“In Nepal, the dogs bark all night long. Every twenty minutes or so, they all stop at once, and there is an experience of immense relief and stillness. Then they all start barking again. The small mind of sem can feel just like that. When we first start meditating, it’s as if the dogs never stop barking at all. After a while, there are those gaps. Discursive thoughts are rather like wild dogs that need taming. Rather than beating them or throwing stones, we tame them with compassion. Over and over we regard them with the precision and kindness that allow them to gradually calm down. Sometimes it feels like there’s much more space, with just a few yips and yaps here and there.”

From “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron.

My dogs are still yapping. I spent this past weekend at my women’s retreat again and it was a fascinating weekend. To be in the company of over a hundred women of all ages, from all over the world, with different life experiences, is interesting enough. This weekend Dr. Christiane Northrup came to our session and I have always admired her. She talked a lot about Regena’s work and how pleasure really does affect our health and how important it is to seek it out in our lives. She talked about nitric oxide, (not nitrous oxide, which is what you get in the dentist’s office, laughing gas, which she also likes) – but how nitric oxide is released in our bodies when we experience pleasure and how great that is for us.

Anyway, these weekends are filled with so many emotions and when it’s over, it feels like withdrawal. This morning I did my reading and my meditation and the difficult feelings that come over me in the autumn returned and I’m trying to embrace them rather than fight them, but it’s hard. Most of the time we use other substances or activities to avoid the feelings: alcohol, drugs, shopping, sugar, TV, caffeine, whatever works. I must have woken up six times last night, each time filled with dread. And I know that right now, a lot of people are also waking up six or more times during the night, filled with dread or fear or anxiety. I’m going to take a walk this morning and increase my nitric oxide levels, and do some work, and hopefully feel some of the pleasure I felt this past weekend, in the company of so many powerful women.

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