Heavy pruning shows I can be pretty aggressive

I come home from my counseling appointment (oh, how I love to process with a great teacher) and see that the shrubs in front of our condo have been severely pruned. More like butchered.

There’s a saying in Florida about plant growth rate: you prune a bush, turn around, and it hits you in the back. Hearty growth invites snip-control, but me-oh-my the newly pruned bushes have little-to-no foliage. Just poking, bare branches.

I live in a wildlife preserve, so I wonder what story the resident black rat snake would tell. I'm sure snake would begin, “Your buildings are winding through my home, I was here first. I need some shade. Play fair.” 

Okay, so I’m giving voice to the snake. Good.

But there's more. I notice that I’m peeved. Angry. 

I think I am such a peaceful person with a mindful practice when actually I have pretty aggressive feelings. How do I know? Because without taking time to process what’s happened, heck, without taking any time to breathe and calm myself, I come right inside and angrily hit my computer keys to let the property manager and landscape chairs know just how I feel.

Then I go outside to find the pruning boss. Using a louder than normal voice I deliver a dramatic soliloquy on natural habitats. But I don't stop there. I launch into a pruning lesson.


Now, I have the cut shrubs and my agitated, rash behaviors to sit with.

And embarrassment for losing it. 

I add to the aggression by thinking not-nice things to myself: I should know better. I’m supposed to be kind. I know how to pause, and didn’t. I can deliver difficult messages so that they’re heard. 

“Pause practice, where are you?”


(I left and I'm back. I went outside to own my gruff words. The pruner is following instructions. Oh yeah, don't slug the messenger.)

As soon as I stop writing this, I’ll meditate. This is a perfect situation to “tonglen-it” and breathe in the agitation of all others so I can breathe out relief.

Then maybe my eye will stop twitching.

I offer myself a hallelujah for transparency and honesty. I want to at least tell myself the truth. Admit. Because awareness is a precursor to acceptance of my not-nice behavior. And there is no way I can be softer the next time I'm angered without awareness and acceptance of my mess-ups.

Writing helps. My feelings pass and I gain clarity. 

Later I’ll sit with a group of women friends. I'll admit this about myself and while sitting in that listening circle I'll feel that I’m not the only one who messes up and agitates a wash-load. In sharing, I'll get a little focus on how easy it is to lose myself, which underscores why mindfulness is called a practice.