food is vegetarian, organic, and deeeeee-licious. I loooooooooooove eating healthy. It’s incredible how easy it is when there is no temptation around. I’ve undoubtedly dropped a few pounds, considering I run most days, and 6 days a week we do manual labor for 4 hrs/day.  In the summers this place gets lots of campers... so Jamie and I have been building an outhouse! Not just any outhouse... a double stall, pimped out, cantilever roof, architect designed outhouse :). Hhah.. It’s been really fun actually. I LOVE designing and building! Who’s a tomboy? This girl.. and proud of it :) 

Standing in 'position' ;) 

Not a bad spot to cut wood! We installed new flooring in Jamie's cabin this day

Starting to take shape! 

"Even Saints poop"  hahah

My little cabin, a 13’ yurt, is 101 paces down the hill from the main house (I count when it’s cold). I have my own little balcony that looks out over the hills and the peaceful sunsets. It’s got a twin bed, a propane heater and a little dresser. I’ve decorated with tree twigs and rocks from the creek. Not much more I could ask for :) 

My little cabin. Home sweet home :) 

Twice a day I hike up to the temple (the basement of Naomi’s house) where we meditate, around 6:30 in the morning, and then 9 at night.  It’s cold and dark on both ends, and 1/2 the time I forget my flashlight. When I first got here the moon was just a sliver.. and I’d crash and grope thru the dark, giggling at myself the whole time, almost falling over trying to tilt my head back and admire the zillions of stars in the sky :).  As of late, the moon is full and flashlights are unnecessary....just about the time I could remember the path ;).  The meditations are not mandatory... but I’ve made them so. Haven’t missed one... (except for the night we watched “Out of Africa” .... such a great movie!). Start the day and end the day with peace... at least that’s the idea. :)

So why meditate? What’s the pull you wonder? There are a MILLION reasons and there’s a whole wide WORLD that is this ‘yoga life.‘  It is SO smart and SO intriguing and SO enticing. It’s way too much to write about here... and there is WAY too much going on here for me to even try! You’d think I have tons of time to write... but funny enough between the work, the meals, and the meditations I have very little time to myself.  I’ll come back to that question. First, the company:

Jamie is delightfully different. The first impression I had of him was right on: He is the epitome of calm and flowing. He doesn’t speak much, but when he does, it’s incredibly eloquent, intelligent, insightful, clever. I find myself really looking forward to our ‘talks’, awed by his ability to be so solitary yet approachable. He’s definitely someone I’m drawn to, someone I see I can learn a lot from. On the other hand, in that very perfect balance of life way, I find myself a bit skirtish around Naomi! Not because our time together is unpleasant... she IS a very sweet, thoughtful woman, incredibly mobile, capable, sharp- not seeming her age of 82 at all.  It’s just... a bit too much! She is openly lonely...and passive aggressively insecure. The polite, correct, compassionate side of me feels this urging to just give her time, soak it her talks, do my best to be all ears. My old training as a Hospice Angel kicks in. Sitting, even legitimately enjoying time with the elderly, lapping up their wisdom and insights is not foreign to me. But alas, unfortunately I came here, (appropriately I should think to a retreat center!) with some pretty self-seeking intentions, so it’s a decent struggle between doing what I want vs what she solicits for. I was pre-alerted that the winter is a different scene here because of the cold and needing to use her house often, but I like the moral of the story: We are given what we need. 

Our lives are a mirror... the irony in this appeal/repel is that it looks a lot like the reflection of what I see and relate to in myself. I see aspects in Jamie that I strive for. Collected. Speaking wisely and with intention. It’s inspiring. He gaily reminds me of my  wise, amazing friend Kevin :).  Naomi (to unfairly point out her less than perfect qualities), is set in her ways (fittingly for 82), quick to point out when you do something ‘different’ than she would, and has a tireless love of talking... and ‘one-upping’.  Ackkkk! ...I think...sometimes... I do allllllll those too!!!  Haaaaaa! Oh the horrors of self-analyzation :) 
(I give myself a free-pass when it comes to writing... reading it is all up to you ;)!!! 

I’m setting my boundaries and it's all fine.. she so cute and endearing she grows on me every day :). For now, I’m totally enthralled by the opportunity to keep having talks with Jamie. The way he formulates his words and themes, makes every sentence SO understandable. I reaaaaallly wish I had recorded our conversations ... so good!!! One such talk, a discussion about my meditation troubles, ended with the recognition that I came here with two intentions that were completely counter-active of each other. Oopsy!  The main intention was to just be. To settle/chill/relax/clear my mind/be alone a while/be open to whatever answers or opportunities might come. The other, secondary, supposedly inferior, totally unscripted intention (to finish my mass to-do list, contemplate my future, write often, design the company I want to start) has completely eclipsed the first. Jamie points out how difficult it must to be to swim in millions of anarchic thoughts and plans every day, and then try to sit down and turn them all off like a light switch for meditation. DOH!

My mind is constantly analyzing, digging, searching, excited, interested, planning. I’m thinking so much, I’m not even aware of what my body is doing half the time (why I can’t remember where I set things down, like my keys or phone. Ugg Mindlessness). Yes yes.. it’s this proverbial double edged sword.  My thoughts give me soooo much elation and joy, yet soooo much unnecessary garbage at the same time. Rude!

We, speaking of a typical person, are captives of our own minds... Really, we are. Have you ever said any of these phrases to yourself?: 

“I wish I would just stop thinking about that”
“I’m driving myself crazy”
“My mind has a mind of it’s own”

Of course you have. We all have! We have about as much control over our minds as Kermit the Frog does of his ;).  Not convinced?  Stop reading right now, close your eyes and try to not think for 5 minutes.  Concentrate on your breathing to help you. 


Did it work? Of course not :). If it did you have a gift, you should explore this!!! Write me an email!  (actually all of us should explore this, especially if you couldn’t!!)

Our minds are constantly going going going. Some more than others, especially mine. 

“Keen Intelligence is two-edged. It can be constructive or destructive like a knife. You can cut off the boil of ignorance or decapitate one’s own head.” - Sri Yukteswar

True that!!!! What does one do then, about such a renegade mind?  Thus far in my life, I’ve subconsciously sought out situations that took me into ‘my zone’ you might say. When it’s intense, exciting, competitive, or sometimes just pure peace and beauty.... each one eliciting such a focus or awe that a distraction is the last thing I worry about.  It happens when I’m in a writing frenzy, a design frenzy, when I’m hiking, when I do yoga, even when I had a big deadline at work and 8 hrs would pass in an instant. When my attention is completely caught. Often for me, it’s highlighted in a precarious situation: hanging onto the side of rock, teetering across a log, leaping across the abyss.  Where if I get distracted even in the slightest little bit, I’m in trouble.  That’s why I find myself doing these things. It’s not the actual danger I’m addicted to, I’m addicted to being where I am. Exactly there. Focused. In the moment. Where? Here. When? Now. 

We all love being in this zone, it’s called having hobbies :).  Whether it’s cooking, riding horses, singing songs, sailing, swimming, running, sewing, dancing... it’s things we do that put us in that moment and only that moment. It seems so positive right??  It is, for sure, it’s great and dandy to love things. Let’s just recognize what it is though: We’re all trying to put ourselves in situations that can hold our minds. When we can say, “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”  Because it’s nice to just be content, happy. That’s why TV and internet are so dangerous. For some, this becomes the hobby. The trouble is the mind is really being held by an outside source, with a false sense of focus. It gives no real substantial happiness.

How awesome if we could get that focus, that feeling, that peace, whenever we called upon it. Ahhh.... yes, so it seems it’s possible :)

Last year I had a fabulous conversation with a fellow adventure seeking, adrenaline junkie type guy in India named Isham. He was fascinating to me. It seems he once was a pretty well known free-climber, but as he aged, he realized he couldn’t keep up with the physical demands. It’s “One mistake, pancake” in that sport! He needed another outlet. Another way to get in this zone. This focus zone. He found it thru meditation. Meditation is the art by which we learn to control our thoughts. “Freedom from thoughts is bliss.”  Less thinking. More being :). 

“Meditation is for your mind, what exercise is for your body.”

It appears effortless, but it’s much more than just sitting and being still (although that is still good). For sake of time and space, I’m going to boil down a huge lifestyle, into one sentence: What I gather, what rings true to me, is a three-part process: get rid of our ego, our attachment to things and desires, and gain control over our thoughts. Then there is pure, unadulterated Bliss! Simple right? hahhaha. HAHAHHAH. 

Ego is the hardest. Not just the cocky, overinflated type, but the type we all have type. The one that’s been instilled in us since we were toddlers. The kind that gets you all defensive if someone critiques you, or hurt if they don’t agree with or like you, or upset when you ‘can’t believe someone would do that to you.”   These are all emotions that don’t have to exist if you realize it’s your ego talking.

Attachment to things is also pretty tough.  Right now, I’m fanatically attached to my computer. If it died... I would actually cry. Cars, phones, food, tv, facebook... and non-physical things too.  Most people get attached to a feeling, myself included, like that sooo good feeling when someone tells you that you are beautiful or pats you on the back for a job well done.  Unfortunately with sensual pleasures like these, they leave you craving more and open opportunities for disappointment when you stop getting them, or even just get them less. Compliments are good, doing things to seek them out are not so much ;).

The idea of it is relatively simple to learn, but it’s incredibly hard to follow, enact. Like learning a few keys on a piano... then taking a lifetime (or 2 or 10) to play like Beethoven. It’s not easy at all. Not even always attainable.  It could be taken all the way to enlightenment but that’s not even on my radar. A few rungs up the totem pole would be good for me, even if it takes the next 70 yrs of my life. Everything that’s worth something deserves some effort, right? I think so :) I’m an effort whore. And even if I only ever learn to play ‘Mary had a Little Lamb’ on this piano... it’s still a nice time to just be calm, to know the theories and keep them close, like sheet music for a euphoric life :).

For now, my plans and my actions seem perpendicular instead of running parallel. The attachment to my computer isn’t helping. The line between hobby and addiction is slim ;0). The baby-step advice,  perceptive suggestions from Jamie, is to make sure my ‘doing’ is purposeful. Pay attention to my thoughts. Be aware of all my actions. Recall what and why I am doing something. Even the simplest things, If I’m making scrambled eggs, be in the kitchen and scramble the eggs. Don’t be thinking of what I’m going to do after I eat.  If I’m going to write, write purposefully. If it’s not an inspired day, close up and just be, I don’t have ‘to do’ something else. My death-grip on productivity cringes ;).

We know this advice. It’s good advice. We hear it from many different angles, from many different people and sources. In essense: Relax :). I’m glad I’m here, where I can submerge in the practice of it, and have reminders all day. This place, although great in it’s own right, is not the perfect fit for me (no place has been really... that’s why I’m still wanderlust!). It’s a bit more spiritual than resonates comfortably within me, and I'm purposely cutting out a huge "God" element that is essential to this place's teaching.  It probably helps.. but for now I'm seeking out the more "Universe" sense of it than the "God" sense.  I fully admit that’s because it’s out of my comfort zone. We all know I like to push those limits though, so we’ll see if I have some metamorphosis ;). Don’t worry it’s not a cult!   I’m happy and I definitely feel it is good for me. I’ve grown indubitably conscious of an impending/in progress change. Not sure what the change is or when or what it will result in... but I’m enamored by, and excited by, this realization that I’m going thru a major transitional period of my life right now. Not just where I’ll be, but where I’ll be.  Get it??? hahah. Whatever manifests will be correct, of that I’m 100% sure. I love the journey.

I’m planning to stay here and seep out all the knowledge and practice and guidance I can thru mid-March... BUT....

My first and foremost Love has called: Adventure. And when adventure calls, I answer :) Bwahahha.  In an absurdly short span of time, starting less than 48 hours ago, I’ve seized an opportunity. I’m driving down to meet my good pal Kevin to hike the Grand Canyon!!!!! I leave this afternoon!!! HAAA!  I’m ridiculous, I know.... but it’s a fuuuuuun roller coaster life I lead!!!!!! 

I certainly still plan to meditate, and although I’m enthusiastic about this ‘yoga life’ immersion I’ve been indulging in, this is a good chance to test my resilience in the ‘real world’.  Might as well make it a road trip on the way back up, sooo...... if you’re in Phoeniz, LA, or along the coast of Cali and want to do some yoga, go on a hike, or most especially if you want to meditate next week, gimme a call!  Let’s get our focus frenzy on ;).

Adventures, I love you :)


  1. Right on. Godspeed!! :)

  2. Yes, you do love adventure! But super glad that you also learned so much about slowing down and just being in the moment!! Love and miss you Becky!!!!