Friday, April 30, 2010


I was talking to a friend yesterday who was lamenting - why it is that she feels like she needs a mate to be happy? How beautiful that she is completely aware of this and honest about it. Frankly, I feel exactly the same. In my view, I think a lot of people that say, “I’m happy single,” aren’t really being honest about that. We are strongly conditioned to find a mate, not to mention that there is just a natural instinct toward that as well. Perhaps it is more accurate to say “I’m happy being single until I find the right mate.”

It is frustrating - I do love myself and love spending time alone. I am not the kind of person who can’t stand to be with myself. Yet I still long for an intimate partner. I still feel like there is something missing that would make my life complete, something that would complete my happiness. I feel like I only have partial happiness. I feel restless. I have a very full life with work, family, friends, meditation… but I miss having one special person in my life that really knows me in a way that no one else can.

Then again, isn’t it typical to want what we don’t have? When in a relationship, I longed for more time and space for myself. When not in a relationship, I long for one. Comedian Dane Cook talks about this quite eloquently:

Let's talk a little bit about L-O-V-E. Sometimes, you meet somebody and you have what is known as a "relationship" and things can go great and if it goes great, then you have a great relationship. Sometimes, it doesnt go so great, and I like to call that a "relationshit".

When you're not in love, when you don't have love, everybody you know falls in love. On like, the same day. Even Karen the Douchebag falls in love. Even retarded people in your neighborhood are getting married on their front lawn. As you drive by - "What? The 'Tards just got married on their lawn! That's great. I have nobody, and the 'Tards just committed to each other for a lifetime of tardiness!" Or is that, they're late for everything. I don't know, could be.

I came up with the perfect analogy, right here. This is what it feels like when you don't have love - it's like there's a party going on and everyone was invited… except for you! And you just happen to be walking by that house, in the rain ... "Ohh. I wasn't invited to this party." That's what that feels like. But then again, once you're in love, you know what that's like? That's like being inside the party going, "Where's my jacket? I wanna get out of here. Where's my jacket? I've been at this party for six years and I wanna see other parties. Where's my jacket?!

Minus one brief fling, I’ve been on my own for over a year and half now. I am the queen of my life. My house is just the way I want it, my free time is spent just the way I want to spend it, my kids are raised just the way I want to raise them, my money is spent just they way I want to spend it. There is no one around to distract me from how I like to live my life. I love my life. But it is a little boring. I think maybe I’d like just a little bit of distraction.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nail Biting Remedies

Wear gloves, carry a nail file, use bad tasting nail polish, keep your hands busy doing something else, or… go on a meditation retreat?

I went on meditation retreat for three days. I remembered what it is like to let go of thinking. I found the spaces inbetween the thoughts. I saw the stories playing in my mind. I saw myself getting caught up in them over and over and then remembering to rest in the space between the thoughts. I even had a wonderful hour and a half or so where thoughts were completely in the background and I was primarily aware of breathing. Effortless awareness. Walking meditation during that time was amazing. All information coming in through my senses was only simple experience and nothing extra. My attention was refined. I noticed the subtle sparkling of the stones in the sidewalk under my feet and the ants scurrying around their holes.

Then of course, attachment to that bliss crept in and I had to go back to my steady practice. All is impermanent, even and especially samadhi, that blissful absorption that arises when the mind is concentrated. It is more or less a spontaneous experience. All we can do is to provide the conditions for it by continuing to come back to the breath over and over and perhaps we will come to that place for awhile. That sort of joy, even though it arises and passes away, has a real impact on us. The taste of freedom keeps us inspired to practice.

Paying attention to the spaces in between the thoughts is the key to seeing thoughts and stories more clearly. The spaces are just as real if not more real than the stories that play over and over in the mind.

Retreat practice is so wonderful because it is an opportunity to let go of thinking. What will be dropped or messed up or forgotten if we do that? That is the fear that keeps us lost in thoughts so much of the time. On retreat, we don’t have to have that fear. There is nothing that we need to remember or get right while on retreat. Just follow the schedule. Just breathe. Just sit. Just walk. Just eat. Just use the toilet. Just brush your teeth. Just sleep.

When all is quiet on retreat, it takes less and less to get the stimulation that we are always seeking through various forms, primarily through our own thoughts and stories. More subtle things, like ants crawling, become more exciting. The challenge with that though, is going back to the real world after retreat and dealing with that heightened sensitivity. I take for granted how stimulating the world and daily life is. It is amazing to me how we as a society continue to seek more and more stimuation, like addicts. Meditation is like a re-set button. Start over. Like a clean slate. It is like addiction in reverse – the more we meditate, we need less and less stimulation.

Retreat is over and I can already see myself getting all worked up by life again. It sure doesn’t take much or very long. But somehow my perspective expands in some new way with each extended period of meditation practice. I still have my obsessions and anxieties, but meditation practice puts holes in them. They are not quite as solid as they seemed before.

My fingernails grew a little bit in the last three days. Back at work today I noticed myself bringing them to my mouth to bite them again. That nasty habit is really a great little signal to remind me to breathe. The length of my nails is a good indication of the strength of my practice at any given time!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

INFJ Reflections (Introverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Judging)

I have this feeling sometimes like I am missing out on something. I am here in my own private little world, with my own little views, doing things my own way, somewhat oblivious to the outside world. I certainly don’t keep up with the latest pop culture or politics. My life consists mostly of the world of work, the world of my kids, and the world inside me.

The world of work is very task-oriented – put your head down and get stuff done. Not a lot of time for connecting with people usually. When I do connect with people, I feel like I am wasting my time or other people’s time and better get back to work.

The world of my kids is full of emotional immaturity and neediness. I am there to teach them and serve them. Loving and connecting with them is satisfying to me a certain degree, but it is primarily a function of me caring for them.

The world inside me gets a little crazy sometimes. So much thinking, analyzing, planning, fantasizing. I catch my breath for a few moments then it starts up again. Again and again. Trying to figure out why I’m not feeling happy and trying to figure out how to feel happy. Noticing how happy I feel and wondering how that happened. Trying to create solid problems out of passing emotions. Trying to feel like I really exist and am solid. Solid happy or solid sad, it doesn’t matter, though I think I have a sense sometimes that I am more real when I am unhappy. Pain makes me feel real and since it seems so much more easily accessible than pleasure, it wins the prize for the most convenient method of making me feel real.

Sure, I get out there in the world once in a while, but I often feel like somewhat of an outsider. I don’t really have a strong sense of belonging a lot of the time. Connecting with people is tiring to me. I have my small circle of close friends who I do connect deeply with, but I don’t see them often because quality is so much more important than quantity.

I can’t be hard on myself about this stuff. This is the way I am! Whenever I am feeling down about being such an oddball, all I have to do is read about my INFJ personality type and I remember all the beautiful things about me. And feel validated, since there really ARE others like me, granted only 1% of the population are.

It is interesting how I tend to be interested in men who are exactly what is described in this article:

The particular INFJ may opt for the inventive ENTP, but also may go for a different kind of contrary, namely the ESTP. The ESTP and ENTP, to the casual observer, look pretty much alike. Charming, suave, urbane, humorous, witty, fantastically easy to approach, venturesome, even reckless. But one is out to invent, the other to promote; this is not small difference. It takes an inventor to make a mousetrap, it takes a promoter to make an enterprise. To succeed, the promoter has to be, in the best sense of the word, a con artist. He must be able to get people’s confidence. Now why would a meaning-giver INFJ be intrigued by an entrepreneur ESTP? Because he wishes to rescue this iconoclast from his seeming folly (and let’s face it, most inventions are abortive, or stillborn).

Why am I attracted to salesmen/entertainer types? For example, the guy running karaoke last Friday night. He was well dressed, a great singer and had great presence as a DJ. Not to mention he had this cute Harry Potter look going for him with dark hair and dark glasses. I am so reserved on the outside, but I long for someone to push past that reservedness and look deeper. Wild and reckless extroverted guys seem to be attracted to me because they want to draw me out of my private world. And I am attracted to them because I like to be drawn out. Extroverts help me feel more connected to the world. Thinkers help me remember to stay more rational. Thinkers give me the opportunity to be the beautiful flower full of feeling that I am to bring some color to the Thinker’s logical world. Perceivers are spontaneous and exciting, though I think I tend to prefer the orderly Judgers who are more determined, disciplined and predictable.

I can’t decide if I prefer Sensing vs iNtuitive people. iNtuitives are creative people. Deep thinkers. We iNtuitives really understand each other. I think I lean more toward iNtuitive people, but perhaps I am just jaded from my failed marriage to a sensing “con artist”, if you will. I am undeniably attracted to Extraverted, Sensing people, as long as they have their facts straight and aren’t giving me a line of BS. They are exciting and intelligent.

What would happen if I had a love relationship with another INFJ? What would that be like? How would I manage to get together with another INFJ given how private we are and difficult to get to know? I thought perhaps that NF’s would go well together as a couple. But I found myself with an NF guy and it went wrong for some reason. Too much NF-ness maybe? This article has something interesting to say about that:

Idealists have much less trouble with mates of their own temperament, and Idealists often get along exceptionally well with other Idealists. Two NFs can find deep-felt satisfaction in sharing each other's inner world and exploring each other's personal development, although if the pair are too much alike in their ethical concerns, or pursue the same spiritual goals for too long a time, they can become rather narrowly devoted to the pilgrim's journey and tire themselves out along the way. In addition, two empathic NFs can creat a wonderfully intimate bond for at time, but eventually such mutual introjection can also invade each partner's privacy-constantly getting into each other's skin can result in getting on each other's nerves.

My sister and I are both INFJ’s. I think my eldest daughter is as well. So much for that being the rarest personality type! Not so rare in my family, I guess. The empathic nature we share absolutely can be painful at times! I have written about space previously. Ultimately, NF’s need a lot of space between each other. Too much empathy there. We understand each other too well to the point where we just need to get away from each other! But my NF family and friends will always hold a special place in my heart. When I have the need to feel understood, they are the first I turn to.

What are the Myers-Briggs personality types? In a nutshell:

Favorite world: Do you prefer to focus on the outer world or on your own inner world? This is called Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).

Information: Do you prefer to focus on the basic information you take in or do you prefer to interpret and add meaning? This is called Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).

Decisions: When making decisions, do you prefer to first look at logic and consistency or first look at the people and special circumstances? This is called Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).

Structure: In dealing with the outside world, do you prefer to get things decided or do you prefer to stay open to new information and options? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).