Yesterday was a big day. I took the train downtown with Bryan in the morning and then walked over to Spadina to catch the streetcar north. It worked out well as I was about 15 minutes early for the SO-DBT group.

We are a group of 8 women: one psychiatrist, one social worker, and six 30–50-year-old clients. Maybe one of us I’d peg as a “psychiatric patient,” but otherwise we’re all pretty normal looking. Somehow, I expected that to be different.

We didn’t do a lot of stuff besides introductions and orientation. The focus of the week was mindfulness, which is a subject/skill we will come back to after every 4-week focus on a different area. For example, the schedule goes something like this:

  • 1 week: mindfulness
  • 4 weeks: distress tolerance
  • 1 week: mindfulness
  • 4 weeks: dialectics
  • 1 week: mindfulness
  • 4 weeks: emotion regulation
  • 1 week: mindfulness
  • 4 weeks: interpersonal effectiveness

We have homework to complete each week. This week’s assignment is to notice at least once every day what state of mind we are in and how we know that. States of mind include rational/reasonable mind, emotion mind, and wise mind. Wise mind being the intersection of rational and emotional mind.

We discussed what might stand in the way of our completing the homework and what actions we could take to counter any barriers. It was very nice to see that the facilitators are also participants: they complete the homework and offer up examples from their own lives. We begin and end each meeting with a short mindfulness exercise. We started off by noticing the room and ending with pure awareness.

During the ending practice, I began crying (as I often do during meditation). I became very aware of my almost desperate need to feel acknowledged and heard, and of how that feeling was kind of pushing me throughout the previous two hours. Looking back on my childhood, I see exactly where that came from. I’ve always felt that my mother had this picture of me, of who she decided I was, and held it up in front of her face. No matter what I did or said, she saw her own image of me and never (I think) put down her own ideas to really experience me and who I am. Now, I can see where I constantly seek reassurance and validation that I am heard and seen for who I really am. If you really want to hurt me, ignore me.

I’m not quite sure what to do with this insight/knowledge. I don’t really think I need to do anything at all. Awareness is sufficient. Hopefully, I’ll notice more in the future when I’m acting out of this old need instead of truly responding to the moment.

Afterwards, I met Bryan for lunch (unagi don—barbequed eel on rice). I stopped by the downtown bookstore and picked up a copy of Mark Epstein’s “Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart—A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness” which turned out to be about the best thing I could be reading right now. I’ll post more about that later.

Then I went to see His Holiness the XXIV Dalai Lama speak. As always, his message is the same: we are all the same, we all want peace and happiness, compassion and warm-heartedness are the keys to peace, religion is secondary to these issues—it doesn’t matter what your faith is or isn’t, we can all practice these things and make a better world. For me, it wasn’t about what he said, it was about being in the presence of a being who truly practices giving themselves for the betterment of everyone. To witness that generosity calls it forth in myself. Besides, it’s always really cool to be in a crowd of people going to see him—it’s the nicest, most polite, generous group of people filling a stadium that you could ever be among. People can get along.

After that, I took the long subway and bus ride north to home. This morning, my legs were on fire. I walked a lot more than I am used to and my bursitis definitely took notice. Plus, Brianna was up for a couple of hours (about 12–2:30, but we’re not really sure—neither one of us looked at a clock) last night. She has a cough that kicks in when she lays down and keeps her from sleeping. Bryan got up with her last night and I kept her home from school today. She’s napping now, after a 1/2 hour long struggle to get her to calm down. At least no screaming was involved, on either of our parts.

So I’m exhausted and in pain, but I’m okay. Still, I think tonight is going to be a pizza night.

Thanks to everyone who’s sent me words of support, private and public. It really means the world to me. Oh yeah, I also realized that I really need a local sangha. I can’t support a practice on my own. Let’s see what we can find. Hey universe—I need a local sangha. Can you help?