My New Year, New Gong
Yesterday was my birthday, my personal new year. A good time to restart the broken Gong and to learn the lessons from having it break.
The Internet hasn't been available when I've needed it in recent days. An opportunity to go inward and let what's needed for this next phase bubble up spontaneously.
What does that mean for the blog? I'll tell you, and then I'll show you with the first post in the series, tomorrow..
I'll be continuing with the "cycles within cycles" format, including three blog posts in each nine-day period. This one, the introduction, is extra. But now, each of these nine-day periods will have a theme. Each nine-day period will SPELL something.
This afternoon, finally, I was writing. It felt so good. My own thoughts and ideas were emerging and sharpening, and I could see how they would be interesting and useful to other people. I was giving myself the gift of being in flow.
And I was so absorbed in the process, I didn't notice the laptop battery running down, and the computer shut down and I lost every dot of what I'd written!
Things have been kind of like that around here lately. Perhaps it's fitting that something like this happened just as I came clear that I've failed at my Gong and need to start it over. Certain voices are telling me I'm a failure and a disaster magnet. But let's see if there's some phoenix energy to be found here, some seeds that need another spell of sleep in the ground before they venture to sprout.
choosing the channel, digging the well
This past weekend I was on retreat with the Sufis, with beloved teacher Aqdas. It is amazing how much of a teacher's energy comes through in the context of a retreat that rings with silence. It is astonishing how much silence comes through the Sufi practices, many of which involve the vocal cords, repeating prayers and phrases, embodied with physical movements.
On Sunday evening at the end of the retreat, I stood in the courtyard (the edge of cold now gone from the days here) with Aqdas and two others, and she initiated me into the Sufi order. The two witnesses were the regional representative for the Sufi Order, and the gentleman who has agreed to be my guide.
So, within the cycling beginning-ing of the days of my Gong and life, here is another beginning. That's what "initiation" means. What else does it mean?
step creates step, day creates day
I sure wrote a lot about the concept of the 100-day Gong back in November and December. But I've been pretty silent on the subject since starting my Gong on the winter solstice.
I've been more focused on doing/being/embodying the Gong than on writing about it, although the preponderance of posts in the "Mindfulness" category should attest both to the nature of my Gong and to how much it's in the front of my mind and experience.
Today, though, is day 30, and it's time for an update. 30 is a good number for this Gong's subdivisions: not quite a third of 100, it's also at the three-and-a-third point in my own nine-day-cycle subdivision, so that when my third "nundina" ended on Friday, I was already looking toward this 30-day review point.
WIth this "buddy system for days," it's fascinating to see how much more comfortable I can be setting goals in the face of the unknown. If one day doesn't bring it, there are days around it to tauten the focus.
process not product
In creating a blog, in performing a gong, in writing a book, in planting gardens, in the march of days, nights, seasons, there's repetition everywhere. What do you associate with repetition?
- "practice makes perfect"
- conscious replacement of memes
- focus, mindfulness, creation of second nature
- "fake it till you make it"
- "why do I have to sweep the floor/eat/pull weeds when I'll have to do it all again later?"
- So many words I could pick for "word of the week" here ! To push against the negative aspects of repetition, I chose "rote."
a buddy system for days
When I awoke yesterday morning, it was to a sense of anticipation, a little apprehension, and determination.
Just by virtue of having woken up, I'd begun to be "on the Gong." More, it was a triple beginning: the beginning of the waxing moon, the beginning of lengthening days as we turn back toward the sun.
It's wise to have interim milestones and checkins during a period as long as 100 days, acknowledging the smaller cycles within that time frame. This time around, I've recognized the importance of that. A buddy system for days!
Gong: wake up and choose the channel!
Part 1 of 2
Most people have heard that a staggering percentage of our decision-making is done subconsciously, on autopilot (a study from the Max Planck Institute calls free will into question), which leads to the claim that much of the time, we're using a tiny fraction of our potential brainpower.
We know this --it's ingrained in our language and culture. What happens when you "push someone's buttons"? --They react in a completely predictable, reflex manner. Dogs can be trained to salivate when a bell rings, which has nothing to do with food except for an association they have "wired in."
Although there's all sorts of problems with comparing mind and consciousness to a computer's operating system, the metaphor of programming definitely fits here. We have little scripts ("memes") running in the background that determine how we respond to things around us, often in ways we're not proud of, and we don't even know the memes are there, we didn't choose them, and we wouldn't choose them if we had the choice!
Rooting out and replacing these memes is at the heart of habit-changing and a guiding light in choosing the practices to make up a 100-day gong. Memes come from mimicking; what do you wish to reflect?