The Transformative Power Of Our Lives

It’s been over 2 weeks since my last blog post! I realize that I haven’t been keeping up with my once daily posts. I’ve been pretty busy working with our realtor and our insurance company to get everything set up. We’re expecting to move into our house in a couple of weeks! We’re excited, and looking forward to getting unpacked and settled in to our new home. It’s spacious, sunny, and even has a fireplace for those cold winter evenings at home. I can’t wait!

I’m continuing to improve in my ability to successfully manage my illness. I continue to keep my thoughts focused on the positive rather than the negative. I continually make the effort to reign in my tendency to think about things (people, politics, religion) that make me angry. A lot of the news that I read daily on the internet makes me angry, so I try not to dwell on it too much.

My birthday was this past Friday, February 17th. My husband and I spent a wonderful, relaxing evening at the Fairmont in San Jose. It was a great way to celebrate both our birthdays this month! My Daily Encouragement book by SGI President Ikeda has a great quote for February 17th. It reads: “Life contains the capacity, like flames that reach toward heaven, to transform suffering and pain into the energy needed for value-creation, into light that illuminates darkness. Like the wind traversing vast spaces unhindered, life has the power to uproot and overturn all obstacles and difficulties. Like clear flowing water, it can wash away all stains and impurities. And finally, life, like the great earth that sustains vegetation, impartially protects all people with its compassionate, nurturing force.”

I love this way of thinking about life. It’s so beautiful, encouraging and powerful. I don’t think that most people think about their own lives in this way, but it’s very true! Our lives do have the ability to transform and heal, so that we are constantly growing, loving, and moving forward. It’s not easy, and for me, it doesn’t come naturally, but I know that my life has the ability to continually transform what I perceive to be negative into something positive. I just have to keep working at it!

Viewing Situations In A Positive Light

John and I are getting ready to move back to Sunnyvale the end of this month. We’re very excited about moving into our new home after a long, stressful process. I’m still trying to maintain consistency with my Buddhist practice. Traveling and moving often make it harder to maintain a daily routine. I think that once we move into our home and get settled in, we’ll be able to re-establish our routine, and continue moving forward with our lives. Hooray!

The January 27th daily encouragement quote from my book For Today and Tomorrow SGI President by Daisaku Ikeda reads:

Viewing events and situations in a positive light is important. The strength, wisdom and cheerfulness that accompany such an attitude lead to happiness. To regard everything in a positive light or with a spirit of goodwill, however, does not mean being foolishly gullible and allowing people to take advantage of our good nature. It means having the wisdom and perception to actually move things in a positive direction by seeing things in their best light, while all the time keeping our eyes firmly focused on reality.

This quote is perfect for me. I can apply this to almost any situation that I perceive to be negative, especially the times I have had incredible difficulty dealing with the voices and trying to make sense of my schizoaffective disorder. Viewing seemingly bad situations or negative experiences in a positive light is not as easy as it sounds. It takes effort, strength, courage, and determination to remain positive in difficult times. This is what I strive for on a daily, and even a moment-to-moment basis. I chant to bring out my Buddha nature, so that I can move my life in a positive direction.

 

Improving My Communication & Social Skills

I had a very good weekend! John & I were very productive! We washed both of our cars, took the dogs for a walk, went furniture shopping, and even jogged 3 miles around the park! I admit that occasionally during the week when John is working I have less motivation. Sometimes I get lazy and sleep too much. That doesn’t happen very often though, so I can’t be that lazy. I’m doing much better at keeping myself from reflecting back on the past. I have noticed that even now that I don’t try to make sense of what the voices have said in the past, I still have a tendency to reflect back on conversations I have had with people throughout the course of the day. At the end of the day, I continue thinking about conversations I’ve had with people I’ve met while walking the dog, or people I’ve talked to in stores while shopping, or things I’ve said to my own friends and family. The longer I dwell on a conversation trying to figure out what the real meaning is, the more suspicious I become of the person I was talking to. I’m controlling my suspiciousness of other people, but over the past couple of days when I’ve reflected back on my conversations, I think that I really need to improve my communication and social skills. Improving my communication and social skills will help me move forward in all areas of my life.

Let The Wall Go

I had a very good therapy session on Tuesday. I talked to my therapist about how I sometimes slip back into old habits and try to make sense of what the voices have said to me. I told her that that trying to talk to the voices in my head was like trying to talk to someone that speaks a different language. There is no way to communicate. It’s like talking to a wall, only it’s all in my head. My therapist said that rather than trying to think back and make sense of everything that the voices have said over the years, to instead just let it go. That way even if the wall is still there, I am not constantly trying to hold it back. She is right.

My therapist also asked me if I had heard of new psycho-educational materials that theorize where the voices are coming from, and why they are always demeaning and negative. She said they think it’s because the voices are a reflection of my internal negativity. I think this is true. I keep chanting, and making every possible effort to stay positive. I know no one can be positive 100% of the time, but I can make more of an effort to be positive. I can focus more on people’s positive qualities, rather than their negative traits. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few years remembering only the bad memories that I have. When I stopped working, I had more time to chant, and over the past couple of months, I’ve been able to remember more positive, happy times that I experienced in the past.

Buddhism says that every person has the Buddha nature. We only have to bring this enlightened nature out of our own lives, and also recognize the Buddhahood in other people. Often, this is easier said than done. This is why I chant every day to bring out my Buddha nature and to be happy and positive.

Courage In Faith

I was able to focus pretty well this morning while I was chanting. I focused on our health, and our families’ health and happiness. I continue chanting to be able to use my writing to create value, and to eventually publish my memoir. I know I have a long way to go, but I think I have a good start to it. I’m going to keep working on my freelance writing as well, so that I can start earning a stable income. I’m still working on controlling my suspiciousness of other people. I’m doing better, but I can tell that this tendency is still there.

One of my favorite Buddhist quotes is from a letter written by the founder of this Buddhism, Nichiren Daishonin. Nichiren wrote a letter to one of his followers who was experiencing difficulty with her daughter’s health. The title of the letter is “Reply to Kyo’o”. The quote reads: A sword is useless in the hands of a coward. The mighty sword of the Lotus Sutra must be wielded by one courageous in faith. Then one will be as strong as a demon armed with an iron staff. When I feel weak mentally or psychologically, I think of this quote and I am always encouraged. In the past, I have often felt like I was fighting my battle alone, as if it was me against the voices. I felt like I needed help. Even when I would tell John, my parents, my therapist or my psychiatrist what the voices were saying, I still didn’t feel like there was any way they could possibly understand what was going on. How could they? After all, the only thing I was ever fighting against were the voices in my head. As scared as I was, this quote encouraged me to be courageous, not only in faith, but in my entire life.