Tag: mental health

Six Quotes From Rinzler’s “The Buddha Walks Into A Bar” We Need To Start 2021

When Buddha walks into a bar and sits next to you, you don’t just get booze. You get a life lesson.

 

The Buddha Walks into a Bar...
Image via Amazon

 

When I first picked up, “The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation” by Lodro Rinzler, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I had always been fascinated by different belief systems and appreciated their differences and similarities. Diversity is beautiful, no matter what form it comes in, giving those who listen a chance to learn and grow. After utilizing my one free purchase on Audible last month for this book, (as well as buying the Kindle version, since I could not find it in print near me), I felt armed and prepared with an open mind to learn more about Buddhism.

 

 

Now, this isn’t just some textbook about Buddhism. On January 10, 2012, Rinzler published this book on how newer generations can apply simple Buddhist practices into their lives to make a positive impact. In turn, practitioners can see how this positively affects the world. After listening to the first chapter, I knew I was in for so much more: a revelation.

 

I was first diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in June 2020. In the past, I always considered myself a strong person: someone who knew how to properly compartmentalize traumatic experiences to just “get over them.” In the past, I would consider myself a spiritual person. While meditation and journaling helped, it wasn’t enough. When I suffered an ectopic pregnancy at the beginning of last year, I not only lost a baby but hope. 

 

 

But after picking up this book, I wasn’t prepared; I wasn’t prepared to find hope and comfort in the words that I read. Rinzler’s philosophies on death, suffering, happiness, kindness, and life resonated with me. With a fresh, new, and wickedly funny perspective, Rinzler lets readers know these spiritual practices can be added to anyone’s routine. Even if that means forms of active meditation, such as when the person meditating just acknowledges what he, she, or they are doing in the present moment. After a year like 2020, we all need a little more happiness and peace of mind.

 

What were the quotes that gave me my revelation and some comfort, you ask? Check out what I would like to call, “The Big Six,” below. 

 

 

1. “You may not have spent years meditating or received instruction from all the best teachers in all the various philosophical schools. That does not mean you can’t open your heart to the world and make a difference. You don’t have to wait until you’re enlightened. You don’t have to ask anyone’s permission. You just have to offer yourself, as you are, and allow your vulnerable heart to transform the world.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar . . .: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

2. “Many internal storylines are not rooted in our basic sanity or wisdom, but rather in our confusion.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar . . .: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

3. “At the point where you find yourself closing down from communicating openly in a relationship, you have a choice about how you would like to proceed. One way forward is to lay fresh layers of protection around your vulnerable heart. You are dampening the other person’s ability to hurt you, but you are also less able to communicate your own love genuinely. You are essentially preparing yourself for an inevitable breakup. The alternative is loosening up your expectations and reconnecting with that curiosity you were able to offer at the beginning of the relationship. You commit to exploring where you are stuck, where you have put up that protective shielding, and how you can open yourself more to your partner. This is a way to deepen a relationship, by recommitting to applying gentle curiosity toward learning about your lover.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar…: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

 

4. “So much of our pain comes from looking at our life in a “me” versus “the world” mentality.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar . . .: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

5. “You let your motivation shine, and other people are attracted to your passion and commitment.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar . . .: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

6. “Patience from a Buddhist perspective is not a “wait and see” attitude, but rather one of “just be there”… Patience can also be based on not expecting anything. Think of patience as an act of being open to whatever comes your way. When you begin to solidify expectations, you get frustrated because they are not met in the way you had hoped… With no set idea of how something is supposed to be, it is hard to get stuck on things not happening in the time frame you desired. Instead, you are just being there, open to the possibilities of your life.” 

― Lodro Rinzler, The Buddha Walks into a Bar…: A Guide to Life for a New Generation

 

 

Have you read Lodro Rinzler’s “The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation?” Make sure to contact us to let us know what you think!

 

 

In Defense of Antoinette Cosway Mason, the Original Mrs. Rochester

That moment when you’re walking down the aisle and then find out that your groom was not only already married the entire time you were dating, but had his wife stuffed in the attic WHILE YOU WERE LIVING IN THAT SAME HOUSE. Right? No? Exactly, no. Because no one with a bare-bones sense of humanity would actually do that. I’m sending that poor woman a fruit basket with a key hidden under the pineapple, an escape map of the Rochester grounds, and a machete in case she wants to get revenge on her way out.

Here you go, love, via Pinterest

Before I found out about the existence of Wide Sargasso Sea (which has remained on my TBR for far too long), the “woman in the attic” storyline within Jane Eyre, framed by our male lead as some kind of terrible misunderstanding where he is the victim (*sighs in fucboi recognition*), gave me the heebie-jeebies for more reasons than the ones in plain sight. Mr. Rochester does not stop at duplicity, lying, or even the eye-popping, mind-boggling cruelty of imprisoning his spouse in an attic; he is violently and arrogantly ignorant, plagued by Victorian imperial entitlement, and, in plain English, thoroughly dehumanizing his wife.

If Antoinette Cosway Mason—her name before Edward Fairfax Rochester pulled the classic colonial gargoyle move of changing a creole woman’s name into something more English—had been of fine, stout mental health when she got married, she could have understandably hit her breaking point after her marriage. Victorian British repression, the war against the mythical female hysteria, and the iron fist of colonialism with all its layers (elitism, violent racism, rampant sexism) are the true forces behind the making of “the woman in the attic”—nameless, mad, villain. So much gaslighting my head hurts.

Listen to the queen, via Huffington Post UK

Mental Health Day is coming up. So, if you find Mr. Rochester as problematic as I do, humor me for a moment, and let’s speculate: what would have happened if Mr. Rochester had not been an imperial-minded, densely patriarchal, oppressive fucboi with severe allergies to accountability? Well, we’d be talking about a whole new character. Let’s give Antoinette a better partner: what would he look like? Let’s study the facts first.

Matchmaker mode, via Gifer

As of European imperialism, mental health in people of color has developed a branch particular to being under the boot of the colonizer. Every subject of the British empire who was not born on British soil to a completely white family and raised under British customs, was subject to a viciously layered form of oppression. We’re talking about a strong cocktail of dehumanization (“your life is of no value/less value than European lives” and quite literally “you’re not actually human”), powerlessness (“you do not nor will ever make the rules here”), abuse (“your purpose in life is to be used by others”), marginalization (“don’t forget this is not your country, stay on the sidelines and take the scraps”), and invisibility (“justice, laws, and protection do not apply to you”); take a moment to truly put yourself in these shoes, and you will need no further explanation as to why I maintain that Antoinette did not need a complicated family background to have become mentally ill.

She does, however, also have a traumatic family history; as per Wide Sargasso Sea, Antoinette Cosway Mason’s childhood includes sinking into poverty, an abusive stepfather, losing a sibling, losing a home, becoming separated from her mother, and witnessing her mother’s mental downfall due to financial and family struggles. Antoinette was also privy specifically to Englishmen taking advantage of vulnerable local women, as this was the reason why her mother acquired the English surname Mason in a second desperate marriage.
Upon marrying Rochester, Antoinette faces a blackmailer demanding money and threatening to destroy her reputation, and a cheating husband who flaunts his affairs and starts calling her Bertha? (Run, girl). Her marriage falls apart, she is an orphan, and (cherry on top) is shipped to England, where she knows no one. Enter attic arrest.

An-toi-nette, Roch. Say it with me, via Cheezburger

So, now that I have left you with some empirical context and stepped aside to drill a hole into my punching bag (which I labeled “Empires of the World”), let’s get back to the creative portion of this article: if I could have my way and put a different dude in Antoinette’s path that was loving, supportive and actually helpful, what would this person look like? Do you feel a list coming? I do.

1. Support, support, support

Antoinette has had a difficult life, and aren’t relationships supposed to be a kind of safe haven? The right person (let’s call them Human Jollywoke—Hugh, for short) would know this and maybe reassure Antoinette that she is no longer in that same turbulent place that was her childhood. She is safe now and she has a friend.

Couch cuddles, via Design You Trust

2. Thou shalt not gaslight

You don’t get to hit someone over the head with a (metaphorical) lead pipe and then complain that they’re on the ground. They’re on the ground because you hit them. Maybe if Rochester had asked Antoinette (not Bertha, DAMN IT) why she was upset, he might have realized that he was the one being a crapper.

Go into the accountability, Roch, via Matrix Harmonics

3. Awareness is sexy.

If Mr. Jollywoke was English, he would be aware of his privilege and use it for good. He would not leave Antoinette stranded in a sea of racism and nonexistent opportunities, but would help amplify her voice in their social circles, and walk by her side as a person who respects her. Mr. Jollywoke would not act like Antoinette is crazy when she points out that proper English ladies think less of her for being creole. He would listen to her, do his best to understand her, and use his influence to help empower her.

I gotchu, babe, via Pinterest

4. To diagnose or not to diagnose

Some of those who have studied Jane Eyre from a clinical perspective have come to the conclusion that Antoinette exhibits symptoms of Huntington disease. I personally don’t know if I buy it (see the aforementioned lead pipe), but I’m not above finding myself in the wrong. If she did develop Huntington disease at some point during her traumatic life, the answer was NEVER to have her husband tie her to a chair and lock her away from humanity. A clinical label is not a “certifiably crazy” stamp, but an invitation to take special care. I still hold the belief, though, that Antoinette’s only illness was being a traumatized creole woman in a consistently retraumatizing living situation.

Armor up, Antoinette, it’s a bumpy ride, via Design You Trust

5. Death already did us part because you are dead inside

It was too common a tale in colonial West Indies for European men to marry local women of white-enough appearance and upbringing, the result often being humiliation and abuse and a lot of men taking advantage of vulnerable situations. Mr. Jollywoke would be someone with no interest in silencing, taming, or stashing Antoinette away. Ideally, Hugh would have a healthy enough self-esteem to consult Antoinette on where they would live and what kind of a role she would have in their married life.

‘Cause girls just want to have fundamental human rights, via Picslyrics

In honor of Mental Health Day, please remember to do your part in crushing the systems that keep, in the words of George Orwell, some people “more equal than others.” Also, remember that red flags are real, and that they exist to keep you out of relationshits. Isolating and controlling someone’s access to the world are some of the early signs of an abusive relationship, so please please please call a friend or a domestic violence hotline if you fear for your life. Never forget you are the full weight of an Antoinette; it is no one’s right to make you a Bertha.

 

featured image via Khambay’s Words, Words, Words

How John Green Saved My Life

“Your now is not your forever”. – Aza, Turtles All The Way Down.

I didn’t understand what was happening to me. I had no inkling of what was wrong with me. I was down the rabbit hole and it seemed like nothing ever would change. I stayed in the rabbit hole for a very long time. No sign of light. All I could feel was a coldness around me while I lay stark naked. Some days I still find comfort there. In complete darkness. There are nights where I feel like I’m the only person in the world. When I was drowning in my emotions, the only thing that kept me afloat was John Green.

John Green is a lot of things to a lot of people, but to me, he is the light at the end of the tunnel. When I didn’t even feel like getting out of bed, his books were what kept me awake. When I didn’t understand what was happening to me, I found solace in his writing that illuminated my life with the answers I needed.

I remember the first time I read his book The Fault In Our Stars. My mom got me a copy and I devoured it in 4 hours. I laughed, I cried, and the book was like the best friend I never had. The therapist that reminded me “That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” And the realisation that “Oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have.” It was a love story. But to me, it was what gave my life a new perspective.

I quickly looked him up and other books by him. This time, I decided to read him chronologically.

His very first book, Looking for Alaska is really underrated. It’s the one that pulled me out of my void. It’s the book that I keep going back to every time I spiral my way into oblivion. “You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.” But at the same time, it gives you the strength to know that, “We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken.” If I weren’t scared of needles, I would have this tattooed on me.

Image via John Green Books

The best part about reading John Green books is that the characters are flawed just like we are. Just like his flawed characters are worth loving, it’s a constant reminder that we are too. It’s not about being perfect; it’s about being worth loving despite the flaws. We are what we are, and in that we are whole. And chances are that when you are feeling what you do, you’re never alone. Somewhere out there is thinking and feeling the same. Even if they are just characters in a book.

Whether it is his first novel Looking for Alaska or his latest one Turtles All The Way Down, Green’s books teach you what it means to be human. How you can live your life in the best way possible. That your mental illness is just a small part of you and no matter what you’re going through right now, it’s not going to last forever. “Thoughts are only thoughts. They are not you. You do belong to yourself, even when your thoughts don’t.”

I wish I had read books by him growing up, as I came across them much later in my life. I love how all of his books have an element of normalising mental health. When I first read Turtles All The Way Down, I made a point to give a copy to everyone who was close to me so they could understand what anxiety feels like. Of course, mental illnesses show differently on different people but I finally had the right words for what I felt. “The thing about a spiral is, if you follow it inward, it never actually ends. It just keeps tightening, infinitely.”

But wait. What’s a 20-something doing reading coming-of-age novels? Aren’t these books meant for teens? NO! These books are meant for anyone and everyone who has ever struggled with any mental health issues. They transport you to a time where these issues are normalised. They make you believe that there isn’t anything wrong in feeling what you feel. And that’s exactly what you need sometimes. He saved my life. If you haven’t dug into John Green’s books, there’s no better time than now to start reading!

 

Featured Image: The New York Times