Hope to Overcome Sickness

I wrote yesterday about my determination to create causes in faith while I felt really sick and overwhelmed with the persisting sickness.

Today things started to move already. I went to Yoga at 5.45 am this morning, felt pretty awesome, wish there could be a class with humans every day. I came back and chanted for an hour. At 8.30 am I called my primary care doctor who I found in March this year. They didn’t have any appointments on this week and I asked to be put on the cancellation waiting list.

At 1.30 pm I went to see my local GP. My neighbour had recommended another GP at that practice but I hadn’t had the time to change my appointment. As luck would have it, the receptionist asked me if I wanted to see the other doctor as she was available sooner. I was more than happy! This GP turned out to be really good. She mentioned how the other GP had given me incorrect instructions about my ear drops. She gave me the right instructions and even gave me a referral to an ENT specialist.

Continue reading “Hope to Overcome Sickness”

How to Set Goals to Pray for?

Following on from my previous post about prayer without goals, I have been reflecting on how to set goals to pray for. I have been also reflecting my own journey and the various kinds of guidance I received over the years through study and personal guidance.

Some of my key learnings are below.

Pray for What You Want…

I used to often start from what I want to change or manifest in my life. E.g. I pray to have absolute victory over my health problems so that I can freely contribute to the happiness of others. In this frame of mind, I found that I started practising diligently only when I was deeply suffering and wanting to change something. However, when this didn’t happen, it used to cause me deeper suffering and discourage me from practising.

But Don’t Chase After it

Continue reading “How to Set Goals to Pray for?”

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.

Continue reading “Recognising and Overcoming Fear”

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.

Continue reading “Learning to Communicate”

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.

Continue reading “Making peace, building friendship”

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

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”

Healing Complex PTSD via Buddhism – Part 1

Today I went to attend a conference called “Trauma, Neuroscience and the Evolving Therapy of Traumatised Children and Adults” by Dr Bessel van der Kolk.

In 2017, when I had left my job and was unemployed and suffering from what felt like PTSD from my last job, I wandered into a book store and picked up his book called The Body Keeps the Score. The mystic law works mystically indeed.

Over the next month, when I was on a detox in India. I read this book, almost studied it. It was as though someone captured my life experience and told me what was happening to me in my brain and body. I could let go of any guilt and shame of my life and take control of my life. I could assert my needs and ask for what I needed. I could stop blaming me for everything I did or did not do. I gave myself permission to look after myself.

I would describe it as a pivotal turning point in my whole life. In Mar’18, my doctor mentioned, his wife a yoga teacher attended Dr Kolk’s conference in Sydney. I felt like I missed an opportunity. I wanted to attend it. When the registrations opened in Oct 2018, I jumped at the opportunity.

It is truly my good fortune that I live in Australia and even have access to these opportunities. It is clearly meant for mental health professionals, but anyone can sign up and go to it. Could you imagine that kind of equality mirrored in society anywhere else? After my citizenship test study, it is particularly telling how equality manifests in many ways in Australia.

Last week, I started chanting with the determination to somehow be able to have a dialogue with Dr Kolk and tell him about my practice and how it has provided so many elements to healing that his research has uncovered. I also started chanting to expand kosen rufu and somehow connect the people present to the Buddhist practice and for their happiness.

Today was a fabulous day in this endeavour. I woke up early in the morning and chanted for an hour, dressed in a bright green, picked up breakfast and got to the conference. I further cemented my understanding of the content, my whole day full of “aha!” moments and notes of how my practice helps overcome c-PTSD.

In addition, I gathered the courage to talk to the person sitting next to me, a young psychologist who helps children and old people in the community deal with difficult circumstances and trauma. I gave her an old Indigo magazine I happened to be carrying with me, a print of The Winning Life that I managed to get from Officeworks next door in the lunch time.

I walked up to Dr Kolk twice, thanked him for his work and talked about how my Buddhist practice helps me. I gave him a print-out of The Winning Life too. He humbly accepted my material and promised to read it. He recognised that his work does not even begin to talk about how to deal with this problem when you’re not living the privileged life in Sydney for example but instead are in a village in India.

He is a brilliant man and a wonderful human being. He even recognised my accent as being from the state I come from in India. Nifty tricks up his sleeve, nobody has ever been able to tell that before! 😀

I still continue to fight my negativity. I berate myself that I should not have taken up too much of his time when he reminded me that he has a long queue and I wrapped up my conversation. I continue to battle my self-loathing and self-hatred. I realised that voice may not be going away for a while but I can create value in whatever way right now. I did my best based on prayer today and will do so again tomorrow.

Rinse and repeat.

After the conference, I met with a professional acquaintance who had been curious about the Buddhist practice. I was talking to her about work and struggling to talk about the practice. Suddenly out of nowhere, a Buddhist leader appeared and said hi to me. The same person who gave me guidance in January. I hugged him and my friend asked me who it was. I started to explain he was the leader from my Buddhist practice and how he helped me and went into my struggles for the last few years. This changed the tone of the whole conversation and led to me giving her a printed copy of The Winning Life too and inviting her to the meeting next month.

I feel like today I won in Kosen Rufu and in life.

The fight continues, and there is more and more joy everyday!

Here are some key learnings from the conference for me – warning, this is long, and I will write further sequels to these notes for reference!

Background
PTSD patients say this, "I have become a monster. I blow up all the time." PTSD was earlier thought to be a memory diagnosis. However, Trauma changed my brain in a way that I could not be alive in the present moment. It is very hard for me to feel alive, engaged and connected in the present moment. Conventional psychotherapy and treatments is "stupid", people just get treated on the basis of beliefs rather than outcomes, it just does not work. The USA DSM put down diagnostic criteria for mental illnesses which were essentially clusters of symptoms grouped together into "conditions". It was put together for the purposes of figuring out which drugs to prescribe for what, with the caveat to never use it for forensic or insurance purposes. Of course, this was forgotten. Professionals became terrible diagnosticians, diagnosing based on how they would get paid.

Currently psychiatrists are not even allowed to use "Complex PTSD" in their terminology or diagnosis or they can't get the insurance claims or prescribe medications when needed. This is the limitation of the public health system in Australia and insurance system in the US.

In Nov 2018, the largest ever PTSD study costing $4 million found that the best drug performed the same as placebo. Nobody got better. It found that "PTSD is untreatable". What this means - do things that are not drugs, and are not talking on a couch
Continue reading “Healing Complex PTSD via Buddhism – Part 1”