Archives for posts with tag: MBSR

I went to bed without setting the alarm, figuring I’d be unlikely to sleep very late, but would certainly benefit from a restful natural sleep, waking up… whenever. I can’t overstate the luxury in that experience (for me), particularly if my sleep is good quality. 🙂 It was fairly early, and I expected to read a bit, perhaps, then sleep.

…I never even touched my Kindle. lol

I woke gently. Still dark. I rolled over thinking I would return to sleep, and realized I also had to pee. I laid there in the darkness a few minutes, just sort of waiting to see what my state of wakefulness would really prove to be. Would I just fall asleep in a moment? Would I drift restlessly in and out of a dream? Nope. This morning, I laid there quite awake, content, and calm. So I checked the time. 5:15 am. Nice. Something like sleeping in, nothing too late, definitely not early. Win and good.

I get up. Adjust the thermostat for “awake”. Turn on the espresso machine. The aquarium lights are still off… strange…

I am standing in the kitchen, lights on, starting my coffee, and I glance up at the kitchen clock. 3:24.

3:24?

Damn it. Without my glasses, vision still a bit blurry, in the dim light, sure, a 3 could be misread as a 5 in a great many fonts. Shit. I’m totally awake now. I think ahead to the late night I’ve got planned. Omg. LOL No real option to go back to bed (seriously? I am totally awake)… in a couple hours I’ll be on the highway. By midday I’ll be so thoroughly caffeinated that a nap won’t be possible. Well, hell. I feel myself start to become irritated by this situation.

I found myself rather naturally pausing to consider the morning differently – and this is a change in behavior in comparison to say, 3 years ago – and I make a point of recalling how delicious waking up actually felt. How rested I feel. How entirely awake I was before I ever got out of bed. How comfortable I am right now (relatively pain-free in most regards). I sip my coffee and smile. The coffee is good, too. Good night’s rest. Pleasant (if early) morning. Good cup of coffee. What’s to be irritated about? In fact, my irritation has already dissipated, and instead I am simply enjoying the start to my weekend.

Apparently, I have become less reactive over time, more emotionally resilient, more able to gain and maintain a sense of contentment and perspective, and less need to be attached to specific outcomes. I enjoy this change. I enjoy it enough to take time to really appreciate how far I’ve come.

I’m entirely made of human, of course, and as soon as my news feeds begin to push content into my brain via face holes, I ride that media-driven roller-coaster for a few minutes of internal sass and sarcasm; I’m not reading the articles this morning, merely replying to the headlines, to myself. LOL It goes a little something like this:

Me: Something should.

Or…

Me: Well, yeah… he’s definitely a more professional news source than Fox. LOL

There is, most mornings, no real point in actually opening some of these articles; the headlines are bait. I try not to be baited. lol It quickly becomes a game, and once again, my sense of balance and contentment are restored. 😀

The clock ticks on. My leisurely morning may have started early, but it is a busy day ahead of travel to get to the home place, and there’s plenty to do. I think I’ll get started on that. 🙂

It’s a lovely morning for a new beginning. It’s a beautiful day to change the world – I’ll start with my thinking, an excellent starting point for beginning or changing things. 😀

Expectations and assumptions are a fast track to some shitty experiences in life. Most people move through their experience seemingly unaware, much of the time, that the outcome they are railing against is built, in part, on their implicit expectations, unexpressed emotions, and unverified assumptions. It’s so easy to make up the larger part of what we think we know, entirely in our own heads, of bits and pieces we’ve cobbled together from fragments of awareness, something we heard, and things we think we recall reading. It’s not an ideal approach to living well, I think.

Maintaining a comfortable awareness of the vastness of all that I just don’t actually know is something I practice. Seems worthwhile; I tend to be less annoyed with people as a result, generally. I tend to cry a lot less. I don’t feel so hurt, so often. I enjoy the day-to-day of life as a human primate a great deal more without attempting to do so leaning into the disappointments that are so inevitable when I’m holding on to carefully crafted expectations and assumptions.

…I still have nightmares that seem to be about nothing besides uncertainty, itself. (Fucking hell, even many of my nightmares are weirdly meta) I dislike being uncertain – and I’m grateful to have learned at some point that the opposite of “uncertainty” is not “feeling very certain of the made up narrative in my head”. lol (Because it isn’t that, at all, emotionally; the opposite of uncertainty is being comfortable with not knowing.)

I chuckle to myself and sip my coffee. I don’t actually know that stuff, either. I’m guessing, maybe, or coasting on new assumptions and a different understanding of things, until those also fall to a failed attempt to check them against reality. Cycles of growth and learning. Incremental change over time. The understanding of life and love that met my needs at a teenager, are unlikely to be at all similar to my understanding of life and love as a growth woman past 50, and will also be, most probably, quite different from those I’ll have as a woman of 90.

I’m okay not knowing. I avoid tempting myself with guessing to fill in the blanks – definitely where people are concerned. We are each having our own experience. We filter our understanding of the world through our limited lens of that experience, framed in the context of our fears, and whatever lingering childhood brainwashing we’ve hung on to over the years. We are each so similar. So human. We have much to share with one another. Stories to tell. Trails to walk. Lessons to teach and to learn.

It’s Friday. A busy work day. Another doctor’s appointment. A long weekend ahead. A trip down to see my Traveling Partner for a couple days, and hang out where love lives, watching the shadows on the mountain shift, and the many tiny chickadees picking between the gravel of the drive. It’s been a couple weeks, and although I definitely needed the break from the frequent trips down, and time to really rest and also care for my current residence, I have missed being there. 

Each trip down to the The Place Where Love Lives feels a little more like “real life” and less like being a welcomed guest, which is lovely. I make a point each trip to find some new way to feel more at home, to be more appropriately prepared for life there, and inevitably I leave a bit more of my heart behind when I return to The Place Where I Live, myself. This time I am taking art down with me. 🙂

I notice my coffee is finished. The clock advances the day minute by minute and it’s time to participate. 🙂 Enjoy the weekend! (Hell, I think this weekend, I’ll even write…)

Eat less or exercise? Personally, I have to do both. It’s non-negotiable. If I get less exercise, still keep my caloric intake well-managed (and low) and eat healthy food, I gain weight anyway. If I get plenty of exercise, but make poor nutritional choices, I also gain weight. If I eat a poor quality diet, don’t manage my calories closely, and also don’t get sufficient exercise, I not only gain weight, I gain a lot of weight, and I pack on the pounds fast. Some medications cause me to gain weight, too; that’s something I reliably find out the hard way. So… eat less or exercise? I don’t get to choose, I’ve got to do both. 🙂

There are quite a few things in life that we sometimes get snared viewing as a choice between options, when, actually, it’s a choice to change, or not to change; all the options involving change may be required to make change occur in the direction we’d specifically like to see. Real-life doesn’t tend to negotiate with our whims.

Emotion, and the skillful management and expression of strong emotion, specifically, has some things in common here, with a twist; incremental change over time is super slow, but our emotions jump to the head of any queue, lead every moment, and arrive to every party too early. So sure, it’s reasonable, and true, for someone mid-freak out to have the recognition and understanding that their experience is based on “irresistible” internal forces beyond their immediate control; strong emotion, particularly powerful emotions like rage, frustration, and sorrow, can erupt from within us, sweeping over us, taking away our sense of control, and eventually leading to regrettable words and actions. The “I’m sorry”s begin to pile up (if you are that decent sort who regrets treating others badly). So do the rationalizations (about hormones, childhoods, provocation, circumstances…).

It’s also quite true that our behavior is a choice. Yes, all of it. Yes, pretty much all the time, every time. The first time someone lashes out with an act of violence, they might get by with “I didn’t know” or an expression of astonishment that they could be provoked to that point, but second times? Third times? Times that occur after someone – anyone – has pointed out that’s not okay? Yeah, those are choices. Yielding to strong emotion and relinquishing control over behavior is a choice (unless maybe you are profoundly mentally ill and urgently in need of inpatient treatment). Well, if that’s also true, is everyone who ever treated a loved one poorly, or punched a wall, or lashed out with horrible words deeply mentally ill and urgently in need of treatment? Some of them probably are! Most of them likely are not. That they are choosing such behaviors is still a choice, and they could choose differently, and no you can’t “make them” change, and omg – if they decide to change themselves, that is a process that can be infernally slow, fraught will failures, and varying results.

…And before we can change ourselves through our willful choices in the direction of being our best selves, we actually need to 1. be aware that we would like to be other than we are, and 2. understand that change is possible, chosen, and must be practiced. It’s a lot to hold onto. It’s a lot of work. The practice has to come ahead of the need to be changed. It’s necessary both to feel, and to practice our best behavior under the stress of an “emotional load”. We’ve got to do both. It’s work that will have to be done in the face of real-time failures, disappointed frustrated loved ones, relationships that don’t make it through the process, friendships that end because it turns out some of them were invested in what is being changed. It’s work that is continuous and ongoing. Change is a verb – and you have choices.

Another school shooting. I read about it and can’t help but wonder where so many people have gotten the idea that their anger, disappointment, frustration, or any other emotional experience, entitles them to take a life – any life. Where did that come from? How long has this toxic seed been part of our culture? Did the shooter understand this is unacceptable behavior? If he did understand that, and chose to do it anyway, where did he get the idea that this is a course of action appropriate to his emotional experience? Why do so few people understand what poison their “righteous anger” actually is? Even otherwise good-hearted people can be drawn into making the most outrageously hateful statements about the value of another life (don’t read the comments on the internet, People, I’m just saying there’s an astonishing amount of rationalized hate out there), given the opportunity to frame that other human being as a bad guy of some kind. We most commonly succumb to hate due to a lack of empathy… I don’t know how to fix that for the world, or my nation. I’m still working on it for me – one practice at a time. Changing myself is within my control; I have choices.

Time to begin again.

My mind rarely really rests. When I sleep I often dream vividly, rich in detail, color, emotion, and confusingly real-seeming. When I am awake, driving, shopping, handling some task or another, I am often also “writing” poetry or blog posts – that rarely see publication, having inconveniently become more than my limited memory buffer can store. It’s a continuous internal lecture or conversation with myself. Pause a human being in front of me, chances are I will, at some point, begin to do something rather like attempting to make conversation, but with such high risk of becoming a monologue that eventually, I am likely just chattering away without purpose or focus, or worthy content, even if I actually wanted to sit and read quietly, or work. Not talking when I don’t want to talk requires practice.

I like living alone for something besides the “solitude” (which can, I admit, occasionally become lonely); I like it for the “cognitive stillness” and emotional ease. I like it for the cognitive rest I am now able to get, at least now and then, with so much less work to reach that quiet place.

I have a pretty firm, well-established meditation practice. Meditation has helped me build emotional resilience, a calm “center” I can return to with relative ease, and a certain chill something or other which has made life considerably more pleasant, less volatile, less chaotic, and enduringly characterized by contentment. I don’t know that I would call myself “happy”; it’s not a word I’m so prone to using, at all, these days. It’s a mental magic trick that makes more people unhappy than happy to be focused on the pursuit of that elusive beast as a goal, so I stopped doing that. I don’t “pursue” contentment either; I build it. I build it sustainably on healthier choices, and healthier practices. I have been regularly surprised by how much of the forward progress has been entirely dependent on my own decision making, and my own actions.

Meditation did not “cure” my PTSD, or “fix” my injured brain. Meditation is, however, a reliably good practice for improving my day-to-day experience of my life, and that’s enough heavy lifting for one practice, surely. 🙂

It’s a busy brain, broken or not. I wrote 3, maybe 4, really fantastic blog posts in the past 24 hours – in my head. Catchy titles, engaging and amusing openers, fanciful plays on words with layered meaning… gone at the next annoying intersection, or distracting other moment. lol I woke with a completed utterly beautiful bit of poetry in my head at 3 am, got up to pee, forgot what I was thinking on my way back to bed. This morning, upon waking for the day, I have only the recollection that it ever existed at all still remaining. I play “Tribute” in tribute, and giggle over my coffee; these moments of creativity, lost, forgotten, omitted, or overwritten, litter my life experience. I can’t take them personally after so long. lol

A new day begins. So do I. Another day to write, to love, to feel, to practice – to live.

Wow. I suck at writing in the evenings. I mean, I apparently don’t approach the matter with the same rigid commitment, or discipline, or…? Whatever it is that drives me to write before dawn is clearly lacking. lol Perhaps, there’s more of other stuff that tends to redirect my attention to the living of life versus the consideration of all of the many details that could go into doing so, for the purpose of committing a handful of words on the subject to a text box, online?

I write less in the evening, but in making the observation, I find myself also wondering if that were the point, in the first place? More may not be better…or… even at all good or worthwhile, and potentially just… time-consuming. lol It’s not about a word count, to the point that someone else once had to point out to me that I’d begun writing such long posts they’d discontinued reading them. (I don’t think that resulted in my changing my writing style as much as simply alerting me that I’d likely lose a few readers. I write, generally, very much the way I talk. 😀 ) Still, I’d much rather write when I feel most inspired, and write about things that matter most to me in some way that is meaningful or revealing or… somehow worthwhile to have taken the time to jot it all down.

The oven beeps to let me know it is pre-heated. I pause and stick dinner in the oven (a foil packet of veggies chopped into bite sized pieces, cubed meat – the type varies – some seasonings, a drizzle of olive oil, and stuff it in the oven for about an hour at 400 degrees; it isn’t fancy, but it’s easy, tasty, and requires little further attention). I take a deep deep breath and relax as I return to my writing. I notice my boots are still on, and suddenly they feel confining. I remove them. I’m not really following a set routine, lately, in the way I am most comfortable, and small distractions like boots, dinner, my hair falling in my face, the buzz of a message notification on a silenced ringer, really throw me off and I feel disorganized and unskilled at enjoying the evening. It’s comical in the abstract, frustrating in real life…but, and this still feels rather odd to me, I’m not particularly freaked out by either the frustration, or the feeling of being disorganized and unskilled, which is pretty cool. Incremental change over time. 😀

I look at the words with a weird feeling, realizing that at some point real lasting emotional and mental wellness may overtake me – will I stop writing? I mean, stop writing this, here, a blog about feeling my way through life’s chaos and damage in the relative darkness, and hoping to improve on my experience ever so slightly, in increments, over time, using borrowed wisdom, meditation, and mindfulness practices? Will I have anything to say, generally? Will I, instead, seek to enjoy my contentment silently as life’s evening light fades gently over time?

…I burst out laughing out loud when I realize I’m basically wondering what the future holds. lol Definitely a question for which I have no answers. The future is… out there somewhere, as yet unformed, to be built on a matrix of my choices and yours, and coincidence and circumstances, and tricks of our thinking, filtered through what we think we understand. Yeah. I have nothing for that one besides the awareness that if I’m fortunate, I’ll get to see it. 😀 What happens after that? I’m no help there either. I don’t know at all. Maybe we begin again? 😉