Saturday, September 8, 2012

Mindfulness and the Internal Revenue Service - I Am Free

Sitting on my lawn on a beautiful late summer's day, the mailman smiled and handed me our mail. I smiled, wished him a good day and as we all tend to do, flipped quickly through the envelopes to see what he had delivered. I stopped and my stomach clutched. A thick envelope from the IRS. I breathed. I have a 'history of feelings' triggered by seeing those three little letters.

We received a notice of "underreporting" our income saying we owed $3000 in back taxes. As I observed myself going through a gamut of emotions, I began processing the information. I knew what happened. Several weeks after filing our 2010 taxes we received a "1099" from the brokerage house. I ignored it because I didn't know what to do with it especially since it only reported the total amount of our security sales as opposed to the much smaller profit we had made on the stock transactions.

I filed it away and forgot about it especially since not only did we receive our refund for that year, but we received a correction from the IRS granting us a bigger refund than what we had filed. And yes, I did have a major anxiety attack when I received that letter until I opened it and saw that they were making a correction in our favor. Hmmm so now what to do?

My husband and I, to quote Dr Seuss, puzzled and puzzled about it until our puzzlers were sore. I couldn't let go of it instinctively knowing something was just not right. I asked Tom to call the brokerage house because frankly, I was immobilized to ask the questions. It had nothing to do with the money. This was a result of deep seated trauma. He was exhausted and still had more work to do in the evening before we were going to meditation class. In the 'old days', I would have hounded him to call right then and there but with yoga and meditation, I was able to quiet my mind rather than displace all of my angst onto my dear husband wanting him to call and straighten out 'the mess' right then and there.

Amazingly, I was able to fully participate in meditation class and had a wonderful night's sleep. The next morning, Tom told me he'd call when he got home from work. I got still and I allowed Spirit to move through me. I acknowledged and cozied right up to my fears as Ana Forrest would say, calling first our brokerage house and then going right into the belly of the beast. I called the IRS.

I had amazing customer service with the brokerage house. The first person I spoke with at the IRS was gruff and accusatory. I held steady "pleading my case" letting him know I accepted responsibility for not reporting the profits on our taxes but was clearly not a scoff law. He softened a little and then transferred me to the branch of the IRS that had sent us the letter.

I was blessed to speak with a person of compassion and kindness. We sorted everything out and he told me the next steps I needed to take letting me know that many people actually make this same 'honest mistake' as we had. Prior to his saying this, I accepted full responsibility and apologized for not attending to this before now. He saw that instead of owing $3000 we'd owe maybe an additional $45 and we were clearly not tax evaders.

This experience, as I previously mentioned, really had nothing to do with the money although I am extremely grateful we don't owe $3000 plus penalties and interest. It was a soul lesson for me. Patience, maintaining calm while being put on hold for 40 minutes; no longer blaming Tom for my own discomfort asking him to take action to relieve it and moving beyond fears to feel empowered, experiencing and breathing through all of my at often times powerful thoughts and feelings that arose.

In Fierce Medicine, Ana Forrest calls this experience a dharma joust: moving out of a habitual pattern of reacting to a situation. I am so grateful to the IRS for providing me with this wonderful learning opportunity to practice mindfulness and move beyond my fears. I am free!

Fear - from "Songs of Freedom:Poems From a Healing Odyssey" now available on Amazon

Once my shroud
the walking dead
the veil of trauma shreds.

I walked with fear today
she cast a long shadow on the path
crevices and pitfalls hidden in the darkness
I stumbled and fell listening to her song in a minor key
a haunting shrill refrain echoing a funeral dirge.

Living in fear is death
she ruled my life when I believed her seductive lies
stripping my integrity
robbing me of my freedom
somehow if I allied with her I'd be safe.

But her power pales in the light of Truth
Breath the antidote to her venom
cleansing the mind numbing slumber
as strength and courage fill every fiber
hydrating my once shrunken self.

I rise from the rubble with grace and gratitude
awakened by the power of love in the sangha
daring to soar to new heights
leaving fear in the dust.

From my heart to yours
With total love and deepest gratitude,

May All Beings Be Happy and Free! Om Shanti

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