Riding the Wave of Courage

Today I decided to share my experience speech with a work colleague and also my brother-in-law. Brave attempts to connect others to my own journey through the practice.

I think I’ll stop for now, though. I feel a bit intensely burnt out. My brother-in-law was very kind in his response. He said he had many questions and would prefer to discuss but perhaps it was better to let it be. Initially I said I was open to discussing it but then in an hour I started to have anxiety about this far away discussion. I was triggered. So I let him know I can’t. He said, that is why he said to let it be.

I am great with courage, need to learn a bit more about self-preservation too. Haha.

Now that I think about it, I did have courage to say no soon enough. Next time, I have to be better at standing up for my constraints and not let my mind do a number on me by making me do something it thinks I “should” be able to do.

Always a tough lesson to learn, isn’t it?

Recognising and Overcoming Fear

Yesterday, I shared some of my sensitive life experience in public, including my history of long term childhood abuse. Afterwards, I shared the video or text of my experience with a few friends in faith in other cities. They read or watched the experience and were very inspired.

They asked me if it was ok for them to share the experience with others. I said no. When I was chanting this morning, I realised that I had put limitations on myself again. For my mind, sharing the experience in a big meeting was meaningful and enough. Outside that perceived safe space, my mind told me I didn’t need to open myself up. I realised I was again acting upon my fear and deep-rooted shame.

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Moving Mountains

Today was a gigantic mammoth magnificent milestone in my practice. I got up on the stage and shared my experience with 400 people. I shared about my abuse and almost open sourced this information. It is no longer privileged and secret information. I can no longer keep track of or control who knows about it. This information has been set free in the wild and in turn I’ve set myself free.

When I was asked to share my experience, I was going to share the same experience as what I sent to the Indigo magazine. However, my leader nudged me slightly and when I chanted I realised I was missing a huge opportunity. How many times in my life would I have the opportunity to share two unique experiences within a span of a month! Usually the experiences from the meeting are published in the magazine, not the other way around.

As I started to chant to write this experience, I realised it has to be very powerful and courageous. More so than the experience I had already shared. My leaders advised me of the differences between written and spoken experiences, how having too much detail is hard for people to follow in 10 minutes. I still didn’t know what the content would be, just that it would be about my work.

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Making Life Happen

This morning while chanting I was again reminded of my cowardice and that my life is my hands and I gotta make it happen.

In my cowardice, I was hiding behind my inability to confront what I needed to do in the situation and take action. Instead of aiming to schedule the interview for my dream job, I was already planning for my failure and plan B and planning to spend time doing assignments and interviews for jobs I did not find interesting.

I realised I gotta put them off and give my all to this dream job interview. Here. And. Now.

After much deliberation and turning things around in my brain I now have an idea of when I want to schedule it. I started to rehash it. In this process as I was reading the New Human Revolution volume 6, I came across this quote from Sensei:

A leader has no time for speculation; she must be firmly resolved to win over all obstacles and negative forces without the slightest shadow of doubt.

-Daisaku Ikeda NHR vol 6 p210

Question is, am I going to be the leader of my own life or not?

I firmly resolve to be so.

Challenging for Great Accomplishment

In April, I went to the monthly SGI meeting. The general director in his lecture mentioned how when he was stuck in a toxic work environment he started chanting to find the right opportunity that enabled him to use his beliefs, skills and values to contribute to society and kosen-rufu. I realised that my own projects at work were about to end in a couple of months and I didn’t know what I wanted next. I started chanting for this too with a target of 3 July.

A couple of weeks later I received an email from a recruiter at one of the top organisations in my field of work. An organisation I’d applied to before but had only received rejections. This time they were asking me. I setup a call with them and later rescheduled it – I just wasn’t functioning when I got back from India 3 weeks ago.

Finally I spoke to them last week. They said they would like me to apply for a role. I said that I would think about it and get back to them. I expressed my interest on the next day.

In a way, I felt overwhelmed and intimidated at the thought of going through this rigorous process. I thought I was reasonably happy at my job and why would I want to do this. I realised that I need to challenge myself and get out of comfort zone. That when I don’t do this, I end up with other difficult situations because then I’m growing because of problems rather than because of great accomplishment of challenging my tendencies.

Earlier in the year my determination was to use great vision rather than great suffering to show actual proof in my life and advance kosen-rufu.

Now I understand all this but I also feel very lost. I don’t know how to do my best to accomplish this goal and win for the sake of kosen-rufu.

Thinking “aloud” perhaps this is what I need to do next:

  1. Reply to the email, thank them and tell them when I would provide them with my availability.
  2. Update my resume
  3. Apply to the position formally.
  4. Send my availability for the first round of interviews
  5. Look at the interview prep resources and start making some notes so it is easier for me to revise later.

This is the first hash. For now, I am in a plane and don’t have access to the Internet.

Soon I will and I will aim to do item no. 1 today.

There, now I feel a bit ok… I can only focus on what I can do today, tomorrow will be another day.

Learning to Communicate

For as long as I remember, I have been this person judged and admonished for being rude and arrogant. I have been direct in my communication to the point of aggressiveness. I suppose I lived all of my childhood with such deceit and farce of a “happy family and childhood” while hiding behind it being such a complete two-faced lie that my life was, I became extremely direct and truthful in my communication. There was no filter between how I felt and what I said, I didn’t care how my words affected the person in front of me. In my view if they couldn’t swallow the bitter pill of truth I shoved at them, it was their problem. After all, my life was about swallowing the bitter pill of life everyday.

Further, the lack of emotionally healthy people who had time or capacity to teach me emotional self-regulation and communication made it worse. I was little and picked on by many, the only defence were my sharp words and there was no way I was going to let go of them. I had a habit of launching physical assault in a fashion befitting my little-ness – I would just quickly hit the bigger family member of my generation with both my hands before they could grab both my wrists with one hand and immobilise me and render me completely helpless. This stopped one day when my aunt complained vehemently about this behaviour to my mother. From what I recall, she shamed my mother and scolded her for being incapable of “controlling” my bad behaviour.

My mother in her fiery temper tied my hands with a rope while scolding me and slapping me, asking me if I would ever do it again. After that day I was rendered completely defenceless and helpless. I developed an even more fiery anger and deep resentment and powerlessness over my ability to look out for myself.

Anyhow, I digress. This was why words came in handy until I ended up in a job I really liked and found out that everyone disliked my guts and arrogance. That people could not deal with my aggressive attitude and arrogance.

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Aligning to my mission

After yesterday’s friendship and joy, I found myself better able to connect to my purpose today. It was much easier to chant for an hour this morning. I invited one of my Buddhist group members to chant at the same time from her home. I thought of it as a chore for her because she must have been living a good enjoyable life with her husband.

However, things aren’t as always they seem to be. Even when I think I’m struggling and nobody else is in a soup like me, someone is still struggling in their own way.

When we finished chanting she said that she hadn’t chanted like this for a while and thanked me for inviting her. She said that she needed to redetermine and strengthen her resolve to align with her vow for kosen-rufu.

I was amazed how my new prayers based on President Ikeda’s guidance and persevering in creating causes led to this moment.

This fuelled me to talk to my state leader and reach out to many other young women. I want to strive to create so many causes and accumulate so much good fortune that when PMS and it’s accompanying deep depression and fatigue come around, my good fortune is enough to carry me over, that somehow my life force is so strong that I don’t suffer and am able to keep continuing the cycle of contributing to society and kosen-rufu.

I’m grateful for this challenge that leads me to strive. Thanks to my friend in Melbourne for giving me so much encouragement to focus on my determination.

My most favorite thing from that conversation was – everything I do is ok. If today I can only text one person and chant for five minutes, that’s ok. If I can do more, that’s ok too. As long as I’m somehow doing my best, whatever that turns out to be is enough and ok and will lead me to accumulate limitless good fortune.

This took so much anxiety away. Further that I can only focus on my causes. And if I text someone and they don’t respond, I don’t need to fixate on that, I can go ahead and connect to others who while continuing to chant for those who are not able to step forward yet.

So much to do and strive for. Exciting times!

Choice – Part 2

As I was reflecting on my earlier post Choice yesterday, I considered how I could get better at recognising when I’m sinking into a negativity pattern, blocking my innate wisdom or Buddha nature.

Here’s a few warning signs and antidotes:

  • When I’ve fixated on a goal and all my prayers are about that one problem or thing I want to change. I’ve made that the centre of my life, my object of devotion rather than the Gohonzon. Antidotes – seek personal guidance, start chanting about someone else that I care about but don’t chase after, go to study meetings, training courses as per availability, chant more consistently and abundantly in the morning.
  • I feel stuck in the options available to me. This is usually a symptom of me being stuck in risk averse, catastrophe avoidance rather than a creative mindset. Antidote: Remind myself my lack of choices is only my perception, not the reality. Set myself an ambitious goal for kosen rufu and pursue it wholeheartedly through faith, practice and study. Chant abundantly in the morning. Remind myself that practising is not about avoiding difficulties, also not about struggle for the sake of struggle. Focus on creating actual proof for the sake of kosen rufu.
  • Trying to map the future path and scenarios, strategizing, not being open to the options shown to me. Trying to match my life to my expectation of what it should be, blocking my engagement with the present moment. Antidote: Write a prayer about my goal and chant each day with that thing at the back of my mind acting as fuel to chant but not taking over all my prayers or my life. Pray for an option to open up somehow that enables me to expand my contribution to life and kosen rufu with my prayer getting answered.

Ok time to get some precious 💤.

Goodnight you all!

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”.

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Handing out relationship advice

One would think that given I’m by myself and have been for the better part of the last decade, I won’t have much to offer in terms of relationship advice. I guess I don’t.

Today I had a friend reach out to me to help work through relationship struggles. I was skeptical about offering a guy relationship advice, because evidently I haven’t found a suitable one yet.

However, last year’s failed relationship with Mike has been quite a learning experience. I wish I had been chanting regularly then. I wish I’d been more open, loving, and given him more freedom. It still may not have worked but I wouldn’t have regrets. I do know with my prayer that what happened was for the best and I can see it in my life.

Ultimately, it is about creating supreme happiness in my life that isn’t driven by external circumstances. Inline with that perhaps one day I won’t care about how happy chocolate brownies make me. 😝

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