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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The Obstacle of Illness

Since I came back from India last month, after my grandmother’s passing, it has been a struggle to find my energy and rhythm. I responded to this challenge by creating causes in faith. I have been going to all the SGI meetings in my group and at the centre, I even met with members in my interstate work travel last month. I knew that the practice is the only way I can find my way back to life and even if not, to continue to create value out of whatever was happening to me and inside of me. If I were to think about it, it didn’t even come from a place of what I can contribute but rather from a place of how I can engage with my life through faith and perhaps find some joy.

I signed up to participate in a dance performance for a big meeting next month and this has been a great joy. However, last week, I fell really sick after my dance practice.

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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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Loneliness and Hugs

Since I came back from India two and a half weeks ago, I’ve been struggling to adapt to life here in some ways. The thing I miss the most is the abundance of people to hug safely.

First I don’t have that many people to hug in Australia but second and more importantly, my connection disability means that I’m unable to connect to a hug or register the dopamine it would normally bring into a healthy person’s being.

If I’m hugging people regularly I become attuned to it and don’t suppress my emotions as much. Also, the people around me in India are my family that I have deeper bonds with and have over time become better at letting in. While here, when I hug one person a week maybe, my brain switches off the hugging receptor. It’s too overwhelming for my emotional brain to let in this hug, then not be able to process what’s going on because it’s a bit out of practice. But also the other more overwhelming aspect is, it doesn’t want to let in this hug and then crave and not have it tomorrow.

My brain has gone into the mode of protecting myself.

Writing this makes me realize that perhaps I need to chant to have a life where my brain doesn’t have to protect me, where I feel able to cope with whatever is in front of me – joy as well as sorrow.

Regardless, I’ll continue to strive in my practice and go out and engage with others for the sake of their happiness. I refuse to give up and be in my bubble. Sometimes chanting with others feels like a hug, expect that to happen plenty of times over the next week.

✌🏽

Looking forward to it.

Making peace, building friendship

Last week I was traveling for work, quite wiped out and had diminished functioning. I met one of my SGI friends for dinner. It was a wonderful catch-up, always wonderful to see her. First met her in a training course in 2014 and the friendship keeps going.

Afterwards back at my hotel room, after finishing my chanting, I had an overwhelming urge to call my ex Mike from a relatively short but very emotional relationship, at least for me. Earlier this year I’d told him to never contact me again and he understood I needed the space.

As I was about to call him I prayed that only if this is right for me should he answer the phone, putting all my trust in the Gohonzon. I called him and it rang as though he was overseas, I was about to hang up and then reminded myself to persevere. Soon he answered and it was breaking up and his American accent seemed heavier than usual, I had trouble understanding what he said. I just got that he’s away and in a conference and will talk later. Surprisingly he followed up with a text that he couldn’t hear me but he will try calling me over the weekend when he has a break.

Knowing him, I figured I probably won’t hear back. It crossed my mind a couple of times as I went about my weekend, reminding myself that I’m not sitting around waiting or obsessing about it. He texted me late on Sunday night and I was already in bed and replied to him the next morning saying as much.

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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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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.