Archives for posts with tag: doing it right

My Traveling Partner and I recently watched a video that made some bold claims about the “harms of mindfulness” as a “culture” or as a self-help service available for anyone… at a cost. I rather expected I’d disagree throughout; I’ve gotten a lot out of mindfulness practices. Instead, I found myself nodding along. See, here’s the thing, “mindfulness” practices really don’t need to cost a single cent. Google “mindfulness”, watch some unbranded professional quality “not selling you shit” content, and start practicing – it could be that simple, and that close to being wholly free. It gets expensive when you start adding on self-help “professionals”, new age “gurus”, spiritual “healers”, and their many mindfulness centers, methods, systems, and… fees. What’s so crazy to me is that in general, much of this seems to come out of a genuine interest in making mindfulness practices available for the betterment of people who are suffering. (Scammers will always do what scammers have always done; grab an idea, gloss it up with an emotionally engaging pitch, and start raking in the profits at the expense of many who can’t legitimately afford that.)

Break free of the sales pitch, the expensive retreats, and the costly subscription service. Just be. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. No, it’s not a cure for everything. Hell, it’s maybe not a “cure” for anything at all. Does it feel good? It can. Is it helpful? It may be – it is for me, personally.

Maybe you think you are “doing it wrong” and that’s why it “isn’t working” for you? What do you mean when you say “working for you”? If you think it is going to solve all of your challenges, stop you ever shedding a tear or feeling hurt or knocked down in life, you may want to reconsider what you expect of this simple humble healthy practice. Let it do what it can, and stop right there.

…I’m saying this because I have considered, now and then, the monetary potential in having a successful mindfulness blog…what would that take? What would it look like (for me)? I always come back to the place I started; I don’t have a hunger to make a profit on the suffering of folks who are struggling to find balance or peace. That just seems like a shitty thing to do (to me). I mean, seriously? I’d be writing anyway. I write. I’d be meditating anyway. It has worked for me. The concepts are not new, and aside from the price of a handful of books, they haven’t cost me anything much. Why wouldn’t I share my knowledge (whatever I’ve got) and my words freely? I’ve considered writing a book. If/when I take that step, sure, pay me. LOL Fair.

One thing I didn’t like about the video we watched was the way the content was written to explicitly mock certain concepts or exercises used in one program or another to teach mindfulness practices. I found that unnecessary, misleading, and in poor taste generally. (We live in a world that seems to place value on misleading words in poor taste that are not helpful or necessary… which sucks, but that’s a different bit of writing for another day, I suppose.) I’m thinking specifically about the “eating a raisin” exercise that appears in MSBR coursework and other places.

As for “doing it wrong”…? Are you?

Any comfy cushion will do.

Here’s the thing about the “eating a raisin” exercise (in my opinion) – it isn’t at all about the raisin. Nothing to do with raisins in any way. Choose your fruit. Choose whatever taste or sensation you care to explore more deeply. The exercise itself is about being present, aware, and engaged entirely with that sensory experience. That’s it. You could do it with… oh, say… a cup of coffee. (If you’re a regular reader, is it now dawning on you that perhaps my frequent starting point of observing that “I am sipping my coffee…” may have significance you didn’t previously realize?) Yep. I practice this exercise often – with my coffee – to become more engaged, more “grounded”, more present in my physical reality, more “awake and aware” – because I frankly need the fucking practice. I was irked that the content creator we were watching tear down the simple (and admittedly somewhat silly) “eat a raisin” practice missed the whole fucking point of the exercise.

…I did appreciate that the video was explicitly opposed to financially exploiting the emotional pain of people seeking solutions through mindfulness, though. Don’t spend money on free shit, people. You don’t have to put yourself through that. If you want professional mindfulness coaching and you have the money and are willing to spend it on that? Get a good therapist. Period. Pay for what has legitimate value. Want to take a luxury retreat and practice meditation and mindfulness? Book a comfortable hotel on the coast somewhere, and take yourself there and be mindful. Enjoy. It doesn’t need to cost thousands of dollars, have a “name brand guru” smiling on the brochure, or require a waiting list. lol Seriously. What did you think my “going coastal” adventure days were about? That’s me taking a “meditation retreat” more often than not. 🙂

Sufficiency. Perspective. Mindfulness. Wrapped up in a bow. 😀 Enjoy. Please don’t just give your hard-earned money to charlatans, fake gurus, or slick salespeople. It’s not necessary.

I take one last sip of my ill-chosen coffee. It has gone cold – a fitting fate for a lavender Americano (turns out I do not enjoy the flavor of lavender in my coffee as much as I enjoy the scent of it). I sit with the feeling of a quiet start to an ordinary day for a moment longer.

Now I begin again.

Yesterday was sort of hard. Weirdly so. A bit as if I had sand in my consciousness; I felt sort of “rubbed raw”, cognitively. Uncomfortable. Unpleasant. Aggravating. Those words describe my experience, and also describe my sense of myself, pretty much all day. It wasn’t fun, and more than frustrating; there was not any clear reason to feel the way I did. My outlook for much of the day was “just don’t”. I felt a little aggressive, a little prone toward anger, and getting past, through, or around it was the entire day’s challenge.

…Eventually, it “worked itself out”. Sometime past the end of the work day, I “got my head right”, and enjoyed a pleasant, quiet evening with my Traveling Partner. I sip my coffee, this morning, and silently acknowledge the difficulties the day had presented. Then, I let all that go. It was yesterday. New day ahead of me. I woke early, but this coffee is good, and this room is more tidy than yesterday. Comfortable. A bit chilly, and I’m okay with that. It’s not an unpleasant feeling. Another day, another chance to begin again.

I breathe. Exhale. Relax. Time spent on meditation feels well-spent.

I look over my “to do list”, and also review the “done” list that sits below it on my desktop as a “sticky note”. “Celebrate the Achievements!”, it says at the top. I’ve gotten a lot of little stuff done, and a handful of bigger projects are completed or in progress. Productive. 🙂 I allow myself a moment to feel pleased about that. I catch myself yawning, and glance at the time. Time passes so quickly, sometimes. The work day ahead is already about to begin…

I finish my first cup of coffee, ready to begin again. 🙂 Tomorrow? Already behind me. Today? Still ahead. It’s a good moment for beginnings.

I’m looking at this list of bullet points. It has become an outline of future work, mapped across future days. My morning coffee has become a can of cold fizzy water. The day is nearing the end, and I am smiling. I’m smiling, in part, because I love what I do. The other part of that smile is because I’m not being asked to yield what remains of my day, or my energy, beyond an utterly routine commitment to a shift. Comfortable. Sustainable.

There is no clock on the wall. My sense of aesthetic suggests there should be. There is no potted plant on my desk, or standing in the odd corner between a structural post, and the wall; a plant would look great right there. There is no bookcase with books, filled up notepads, coffee mugs, and tchotchkes, against the wall, where I expect to see one. The floor is bare concrete. The bare overhead light contributes to the very industrial look of this place. I’m not bitching; the temperature is comfortable, the break room is amply stocked with icy cold fizzy water, and very hot coffee, both in reliably good supply.

I arrived eager and confident a couple days ago, and the fit is natural; I belong here. I am still in that “assessing needs-gaining access-learning tools-looking ahead” sort of place, and that seems appropriate to the circumstances. I let myself fill my awareness with this moment, and these circumstances. No holding back. No trepidation. All in. I am comfortable here.

…The walls need art…

…I’ve got plenty of art…

Tomorrow is another day. Another beginning. Another step along this path. I’m ready for it – I’m also tired, at least, tired right now. Relaxed, contented, fatigued – the fatigue of a day’s work, done well, and fully appreciated. All of that. No more than that. It’s lovely.

The challenge, now, is shoring up healthy practices, and building new routines around these new circumstances. The commute is different. The location is different. Simple things like badging in, logging into tools… finding my way directly to my office, all new, and all such simple things, generally; it’ll still take me weeks to get comfortable and functioning on updated implicit memory. In the meantime, I laugh at myself each morning as I go down the hallway toward the office in which I spent my first day, by mistake. My office is the next corridor over. lol I’ll chuckle when I attempt to login using credentials from the last place I worked. I’ll grin with merriment when I find my way to the men’s room, instead of the ladies’ room, having to back track, then reverse through a seeming maze of hallways and glass boxes to the opposite side of the building, because, at least for now, it’s the only route by which I remember where the ladies’ room is. I’ll laugh out loud when I walk into my boss’s office, thinking it is mine (mine is on the opposite side of the hallway).

I’ll go home still smiling. Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. 🙂