Archives for posts with tag: meditation

I finished the work day at long last, satisfied to have gotten quite a lot done. I worked from home due to snowy weather.

I wandered the house feeling disconnected, distracted, and wholly unsettled for some minutes, feeling uncertain of what, if anything, I might do with myself that wasn’t somehow still working. It was a challenge to disengage from thinking about work. I had a similar challenge in the morning; it was on my mind when I woke, and I got started early as a result… since I was working from home anyway. Not my healthiest choice, I admit.

I restarted the evening with meditation. I still find myself feeling a bit restless, even now, some time later. My tinnitus seems louder than usual. I take a deep breath and a moment to really “hear myself think”, in the sense of actually paying attention – my entire attention – on how I am feeling, for just a moment. Slow things down. Breathe. Relax. I already know I can’t chase what I’m after and reach it – it is more correct to say I would do well to stop everything, and allow it to catch up to me. So it goes. My restless monkey mind benefits from meditation, but this evening it wasn’t enough to go through the motions of my meditation practice. I also really need to keep coming back to this moment, here. I need to really listen, to myself.

No matter how often I look behind me (or around me) and see things I want to change, and no matter how often I look ahead to what I want to achieve, it’s this moment here, now, that I’ve got to work with. πŸ™‚

I set off with a smile, to begin again.

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 notΒ “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.Β 

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. πŸ™‚

I notice my coffee is finished. The clock advances the day minute by minute and it’s time to participate. πŸ™‚ 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. πŸ™‚

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. πŸ™‚

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.

What a peculiar few days (couple of weeks?) it has been. I haven’t done anything particularly noteworthy… I go to work. I return home. I meditate. I read. I do just enough yoga to continue to use all my joints. I do just enough housekeeping to stay mostly fairly tidy. I don’t feel mired in sorrow, or at all blue. I’m just dealing with more pain than usual. It takes a lot out of me. I feel less like going anywhere or doing anything, once I’ve managed to put a work day behind me. Weekends aren’t much different; more meditation, more reading, no work of the employment sort, lots more squirrels, still managing pain.

I miss my Traveling Partner, but I am glad I’ve taken the time to get rested. I’m even, generally, sleeping (mostly) through the nights, and getting to bed at an hour that ensures I’ve gotten adequate rest. It’s something. Right now, it’s enough. Clearly I’ve been needing the rest. I’ve even finally gotten entirely over all of whatever contagious crud has been going around. Other than the pain I am often in, I feel pretty good. πŸ™‚

I sip my coffee. The weather seems already inclined to turn toward spring. I’ve begun carrying the new camera with me everywhere. I look ahead to the weekend, another on which I will be generally at home. I’ve brunch plans Saturday with a friend that will take me an hour across town – which, these days, hardly seems like a drive at all. lol I’ve got a ticket to a concert Saturday night.Β In between those, regularly planned time hanging out with another friend. Busy Saturday. Sunday looks like a good day for rest and laundry – or a hike! If the weather holds up, Sunday could be a lovely day to take the camera on her first outing into the trees down some near-ish trail. A plan begins to take shape.Β  πŸ˜€

I smile into my coffee as I take a moment to recognize I’ve probably been quite slowed down just by the fact that it is winter – that’s a thing, it happens to all kinds of creatures, our seasonal clocks don’t all affect us the same way. I don’t consider myself someone with any sort of profound seasonal affective symptoms, but I am still a mammal, a primate, a living creature with circadian rhythms, and it is still winter. πŸ™‚

…I’ve got a plan to begin again. This morning, that’s enough. πŸ™‚