Choice

My friend wrote this post today – What is my choice. It got me thinking about choices. What I thought about my choices, why I made them, how they shaped my life and so on.

When I thought back to a time in my life where I didn’t have choices, I wondered why that was. E.g. when I started working in my first job back in 2004 and stayed with my uncle that I didn’t want to.

Or the time when I made the choice to rebel against the status quo because I refused to define my life by cultural expectations or norms and allowed myself the freedom to be, I realised that eventually my rebellion had taken away my choice to learn and explore myself and what I wanted. Instead I had started living my life by what I didn’t want. It was a choice too, albeit a narrow one.

I also thought about how I have the choice to practice the religion of my choice, without my family disowning me or the legal system penalising me.

In that sense, the more I reflected on it, the more I was sure that being able to choose is a privilege. That I am already on the side of privilege when I have choices. However, it isn’t quite as straightforward. Why did I refuse to exercise the choices I had in a moment, for example, when I chose to stay in an unfulfilling relationship for even a minute, let alone months or years? Why did I choose to stay with my flatmate when it was clearly not working out for me?

Continue reading “Choice”

Healing Trauma via Buddhism – Part 2

Continuing on from my post here, writing further about what I learned at the workshop “Trauma, Neuroscience and the Evolving Therapy of Traumatised Children and Adults” by Dr Bessel van der Kolk earlier this week and referring to his book The Body Keeps the Score.

The most important job of the brain is to ensure our survival, even under the most miserable conditions.

– The Body Keeps the Score pg 55

Amygdala is the smoke detector in the brain that detects danger. In a traumatised person’s brain, the amygdala becomes hypersensitive, very involved. It goes off all the time. This also translates into low serotonin production. Boosting serotonin can help quieten the smoke detector too.

Using the Buddhist practice in the present moment, I can rely on my prayer for survival. This action focused on bringing out my greatest potential enables me to bypass the in-built brain circuits that were formed in the past. I am gently nudging myself to not fall back to old ways, but let in new possibilities. SGI activities, visiting members, connecting to others, going to meetings gives me a sense of belonging that helps to boost my serotonin levels to calm the smoke detector.

When I sought guidance from the general director earlier this year, I was told that “Until the time, I am stuck in the mode of why is my life this way, why is this happening to me, I am still looking for the Gohonzon outside of myself. Instead when I chant to embrace my situation and I determine to engage with others, no matter what, I will find creative ways to solve my current situation”.

Continue reading “Healing Trauma via Buddhism – Part 2”

Victorious Day!

Today has turned out to be a fabulous day. I want to chronicle it here and in my memory for the next time I doubt or question the infinite potential of my Buddha nature and my practice’s ability to bring it forth within my life.

I woke up at 5.30 am, while it was still dark.

Usually this is a herculean and impossible task for me, I even avoid catching morning flights for this reason. In the past, if I had a morning flight, I would even find it hard to function through the day. I got some training to do this last year amidst my frequent work travel.

I showered and sat to chant at 6.30 am.

Usually this is another impossible task. I can’t get myself going unless I chant, I would also find hundred reasons to neither shower nor chant. Not today though.

I chanted for one hour.

Initially I felt very sleepy and tired. I judged how I was chanting. At about the half hour mark, I felt only one daimoku carrying me through to the next. It was chanting in the state of Flow. Then my leader joined me in chanting and the alliance kept me going. At some point I realised I need to start heating my breakfast while chanting if I want to make my train, so I did that without judgement. This is really working to quiet down the voice of my inner devil/negativity/fundamental darkness – whatever you want to call it.

I was 7 minutes early to catch my train. My train got delayed by over 10 minutes and I started chanting in my heart in the train. Any delays could’ve been catastrophic to my tight schedule. I made it to the doctor’s right at 9 am. I was calm and relaxed.

This is not my usual state when I am delayed. I almost went out of the wrong exit from the train station but had the good sense to correct myself quickly as I realised which I direction I was meant to go in. Usually this kind of events would make me a wreck.

When I saw the doctor, and recounted my story of how I got the appointment within 24 hours, she said that strangely nobody wanted this appointment slot – not even anybody on their appointment cancellation waiting list. It was as though the appointment was meant for me.

In my life, I have not been at the receiving end of such syncronicity often before starting the practice. I was the person who if on the road, whether driving or going as a passenger would meet all red signals. This is a 360 degree turnaround brought forth by the mystic law.

The doctor’s appointment was really good. In the morning, I chanted for the doctor to know what to ask me and not rely on my poor recollection of things. Mystically, the doctor was focussed on getting useful information in the hour. She would cut me off or navigate the information to extract what she needed to know and defer the other details to later. At the end of my appointment, she arrived at the answer I thought was the right one. When she made an incorrect conclusion, I was able to assert for myself and advocate for myself rather than think that she knows better.

Usually my doctor’s appointments can be long winded where nothing useful comes out of them. This is a refreshing change. I also could change my usual view of thinking that the doctor knows best or not being able to know what to say and how to assert myself.

At the end of the appointment, the doctor recommended a path which has long been my belief is the right path. She asked to see me for a follow-up before she prescribes any treatment. She promised to get me in soon in the next few weeks as soon as someone cancels.

I did not hesitate in declaring that I will be available for whatever time slot that becomes free. That I will make the time. Usually I would go in fear mode, would want to check with my manager or my calendar. Today I just said, these are the dates I am away, other than that I will make everything else work.

This afternoon I got a call from them already and have a follow-up appointment next Wednesday. I blocked my calendar on top of a client meeting, emailed my manager and my team informing and explaining honestly.

Usually I would be knotted up in anxiety thinking, only I won’t ever get the follow-up on time. In this case, I was confident I will get the follow-up asap. I was confident in how I presented what I needed to my team and offered all the assistance in working around it.

I respected the dignity of my life. Fearlessly.

Such a refreshing change from thinking and behaving as though I don’t deserve to have space to look after myself that my work would do me a favour if they let me see the doctor and from believing I don’t deserve to exist.

I have changed my karma today.

Life is responding back.

And I passed the Citizenship test as the cherry on the cake!

Fighting is starting to turn into victory…

Now to continue fighting for the victory of my friend who has similar health struggles but hasn’t found the right answer for her. I trust in her Buddha nature to lead her to the right answer for her. I am determined that she will recover too somehow.

We will win together!

As Sensei says:

“When your determination changes, everything will begin to move in the direction you desire. The moment you resolve to be victorious, every nerve and fiber in your being will immediately orient itself toward your success.

https://www.ikedaquotes.org/attitude/attitude104?quotes_start=14

Also:

“The commitment to the happiness of all people is at the heart of Buddhism. But it is through the relationship of mentor and disciple, through life-to-life connections, one person’s aspiration igniting another’s, that this ideal is brought out of the realm of abstract theory and made a reality in people’s lives.”

https://www.sgi.org/about-us/buddhist-concepts/the-oneness-of-mentor-and-disciple.htm

The commitment to the happiness of all people is at the heart of Buddhism. But it is through the relationship of mentor and disciple, through life-to-life connections, one person’s aspiration igniting another’s, that this ideal is brought out of the realm of abstract theory and made a reality in people’s lives.

https://www.sgi.org/about-us/buddhist-concepts/the-oneness-of-mentor-and-disciple.html

Time to live and embody the spirit of my mentor.

Thank you Sensei.