Stephanie is Disruptive (TSK Journal – 4)

[[I haven’t picked up the book for a few days, but continue musing on the feeling and notion of the the book itself, even closed(!), as a practice. Why, oh why, is the way I work with things so odd, when compared against what others describe!]]

One of the few notes I have from childhood is from an elementary school teacher at the Playhouse and Biltmore School, who asks my mother to please stop putting barrettes in my hair, because instead of napping I take them out and play with them, distracting the other children.

“Stephanie is disruptive.”

And I’ll admit, there is something disruptive about me, something mischievous I’m always trying to pin down and trim away at to be able to settle down and fit in. Sometimes at work, I call it “puppy dog energy”, hoping others will see me in a playful rather than nervous way when I can’t help myself and say something I absolutely know better than to throw into the mix during simple small talk or break room conversation. Why do I do this?

“Stephanie is disruptive.”

I remember the relief I felt when a friend introduced me to Padmasambhava, suggesting I pick up the book Crazy Wisdom. I wasn’t privy then, to all the stories and controversies surrounding Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, so when the text hit me like a lightning bolt, I had no hesitation letting go into the experience of getting to know the aspects of mind and expression he channels so potently. I read the book quickly, unpacked it longer (and still). To describe that feeling in the context of this post, it was “Ah, there is a teacher who, instead of feeling Stephanie is disruptive for playing with the barrettes in her hair and wanting the attention of other children, would be delighted by these qualities and tendencies!”

When talking to my therapist I once described the need I have to constantly remind everyone and myself “that we are human”. When I feel energy go flat, or find myself in too rarefied a group, I want to stir it up, and am allergic to ego policing. A case can be made that we already feel human most of the time, so spiritual practice should lead us beyond, however we must remember that contemplative practice opens endlessly; what makes sense at one level may be disregarded at the next, only to pick up again yet later. Over time practice becomes fluid the way that working with recipes gives way to more and more experimentation as ingredients become familiar.

I’m learning to knit right now, and I find that I can’t multitask in any way without tangling my project. I need quiet and full concentration. When I see the more experience knitters around me, they chat and sing, watch TV and listen to books or podcasts while knitting. They throw it down and pick it up at a whim! I can’t do that now, but one day, I will. I’ll work with various kinds of yarn and make different types of stitches. The practice will become easy.

So, there’s a way in which I’m in this place with TSK. It is giving me permission and more trust than it did before. As with the “too late” shift I wrote about, it is almost like the book is curious about me, asking more open ended questions. There is intimacy present, a gentle walking-along-together-on-a-beautiful-day conversation. “What do you see?” “Yes, that’s fine.” “Nice.” Since it is TSK asking these questions, already I hear them as coming from the particular and peculiarly bright place I experience as being TSK, and feel loved and understood–the opposite of corrected and scrutinized as a troublesome student it is hard to have around.

I’m tempted to write about guru yoga in this context, but will set that aside for now.


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