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Thursday's meditation

"Freedom comes when we are not in anxiety about non-perfection." This morning I woke up early (well, I got to sleep LATE - I woke up at a decent hour.) I peed and then went to sit back on my bed. I took 3 deep inhalations/exhalations and then scanned over my body, from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet and then back up again. I scan from the inside. In other words, I'm not checking my body as an observer, I'm sensing my body from the inside - what does my hair feel like, my scalp my eyes, my nose, my mouth and neck, my spine, my shoulders, etc. all the way down to my toenails. I want to savor the feeling of this body. It's also a great way to really feel when things are tense and they almost instantly relax when these body parts are given this much attention. I do this all the way down and then all the way up. This is also a practice in patience because this takes a small bit of time to do this fully. Then I take some deep full breaths - I enjoy relaxing by doing the anjali breath that I learned in yoga class (hopefully I'm spelling that correctly) - this is the breath where you sort of constrict the breath in a way and let the air pass through slowly. I'll have to look it up and write a better description of it but it sort of sounds like a small wave of an ocean and it is very calming. I let my breathing go into its natural rhythm and then deliberately envisions my mind going into my heart. My friend Kayla told me something once and I loved it so much that I wrote it on my cafe wall in calligraphy: "THINK WITH YOUR HEART AND LOVE WITH YOUR MIND."
I loved this saying so much I wrote it on my kitchen cupboards...
I imagine that means that I use my heart for thinking. Buddhists sometimes refer to the mind as residing in the heart so that's what I pictured this morning. With my "heart mind" open, I was watching my breath and I had the thought that in a way, this is kind of like watching your baby breathing when it is newly born. I had a little smile on my face. I think I'm on a good track here. I'm seeking intimacy with myself: self trust, self love, self worth, self respect, etc. All those good things. Best to have a kick ass relationship with oneself, right? Otherwise, how would it happen externally? I want to love without holding back. I want to relax so I can enjoy this life. So I held this place of watching my belly from my heart mind. My eyes were closed - I was just feeling my belly rise and fall in breath. Whatever thoughts came in, I named them gently and smiled to them, inviting them in and then watching them dissolve. Then an image came into my mind and my whole self wanted to focus on it. I did for quite a long time. This is actually what I'm very good at - visualization. I can focus on this kind of stuff and do shamanic journey work extremely well. No thoughts or emotions or anything seems to take over when I'm doing this and it is a kind of one-pointedness focusing that I really enjoy. Probably because when I'm not doing this I seem to hold about 4 or 5 thoughts at once sometimes (plus songs!) LOL So I let myself stay with this image and I sort of filled myself up with it. When I was ready, I let the image wash away like a wave, I went back to noticing my breath and continued on to watch it rise and fall and name whatever was coming up. So was it a success? I suppose it was. I didn't judge anything that was happening and I didn't try to resist anything that was coming to me. I absolutely chose to focus on that image and so I suppose in a way, this is what Tara Brach is talking about in her Radical Acceptance. We can deny what is in front of us, fight it, say that we dont want it. "IF ONLY I could sit and really be quiet in my mind, I'd be a much happier person." "I need the right meditation pillow and then I'll be all set to do this." "I used to be able to do this better than I can now." These are all examples of the wanting mind. The IF ONLY mind. Brach writes "Freedom comes when we are not in anxiety about non-perfection." MMMMmmmm, I'll write that again:
  • "Freedom comes when we are not in anxiety about non-perfection."
I'm enjoying that book Radical Acceptance. I recommend it highly. I'm off to live my day full of intention and mindfulness. I wish the same for you. all love, Linda
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I've been doing meditation on and off (ok sometimes more off than on) for the past 13 years. I remember the first time I sat and tried to watch my breath - it was maddening! Another time I sat with people to meditate and I wanted to run out of the room screaming. I thought I was not cut out for this at all. For years I sat and I'm not really know what I'm doing but doing it anyway because I know it is good for me. Some days have been better than others and still I persist. I also take days off. :-) I'm signed up to take the meditation class at GCU in a couple weeks and with the syllabus up, I'm getting a head start. (I'm getting a head start because my final project class is also happening and I want to be able to do as much of the meditation class so I can focus on the final project.) I'm watching all these videos and reading these books on meditation. You know what they start out saying? We are not geared towards meditation at all. Not wired for it. THIS is why it is called a "practice." What a relief! I know for sure I can do this now because I'm not the only freak of nature that can't sit quietly with my breath!! Part of what is required for the class is to meditate: "You are required to do a daily meditation practice 15 - 60 min in length. You are responsible for keeping a journal, with a least three entries per week on your experience. Each entry should be 1-2 pages (300-600 words) for a total of 3- 6 pages (900 - 1200 words)." I thought: perfect! I'll write on the blog here whatever the experiences are... Why didn't I do this for all the classes I've had thus far? Hmm... I've had so many classes that have had journal requirements and I kept them all secret and separate... Oh well, no better time than the present! HA! (that's a meditation joke.) I sat this morning for about an hour. I'm using the breath as the anchor point for coming back to center. I did the full scanning of my body, relaxing whatever tensions I was experiencing. I scanned the external environment, too - hearing the dogs, the kids, the cars. Hearing my stuffing nose in this dry dry room. Being with each and every sound and feeling, one at a time, and as when the wave of each experience subsided, I went back to the breath. After some period the thoughts came in. Here's what I noticed: I have a lot of thoughts! Songs too. I seem to have a playlist of songs that go on in my head. I heard once that our minds can handle multiple thoughts at once and I'm really getting that I've got a lot of competing thoughts going on. It's amazing to notice! It was actually difficult at first to honor and bow to only one thought or feeling at a time. I would give it a simple name like "STORY" or "REMEMBERING" or "PLANNING" and then would bow to it and go back to the breath. The thoughts were actually easier to stop and get back to the breath than the feelings. Some feelings I was unsure to just name and breath into or if I might want to delve more deeply. It was a good practice because I held no judgment for what was happening, nor did I evaluate or try to hold too many things at once. If too many thoughts came in at once, I went back to the breath. At some point, I felt a nice opening in the heart center. The place where the mind is, according to Buddhists. WIth a bit of expansiveness, I felt a loving gratitude for a lot of things - for everything. I so enjoy this feeling. I knew that it would come and go just like everything else so I bowed to it and just let it be for however long it would be. I had a nice sense of loving gratitude for the strong mind that I have. What a nice feeling that was. I can say honestly that I've battled with my own thoughts in my past and so it's nice to be friends with my mind even for an hour. :-) I ended the practice and then went into my prayers and intentions for the day. It is said that meditation is a pausing of life in order to achieve great intimacy with oneself and for this hour, that is what I felt. I thanked the Great Mother, the Great Father and the Great Mystery for all that is and then went about my morning. I am spending the day with myself pretty similarly. When thoughts come in, I label them and keep going. When emotions come in, I label them and bow to them. This is how I'm working to becoming my best friend. Unconditional love baby - that's what it is all about. Peace out, Linda

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