Archive for the 'porousness' Category


February 7, 2015

While I was helping my mother unpack into her apartment in November, we came across some pieces of lava, probably souvenirs from a vacation trip abroad.  My mother didn’t want to keep them.

I was thinking about them this morning.  I was thinking about a spiritual practice Gita was encouraging me in some time ago, to connect deep within in the direction of the earth.  I think it’s harder to conceptualize infinity in that direction, but, analogous to the idea of physics on a level of particles and strings and such, I think it’s possible.  This is in contrast with prayer connecting me upwards and outwards to the cosmos.

When I connect inwards and in the direction of the earth and its molten core, I tend towards conceptualizing in imagery of soothing reddish-brown substances welling up within me.  When I pray up and out, I usually end up with light or water images.

Anyway, it occurred to me this morning that lava can be so porous and yet it is a rock of sorts.  Can I use this combination to help me feel well-dressed to deal with other people?  I am protected by something hard and yet it is a porous substance allowing for exchange of some sorts of things.

I don’t know, but I find a theme of my life is looking for a way to interact, as myself, with others and without becoming too damaged by the interaction.  I don’t see sealing myself off, I prefer not to withdraw from interaction, but I am as porous as the day is long and I don’t think I am supposed to change that or to incur crippling damage either.  So I am always open to figuring out a way to feel protected and porous at the same time.  And while I can “turn over” to the universe particular difficult situations and interactions, and I do, I feel that I need to improve my overall posture so that I have a more continuous, baseline sense of well-being.

One practice is to let incoming assaults pass through me instead of engaging with them.  I can feel them become diluted and dissipate through my connection upwards and outwards, as clean energy mixes with such incursions.  But that does not speak to my sense of being a sitting duck sometimes for material from others I don’t want to deal with, especially stuff they should be addressing to forces greater than ourselves, not to other human beings.  In this category lies huge anxiety and distress and a sense that everything is terrible — I have people who try to interact with me who have more of those than I can process comfortably, and my posture is that they should stop trying to get me to process it on their behalf.  But they continue, I suspect because we have an instinct to survive that does not always get channeled in constructive ways.  And so I look for what I can do at my end to maintain my equanimity while they do, because it takes a lot of time and energy of my own to clean myself up after being slimed by such incursions.

I think lava may be a helpful concept for me to do that.  I think it can help me feel strong and soothed and protected and porous.  Hardened it is brittle, molten it is suffocating (I think), but like light being both wave and particle in some way (again, my caution that I may be misunderstanding the science), I think it is possible in some way to think of lava as both protective and porous, flexible and brittle.  If lava can participate in all of these characteristics over time, then I am hopeful that on a spiritual plane, without the constraint of time, I can participate in those characteristics simultaneously.  Surely one of our human difficulties is holding paradoxical ideas in our limited heads — doesn’t mean that such paradoxes cannot be understood in other ways.


Trying to help

April 7, 2014

How do we help people who feel miserable?  Many of them want us to hold their misery for them.  It’s too heavy for most of us, and it’s not a good idea for us to try to hold it;  if we receive the misery, we need to be able to pass it on to the universe for disposal.

Therapists, Reiki masters, clergy, all kinds of people know how to do something like this.

But if the miserable person still has no way of ceasing to produce feelings of misery, the situation has not been sufficiently addressed.  The person feeling misery needs to find a different way to intersect with the world, a different emotional posture.

Some people find such a posture through cognitive behavioral therapy, others through 12-step programs, others through religious creeds, and I’m sure some people pick up another attitude from other sources, even from individuals or from literature.

I think part of what happens when a person is developing an attitude in which misery is not being regenerated constantly is that the person becomes looser and more open.  This helps negative feelings, when they do arise, become diluted.  And eventually, I think, the person is able to more directly and efficiently dump their load of miserable feelings onto the universe — they figure out how to work the dump truck  so that the universe and not a human interlocutor receives the load.

I think that’s important.  Our misery should not be passed around like a hot potato or spewed out into the environment like greenhouse gases.  And people who just want to dump their loads onto me constantly, happily refilling their trucks and driving them over and over again to my place, well, to them I would try to communicate as gently as possible (and sometimes the gentleness I’m sure does not come through) that I can’t participate in that.  I wish they would also examine why they are not motivated to find an alternative to refilling their truck.

Kidney failure

September 7, 2012

An extended-family member was hospitalized for kidney failure the other night.  The episode is turning out to contain resonances of so many past stories I know that I start thinking about what it represents for me metaphorically.

When the kidneys are not cleansing the blood, toxins build up, confusion is a symptom.  Makes me wonder what the equivalent of a kidney in our spiritual lives might be.

I think spiritually the cleansing mechanism is more like a charcoal filter in a water pitcher or the dilution of grape juice with water, as my mother used to serve it to us kids.

If we can’t process our emotions and discharge or dissipate or otherwise redress them, they build up, and we do become confused.  I think we dilute them and cleanse ourselves through mixing in cleaner, healthier energy.  I do that through working on being open through walking and praying;  sleeping is another way I think we interface more openly with the universe.

I only have one kidney (born that way) and it’s big.  The doctor who diagnosed it when I was about thirty joked with me that that means I can’t be a live donor.  Which is interesting, because some of my spiritual work has been helping others cleanse their spiritual systems through my own.  (Sometimes it seems to me that “on earth” is at least sometimes actually an inversion of “as it is in heaven,” — maybe this is an example of that, I don’t know.  In astronomy as I studied it in an elementary survey course, a mathematical inverted square relationship was a major theme.  Maybe that’s related to what I’m noticing here. )

I guess I like to think that in my spiritual work I can help someone have their own kidney without sacrificing mine.  Whether this is done through my helping them locate theirs, repair theirs, or develop a new one in much the same way Harold does in those Purple Crayon stories, I’m not sure.  I think it’s most hard for me when I’ve helped them start the process but won’t be able to enjoy the results myself in this lifetime — but that only underscores that I am only a conduit and that what I do contribute must be offered as a gift (regardless of how the recipient frames the interaction).  After all, I have my own lessons, too, to learn from the experience.


June 8, 2012

The kind I’m thinking about is karmic, the imbalance we may develop with another soul over time.  And the pattern I am experiencing in my life time after time is a person who on the one hand admits to owing a debt in my direction and asks for a relationship ostensibly to redress that, but then repeats the same behavior that led to the debt in the first place.

What’s the challenge?  What’s the lesson?

I figured out years ago the part about being able to work out my end of it with the universe at large, that God, if you will, can fill in for anybody, kind of like the Universal Donor (not to be confused with one of those billionaire contributors to a Super PAC) and give me what I need regardless of what another human being is or is not offering.

The part I’m still trying to figure out is how to maintain a relationship with the person nonetheless.  They sometimes do the equivalent of making a partial payment regularly and want that to suffice.  The usual solution of “boundaries” isn’t available to me as an empath — as lame as it may sound, it’s all or nothing with me, whatever I or anyone else thinks I should be able to do.

That leaves me to witness the situation: I have a relationship with someone who is taking more than they are giving, doesn’t see it, isn’t going to change.  If it serves the greater good for me to continue in the relationship, I’ll have to try to redress with God whatever deficit it produces.  Again, this much I have been aware of for a while.

What’s new for me is to realize that part of my challenge is to maintain that view of the situation within the relationship, not to accede, which as an empath I all too easily do, to the other person’s worldview.

What’s interesting to me is that when the person is, as seems to be the rule with this pattern, someone with a thick self-protective outer shell, there is a problem of misinterpreting the reflections of each other, of mistaking the other for the self, of getting lost in the mirrors, as in a fun house at a carnival.  The other person invariably thinks they are supposed to convert me to their worldview (with some people it has been overtly about conversion to their religion, with others it has been about adopting atheism, or secular rationalism or social sciencism or artism — whatever the other person’s belief system happens to be).

I think the lesson is sticking to my truth, as I think we call it nowadays, even within the relationship.  (I have explored the option of simply exiting the relationship, that variation I think I have mastered, but the continued recurrence of this pattern suggests to me there’s another option I need to learn.)  I think maybe I’m supposed to stay in there, in that relationship, with my understanding and my worldview and to maintain those things but not to try to promote them.

For me it’s a little like entering a toxic zone without a hazmat suit and needing to find another way to stay in there without being overcome.  Part of the technique seems to involve not blaming the other person in the relationship but also not going along with their point of view about it — and not expecting it to change.  I suspect I have difficulty with this arrangement because I’m not altogether sure I understand the point of it.  But I usually don’t understand the point of something going into it, I usually only see its significance in retrospect, when I am well out of the situation, and I know I don’t need to understand it to understand that I should undertake it nonetheless.

The other part of the technique that I seem to need to work on is to have faith in the universe that there really is a way to do this in which everyone’s greater good, including my own, is served.  That’s probably where I am now with this, working on acceptance and faith.  We all put on our trousers one leg at a time, as they say — it’s usually just another iteration of the very basic lessons we all work at, like acceptance and faith.



January 14, 2012

I was thinking this morning that sometimes intention is everything and sometimes it doesn’t matter at all.

For example, if I’m bereaved and someone tries to comfort me and they say something I just don’t find helpful, if I perceive a real sincere intention from them to help, and they’re just clueless, I, at least, find myself comforted by that emotion of theirs, even if I recoil from their words.  And so, too, with other forms of help, even advice.

On the other hand, if someone is stepping on my toes, however well intentioned, it still hurts.  Actually, the example I had in mind is draining my energy, because that I find happens often inadvertently, probably due to my own make-up.  I am what some people label very permeable, and I pick up other people’s stuff really easily.  So, for example, after spending time interacting with someone, even someone I don’t really know (like a receptionist in a new doctor’s office), I’ll find myself doing something strangely foreign to me, like how I back up the car in the doctor’s office parking lot — my hands on the wheel feel different, I use an unfamiliar sequence of behaviors to turn and look out the rear window and for how and when I turn the wheel — it is not what I usually do.  I could override it if necessary, but I think the energy drain is not affected by that — I think that just as I’ve picked up some of the person, they’ve picked up some of me.  Which in and of itself I don’t think is a problem, but I think what happens is that if they then interact with people who use other people’s energy, while their own energy may remain safe and intact, mine will be pulled out by this third person, because I’m so porous and I have all kinds of energy that people apparently like.  And I can’t always easily draw in comfortably on my own enough fresh energy myself to replace what is being used, especially if I’m interacting with a lot of people who interact with a lot of people — I sometimes think that’s part of why people like contemplative nuns and hermits live secluded lives.

So, I have to be careful about how to respond to a person, when I should respond to intention and when I need to take account of the behavior regardless of intention.  Since lots of people’s belief systems don’t include ideas like porousness and energy exchanges, it can be tricky to try to arrive at a mutually agreeable way of interacting, since there may not be a way of explicitly communicating  about the issues.   But I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I just don’t care so much about what other people think — I’m not going to stand on ceremony while I get harmed, however inadvertently (and especially if the other person is blaming me for not being able to accommodate them), and if some embarrassment ensues, well, so be it — for me, the alternative may actually be far more deleterious.  But I will also say that my first choice is to try to work things out tactfully and without disturbing anyone, that’s Plan A.  I’m just not always that good at it.

The opposite of orthodoxy

January 10, 2012

I do actually understand the pairing as opposites of “liberal” and “conservative,” but what I personally find more helpful is the contrast between people with airtight belief systems and those who are more open and porous.  It’s sort of related to the contrast between ideologues and non-conformists, between the orthodox and iconoclasts.

So, I’m not sure what is really gained when people jump ship from conservatism to liberalism, or vice versa.  The trouble I tend to have is with people’s being doctrinaire and imposing their beliefs on others — that sort of dynamic is quite possible regardless of whether one is for big government or little government, EPA regulations or industry independence.

I think I’ve noted before that someone once said to me that he thought the orthodox of different religions had more in common with each other than with the less observant members of their own religions.  I suspect that’s true of politics, too.  And when people change party affiliations, I’m not sure they change personalities or emotional make-ups, and I’m not sure they don’t use the same attitudes and techniques in their new context.

What I enjoy more is taking off all the labels and disaggregating all the ideas that are usually tied up together and looking for the ideas that work, that make sense of a sort, that hold up to rigorous analysis, that serve the greater good.  I probably have the dubious advantage (or bias in favor of this approach) of being somewhat ignorant of what one is supposed to think — of which ideas are supposed to go together.  Of course, being too much of a free-thinker can leave a person with fewer sure allies and without the kind of community that people who seek group affiliation and are comfortable with it enjoy.  Willy and I would notice this when we would periodically look into private schools for our kids — we fit in nowhere, both because of family composition and our beliefs (or lack of a recognizable package of them).  We would laugh about how we were a party of two.  And we didn’t get that way on purpose, it’s just where our thinking took us, and by chance we seemed to think alike — at least about anything major (not so about things like whether dishes that will eventually need scrubbing by hand should go first through the dishwasher — him, yes, me no — or whether it makes a difference whether you soak a pan in hot or cold water — he claimed cold worked just as well, but I was never convinced, his scientific explanations notwithstanding).

Anyway, I guess I maintain that free-thinking on my own, not so much out of conviction or habit but because that seems to be the way my mind works.

Reading the tea leaves

November 23, 2011

I drink a lot of tea, mostly black tea, usually from loose leaves.  I have taken to using the leaves twice; I make a cup with a deep basket infuser, leave the infuser in the inverted lid to the cup, and later on I make a second cup with the same leaves before consigning them to the compost heap and starting for the next cup with a fresh spoonful of tea.

I found myself multiple times recently having to catch myself from pouring the boiling water for the second cup into the basket before re-placing the basket in the cup.  So, I start to wonder what that could mean, what is the lesson, what is the teaching.

I think it could be a metaphor for me.  I feel porous, like that nylon mesh basket and without the double glass walls of the cup surrounding me.  I get drained by other people easily.  Others have observed that I need to not take on too many activities or people simultaneously that drain me, especially since I am drawn to care-taking.  Sometimes I do this consciously, other times I find that the plans I think I should make (like arrangements for my volunteer work) keep not working out, and I hear the universe saying something like, “No, that’s not what you should be doing.”  With the volunteer work, I also find myself having really intense coughing spells as I’m driving home afterwards (when the arrangements have come to fruition), which I don’t take as positive reinforcement for repeating the experience.

So, without trying to make myself out to be more “unique” than I actually think I am, I do try to take care of myself, as they say, by not putting myself into situations that drain me.  I think that’s a large part of why I don’t make more extensive use of what’s available on-line, on the internet.  I don’t feel called to, even if I feel others noodging me to, and I do perceive substantial drawbacks to trying it out.