Home > Lessons for the Modern Man > Men and Grief (Part 3)

Men and Grief (Part 3)

I put a big ding in my relatively new guitar this morning. I usually begin practice while steeping tea. This morning I forgot to set the timer for the tea and got up from my chair, guitar in hand, to set it; not my typical routine. As I turned to go back to practice I banged the guitar’s face into the corner of the the tea cart.

My first reaction was anguish followed immediately by anger, flashing white-hot: anger at the universe for setting this event in motion followed immediately with anger at myself for being clumsy, mindless, out of rhythm…Words were used to express this anger, not peaceful words, not high vibration words I would choose to share with anyone; words spilling mindlessly from an ill-tempered mouth.

I retreated to my “cave” to spare others from my venting, to salve my hurt, to recover some balance. “What is this?” comes easily to mind, long minutes too late, but the question remains hanging over me. My guitar practice, making tea, sharing a moment with Rosemary are all mindfulness practices for me during beautiful new days.  Yet, how quickly I plunged into mindless anger. I went on with my other routines.

I asked during yoga practice: “What is this?” During stretches, asanas and concluding meditation the answer comes: mindfulness practice is exactly this! Whether we are sitting on our cushion, making tea, practicing guitar, lessons arise; thoughts interfere with following the breath, a forgotten timer interferes with the routine of the tea, a dinged guitar brings us up short in our practice and throws us into the ditch of samsara.

I move on to my “morning pages”, a practice recommended by Julia Cameron in “The Artist’s Way.” I’ve been doing this with reasonable regularity for years; it is very helpful in clearing away the cobwebs of the mind. I sit to write in our sanctuary and ask: “What is this?” And I write of my perfectionist ways, my Enneagram type 1 personality which at the superficial level demands perfection. My guitar is no longer perfect; it is dinged. Oh, it will sound no different in my amateur hands; I don’t play perfectly, so why must the guitar be perfect? The evolved Enneagram type 1 human realizes the world, the Universe is already perfect; it is just the way it needs to be; it just IS. “What is this?” This is a lesson in impermanence.  We live in an entropic Universe; everything tends toward a more natural state of higher entropy: destruction, decay, death are all natural processes with which we live. Guitars get dinged.

I move on to write “a poem for the day”, and ask “What is this?” The wheel turns, more lessons await, always lessons. Practice more, sit longer, breathe into the cycle. Thoughts arise, come back to emptiness; dings happen, come back to emptiness; loss comes, feel the grief; grief arises, find your center, emptiness.

A dinged guitar is a small thing, a small loss. It offers a small lesson for the day. It brings me back to center after a trip or two around the wheel and after some focused practice to understand and accept the ding, my reaction, my work, my return to the breath, to the present moment, all I have, all I will ever have.

I’ve touched on a few practices I find useful in my life of lessons and constant cycling (I hope spiraling) toward “the heart of perfect wisdom.” There are many mindfulness practices, some I use on a daily basis as I’ve illustrated, some like shamanic journeying, chanting, drumming I use less frequently, and others like holotropic breath work, sweat-lodge, fasting I use infrequently for major “spiritual emergencies.” There are as many ways to approach inner work as there are human beings. The importance is to approach it!

Men and grief; many of us don’t do it well. If we have the knowledge and the tools, the wisdom of the grieving process and its importance will surely follow.

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