had an interesting little experience meditating this morning. what made this morning a little different than other mornings was a DEEP DEEP feeling of relaxation in my belly. Boy that was nice. I noticed that my thoughts played a big part in this too, later on. I enjoyed the sensation so much that I kept trying to get back there. (holding onto pleasure, yes, I realize this!) But I noticed some thoughts immediately caused/created tenseness and tightness in my body and that deep relaxation wasn't as present. So I released the thought, or named it and let it be, and then the deep relaxation came back in my belly. It was a very pleasant morning.
I'm off now to get ready for an appt today. I'll get get back to you with more on mindfulness probably! :-)
monday's meditations and lessons in mindfulness
Sunday night I watched a movie that triggered a lot of OLD stories in me: stories of loneliness and pain. I was feeling sad and lonely and decided to not dwell in it alone so I wrote to a few people that I know were usually up late. One lucky (or unlucky as the case may be) person was up and graciously agreed to be present to me. I said that this was old news and that there was a disconnect at the moment between my intellectual mind and my emotions. He heard me and validated what I was feeling and said all the right things. I felt very thankful for this experience. The sadness dissipated rather quickly and I was happy to see that I didn't collapse by opening up a raw side of myself with a friend. Sometimes, things need to be witnessed and this was one of those times for me. I ended with some night time meditation to continue to breathe in the emotions and watch them dissolve.
I woke up after a good sleep and did my morning meditations. The morning's meditations continue to be insightful. I still have a myriad of thoughts coming in and I'm sure that will be that way for a while. The books promise that these things will slow down some but for now, I greet them as the old friends they are!
I am interested to also include a night time meditation because I want to have a good winding down experience and get to that intimate space with myself before bed, just as I do in the morning after rising. It was also really good to have that time after emailing a friend to continue to slow down the thoughts.
Gratitude was the theme for me yesterday. In the morning after meditations, I received two phone calls from old friends and we talked and processed a lot of things for them and me. I told them about my experience the night before. It was good to go over this with people who have known me for centuries. :-) I ran some errands with my daughter in town and was very crazed with lots on my mind. I was working hard to keep mindful of how my TO DO list was getting to me (plus the excitement that the semester was beginning again.) I found myself routinely taking deep breaths and getting back to my body and getting back to the experience of the few hours I had with my daughter. These moments are special and I do understand what these books say about the tragedy of getting lost in thought and losing the present moment. Sitting actually does help to continue the awareness when we are "off the pillow."
This morning's meditation
School officially starts today. I am still sticking to the morning meditations although I must say that this morning I was eager to get down to brass tax. I had so many PLANNING thoughts in my head. I meditated for a half an hour and almost constantly had to get back to the breath. After a half hour, I blessed the day with intention and then went right down to business. What I can say that is good about meditation is that when I stop to quiet the mind, there is an endless TO DO list that can form at times. LOL It's as if my mind is very clear and I'm able to remember things that would/could normally get bogged down in my busy life. The other good thing is that I went right to what I wanted to do and didn't waste time checking emails or doing the usual morning "routine" of wasting time. I've always said this is a nice way to ease into the day, but really, it is a way for me to waste time. Meditation is a nicer way to start the day. I'll continue on in this practicing way.
I've finished Pema Chodron's book, "When Things Fall Apart" - every other page is dog-eared or written in. Lots of juicy bits of words to savor over the course of time. I'm glad to have read this although I must admit I enjoy the simplicity of Kornfield's words from his video. I haven't yet read his book but am looking forward to it. Chodron writes of non-duality and uses a lot of dualism in her language so it is complex to me. I still liked it very much.
this morning's meditation was interesting and insightful. I really spend a lot of time thinking. We all do and this is no real revelation - I suppose, though, when the intention is to sit down and SEE the level and amount of thoughts that come in, its pretty damn amazing. The good news is that I wasn't trying to fight it and I wasn't angry or frustrated (in times past I've stopped meditating because I thought the goal was to try to stop thinking.) I was seeing how easy it was, however, to let the thoughts wander - let my mind wander. I was a big day dreamer as a kid. Spent a lot of time thinking happy day dream fantasy thoughts about anything and everything. I am sure this was a coping skill because my reality wasn't so fun at times growing up. This morning I was seeing all the day dreamy fantasy thoughts: I was having conversations with friends that were kind of like wishes of conversations to come. I noticed it and looked at and asked myself a simple question about what is underneath this. The answer was very simple: there is a desire to be seen, heard, known, valued, validated in my relationships. I smiled and said to myself, "I see you, Linda. I hear you Linda. I know you Linda. I value and validate you, Linda." I then went back to watching my breath and being in the moment, only to have another thought drift in. It is going to take practice to keep being aware like this and it does feel nice.
I began reading Pema Chodron's book, "When Things Fall Apart" - it's for this meditation class coming up. I bought it several years ago but didn't read it. I bought it when things began to really fall apart but I couldn't bring myself to read it. I suppose it was enough to have validation that there is a book like this out there! LOL It's a good book. I haven't read anything of Chodron before and I find her to be very honest - there's some other quality, too, that I haven't put my finger on. Maybe it's that she's practicing Tibetan Buddhism and there's some quality in that. I like it though - it's different. It's not touchy-feely. It's pretty raw and honest. I can appreciate that.
In all these books the authors talk about how tragic it is that we leave the present moment. I have to find the way in which they wrote it because how I'm writing it doesn't give it justice. I've heard all this before but it's the way in which they write it (or maybe that I'm in a place to better GET it) that really speaks to me. It's the usual speech of the present moment being the only moment there is but how these 3 authors so far have been talking about it - it's appealing to me. There's this delicious quality to life if we stay in our bodies and stay with whatever is going on. The "recognition of being" is what gives us rest, awareness, creativity and intuition. Ah, that's beautiful. I think I'm getting that now. I am also gazing upon myself in meditation as if I were gazing upon those kids that I gave birth to: with friendliness and a loving curiosity and wow, that makes a big difference. I am enjoying the moments of "non-doing" of just being there and seeing what comes out of it. It's not easy but it is worth it and it's very enjoyable.
So the books that I'm reading for class so far are:
Wherever You Go, There You Are
When Things Fall Apart
There are more books on our list this semester but these are proving to be very good beginning books on the subject of meditation. Let me know what you think if you read them.
mindfulness in pain
sleepy meditations this week...
*yawn* ever since day light savings time, it's been a struggle for me to get enough sleep. I'm getting an ok amount (it's not like I'm not sleeping) but I wake up in the morning wishing I could drift back to sleep for another hour or so... ah well, like anything else, this too shall pass.
I've been meditating all week long and I'm grateful for it because it's been a full and busy week. meditating is helping me to remember to stay present to what is real in this moment instead of day dreaming or having fantasies about some future point, worrying about some future point, reliving some past moment or the worst which is just the negative mind stream thinking that gets caught up in cant's and shoulds and all that other really not fun stuff.
Sometimes I choose to go into a mind stream of thinking and I'm purposely choosing to do it. I notice, for example, that my idealist mind really enjoys visualizing and fantasizing about dreams that I have - about scenes and scenarios that I'd like to see played out in real life one day. I notice, too, that when I have these kinds of thoughts (that I'm choosing to have) that I can still understand the suffering that can arise from them. What I mean by that is that I can find a kind of suffering when I notice that I'm "not there yet." I'll give an example. I can walk into a room and see a vision of possibility for it - the colors, the way the furniture can be. I can see what I'd like to do to the room to change it and make it function better for have some character or whatever. This is a blessing and a gift and I'm grateful for it. The "curse" part is that until I see that the room looks the way I see it in my head, I can find myself in a place of frustration at times because I want to do work to make it happen. That's not bad, honestly, because I think it's motivating. The part that becomes suffering is if I spend a lot of time wishing that it was there. I have to remind myself that things take time. Making a baby takes 40 weeks so getting some renovation done takes whatever time it takes. It also depends on things like ability to do construction or money to hire someone to do it.
I am honest when I say that sometimes it is frustrating, for example, to walk around this old old house that I live in and see it in the state that it is in and compare it with the dream of how I see it in my head. It is frustrating ONLY when I tell myself that it is somehow not happening fast enough. That, I believe, is the "wanting mind" that these wise people talk about. That is when meditation and mindfulness is really helpful to stop the wanting part of the mind in mid-thought and go, "Oh there you are again! Hello! I see you." And then accept it and bow to it. Resistance is futile.
These books that I'm reading for class say that it doesn't matter how many thoughts we spin out to having, it's the moments of waking up to realize that is what we are doing that is the nugget of meditational insight. Each time we wake up and go, "OH! I just did it again! I just found myself worrying about a what if over this house plan that I have," we are doing just that: waking up.
meditation - and other things
well, it certainly is difficult to maintain a blog when you have a full life going on! LOL (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)
I've been keeping to my commitment of meditating daily. Some mornings I don't have as much time as others but I make sure to sit every fucking day. That's my promise to myself. (oops, sorry for the swear words. they come out every now and then!) I mean to say that I AM DOING THIS, which is why I'm being so emphatic as to swear about it. I should shout at the mountain top or something to get the point across.
The other morning I was thinking about this idea of watching myself in a way similar to when I was a new mom. I used to sit with these babies and just fill myself up with them. Looking at their faces and watching them breathe and be. Such little miracles and I was so curious to learn more about them. I've been sitting with myself in a similar fashion. If something comes up, I'm not trying to knock it down or shush it. I am looking at it with curiosity.
I've also been really digging the body scanning as a way to tune into my body. Boy does that ever help for those of us who can get lost in imaginations and dreams. I realize for several years now I haven't really been very grounded. I have big dreams and goals and I really love imagining them. I somehow manage to be very productive, too, so I guess I can't really say that I'm not grounded. I think I mean to say that I find myself sometimes in my head more than I am in my heart or in my body, if that makes sense. Anyway, the body scanning is a way to FEEL your toes all the way up to your head and back down. It's a great way to relax whatever feels tense, too.
So I've been watching myself with loving curiosity. I'm having fun naming what is going on and then letting it be and getting back to my breath. It's like a game and I'm enjoying the game.
I'm nearly finished with Radical Acceptance. That is a good good book. Highly recommend it people! I still have to do a lot of the guided meditations in the book so that will be great to go back to.
This morning's meditation was very short because I overslept. (still not used to this damed daylight savings time stuff.) Oops, there - I swore again. I did only about 10-15 minutes and set the intention to practice mindful awareness throughout the day. Well, I was trying to get too many things done at once and on top of it, I have a nearly 12 year old and an almost 14 year old that have PLENTY of things to say to me and ask me in the course of oh, about 10 minutes. I don't know why I set out to get anything done and should vow to come back to reality and a life when the young one goes off to college. :-) So in meditation, we learn to have single-minded focus and attention and in my daily life, I find myself seriously multi-tasking with my own life and my kid's needs. OY! I started finding myself becoming very frustrated when I endured the 10 minute long retelling of a dream without any point and which took so long because of the pauses, ums and other grammatical breaks in the story.
I stood up and noted that my stomach was growling so it was time for a juice.
I took and cut up a pineapple,
peeled 4 CA oranges
and 1 meyers lemon (goddess, I LOVE these things)
and then I juiced them
I got about 50 oz plus of juice out of them
then I juiced a big bunch of kale
2 stalks of celery
2 stalks of fennel
I made more than 64 oz of juice and I shared it with my 2 kids. I had about 32 oz myself. Delicious and felt so good. I talked with my son a bit about my need to be able to have A THOUGHT AND SEE IT THROUGH TO ITS CONCLUSION in the form of doing some work or getting something done without 100 interruptions. We were joking as we were talking as we always do and I love how my kids and I communicate. Especially my son. He and I are mutually sarcastic and it makes me laugh so much.
The kids had their lunch and went out to walk the dogs. *WHEW* I had a breath of silence in the house. What a treat. I took that time to relax and deep breathe and remind myself that no matter what interruptions come, I'm going to just invite them in to tea, like Tara Brach says... :-)
The afternoon went a whole lot more smoothly. I even got an hour of yoga in which made everything oh so blissful. I went off to an appt I had in town and the person I was meeting was late. At first I was wishing I brought something to do because I loathe waiting for people to grace me with their presence. But instead, I thought, "Oh yes! I can sit and meditate in this quiet room until the dude is ready." So I sat in a firm chair with my legs uncrossed and my arms at my legs. I breathed in a few times and relaxed and I just noticed. I had many wonderful sensations in my body and I noticed how I wanted them to continue. I told myself "FEELING" and just watched them dissolve, thanking the experience.
I noticed the classical music on the radio. I noticed my thoughts. I sat with my eyes closed for maybe about 10 minutes and then decided to open them and sit mindfully in this room. I looked at all the posters and pictures on the wall. I noticed the fabric on each chair and the cracks in the plastered/wall papered wall. I noticed the drawing someone did on the white board as they were presumably waiting like I was. I noticed the carpet and the window and what was going on outside. I felt a part of this room, like I belonged here because I was there. I wondered briefly about the many people that were in that room and what stories the walls would say, if they could. I then went back to the music and the feeling of the breath in my body. It was the easiest wait in the world and it didn't seem to matter how long it took for dude man to come in to find me. I actually thought he could take as long as he wanted.
I came home after a good meeting and decided to make myself a salad for dinner. (Oh yes, I grabbed a lemon laura bar after my yoga as I was racing off to my appt. I was so hungry after yoga!)
The salad I made had:
I also took a capful of wheat-free tamari and poured it over the salad in lieu of dressing.
I LOVE salads like this. So many delicious tastes and very filling. I made up a duplicate salad to take with me tomorrow night for a dinner that I have to go to (where I know there will be nothing much for me to eat.) I ate this salad with much joy and gratitude and thoughts of my good friend Gina. She and I eat salads like this whenever we get together and I'm so looking forward to more time with her to eat more salads like this. For a moment, I was picturing myself talking to her, telling her to try this pesto and these olives and then I remembered my intention for mindfulness. I said, "PLANNING" and "THINKING" in my head and then took a deep breath and went back to the reality of just eating and enjoying the flavors.
And that, my friends, is the update today. Oh, I suppose I should say that I ate a piece of "paleo" brownies after dinner because they were there and looked good. I laugh at any recipe with the word "paleo" in front of it because I imagine our paleolithic ancestors driving SUVs and being soccer moms, making "paleo" brownies and other silliness for their paleolithic soccer playing, iPOD wearing children. This is so ridiculous! Let's call it gluten free brownies! Paleolithic people were not eating brownies and pastries and cupcakes and ice cream! AAAAAACK! They were NOT BAKING! But I'm seriously digressing here. I ate a gluten free brownie with carob chips and sweetened with maple syrup. It was yummy and I'm glad they are gone now (even though I was the one that made them!) :-) That was my dessert and I ate it with as much joy and gratitude as I did the salad.
Peace out my friends,
- "Freedom comes when we are not in anxiety about non-perfection."
wednesday I had an enormously busy day so I only got to do 10 minutes of meditation in the morning. I sat on my bed and took a few deep breaths. I then scanned over my body from the top of my head to the tips of my toes and then back up again, relaxing whatever needed to be relaxed along the way. I relaxed into breathing and then noticed whatever thoughts were popping up (and music) - I named them gently and let them be. I was getting in a good groove of this and then realized that I had to get a move on to get to my appts on time. Quite possibly, it was a really successful meditation because it was so short.
I set the intention for mindfulness for the rest of my day. And I was pretty successful. I definitely feel more in my body when I'm mindful (as opposed to feeling in my head with lots of swirling thoughts and TO DO lists, etc.)
Wednesday was a day full of support and friendship. I even ended the day with a 2 hour conversation with an old friend. It was a very nourishing day. I found the familiar desire to cling to such a day in my mind, wanting to hold onto all the conversations and memories because I cherish them so much. I bowed to them and smiled thanking all of the day and went to bed.
Tuesday's morning meditation
I forgot to post on Monday's meditation!
I had a really interesting time noticing thoughts. Again, there was about 1000 going on at once it seemed. (OK, exaggerating) and I still remained OK in just noticing, not evaluating or judging. My mind felt pretty floaty and so, staying in my body, resting in the breath seemed a challenge. A challenge to stay focused. But I kept going on and brought awareness to my body and the surroundings. I was actually grateful to hear sounds because it helped to bring me back to center more than my breath.
I kept the intention to carry with me mindfulness and non-judgment throughout the day.
I read about 75 pages of Radical Acceptance and also finished watching the 4 hour 37 minute video from Tara Brach for class. It was a long video and helpful. I tended to like Jack Kornfield's more simplistic approach. It helped me a whole lot more. I tend not to need all the stories that Tara tells, nor do I need to be made aware of all the paradoxes of meditation - very confusing. I prefer to know what to do simply and practice that. Still, it is an interesting read. It's funny though - the stories are nice but distracting and sort of remind me of how the mind works anyway - getting us distracted. I wondered how incredibly short Tara's book would be if she just kept to the practice and left the stories out. :-) Just an interesting observation.
The day went by pretty well. I was more aware of how my thoughts lead to emotional triggers and charges in my body. Being mindful and saying, "I see you!" to whatever sprang up was very good.