Archives for posts with tag: beginner’s mind

Today is a unique new perspective, a new start, a fresh beginning – and a Monday. Mondays get a raw deal. It’s not the fault of the day that it is the beginning of most work week’s, the hangover after the party that was the weekend, and the perpetual every-seven-day buzzkill. We made most of that up. We could do Monday differently, with some practice. 🙂 True on a Monday, true of a great many other circumstances, too. I sip my coffee, hearing jazz through the walls; my Traveling Partner is enjoying a Monday.

My work day will start soon. For now, it’s me, this cup of coffee, and this pleasant Monday morning. I enjoyed a walk through the neighborhood before dawn, getting some exercise, and appreciating again how much variety there is in the houses. I pass by one or two neighbors preparing to leave for work happening elsewhere. It’s been more than a year since I’ve had to commute to an office. I marvel at that, as I walk along; the walk in the mornings feels a bit like “heading to work” each day, although it’s a loop around the neighborhood of about a mile before returning home. Safe, convenient, but very predictable. I’m grateful for the walk on level pavement, though. It may be “predictable”, but it puts me at little risk of injury, which is a win, and I’m still in cell phone range (so my Traveling Partner needn’t worry).

This particular Monday begins with a lovely sunrise.

The gentle start to the day seems promising. I sip my coffee thinking about the day ahead. An errand to run. A task to complete. The work involved in the work day, itself. I think about “fueling the machine” – maybe a midday break, and a nice scramble for lunch? My thoughts drift back to the weekend. If I had finished my writing yesterday morning, I’d be posting something very different. It was a morning with some challenges, but the day was splendid. The entire weekend was a pleasant one, in my recollection. The sour notes in the music are lost in the beauty of the larger symphony. I’m okay with that. (There has to be some upside to having memory issues! 😀 )

The pandemic has prevented us from socializing much. We’ve been very strict with ourselves about it. Only two friends (and our son) had been to the new house before this past weekend (other than some socially distant contractors) – and in one case, we ended up catching colds from the visit, which discouraged any further visiting with people, frankly. Being sick sucks enough to practice social distancing if it means not having head colds. That’s my thought, anyway. My Traveling Partner invited friends up for dinner and hanging out. It was lovely – and I do miss entertaining. I was pretty emotionally exhausted from the surplus of human contact by the end of the evening, but it was a lot of fun, and a good night’s rest readied me for a new week.

I guess what I’m making a point of going on about is that sometimes it’s necessary to explicitly make room to succeed – perhaps differently than I planned. A challenging morning can become a splendid day, and lingering pleasant memories. “Monday” doesn’t have to be predictably awful. We have a crazy number of choices to make, every day, and the ones we leave “on autopilot” sometimes don’t leave room for new, better, outcomes. I remind myself to put myself on “pause” long enough, often enough, to consider my choices with care, and to leave room for success. I remind myself to consider what matters most, more often, and to choose my actions more deliberately, with greater care, eyes wide open, and a beginner’s mind.

Paths, moments, beginnings, journeys; choose your metaphor.

…So…here it is…Monday. 🙂 It’s time to begin again.

This morning I woke hurting. The hot shower didn’t do much to ease my stiffness, nor did the yoga. Meditation felt natural and balancing and vaguely routine. My coffee is tasty, but lukewarm already. It’s Halloween, and I’m not in costume. (Not out of any meanness or because I’m taking a stand about this or that, I just didn’t because I generally just don’t.) No headache this morning; just the arthritis. I find myself feeling fairly hopeful about the day ahead, based on the beginning bit right here.

I’ll have the house to myself this weekend. I’m neither enthusiastic about it, nor am I concerned; it simply is. I will enjoy the solitude for meditation, painting, and listening to music that falls into the category of “no one else here actually likes this stuff”, and probably turning it up louder than usual. I’ll spend much of the time on household tasks; I dislike coming home to a house that hasn’t been cared for as well as it would have been if everyone was home, so I attempt to get the same workload done that would have been done anyway, to prevent my family having that experience. I’ve never asked anyone if they need that from me. I sometimes work beyond the point at which resentment begins, which seems a poor choice. I make a promise to myself to question that impulse if it arises this weekend…and to ask my family, sometime, what they actually want/need of a homecoming after a weekend away. Perhaps indentured servitude isn’t actually on their list? Silly human primate… mindful service to home and hearth – and love – is on my list.  Mindful service, however, doesn’t cause resentment. lol

The pain I’m in colors my experience, and my words. I feel less fun, less thrilled with life in general, but it isn’t really a big deal – it’s just pain, and I find myself dissatisfied with just allowing it to call the shots this way. I do more yoga, focusing on postures that I know are most likely to ease the pain, and reduce my stiffness. My Rx pain medication starts to kick in, too, which helps.

"Like dreams dying.." I said bleakly one day. "Like dreams drifting within reach" she replied with love and compassion.

“Like dreams dying…” I said bleakly one day. “Like dreams drifting within reach” she replied with love and compassion.

I’m in the middle of a grand adventure, with an exciting story arc, and amazing unpredictable plot twists… it’s my life. Learning to live it, eyes open, engaged, present, and in use of both intention and will, is an adventure like no other. I’m learning so much! Since I started this post without a specific clear inspiration, and in pain, I take a moment between each paragraph for another yoga posture, or a few minutes of meditation, or some moments contemplating a recent good experience or feeling in fullness in the hope of improving implicit memory and reducing negative bias. All of it ‘works’ – meaning to say it is all effective at driving those subtle internal changes of heart, of experience, of… default settings. It all requires practice.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? Practicing doesn’t stop, and there is no ‘perfect’ to reach. Mastery isn’t the goal. The practices themselves are both the experience and the goal. Life is the journey – and the destination. We are here. Now. I am. This is. It’s so easy to stray from what works… a catchy article on Facebook can so easily get my attention before I pause to meditate, and find me having used up all the time I planned in the morning for meditation… days later, I could easily find that I’ve stopped meditating in the morning, and begun reading the news. Again. Frankly, reading the news in the morning correlates directly to the very factual and real experience of my blood pressure going up, staying up, and requiring medication. Meditation, on the other hand, does not. Quite the contrary, once I gave up reading the news as a practice, my blood pressure has since tended to be quite normal, and I don’t take blood pressure medication any more. It’s easy to fall back on poor choices, not because they have more value than good choices, but because [and this is my own experience, only] they were practices I practiced for so long before practicing better practices that they easily become the practices I return to; neurons that fire together, wire together. Habits are habitual. We become what we practice most. What we practice is easiest to do.  Reading the news is just an example of one problematic practice I struggle to let go of; I read so chronically, that words in my visual field are incredibly difficult to refrain from reading. You probably have your own problem practices, or old habits that don’t support taking the best care of you, or foster your development to become the being you most want to be.

So, here it is Friday. The weekend is imminent for many of us. What will I do with it to become more the woman I most want to be? What will I choose to practice that will tend to result in being more kind, more compassionate, and treating myself and others truly well – no strings attached? What practices will I commit to each day that ease my suffering, and the suffering of others? What choices can I make that improve the world I live in? Today is a good day to commit to being the best of who I am. It’s Halloween. Today is a good day to take off the mask.

Yesterday feels very far away from this morning. For me personally, it was eventful and busy. For the world, filled with turmoil, conflict, confusion, suffering…and not much more if you rely on the news for your information. Babies were born, though, and are loved. People find each other, connect, experience passion, romance, and love each other. The vast quantity of human knowledge grew a little more, although it’s hardly going to make a dent in the even more vast quantity of knowledge we don’t yet  have. There was sunshine, and storms, rain and breezes; there was weather. Some people shared what they have. Others guarded their assets closely. Sick people were cared for, and the dead were mourned. The living thrived in various degrees, struggled, faced challenges, grew as individuals, made choices great and small. It was a day, and it is behind me now, in the past.

We exist in the context of our experience.

We exist in the context of our experience.

Funny how our choices and experiences build our future out of that past bit we’ve already had. We’ve got right now, if we need to make still  more choices, tweak things a bit, or reach for some desirable moment or object on the horizon. My yesterday has a ripple effect well into the days ahead, that much I can see and is very real to me. What about days further out? Or years? Those, too, may be affected by yesterday, but when I get there will I have any awareness of the moment of yesterday that I’m standing on?

My traveling partner is heading to a festival next weekend. My at home partner is taking advantage of an exciting opportunity to join him there, and have an experience. I am excited for her; it will be a very new experience. I’m happy for him to enjoy the companionship of a loved one at the event. I am not suffering, because the ripple effect washes over my own experience most pleasantly; I will have an uninterrupted weekend to paint. It’s a rare treat, and already a stack of new canvas waits for me, and I am immersed in inspiration, and eager to begin work. It’s still days away. Days of delightful anticipation, and planning, and considering the moment to come with great joy. (I hope my partners have even half as much joy and wonder in their weekend experience as I get from painting.)

The artist within is already hard at work.

The artist within is already hard at work.

These days of planning are important for me. Taking care of me, and being self-sufficient as an artist with a brain injury, means taking steps to ensure I do stop painting to eat, care for myself, and handle daily chores (like feeding the pets and attending to their needs).  Without some structure, I lose myself in inspiration and put my health, sometimes my safety, at risk. (I once filled my apartment with smoke and almost asphyxiated myself while doing sketches and watercolors of… smoke; a neighbor broke in on my reverie, and possibly saved my life.) So, the next day or two is about supportive infrastructure – alarms, reminders, notes to myself stuck here and there, little attention-getters to ensure I eat, sleep, and take care of what must be done, so I can be free to paint. For days. I’m very excited.

I can be amusingly impractical. My at home partner is eager for my needs to be met by this change of plans, herself, and excitedly pointed out that I’d have the car all weekend. I felt puzzled about the relevance of that, and it was not until this morning, in the shower, that I realized that although I know I am not likely to go anywhere while I’m painting, that may not be obvious to anyone else. lol Perspective isn’t just helpful, some things are not understood without it.

Balancing the practical and the emotional is part of the ongoing experience of studying perspective, of being mindful, and of understanding sufficiency.

Each moment, each experience, utterly unique, and entirely our own making.  Choose wisely.

Each moment, each experience, utterly unique, and entirely our own making. Perspective matters. 

Today is a good day to be a student. Today is a good day to consider choices, and choose wisely. Today is a good day to treat myself well, and kindly, and show the world similar care and good treatment. Today is a good day to move softly through shared space. Today is a good day to consider how I can help ease someone else’s burden, even if for only a moment. Today is a good day to change the world.

It would be a humble enough victory to end life described as ‘reliable and unbiased’, but I do think it would stand as a victory of sorts, and a lifetime of which a human being could be proud. I mention it because so much of our information isn’t either of those things, and we are often unaware of it. It isn’t enough to suggest a better source of information; most news sources globally are tainted with bias of some sort. I suspect the best most of us can hope for is to select a broad variety of sources and source material, of a variety of known biases, and do our own homework; fend for ourselves, intellectually.

What value is a lifetime of study without reflection?

What value is a lifetime of study without reflection?

I am, and have long been, the sort of person who will gently inquire as to the source of information, and even ask friends and loved ones to cite their references in a friendly discussion. I try to avoid unfriendly discussions, contentious dialogue, arguments, and hostile diatribes entirely; I have no time to waste with bullshit, or conversation on controversial matters that severs any possible connection with reason, in favor of sound bites, slogans, and invective. I recognize that conversation built on emotional judgments can become arguments quickly, and generally without the possibility of resolution; emotions can’t actually be argued with effectively. Emotions are subjective, in every case, and not subject to proofs. It’s rude to argue with someone’s feelings, and disrespectful, inconsiderate, and diminishing of their value as a being. Like it or not, we are each having our own experience.

It’s also rude to use ones emotions to support a seemingly fact-based position on an issue, because there is no room for discussion; each of us is having our own experience, and we are utterly free to feel however we do about the experience we are having, and to evaluate past experiences in any way we choose. (It may be quite unavoidable.)  It’s sort of a logical ‘dirty trick’, but I doubt most people do it willfully; they simple react to what they read or hear, with the full weight of their convictions, which are sometimes based entirely on their emotions, without any underlying personal experience, study, or vetted information, at all.

It can be challenging to untangle this puzzle. I suggest a bit of study on the subject of E Prime, if you haven’t already. I’m not advocating the full time use of E Prime, myself, although I did for a number of years. I suggest, rather, that understanding the basics of E Prime is illuminating and holds potential to improve general use of language. Admittedly, I also think any excuse to read Quantum Psychology has value; it is a book that holds potential to improve ones thinking in a number of ways.  🙂

There’s something unstated here, that is important [from my perspective]; I’ve had this knowledge a long time. Reason, logical discussion, E Prime, and awareness of bias in language have been part of my experience for a while – and did nothing to ease my suffering, or increase my happiness, contentment, or ability to connect on an intimate level with other human beings. At best, it gave me a glib (and false) experience of certainty that I was ‘more right’ than someone else, that really wasn’t particularly helpful, or accurate, and did little to improve my experience. Being ‘right’ hasn’t turned out to have much value at all.  So…I share these words today with the further observation that although ‘being right’ often feels incredibly important, that hasn’t held up under scrutiny for me, and hasn’t been what brings me contentment, joy, or balance. Certainly, ‘being right’ has not one damned thing to do with love, and loving.

If there is 'just one thing', it is far likelier to be 'about' emotion than reason. It is our feelings that define our experience.

If there is ‘just one thing’, it is far likelier to be ‘about’ emotion than reason. It is our feelings that define our experience.


So…I continue, myself, on this journey of studying emotion. Emotional intelligence, emotional intimacy, and emotional self-sufficiency seem to hold more promise on my journey toward wholeness, and wellness, and meeting my needs over time, than my old ally ‘reason’ has ever delivered. Emotion has more to do with the ‘who I am’ pieces of my experience than any opinion on a controversial cultural matter, by addressing who I am directly, instead of reflecting back from current events and filtered through social norms. Emotion is hard sometimes. It is visceral, raw, and immediate. It is ‘unarguable’. It is incredibly real – but so often treated as second-class in our experience, or unworthy of our attention and consideration.  Our emotional experience is ‘reliable and unbiased’ – it is reliably ours, and it is our own real reaction to… something. That’s where it gets sticky for me, and why I invest so much study, contemplation, and mindful observation in the experience of emotion, these days, over reason.  So many times I have been bamboozled, not using reason, or logic, or facts, but by playing on my emotions and relying on my lack of skill, and lack of understanding, of emotion to achieve the persuasive win.

Reading the books does not create change. It is our actions that change us, even the action of thinking differently.

Reading the books does not create change. It is our actions that change us, even the action of thinking differently.

I enjoy logic, and reason. I value them. That hasn’t changed, but I now recognize that my emotional life is likely the much greater part of my humanity, and left unattended I am a savage – however educated I may seem to be.

Life isn't all logic and reason; we are emotional beings. It only makes sense to invest time and study in such an important part of our experience.

Life isn’t all logic and reason; we are emotional beings. It only makes sense to invest time and study in such an important part of our experience.

Today is a good day to feel. Today is a good day to love. Today is a good day for compassion and kindness. Today is a good day to change the world.

It’s a quiet day of solitary practice. I have spent it on meditation, and study, mostly. I started the morning with yoga, and later interrupted it with a walk in the sunshine before the heat of the afternoon sets in. It has been supremely chill and I feel calm and balanced. I generally write quite early in the morning, as I sit down with my first – now, only – coffee of the day.  Today is different. It is a different day, so I guess there’s at least that explanation for it. 🙂

Every day an entirely new experience, a fresh start, a new opportunity to wonder, and to grow.

Every day an entirely new experience, a fresh start, a new opportunity to wonder, and to grow.

This morning I am building my joy on mindfulness, perspective, and sufficiency with compassionate acceptance that others are free to do what they will; their choices and their experiences are not mine. It is, so far, quite a lovely day.

Some of it is about choices...

Some of it is about choices…

Some of it is about perspective.

Some of it is about perspective.

What will I do with the remainder of the day? Well, hopefully more of whatever is delivering on this delightful experience of the moment. I doubt it is as simple as the tasks I am starting and finishing; the yoga, the meditation, the walking in the sun, the two loads of laundry, and the careful study and cross-referencing of more relevant material are not actually why I am enjoying such a lovely day. They are simply what I am doing, from moment to moment, as the day progresses. My limited understanding of things, as it exists now, suggests that it is the choices to do these things for me, in the way I am deciding to do so, and with what specific intent, and level of presence and engagement that is the why of my lovely day. As with most practices, I will have to do it some more to be certain, and to find it a reliably repeatable experience. I’m content with putting in the effort. What could be more worthwhile than learning to treat myself well, and enjoy my experience, unless it may be the later ability to extend that courtesy and general good treatment to others, because it is simply my day-to-day experience, and the way I behave ‘as a practice’?

I don’t have that much to say today. The day is mine, and I will return to it.

Today is a good day to be still for a moment.

Today is a good day to be still for a moment.

Today is a good day to practice what works. Today is a good day to deliver on the promises I have made to myself. Today is a good day to cherish the moment, and pause to be grateful for all such moments as these. Today is a good day for right now. Today is a good day for love, and emotional self-sufficiency. Today is a good day to change the world.