S-U-F-I Grinds: Part One– Backstory

Today’s piece serves as prologue to tomorrow’s Silent Sunday practice. The backstory and subsequent routine offer a stern dose of self-reflection and -correction, with a dollop of psycho-spiritual progress. To honor the adage of “business before pleasure,” today addresses a course correction after a jolt of self-awareness; Silent Sunday will put forth the lighter side, and how to get there.

It all began this morning, although arguably the road to insight was paved a few days prior. As with many tasks during these past months of surgical rehab, I needed help. My intrepid neighbor and friend has been the primary source of “in-house” aid: taking out garbage and recycling; bringing in mail; doing laundry, etc. I have made my gratitude well known, and of course have been of help to her in the past. We are friends: That is what we do.

My buddy is a helper and a wonderful shoulder for many. As such, she frequently struggles with how to salvage her own mental and physical strength; all too often, she subsumes her own needs to those of others. That clearly is part of her karmic journey, of which she is aware and continually addressing. As you may imagine, I am conscious of depleting her energies further with my own requests for help. But again, as true friends, we have found a balance in the ways in which respect each other’s quest to be of aid, and also to be left alone.

This past week has been an especially rough ride for my pal. With her own chronic health issues (both muscular and immune system-related), the week’s stressors wore her down quickly. (In sum, her mother is in a nursing home; the home has faltered frequently since COVID; her two brothers are not active participants in their mother’s care; and, in a stunning turn of events, a dead mouse was discovered in her mother’s bed three days ago.)

My friend had had it.

Because of the emotional and advocative rigors of her week, “MJ” let me know each day that she would take care of my laundry the next day. With a get=away planned to begin tomorrow, there was a deadline: Of course, for MJ, this meant another pressure in her already about-to-burst Help bubble. I encouraged her need to rest, and to put my laundry at the bottom of her priority list, certain that she would get to it eventually.

This morning, however, I received an email: MJ’s immune system had responded to the accumulated stress—her stomach was rebelling, and she had a fever of 100F. 

My mixed reaction, and the one that spurred today’s writing? Part dismay for my friend; part annoyance that my laundry had been put off; part shock at my selfishness; and part determination to reset my attitude—pronto!

First, I rallied rational thought: If I could not hoist a bag of laundry down and up 50 steps—twice—without damaging my recovering hip and aching leg, it could wait. Or, I could round up another friend after this holiday weekend; or, I could hand wash the most-needed items. Plenty of options to remind me: 1) that I remain capable, despite some incapabilities; and 2) that someone else (a dear friend, to boot) had greater needs than my own.

A bit anxiously, but nonetheless determined, I proceeded to do laundry. Yes, the multiple trips to the basement with a pillowcase full of clothing (the winnowed-down version of what ultimately needs to be washed) put my body through its own wringer. As I plodded away, however, I recognized that my physical strength and my hip’s endurance was greater than I had expected.

As it turned out, MJ delivered yet another gift: that of my renewed optimism and self-confidence.

And this is where the foul discovery of a dead mouse in MJ’s mom’s bed entered my mind. After the initial disgust, MJ had identified a hidden blessing: One of her brother’s— who typically is absent in every way concerning their mother—had been with MJ during the “mouse visit.” With MJ leaving town for a week, “Jaime” would be on duty with regard to their mother and the nursing home, and had come along to get the lay of the land.

As MJ put it, “It is a good thing he saw the mouse. Now he is more apt to keep track of Mom, and to stay in touch with the social worker.” Blessing recognized, table turned.

My own version of a dead mouse came in the form of being pushed to test my physical abilities; fortunately, the result was positive. Alongside that came the awareness of the aforementioned inner foe: a selfish anger that arises when “betrayed.” I choose quotation marks, as this certainly was no true betrayal: Rather, my friend was at her wit’s and body’s end, and she needed a break.  

But my initial response of a perceived “betrayal” roused those emotional scoundrels that I thought had long ago been chased from my inner sanctum. Selfish and Angry once again showed their faces; however, I quickly called in the troops to oust them yet again. To my aid? Sufi Grinds.

Or, as I think of them in this context: S-U-F-I Grinds. They form the crux of a practice designed to jettison the remains of yesteryear’s emotional habits; and to draw in new vibrational patterns of mental energy. S-U-F-I: Turn Selfishness into Understanding (of self and others); and transform Frustration into Insight. 

In tomorrow’s Silent Sunday: The Practice—S-U-F-I Grinds to Clear and Correct