Archives for posts with tag: how to meditate

It’s a lovely Saturday. My Traveling Partner and his son are in the shop, doing things with tools and wood. I am in my studio, taking time for art, study, meditation, and writing. My second coffee is down to it’s last tepid sip, and sunshine filters through the leaves of the pear tree beyond the window. It’s a nice moment. I sit with it awhile. I don’t need more, or different. This, right here, is enough.

Nothing fancy, just a view.

I don’t know what the rest of the day holds, or the week ahead, or what next year will be like. Right now, none of that matters; I’ve got this moment, here. It’s not fancy or exciting or extraordinary. It’s actually quite simple, a bit unremarkable, and there is nothing much about it significant enough to be especially share-worthy. That’s actually why I am sharing it. We get so used to chasing “happiness”, seeking novelty, excitement, or diversion, we forget to enjoy the simple pleasant moments life offers up pretty generously, much of the time. We wonder when life feels constrained, frustrating, disappointing, or filled with futility and sorrow, why there’s nothing pleasant to rely on… but don’t often acknowledge what we did (or more to the point, didn’t) do to build that “reference library” of personal joy to reflect on, and savor in less satisfying times. I can’t honestly “help you” with that, though, aside from pointing out how much importance your presence in your own experience really has for you.

One moment, experienced thoroughly, savored in recollection. Still nothing fancy. Just a moment.

In the simplest terms, if you want an implicitly pleasant and positive sense about your experience of “life in general” – an “upbeat outlook on life” – you’ve got to cultivate that, and one sure path to that destination is to be truly present, conscious, and involved in living the small pleasant moments in life. There are verbs involved. Practice. Incremental change over time. It’s the sort of thing others will observe has changed about you, before you are wholly aware a change has occurred. Savoring the moments, however simple, of contentment, quiet joy, or everyday satisfaction, builds that database of positive feelings and experiences that become the foundation of our outlook on “life in general”. It’s not all about the extreme joys of great moments; those moments are beyond “every day”, and we know that.

One coffee, one moment – but the picture is not the beverage.

I don’t grudge myself the contented moments “just sitting” with a soft smile on my face, contemplating some little thing my partner said that warmed my heart or supported me. I don’t grudge myself the contented moments “just sitting” watching fish swim in my aquarium, or how the light streams into a particular window in a particular way. I don’t grudge myself contented moments flipping through the pictures and origin stories in favorite cookbooks. The time spent is meaningless out of context, and precious beyond measure enjoyed whole-heartedly on some small thing that satisfies. It’s not the time itself that matters, so much as what it is spent on. 🙂 Time spent content or joyful is definitely worthwhile, however simply spent. My opinion. Works for me. (Your results may vary.)

Still smiling, coffee finished, and having written a few words on a quiet Saturday… I think about the world beyond these walls, and wonder about taking a walk. Certainly, this feels like a good time to begin again. 🙂

 

Yesterday turned out to be a tad… complicated. Emotional. Busy? All of those things and stressful, too. I’m honestly a bit surprised it went so… well. “Just homeowner stuff”, I guess. (What?! Already??) I ended my work day early to deal with it. My Traveling Partner met with the hot tub repair person who was scheduled to be out, and showed up 2 hours early (I don’t think I’m going to complain about that – it was a relief just being able to get that work done, at all), and I focused on the other thing. A leak. In a wall. That caused mold. On paintings. Omfg. I actually don’t have adequate words for the stress in that first moment of catastrophic realization. :-\

…It also is not a catastrophe in any literal sense. Not at all. Small thing, caught very quickly, being handled.

The rest of the day was spent between managing my mental and emotional wellness, and actually handling the circumstances in a way that would successfully (and completely) resolve them. It went fairly well, once the initial heart-breaking emotional blast to my consciousness had passed. It seems a little silly and “overdone” after-the-fact, but in the moment the hurt was very real, the panic very profound. From the vantage point of now, it’s serious, but rather ordinary, and nothing to trouble myself over emotionally. Humans are weird.

The morning starts peculiarly. I’d just gotten up moments ahead of my partner, and was sipping my coffee and beginning my writing after a few minutes of meditation (okay, I was up long enough to meditate, make coffee, and settle in to write…so more than a handful of minutes had gone by since I woke). He got up. I made coffee. Seemed ordinary enough, and the day began pleasantly with talk of a soak…

Obviously, I’m writing, not soaking. (Well, obvious to me, I’m the one sitting here, now, in a moment that is long over by the time you read these words.) He’s behind one closed door, I’m behind another. Communication breakdown. Hurt feelings. Routine human shit. I can’t even take it personally, although I am disappointed to have to deal with it on a pretty Saturday morning, when I could be contentedly soaking in the hot tub with my Traveling Partner. We’ve both got baggage. We’re both quite human. We love each other dearly and still manage, now and then, to hurt each other’s feelings, frustrate each other, or treat each other less well than we’d ideally like to. There it is. Humans being human. There’s a lot of work that goes into doing that well. Results vary.

I breathe. Exhale. Let it go. Well…sort of. So I begin again, with a deep deep breathe, correcting my posture and sitting fully upright. I exhale slowly, patiently. I inhale, making a point to feel the compassion I feel for my very human self – and his. I exhale, feeling acceptance and love, and really releasing that frustrating tendency to take shit personally. I let it go. No attachment to the outcome. No requirement to “be” “right”. Open to enjoying the day. I inhale again, feeling my shoulders relax, aware of the minor headache at the back of my skull. I exhale, content and aware, hearing the sound of the A/C coming on, and taking in the sunshine through the window as it lights the neighbors house. I hold myself here, in this present moment, exactly as it is. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Repeat. This is my favorite meditation – breathing. Still. Awake. Aware. Quiet. Just sitting. Just breathing. Letting go of everything that is not this moment, here, now.

Search within; it’s closest.

Some moments pass. I don’t know how many. I feel some better. I feel vulnerable to being easily hurt (maybe just a problematic byproduct of yesterday’s stress). I think about my best options for good self-care. I think about how to make things right with my partner. I’d like us both to enjoy the day, whether he chooses to spend it in my company or not. I remind myself of an errand I had planned to run, and one he may still want me to handle (asking would be the thing to do in this instance).

…Anyway. It’s time to begin again. I don’t know what the day ahead holds. No expectations. No assumptions. Open to succeeding.

Sumos  are in season, again. I am delighted by the fragrance as I pull the peel away, revealing the whole fruit within. Pulling each segment from the fruit feels satisfying. The scent lingers on my fingers. Each sweet delicious bite seems as luscious as a fulfilled dream. I bite into another one, and relish the sweet-tart juice that bursts from it. Now this? This is a pleasant moment.

A juicy moment of joy.

I grin with pure delight, and take another bite. It’s a work day, and a busy one, but the busiest days seem far more productive, and I feel more purposeful and capable, when I practice good self-care. Today, that means a break to enjoy a delicious favorite citrus fruit, savoring each segment, and letting metaphors about fruits, and segments, and juice, fill my thoughts. A couple relaxed, deep, breaths, and I’m on with my day. It’s a good day. I blame it on my juice. 😉

This morning I woke ahead of the alarm clock, feeling rested. I did some yoga. I showered. Made coffee. Dressed for work. I hadn’t yet checked the weather, but so far “snow-pocalypse” has been fairly disappointing, and I wasn’t worried about the weather, because I arrived home last night prepared to work from home this morning. Instead of fussing about the weather, I took time for meditation, no timer. It was a lovely start to the morning.

(I still don’t know what the weather may be like, and still haven’t checked.)

Now, I am sipping my coffee and considering things. Mostly things I am grateful for. It’s not exactly “prayer” – but it isn’t entirely unlike prayer, I suppose. I’m not conscientiously cataloging gratitude-worthy moments, or events, or people, either. More like I’m allowing my thoughts to go where they wish, and as they do, I’m making a point to definitely feel gratitude for things that I happen to be grateful for. It’s an exercise in appreciate, in awareness, and in observation, and I feel lifted up every day that I do this particular practice.

(There’s so much in life to be grateful for.)

My coffee is precisely as I like it. I sip it with contentment, and wonder briefly why no other coffee really tastes quite like this first carefully crafted pour-over in the morning? I let that thought go, and welcome the next. One by one, they turn up, and then depart. Moments considered. It’s been a good week so far, and even my pain has been generally fairly well-managed, which tends to result in being in a “better mood” just as generally. It’s nice. I think about valued co-workers and some exceptionally satisfying positive interactions in this young new year. Promising. I mull over the past year of living with my Traveling Partner, and smile; it’s been delightful to enjoy so much of his company. I appreciate his presence. I think about practical details that are worthy candidates for gratitude, right down to the small details like doors that lock, indoor plumbing, refrigeration, and electric lights; life would be different – very different – without those. I take a moment to appreciate connectivity, and then to appreciate the vast improvement in my day-to-day experience that resulted from giving up social media; those experiences exist side-by-side in a meaningful way, and there’s something to be learned from that, beyond this moment. I sit quietly, absorbed in my thoughts, suffused with a feeling of contentment.

(I allow myself to be distracted by the clock on my monitor for an instant.)

My seamless fabric of grateful musing begins to unravel with distractions. I haven’t put on earrings. My coffee is almost cold – and almost finished. Will I drive or take the train today? Will it actually snow? I wonder what we’ll have for dinner tonight? I wonder if there are “any cool shows on” tonight? I haven’t put on perfume. Did I actually brush my hair? Is my backpack ready for the day? I didn’t forget my laptop or hub, did I? Did I manage not to wake my partner while I dressed? I wonder if today will be sunny? How is my author friend doing? Or that one DJ friend of mine? Or the friend with a new baby? Should I get back in the habit of writing paper letters, and hand-drawing and water-coloring note cards? Oh, I already finished my coffee… I wonder who will be elected president this next time? Shit, the world’s going to hell so fast, it seems like. Where shall we go out for “date night” next time? Oh, hey, what time is it, now?

(I notice the endless possible distractions have lead me far from mindfulness and contentment. I take a deep breath, and another. I exhale. I relax. I bring myself back to now, and begin again.)

The heat comes on, reminding me of the cold morning temperatures beyond these windows and walls. I breathe deeply. I sit quietly. I’m not asking anything extraordinary of myself in this moment, just to be here, now, awake, aware, and listening, observing the world around me. I feel relaxed and contented. Calm. I experience this as a state of readiness, without agitation, or hyper-vigilance, simply present in this moment. I give myself over to a few minutes of simply being present and aware, without any agenda or concerns. It’s a good foundation for the busy work day ahead. I look at the clock. It’s definitely time to begin again. 🙂

I enjoyed my recent days of camping quite a lot. I went alone into the forest, and I spent my hours and days in solitude. It was lovely. I went out figuring that the primary activity would be, with fair certainty, a lot of hiking. I was so wrong about what I needed (and possibly, also about “who I am” in some sense). I spent by far the majority of my time simply sitting in quiet meditation – no real “activity”, at all – gazing into the leaves, and into the sky, and through the forest, into the trees.

The perspective I had been seeking turned out to be, generally, very near where I had pitched my tent.

I mean, sure, I put some miles on these boots, no question, more than 5 miles a day, on lovely trails, some shaded, some sunny, and enjoyed each step, and each new observation.

Each step along this path has been worthy in it’s own distinct way, although I don’t always see it at the time I take the step, and the way ahead is not always obvious.

I returned home aware that in any practical regard, what I was seeking turned out to be something I took into the forest with me. It’s built on my every day meditation practice. It was much more obvious, after a few days of any-time-at-all-no-timer-no-clock meditation practice that what I was feeling in the weeks leading up to my camping trip was, perhaps more than anything else, simply that my practice had become inconsistent day-to-day, and I had begun choosing to use my time quite differently, while allowing myself to feel I was “still practicing” (well, sure, in a hit or miss, “only most days, sort of, but not always” sort of way) – and the practical reality was, in fact, that I wasn’t practicing with the consistency that is very much a feature of practice, itself. Well, damn.

…I’d love to enthusiastically chime in, right about here, with something wholly encouraging about “beginning again”, and while, yes, sure, that’s a thing I have going for me, any time, the truth is also that I rather annoyingly allowed myself to be bamboozled by my monkey-mind, always so eager to embrace the next distraction. A “simple” course-correction on this path still requires a healthy dose of verbs, something beyond intention, real decision-making, commitment, and oh, right, following that? Action. Repetition. Practice. (You know, the doing kind of practice!) I smile with some patience and familiarity; I’ve been here before. I’m entirely made of human. 🙂

I sip my coffee contentedly, this morning. Meditation wasn’t “easy”, this morning; getting up from the cushion was difficult with my right arm still partially impaired by my recent injury. It was a weird and irritating counterpoint to the pleasantness of meditation, itself, and a reminder of the value of self-awareness for practical purposes. Life lesson? Succinctly? “Slow down. Take the time you need. Approach each task mindfully, committed to, and present in, this moment.” Yep. This is me; learning as I go, repeating each lesson as needed. LOL

I take a moment for gratitude, and thoughts of blue skies, green forests, and summer sunrises – because the value in such moments goes beyond what I can capture in a photograph. 🙂

I take a last swallow of my coffee, as I consider how best to make room for 10 minutes of meditation during my work day, too. I’m certain of the value in it, although I’ve been less than skilled about making the time materialize in my day. I return to the office with a measure of commitment to it that I’ve previously lacked, and thoughts of opening the idea up to my team; we’d likely all benefit from a moment to collect our thoughts, each day, if nothing else.

…And…oh, hey… already time to begin again. 😀