7 August 2013

Double escape

I resigned and gave 2 weeks notice.
Then headed off into the bush for my one week of annual leave.
That was last week.
This week I'm back at work for my final 3 days - tying up loose ends, handing over, and allocating responsibilities to other staff.

Camping alone in a remote area of the northern Flinders Ranges last week provided the physical and mental space to calm down and view this lifetime both intimately and objectively.
I meditated, did yoga, meditated, climbed mountains, meditated...and slept.

It was a temporary escape from an oppressive, stressful working environment.
My resignation was the ultimate escape.

Some random notes from my camping journal:

View from mountain over river bed and road to Blinman
Tuesday 30 July 2013

Arrived at Parachilna Gorge at 5.30pm after a 6 hour drive from Adelaide.

I wanted to camp by the river bed at the end of the unused path, but driving in there was my second big challenge (the first was the 6 hour drive).
Large boulders block the path to prevent access - I had to drive my little city car down around them, then back up the short steep rocky embankment onto the path, through a pond of mud, then down another steep rocky drop to get to the stony river bed and the hidden camping spot.

Those 2 minutes of driving terrified me.

Spinning wheels up and over rocks the thoughts rushed in: my car might tip upside down, or roll over, or get stuck halfway, or my tyres would be ripped to shreds and I'd either be left to die alone, or I'd die of extreme fear.

Hours later, after putting up my tent in a state of anxiety, the flood of adrenaline and panic hormones had not subsided. I could feel the aftermath of hormonal overdose still in my bloodstream and organs. Then apprehension and fear set in about having to do it all AGAIN to get OUT of the campsite in a few days. The terror, the fear, the blind worry, the debilitating negative thoughts and disaster scenarios that I concocted about driving up and down that rocky embankment were what I sat with in my meditation and investigated for 3 days.

 Today's achievements:

1) I left Adelaide on time, against all the odds. If I hadn't, I would have easily given in to my easy-way-out voice and cancelled the trip. Only by recognising and overcoming negative thoughts, and pulling out all stops to make it happen, did I get away on time.
2) I easily managed the 6 hour dive
3) I found my way to the campsite.
4) I confronted the very real fear about driving over the rough rocky terrain to the campsite
5) I worked out how to put up my brand new tent (had to move it 3 times on the rocky ground before I found a spot where all the pegs would go in)

My fresh greens: lettuce and sunflower sprouts
Wednesday 31 July

Up at 6.30am - caught the sunrise.
Night was very cold (2 degrees) but I stayed warm in the tent.

1 hour and 15 minutes of sitting before breakfast - of that, perhaps 7 minutes of being present. Slipped in and out of conscious awareness, buried alive in a non-stop avalanche of thoughts about work.

Thursday 1 August

Sitting in silence, watching thoughts, the neural patterns are magnified: I am always in the future, worrying.
This habitual worry habit and anxiety began after Mark died. The shock of his death fried my brain. Rewiring the synapses and changing the mind's well worn footpaths will take some serious work.

Buddhist meditation practice helps: Sit and let go, relax and release the mind's grip.
Let go of attachments to outcomes, attachments to everything, desires, thoughts of the past, thoughts of the future. Let go of fear: fear of not knowing what to do, fear of being incompetent, paralyzed.

Practice being FULLY PRESENT, clear and free.

Friday 2 August

The sun is shining. It is cool.
Strong wind blowing in from the west
Tent flapping wildly, but secure.

I pick up one of the books I brought with me: 'Perfect Clarity: a Tibetan Buddhist Anthology of Mahamudra and Dzogchen'. Teachings from Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal, Longchempa, Milarepa, and other celebrities of this tradition. Reading it takes me back to my training in emptiness, clarity, purity of mind.
It's been so long since I worked at this level.

The exotic terminology in the book is offputting, but the teachings are vast and extraordinary.  Practical instructions for deep, delicate and sophisticated mind surgery.

I sit...