Triticum Turgidum

Lying Dormant and Waiting to Bloom Since 2005

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Location: The Prairie, Illinois, United States

I am a beauty-loving ambidextrous higher-order primate who learned transcendental meditation at 7, statistical analysis at 23, tap dancing at 30, and piano at 35. I tolerate gluten, lactose, and differences of opinion, but not abuse. Or beets.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Karma



My mother was ideologically Buddhist but raised her kids Catholic, so my understanding of this term has always reflected a monotheistic approach to reaping what you sow: send negativity out into the universe, and the universe (a.k.a. God) will send it right back at you. Send positivity, get positivity.

I believe in karma, but I've recently rethought the mechanism behind it thanks to research on brain functioning and emotion. My friend Maria (a beautiful soul who has her own set of experiences with karma) gave me a book describing this research. It seems that the brain creates pathways that it wants to travel again and again, so a childhood full of abusive relationships becomes an adulthood full of abusive relationships. This is why the long-term therapy relationship is so valuable; it's training ground for cutting new pathways in the brain and traversing them until they become well worn and reflexive.

By complete coincidence, I've been reading a book on Buddhism in motherhood in which the author describes karma in just these terms. Positivity and negativity aren't vibes the universe sends back to you as reward or punishment, they are simply habits that become entrenched in the brain by way of practice. To work karma to your benefit, practice positivity (mindfulness, loving kindness, compassion, expansiveness) regularly to keep your brain working in a loving way.

I am embarrassed to admit (but you already knew it, didn't you?) that I have some very deep, well worn negativity paths. In my family of origin, whoever could deliver the most clever, cutting insult was most admired. Group discussions focused on shared antipathies. Sarcasm was praised. Backstabbing ran rampant. Apologies signalled weakness. No one ever said "I love you." Anyone who complained was contemptuously labeled "too sensitive." I know exactly where this came from (my dad's parents were cold as hell and my mother's, profoundly abusive), so I know I am at risk for passing it on to my daughter. And there's no fucking way I'm going to do that. (Ahh, that felt good. I was going to give up swearing for Lent... so glad I didn't.)

So, time to start practicing positivity. I promise not to cite platitudes about cultivating an "attitude of gratitude" or "putting on a happy face" or anything fatuous like that. Just trying to get into the habit of connecting with the beauty in the world while I can still experience it, and while my daughter is creating those pathways in her own brain. Let the mirth begin!

6 Comments:

Blogger Jonna said...

You know what's so funny for me to see about this? You are honestly one of the most realistically positive people I know. I know I don't hang out with you every day in actual life, but here, and in any interaction I've had with you offline, you have always been one of the most balanced, kind, funny people I've encountered. I've never - not once - thought of you as anyone who struggled with negativity.

I've always considered you a sort of mentor in my life, honestly, and thus far, I haven't been corrupted :)

9:55 PM, March 13, 2007  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

Oh Jonna, you know how to make a girl's day. I'm basking in the warm afterglow of unaccustomed praise (to misquote Carson McCullers). Thank you!

I think my true self *is* balanced, kind, and funny, but I hide it with most people. You're one of those who bring it out. I guess it's a safety issue; if I feel safe around the person, it comes through. If I don't, it doesn't. So I guess the question is, why do I allow so many people in my life around whom I feel unsafe? Hmmm....

BTW, I'll be in Boston at the end of this month. I wish you'd still be there... :-(

11:31 AM, March 14, 2007  
Blogger violetnoir said...

Yes, bring on the mirth, baby!

I am so glad that you didn't give up swearing for Lent. :)

Hugs and love!

12:05 PM, March 15, 2007  
Blogger Parisjasmal said...

I practice gratitude and that REALLY seems to help me stay focused and positive. I have so much to be thankful for--HOW DARE I WALK THROUGH THIS LIFE NEGATIVE. I repeat that to myself all the time. The Mom issues are a bitch --are they not?

Like Jonna, I see you as very practical--which is not always full of glittery unicorns and flute playing sprites--so idiots take it as negativity. Whatever.

It is obvious from your writing that you are being the best Mom you can be for Fi.
She is a lucky baby and you are a lovely person.

7:24 AM, March 17, 2007  
Blogger Anjali said...

I totally agree with Jonna! You are one of the most postive people I know K, and also a total role model for me. I'm sure Fi will learn to be just as amazing as you :)

1:05 PM, March 17, 2007  
Blogger WinterWheat said...

J, R, J, & A,

Just wanted to let you know how touched I am by your comments, especially because I admire all of you so much. Thank you! I am blessed among women (or, for the DivaCup wearers out there, womyn). ;-)

9:26 AM, March 18, 2007  

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