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A different kind of ink

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26 Jan 2013 – metta


Metta (Pali) or maitri (Sanskrit) is loving-kindness, friendliness, benevolence, amity, friendship, goodwill, kindness, close mental union (on same mental wavelength), and active interest in others. It is one of the ten paramis of the Theravada school of Buddhism, and the first of the four sublime states (Brahmaviharas). This is love without clinging (upadana).

The cultivation of loving-kindness (metta bhavana) is a popular form of meditation in Buddhism. In the Theravadin Buddhist tradition, this practice begins with the meditator cultivating loving-kindness towards themselves, then one’s loved ones, friends, teachers, strangers, enemies, and finally towards all sentient beings. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this practice is associated with tonglen (cf.), whereby one breathes out (“sends”) happiness and breathes in (“receives”) suffering. Tibetan Buddhists also practice contemplation of the Brahmaviharas, also called the four inmeasurables, which is sometimes called ‘compassion meditation’.

“Compassion meditation” is a contemporary scientific field that demonstrates the efficacy of metta and related meditative practices.

 ~ Wikipedia


“A compassionate person, you have a feeling of kinship to all life, which you probably express by being kind to other people and to animals.”

~ Neptune in the 9th House, Astrodienst


Because you cannot love another until you love yourself. My new ink (No. 3) reminds me of this, and what the last 2 years have taught me. That no matter how flawed and imperfect – and who knows it better than I do, for though I can hide from others, I cannot hide from myself – I am deserving of love and kindness.

And because love and kindness beget more of the same, I began to look at others and the world with different eyes. So it comes around – the Circle of Life. But there is also the love that is born of understanding, not blind devotion – Upadana; only when love is freed from the shackles of human clinging, does it become infinite.

Another layer is shed. And broken whispers that I once stumbled after in the dark have become words etched into my consciousness, leading the way forward.

As I write, so I will not forget;

Hence I am marked, that I will remember.


Written by The Intimate Stranger

February 11th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

The sound of me

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I’d never been fond of my voice.

My recorded voice in particular, which I had to listen to when transcribing minutes of meetings, was an unpleasant reminder of how I sounded — to others. I would always brace myself before the recording got to me, and I would be wincing and squirming as my voice came on — muffled and lacklustre. It always sounded as if I was speaking from a faraway place or behind something.

It was how I often chose to speak in a non-social or unfamiliar setting. I would select a lower pitch and un-emote so my words would come across louder and more measured (or so I thought) — basically, I just wanted to sound less me.

Many times, I simply chose to speak as little as I could, whether or not there was a tape recorder present.


* * *


Having to talk so much about myself — especially my deepest and darkest fears — to a stranger once a week or so helped. As the sessions were only an hour each, it forced me to think very hard about what I wanted to say so I could effectively articulate my thoughts and feelings. I simply could not afford to waste time grappling for words or be vague — or worse, evasive — just because I was shy about my fears or ashamed about my past. And it would have defeated the purpose of seeking professional counselling.

But I also believe it was the sessions of complementary energy work which really helped me to clear a particularly persistent hurdle. On an intellectual level, I could understand how illogical my fears were, but I simply could not incorporate this knowledge to effectively change my thought processes and behaviour. It was almost as if something in me was blocked, S had ventured. Whether that was really the case, what I do know is that things progressed really fast after that

So, talking, especially about myself, was not as hard as I thought. Maybe it was because I was so used to sharing parts of myself (though never as private as the ones I told S) with strangers, albeit online and behind the anonymity of a screen and keyboard.

Moreover, I had told myself that S was only a passing stranger whose path I would not cross after this unfortunate episode, and it would not matter that she saw me at my worst.

So I could not have gone to my friends for help because I could not have beared having to look at them again after that, knowing that they know. Obviously I know better now, and that I am not alone in my fears. Still, sometimes, old habits die hard. Smile ruefully.

But more importantly, and this is the bare truth, I would not have found the impetus to work through my problems by turning to friends.

Certainly, they would have helped to relieve some tension and provided not a small measure of comfort. There would also have been several useful suggestions which I could work on. (Though frankly, my issues were so deep-seated, they would have been a challenge for any layman.)

But you see, I would have been content to just lean on my friends, and continued to elicit their encouragements and reassurances to convince myself that actually, I did not need to change — they would still accept me for who I was. So why put myself through The Gauntlet? I had nothing to lose staying the way I was, right? And I would have continued in my comfort zone, because I was too afraid to change.

But the point is not whether my friends could accept me because I know they will, either way — would I be able to accept myself and to live with my choices?


* * *


It just happened, the way many things do (for me), when I least expect The Change — that definitive difference that tells me things are indeed no longer as they were before. But really, it is the moment when I realise The Change has happened, and this realisation can sometimes come only weeks or months later. Life is strange like that. You don’t always see it coming.

I realised how I started speaking at a slightly higher volume, and the quality of my voice was stronger, clearer and more confident. I remember not feeling worried who would hear my voice and my words, and whether they would like my voice or what I had to say and how I said it.

In fact, I remember liking how my voice sounded. There was a resonance that made it not just a sound mouthed by lips and teeth and tongue, but an intent, want and desire coming from deeper within. It was as if my whole being resounded with my words.

Because I was no longer hiding.


Written by The Intimate Stranger

April 28th, 2011 at 1:18 am

The Light

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I strode purposefully into her office, with a spring in my steps, feeling light-hearted and good about myself — as I have the last few sessions.

“So what do you want to do today?”

“Oh…. I don’t know.”

We carried on some small talk and S repeated her question.

“I really don’t know….” I shrugged and smiled, feeling pleased with myself.

But I did know.

I had noted the changes during our last two sessions, and how we had moved from healing to celebrating the progress I had made in counselling. I had also begun to run out of problems to talk about, or rather, the urge to talk about my problems had greatly diminished. Still, I cried at every session (I’ve just been crying a lot recently, about everything and everyone) — more from the mere surge of emotions than just sadness, really. I even cry when I’m happy. Go figure!

But the fact is, whereas for several weeks, I endured 90% downtime and I lived only to savour the occasional highs that always ended too soon, I’m now experiencing a reversal with good moments that are sustainable and only 10% downtime. And during the latter moments, I didn’t run or tried to talk myself out of them. Instead, I stayed with the negative emotions, acknowledged them and let them have their obligatory lap around my system — until they got tired and simply faded.

“Coaching: A process where a person is encouraged and guided to discover the gap between where they are and what they would like to achieve. The focus is on outcomes and solutions rather than problems.”

“I think I’m ready to move on to the next level and get coaching, especially since I might be working again very soon.”

S smiled.

“I’ve been waiting for you to say that.”


As the emotions welled up inside of me, and I started crying again, I finally realised what these tears of…. happiness, are.

The light at the end of the tunnel that I once feared I might never see — that I might be trapped in this prison of my own making forever

I am standing at the end of that tunnel now….

In The Light….

I am looking out….

And it is blue skies, fluffy clouds, and diamonds are raining upon a sapphire sea that goes on forever, and ever….

Just like in my wildest dreams.

Written by The Intimate Stranger

March 17th, 2011 at 3:50 am


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“This influence will give you opportunities to assert yourself and your individuality and do things that you have never done before. The keynote of this period is “freedom to be myself!” Your physical energy level will be stimulated, so that you will be able to work quite hard at any task you want to do. You will not be in the mood for disciplined, self-sacrificing kinds of work. It is not that you are feeling selfish or self-indulgent but that you really understand your personal needs and are unwilling to compromise. You may be suddenly released from restrictions that have been holding you back from many activities you would like to engage in that would truly help your personal development, and this will give you a new freedom to act. At other times you may have felt the need to lash out and rebel against obstacles in your life, but now that is not necessary. The opportunities to get rid of the obstacles arise of their own accord. However, the opportunities carry an obligation to take advantage of them in order to understand more completely what you are capable of doing. This influence will enlarge your idea of your capabilities, which has probably been too limited in the past. You will enjoy taking chances and risks even if you have always acted conservatively, and you will probably discover that you have been too careful before. Freedom is important to you now in every way. You will probably be attracted to others who have experienced similar restrictions in life, and you will work with them. If you have ever been attracted to movements for social reform and change, it is especially likely that you will do this now. Having found out more about your capabilities by getting rid of restrictions, you will enjoy stirring up others so that they can find that out for themselves, too. However, you must recognize that the limitations you have encountered in life were not put there solely by powers beyond your control. You at least acquiesced to them, either out of fear, a sense of personal inadequacy or a desire to be careful.”


So the holiday to get away from it all is finally happening. For a while, I didn’t think it would — I’ve been really busy helping The Bestee with her nest and juggling my own…. stuff. And since I was more than gainfully occupied instead of twiddling my thumbs, I figured there was no need for a holiday really.

But in the past couple of weeks, so much has happened that I’m finding myself overwhelmed again — in a good way.

I now need that time alone space, far far away, to take stock of the roller-coaster ride over the last 3 months.

And more importantly, to welcome the arrival of this new being.


“In the realm of Native American spirituality, the dolphin spirit bears both kindness and ‘play energy’. It has also become a representative role as the keeper of mysteries. Dolphins are regarded as the custodians of the lost and ancient wisdoms of the world, as well as the symbolic messenger of knowledge from our unconscious minds (underwater) to our waking, logical brains (the surface).”

“According to Celtic beliefs, water has the power to “wash away” past problems and to rejuvenate a person. In this sense, the person is able to make a new start. Therefore, the dolphin represents the death of a past lifestyle and the birth of a new life. The ancient Celts also viewed the dolphin as a symbol of both prosperity and guidance.”

Sometime this year then.


What if all this were to end tomorrow?

I had asked, a tiny voice of doubt at the back of my mind.

And she answered, “But you now have the courage to face your fears.”

“For all his bluster, it is the sad province of Man that he cannot choose his triumph. He can only choose how he will stand when the call of destiny comes, hoping that he’ll have the courage to answer.”

~ H E R O E S


He was always solicitous and sought my opinion or consent.

But on this, it was never posed as a question. It was assumed he would render the ‘service’ and I would simply go along with what he had decided.

And there I was, all ready to sneak in a line about finding men who had the confidence to take charge — sometimes — without having to consult the lady every step of the way, sexy.

Mmmmm :-)

Written by The Intimate Stranger

March 4th, 2011 at 8:12 am

Posted in who am i

Jupiter conjunction Sun

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“Traditionally this is considered one of the most marvelous influences, and indeed it is quite good. At the very least, you will feel good at this time. Your health is good, and you feel very optimistic. For a while it may seem that everything is working out perfectly, and if you make an effort, it will. But if you simply sit back and enjoy this time, its beneficent influence will pass away with little to show for it afterward. This is the beginning of a new twelve-year cycle of growth in your life. It is a time to initiate new projects and expand your activities so that you can experience life from a broader perspective. You may find that you can escape from some narrowing and inhibiting circumstance that has prevented you from realizing your full potential as a human being. Sometimes people travel under this configuration, but usually the traveling is more in the mind. This is a good time to study a subject that raises your consciousness or expands your view of the world, and it is an excellent time for going back to school. You may also meet new people who expose you to aspects of life that you have never known before. Your freedom will certainly increase. Even with this influence there are some pitfalls. First of all, your exuberant optimism can cause you to overdo or overreach yourself, so that when this time is over, you find yourself out on the proverbial limb. Exercise a certain amount of restraint and build upon what you have rather than trying to increase your holdings beyond your ability to handle them. Be careful of extravagance, and if you invest money, remember that today’s luck is not permanent.”


Is this for real? Am I dreaming? How did I go from that…. to this – so quickly?

I listen to you describe this…. other person. Yet, I know she’s real. I know she’s me. And it’s all so surreal.

What happens if all this ends tomorrow?

What happens to me then?


“See the things that you want as already yours. Know that they will come to you at need. Then let them come. Don’t fret and worry about them. Don’t think about your lack of them. Think of them as yours, as belonging to you, as already in your possession.”

~ Robert Collier (1885-1950)

Written by The Intimate Stranger

February 28th, 2011 at 12:36 am

Posted in who am i


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“Completing unfinished business from the past and finding the resources to fuel your ambitions are critical issues you may encounter around February 25, when Jupiter’s balloon of hope runs into a stressful square with penetrating Pluto.”

25 February?



I find myself thinking about how my relationships with people will change, and they will change — particularly people who have become used to who I was. How will they respond to these changes and will they still be able to accept me?

I also find myself thinking that I really don’t care whether they do, or not.

Because, I need to be who I need to be.

And because, this is what I want.

Written by The Intimate Stranger

February 24th, 2011 at 1:49 am

Posted in who am i

Too many thoughts

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For some reason, sleep has been… difficult, and immensely frustrating the past several nights. It’s been taking me more than an hour (instead of the usual few minutes) to fall asleep, and then I just keep waking up throughout the night and spending several more minutes trying to go back to sleep.

There are just too many thoughts running through my head, screaming to be heard. It feels as if there’s this other part of me that’s only just emerged from dormancy and she’s making her voice and presence felt. This is good actually, but I really wish she would let me sleep!

It certainly doesn’t help that I’ve been feeling achy again and that keeps me awake too. Damn rheumatism.

And the problem also with being so sleep-deprived is that I start to lose my inhibitions…. ok, there’s good and bad to that, depending on who’s on the receiving end. Laugh.

Looks like I really need to get away for a while, and let these thoughts have the full attention they deserve. There are just too many…. distractions here.

Written by The Intimate Stranger

February 12th, 2011 at 12:29 am

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Free falling

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These 20 minutes will be absolutely worth whatever else you are thinking of doing instead.

Here are some excerpts:

“Connection is why we’re here, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives….

“Shame is…. the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me that if other people know it or see, that I won’t be worthy of connection….

“What underpinned this shame, this “I’m not good enough”…. was this excruciating vulnerability, this idea of in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen….

“There was only one variable that separated the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging, and (those who) really struggled for it. And that was: the people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believed they’re worthy of love and belonging. That’s it — they believed they were worthy….

“COURAGE – To tell the story of who you are with your whole heart…. the courage to be imperfect….

“COMPASSION – To be kind to themselves first and then to others, because…. we can’t practise compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly….

“CONNECTION — As a result of authenticity, they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were….

“VULNERABILITY — They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable, made them beautiful…. the willingness to say ‘I love you’ first; to do something where there are no guarantees; the willingness to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out….

“You cannot selectively numb emotions. You can’t say, here’s the bad stuff — here’s vulnerability, here’s grief, here’s shame, here’s fear, here’s disappointment — I don’t want to feel these…. You can’t numb those hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions. You cannot selectively numb. So when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness….

“Let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen….

“Love with our whole hearts even though there’s no guarantee….

“Practise gratitude and joy in those moments that kind of tear when we’re wondering ‘Can I love you this much’, ‘Can I believe in this as passionately’, ‘Can I be this fierce about this’ — just to be able to stop and instead of catastrophying (sic) what might happen to say ‘I’m just so grateful’ — because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive….

“Believe that we’re enough, because when we work from a place that says ‘I’m enough’, then we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

Written by The Intimate Stranger

February 6th, 2011 at 2:43 am

Posted in who am i

I am woman, hear me R.A.W.R.

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Of all the roles I listed, I realised they have in common my relationship with another person. But there is none in a ‘standalone’ role that is defined by my mere existence and not given purpose only in relation to another – that there is meaning to my existence simply because I exist.

Think about that, SB said with a knowing smile, one she is wont to give during our sessions whenever I am on the brink of yet another mini discovery about myself.

I now understand that strange observation R made when we met over dinner just before Christmas, and the strange scrutiny I found myself under a few months ago.

“It is only when someone gets to know you better, that they can see the ‘woman’ – the femininity – in you.”

No more denials.

No more hiding.


In other news, I’m back to my old ‘normal’ self….

Written by The Intimate Stranger

January 30th, 2011 at 2:42 am

Posted in who am i

Our deepest fear

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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves,

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

- Marianne Williamson


I don’t know if it was the words that caused the sudden upwelling of sadness, catching me unawares. Or was it that I was already teetering on the edge? The truth is, I barely registered the words as I read them aloud. (Or were they already, at mere glance, resonating with me at a subconscious level….???)


Déjà vu.

I remember the few lines, which came to me sometime in the last one year or so, and a very important realisation at the core of my being that things were changing in a significant way.

Somehow, I forgot about it along the way.

I forget a lot of things.

And then I lose my bearings and I fall off my path.

I do that a lot.

Written by The Intimate Stranger

January 7th, 2011 at 12:54 am

Posted in who am i