Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness for beginners

It’s a Saturday morning. I am awake early. I make a delicious cup of coffee, and later a couple of eggs, prepared simply, with a bit of olive oil and some salt and pepper. I feel content and satisfied. I scroll through my feeds; too many memes and shares, not enough original content. I move on. I do some self-study on topics currently most interesting to me. I take time to meditate.

I feel good.

I think about these things before I sit down to write. I consider how routinely I “begin again” and how often I suggest it as a great practice, recognizing what I’m really saying is something as elementary as “don’t beat yourself up over that, just start over”, which is less succinct, and less likely to become clear programming. I find myself wondering if that’s really enough to be at all helpful for friends or readers who haven’t yet tried a new beginning in that sense that I mean, and don’t quite know what to do with that moment of transition between the end/consequence of the one moment, and the fresh-start newness of the next.

I drink my coffee and mull that over. Is it a complicated question? “How to Begin Again” doesn’t seem the sort of thing that would, generally, require explicit instruction… but… I already know I’m wrong about that, a lot. So…

  1. Step one, well, I guess something’s gotta end, or be completed, or fail horribly leaving us feeling wretched and lost, or at loose ends, or puzzled, or discontent, or… Yeah. I guess step one has to be the end of something or other. Let’s start there. πŸ™‚
  2. Now begin again.

Okay, okay. I’m being a smart ass, and a bit flippant, and maybe that’s not appropriate for you, in your circumstances, right at the moment? Got it. I’ll… begin again.

  1. Let’s go ahead and still start with something that ends. πŸ™‚ A circumstance, a moment, an experience – and hey, maybe that’s your “now”, right now, and it hasn’t ended yet, and you’re really quite unhappy and miserable and feeling beat down by life, or overcome by ennui or sorrow, or frustration… damn. That sucks. Let’s step 2 the hell out of that, shall we?
  2. Breathe. No kidding. Take a moment and just get some wholesome cleansing deep breaths. Let that other shit go, just for a moment or two at least? Surely that’s fine? It’s a choice. Take a moment for you, and just breathe.
  3. Even while allowing yourself to consider what has passed, whether success or failure, however miserable, worried, or anxious, please also work on letting go of your attachment to the specific outcome, and let go of any expectations you were holding on to. Let yourself have a clean slate on this – it’ll be okay to do that, I assure you. πŸ™‚ The map is not the world, and clinging to an understanding of an experience or circumstance can definitely color your future experience and decision-making.
  4. Go ahead and feel your feelings. Yep. Feel ’em. Emotions are not the bad guys here, and we can develop a less reactive, more awareness-based approach to our emotional life. Finding balance between emotion and reason is a very nice bonus to all this practicing. πŸ™‚
  5. Still breathing? You’ll want to keep that going, generally. πŸ™‚
  6. If you are wanting to literally re-start whatever you just failed at, now’s the time, perhaps, to consider what success really looks like – and maybe also ask yourself some questions about why you view it that way? Is that your own legitimate authentic honest assessment, or have you borrowed someone else’s opinion’s or values there? Please consider usingΒ  your own. πŸ™‚ (Much easier to succeed in life when you are pursuing your own goals.)
  7. Make a plan. Oh, I know – an ever-loving fuck-ton of you, out there, are not planners at all. I’m not saying a word about whether or not you execute a specific plan. I am most definitely suggesting that you still sketch out some sort of loose notion of what you want to get done, even if it’s only in your head, and even if you follow through completely differently. When we feel prepared, our stress level in life is generally lower. Just saying. Think it through. Consider your next steps, and your goal. Consider alternate outcomes – a lot of them. Be okay with as many of those as you are able to allow yourself to be. Consider how those alternate outcomes may also be quite okay, maybe in totally different ways. (Some people might call this “daydreaming”, but it can be done very productively.)
  8. Allow yourself to acknowledge what is and has gone well. Contemplate for some moments all manner of similar experiences or circumstances or events or relationships that have turned out quite well, based on your choices in the past. Consider them. Savor these memories of success and sort of “fill up your consciousness” with the things in life that you appreciate, and have turned out quite nicely.
  9. Still breathing? Don’t forget to breathe.
  10. Now’s the time. Whatever it is, take another lovely deep relaxed breath, recognize and enjoy your humanity, and be aware that through our challenges is our path to growth; we don’t learn much from our successes, or the easy wins in life. We don’t become stronger by way of experiences that don’t test our strength. We can’t fathom the depths of our capacity for joy or love without also experiencing the weight of our pain and sorrow.
  11. Ready? Do the thing. ❀ (All sorts of different steps and verbs go with this one, obviously. You get to choose those; that’s on you.)

I still think it’s fine to just… start with step 1 and finish with a step 2… but… I’ve been practicing for a while, and at this point, it does feel pretty natural to sort of cram all the rest of that between them. LOL

I smile and think about this journey of mine, and how far I’ve come from that hurt creature uncertain life is worth living… that was only… 5 years ago. The world isn’t really a “better place” than it was then, in most regards, and actually, it seems a bit worse, in a number of ways. Still… I feel better, about the world, about myself, about my life, about my ability to love and to heal and to nurture, and to make wise choices. I treat myself, generally, reliably well. I treat others better than I was ever able to before – or knew how to do. Strange to consider how all this progress has been built on so many small beginnings.

Home from work. Long, busy, fairly productive day. Unfinished tasks. Minor stressors. A society in decline – or at a minimum, exceedingly public and uncomfortable turmoil. Major stressors. Rainy. Chilly. Arthritis pain. I make a trip through the house adjusting things: thermostat, Giftmas tree lights, set the oven to pre-heat to make dinner, this light, that light, tidy this up, move a thing from one location to another, boots off, jacket hung up. Routine.

I sit down and find myself faced with the world, filtered through the Internet. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t count, in any way, as “down time” – or pleasant. So… maybe not, then? I close social media tabs. I close my email. I close the news. I sit quietly for a moment listening to the commuter traffic on the busy street beyond my window.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling my shoulders slowly drop to a more natural posture. I pull myself more fully upright, and feel that lessen my arthritis pain, somewhat.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, feeling the chill of the room diminish as the heat runs. I make a point to acknowledge colder circumstances with fewer resources and less privilege, when I would not have had the luxury of just turning up the heat at the end of the work day. I enjoy the warmth of being aware how grateful I am to have heat at home. It’s very much worth a moment to appreciate these circumstances.

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly, content with the simple meal now prepared, and in the oven. I feel hopeful that the headache lingering since afternoon will diminish after a nutritious meal, and chide myself gently for overlooking lunch.

I take a deep breath and let it out – and just smile, sitting for a moment with the awareness of how fortunate I am, generally. I let the moment fill my thoughts with pleasant recollections: things that worked today, clear communications well-received, completed tasks, satisfied consumers, work well-done, a pleasant commute home, that ping during the day from my Traveling Partner just saying he loves and misses me, the beautiful view from the window nearest my desk at work. A feeling of contentment and relaxation slowly builds.

I take another breath.

I take another breath.

I pause to feel a moment of gratitude for breath itself, for the chance to go on breathing, to recognize and really enjoy having survived so much, to be here, now, to enjoy (versus endure) the life I live.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. πŸ™‚

Another morning. Another day. Another opportunity to change what isn’t comfortable, or doesn’t suit my needs over time. Another moment to be present. Another chance to choose wisely, and to begin again.

Honestly, it’s also just a Wednesday. πŸ˜‰

I take a deep breath, and relax. Life is exceedingly busy right now, almost unpleasantly so, although still manageable. Uncomfortable at times. Other times intensely rewarding. Goals, and plans carefully made, achievements within reach, and strange unexpected twists in circumstance sending other whole towers of carefully built plans cascading down into… just memories of plans. Life.

I sip my coffee. I’m back to carefully crafted pour overs after a summer of chilled infused cold brew in cans. lol. More frugal? Hardly – well-selected, locally roasted coffee beans are still a bit of a luxury, honestly, aren’t they? Hell, generally, coffee beans aren’t even sold by the pound any more; 12 oz is the standard bag size now, and it’s easy enough to spend $20 for 12 oz of coffee. More for something really special. Commonplace to spend $15 for 12 oz of whole bean coffee. I could, instead, choose a 30 oz can of some name brand, pre-ground, medium roast finely ground coffee manufactured for a very consistent reliably modestly awful drip coffee experience for less than $7. The difference in price per cup is pretty staggering. It’s 60 cups of potentially great coffee, compared to 180 cups of potentially (definitely) not-as-great coffee, but the difference in how those experiences compare isn’t actually about the money at all. A rushed expensive latte handed through a drive-through window is both costly, and also far less likely to deliver a noteworthy moment, than a fairly terrible cup of bad drip coffee taken in a quiet place, present, and able to immerse myself in a moment of contemplation and contentment. It’s not about the money. Really. It’s time to let that shit go.

Choose your experiences wisely.

Take time for moments that matter. Pause to reflect.

Morning coffee as a metaphor for choices? Every day. πŸ˜‰

Today I’ll make my choices in a thoughtful way. It’s time to begin again.

I woke up at 4:00 am. I didn’t need to. It was even my thought to simply return to bed after getting up to pee and getting a drink of water… but that turned into feeling a bit warm, and standing in the cool open patio doorway for a few minutes, which became turning on the aquarium light, which became checking my phone for messages “just real quick”, which became a question about whether it was worthwhile to just stay up at that point… and… unsurprisingly, I stayed up. I attempted to negotiate with the inevitability of it by staying in my most comfy clothes… by not turning on the grinder for hot coffee and just grabbing a can of cold brew… by not turning on more media… none of any of that actually changes the circumstances at this point. I got up at 4:00 am on a fucking Sunday morning on which I was very much looking forward to sleeping in… and I feel alert and rested. lol

It seems a good morning to practice “non-attachment”. In this case, directing that practice toward my “plan” for the day, which is already utterly irrelevant, since no single element of any of the original planning for this day has remained untouched by events and decision-making that followed that planning. lol Fuck it. Free fall through the day? Thanks, I shall. πŸ™‚ I’m getting better at enjoying the planning without remaining attached to the plan. It’s a powerful approach. It still takes quite a bit of practice. I have no idea what the day holds, though, so getting attached to the outcome would just build a foundation for disappointment, frustration, and drama, and I frankly don’t really value any of that, so… Non-attachment, then? Yep. Indeed.

The weekend with my Traveling Partner has been splendid. Whether he’ll be around today, also, remains an unknown; we both have work this week. If it were me, I’d be on the road headed back before daylight, today, to give myself time to “get settled” and “prepare for the week”. We’re different people. Our approach to life is quite individual. Instead of getting wound up with wondering, I let that go, too. It doesn’t actually matter much; if he’s here, I’ll enjoy his presence. Once he goes, he won’t be here to enjoy. Either way, I’ll roll with it. πŸ™‚

I smile and sip my very early morning coffee. Soon enough, I can make choices that affect the day ahead. Soon enough, really any time I choose, I can begin again. πŸ™‚

Yesterday was a good one. Productive at work, minimum hassles, an easy commute in both directions, a comfortably chill evening that was also an evening on which I got a few things done; it was lovely.

I sit sipping my coffee and considering it, smiling, feeling content. It’s not that it’s some specific requirement to give yesterday more time, today; it’s just a great practice to make time to savor good moments. Doing so regularly has the power to slowly rewire my brain to be more easily able to bounce back from stress, to live in the context of implicit recollection (and limited certainty) that more difficult moments will be quite temporary, and that life is, generally, good. I have found it a highly effective practice, and along with practicing explicit willful gratitude, it is a practice that has taken me a long way from those dark days, well behind me now, of being mired in past trauma and present stress.

The day begin most delightfully with a ludicrously easy commute. I hit all the lights green. There just wasn’t anyone in front of me. It was… relaxed. There was that big full moon in the sky. It was quite pleasant and utterly stress free. I got into the office, got the work day started, and noticed that big beautiful moon sinking low over the city. I made time for that moment, right then and there, and alerted a camera-toting coworker of the opportunity to grab a couple cool city shots, each of us, sharing that experience with each other. It was fun. A great way to take a break.

One lovely moment. One beautiful city.

The day continued from that point, a series of moments, a series of opportunities, a series of choices. It was a very good day. The evening, and even the commute home, was equally pleasant, and, yes, productive. I managed to get a few things done before yielding to fatigue and arthritis pain, and those things were more merely the end of a day, than any hardship. Balance. It was… worth remembering. πŸ™‚

So, I sit here with my coffee smiling. One nice thing about such an extraordinarily pleasant day? I experienced that, which means it can occur, and if it can occur, and has occurred at least once previously, it could occur again, making it all quite possible. I like that idea. πŸ™‚ It wholly undermines that annoying experience that is characteristic of despair – the feeling that nothing good can come of anything we say or do, and that only bad outcomes truly exist, and well, fuck… then why bother, at all, it’s only misery and more misery, anyway? Yeah. Not pleasant. Also – not true. πŸ˜€ I can do better.

I notice the time. I finish my coffee. The day awaits, and it is time to begin again. πŸ˜€