Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness for beginners

I definitely “feel 53” this morning. I’m okay with that; I am 53. 🙂 The show last night was amazing. It was not really “a concert” or.. well… it was a fantastical stage production centering around music, themed on Alice in Wonderland, attended by beings willing to suspend expectations of the ordinary for a night and just… go with it. A needed, and worthy, break from the routine. There were dancers, jugglers, performance artists of several sorts, and painters practicing their craft live, to massive fabulous bass-y beats. It was quite wonderful. I got home very late, and I had planned and prepared for this to be the case… but, there were verbs involved, choices made, and of course today I begin again.

Down the Rabbit Hole 2017 at the Crystal Ballroom

My ears are ringing like crazy. I took ear plugs with me, and when I wasn’t on the dance floor, had a comfortable vantage point from the balcony of the historic theater venue – my ears are still ringing. Experience suggests my tinnitus will be a mild impairment for at least today, then fading into the background to exist as a mild persistent distraction once again. I’m tired. I can look at the number of hours that I slept and figure I’ve “gotten enough sleep”, but I feel groggy, and inclined to return to bed – but I won’t sleep now that I’m awake and consciousness is filled with morning sunshine. I hurt all over. As I think about that, my pain worsens. That’s a practical detail worthy of consideration; if I make my pain my focus, it becomes the most important thing in my awareness, and thereby becomes more prominent. I take a deep breath and let it go; it doesn’t stop me hurting altogether, but seems to reduce the magnitude somewhat.

Why all the bitching? I smile and sip my coffee, because I know something about me and this peculiar singular journey that is my experience; when I know where I am, I am more easily able to move on from that place. The challenge is to make the observation without making the observed detail a theme, or the focus of my experience, when it is something painful, uncomfortable, or perceivably “negative”. It’s worth remembering, too, that this also opens the door to more willfully lingering over, and savoring, the nurturing, delightful, pleasant, and uplifting experiences – deliberating shifting gears to make those a focus of my experience, or a theme, results in useful changes in implicit biases. The bitching, in this case, is structured and part of a process with a clear point. (Thanks cognitive science!)

A welcome seat with a decent view; the lamp included in the shot because it’s pretty cool, also. lol

I think over the high points of the evening… dancing with my Traveling Partner (we attended with another friend)… the music… the wow factor of the varied costumes of both the performers and the attendees… soaking in the lights, the scene, the wonder… finding a good seat with an unobstructed view that remained mine more or less all evening (even though I left it and returned several times)… losing track of my partner and his friend in the crowd and dancing dancing dancing through and among and around thinking I would eventually find them, and losing myself in the music instead (I found them when I returned to my seat! lol).

Sold out show.

My tinnitus fades into the background as I linger over the recollections of the evening. My back aches less. I forget that I’m rather amusingly sitting here with noise cancelling headphones on… but not playing any sounds. Going back to bed still sounds pretty nice… My eye wanders to the list of household chores I had planned to do today, from the vantage point of yesterday morning… I chuckle rather merrily and give silent side eye to the woman who wrote that list yesterday; I’m seriously doubting I will do even one thing on that list today. I’m okay with that. Today, rest and take care of me. Tomorrow, I’ll begin again. 🙂

I only just noticed I was already “at the office” and working, rather than fully here in this place, in this moment. I left the office with an important piece of work completed, but with room to take it further, to correlate more details, to consider more variables, to increase the complexity… and was so deeply involved in it that my day ran well past the usual time, quite by mistake. I spent last evening continuing to think about work, barely aware that I was, but I certainly wasn’t fully in that moment, either. Eventually, I went to bed. This morning I woke from dreams of working, and filled my head with further thoughts of work. An hour after waking, I notice. Coffee cup is empty, no recollection of drinking it, half-finished email to myself (addressed for my work email address) with some notes for further work waiting to be sent. I take a deep breath and step back from the work, and make a second cup of coffee.

This mindfulness thing takes practice. 🙂

Another couple deep breaths, a few minutes spent pulling my consciousness from the sticky mud of this enticing work assignment. A second cup of coffee. Time spent becoming awake and aware and present here, now. I notice, too, that I’m still in my jammies and fuzzy spa socks… how have I not showered and dressed for work?? I am startled by the realization, and spill hot coffee on my keyboard and in my lap. Some fun time with swear words, and then it’s off to the shower to properly get ready for work…

This self-care thing, this adulthood thing… yep; they take practice, too. lol

Once the morning routine is back on track, I sit down to write, and catch up on things-not-work-related. The weeks seem to race by since I took on the new job… 7 months in, I guess it doesn’t count as new so much any more. lol I smile, and sip my coffee. I chuckle to myself – how fast was that shower? What’s left of my coffee is still warm.

I sit quietly sipping my coffee, and thinking about life, generally, and feeling rather content with things as they are. The house hunting is just dreadful and although I am taking a patient approach, I am entirely made of human and have some moments when I feel very discouraged. Yesterday was an example of how that can so easily develop; I noticed a listing that had sat without much interest for quite a while. Okay, why? I noticed it is listed as a HUD home, which generally means it is a fixer that my VA loan won’t be suitable for, and I don’t even go so see those… this one, though, was in fair shape, and my inexpert eye just couldn’t see a reason it wouldn’t qualify for a VA loan, so I asked to see it. It was definitely (and comfortably) in my price range, good location, and met all my minimum needs… we arranged for me to see it after work. Within an hour of firming up plans to go see it, it went pending. LOL This has happened a couple times, in a way that seems to defy likelihood. It’s every bit as irksome as making an offer on a house at several thousand dollars over list price, just hoping to have that offer considered at all, and find out later it sold to another buyer who could afford to pay not only thousands over list, but offering tens of thousands over the appraised value, which is tens of thousands of dollars over list price. I try to avoid being angered by that, but also struggle to understand why that buyer wasn’t looking at nicer homes they could afford at a higher price point? I find myself beginning to fuse with that other emotional experience, even though, here, now, everything is calm and quiet. I take a deep breath and let that go.

Being present in this moment, takes practice. 🙂

I smile over my coffee and think about going to lunch with my Traveling Partner and a friend, yesterday. It was a lovely break from the day-to-day routine, and I definitely needed a break from that work project. I laughed at the end of the day when I noticed my departure from work was delayed from my usual time by almost exactly the length of my lunch out. I felt a moment of satisfaction, as that seemed to me to be exactly as it should be. 🙂 Pleasant recollections definitely feel better than fussing and feeling discontent and aggravated by the frustrations of house hunting. Then, I notice the time. The work week is not yet over, and here it is, time to go, already.

Today is a good day to be present. Today is a good day to be and to do. Today is a good day to begin again. All of that takes practice. There are verbs involved. 🙂

Music starts the morning. Dancing to ease arthritis pain before beginning the work day makes sense today. The music I chose is, for me, emotional and value-connected. It’s all very subjective, of course; I may listen to rap tracks that are implicit attacks on some other rapper, but I focus on the meta-message of the words, finding profundity in my subjective listening. I may listen to EDM and hip-hop, house, and funk tracks that may have little in the way of lyric content, but some short phrase or another, or the images in the video, communicate something of value to me. It’s a small thing, but it puts music to work for me cognitively, reinforcing things I want to reinforce, and undermining old out-of-date programming.

What is “sacred music“? Whatever music moves you in a sacred way. 🙂 I found my own. You probably have your own, too. Maybe it really is “church music”, maybe it isn’t at all. All of those things are completely okay; we’re each having our own experience.

As I dance through the morning, managing ferocious pain, still smiling, I find myself just a little astonished by this woman in the mirror. When I did become her? Me. I sometimes find it disorienting to read old writing, or look back on very old Facebook posts. Some things still resonate with me in a way that feels aligned and familiar, but very commonly I feel more than a little out of sync with that other woman in the mirror… and old mirror, a reflection on a woman I am not, now. I have grown. Maybe a lot. I sometimes wonder, when I write, or post or share something, if friends of old “get me” now… and whether they understand. I wonder if the differences are jarring, or cause irritation or resentment; I did not always think the way I do now, or have the values I now hold. I’ll likely spend a lifetime making amends for some of the choices, words, and actions of a much younger woman I no longer am… or for being someone different now.

My consciousness is pulled back into the here and now by the music. Track changes sometimes seem peculiarly well-timed. I recognize this as a “feature” in my consciousness, attributing significance to things and moments that may have none, in order to “make sense of things”. I dance on through the morning, through the dishes, through some tidying up before work.

Yesterday’s only a memory…and it is a happy one.

I enjoyed a quiet evening at home with my Traveling Partner yesterday. He was at my place shortly before I arrived.  It was tremendous and warm and connected and lovely. We hung out with friends for a while. We chilled alone together another little while. I was in way too much pain for romance, but the intimacy and connection are welcome and profoundly significant in a lifetime that has held so little authentic intimacy between lovers. I used to complain a lot about “not getting enough” sex…but… being real about it for just a moment, I’ll admit that I’m pretty certain I was using sex to meet needs that were emotional (and specifically not actually sexual) for years and years. Being both “past menopause” and more emotionally intelligent than that much younger me, I am comfortable noting that the non-sexual emotional need for connection and intimacy is likely the deeper and more important emotional need than the primate need for sexual contact. I’m not dissing sex – hell, I enjoy it quite a lot, and sufficiently so to inconvenience partners with less appetite for it, even now, but… yeah. Those quiet connected minutes with a lover that are intimate, close, comfortable, and nurturing, turn out to be a way bigger deal. I wish I’d understood sooner; it’s probably a great deal easier to satisfy emotional needs with truly relevant emotional connection, versus insisting that sex do all the emotional heavy lifting in life. lol

I wonder what today holds?

The morning continues, track by track, and I dance on to another thought, another moment…

Wubba-lubba-dub-dub!!

Today is a good day to dance. There’s more than one way to deal with pain. 🙂

I heard some of the news stories about the wind and power outages, as the day went on. I didn’t think much about it besides feeling sympathetic for the people going through it, and hoping that it would be quickly resolved.

On my way home, signs that this was not an abstract circumstance happening elsewhere in the world.

I arrived home feeling merry on a Friday evening, thinking about dinner, a hot shower, maybe some Rick and Morty…  I arrived home to darkness. Everything dark. Even the aquarium. The stillness and quiet were… quite still, and very quiet; even the hums and buzzes of the appliances were silenced. I did the obvious thing; I flipped a switch. No change. I did what makes sense as a next step (for a human primate)… I flipped another switch. Then checked the fuse box. Finally, used my device to determine that, yes, I was participating in a power outage, no estimated time for a resolution (later cheerily updated to sometime the following morning, around 11:30 am).

The apartment was quite chilly. The aquarium much less so; the small battery back up my Traveling Partner got for me after a brief interruption in power last year did what it could. I got my tender heart ready to deal with the heartache of losing my fish by morning, as best I could. I lit candles in cute votive holders (I have a literal drawer full of tea light candles that just wait for such occasions as this). I recharged my device using a power brick that I take on camping trips. I ordered firewood; a fire in fireplace would definitely take the chill off. I had a quick bite of dinner while I waited for firewood to arrive. I wore my coat – and an extra sweater.

This whole time, the biggest active stressor was the ancient Verizon FiOS box in a back closet beeping at me every couple of minutes to alert me there is no power. Well, damn it, I know that; it isn’t my doing! My Traveling Partner, seeing an irritated Facebook post on the subject of beeping and power outages sends me a message suggesting there is probably a reset button or something of that kind that will silence the alarm. That seems… too obvious. How did I not see that when I looked the first time? Why didn’t any of the online forums mention that? I grab my flashlight, a foot stool, and go looking for a button, which I do find – and tiny lettering clearly indicates this wee blue button is to “silence alarm”. I push it. Silence, as agreed. Nice.

Making the best of circumstances, beautifully.

As power outages go, and aside from the concern about my fish likely being mortal (which I was frankly very much aware of), and my fridge now being plentifully filled with things no longer safe to consume (which although aggravating doesn’t have to be “a thing” of noteworthy importance right now), it was simply an evening of candlelight, without television, without streaming media, and by itself that didn’t have to be unpleasant at all. I invited friends over, we chilled together, talked, laughed, and made the best of things while the apartment slowly warmed up again. It was, actually, quite a lovely evening, spent with good friends.

Meditation by fire light.

After things wound down, and I began to consider sleep, I sat by the fire awhile on my meditation cushion, enjoying the stillness, the utter calm and quiet. I set aside worries about the fish surviving or not surviving; the outcome was not yet decided. Schrödinger’s fish.  I set aside aggravation over having to toss out groceries wastefully; the outcome had not yet occurred and did not require action. I set aside concern that the apartment would feel too cold for comfortable sleep; the notion was actually foolish, since I go camping in colder conditions now and then, and sleep just fine, or… as well as I generally do. I sat by the fire, enjoying the stillness instead. Sitting quietly became meditation. Meditation became a gentle moment while time passed in spite of my lack of involvement in the passage of time.

Just as I began to reconnect with a more obvious awareness of the actual time, and considered going to bed, the power came on. I noted the lateness of the hour, let my Traveling Partner know the power had come on, and that I was well, and checked on things around the apartment to ensure that everything was working as expected, before going to bed. The apartment still felt chilly, in rooms away from the fireplace. I wrapped myself in blankets and drifted to sleep listening to the sounds of the apartment fully powered once again, knowing that in the morning I would need to begin again.

Today is a good day to recall a pleasant evening. It’s a good day to check on the fish and see which ones didn’t make it, and take care of general tank health. It’s a good day to dispose of freezer goods that thawed the day before, while the power was out. It’s a good day to carefully check everything in the fridge and similarly dispose of anything that could be a health risk if not continuously fully refrigerated. It’s a good day for a sunrise, for a pleasant walk, and for doing laundry. It’s a good day to support the woman in the mirror with more than promises; she’s worked hard this week, and some quality time for/with her will feel really good. It’s a good day to begin again. I have that power. 🙂

I could say more about war, about warfare, about the toll it takes, about the very high cost of the very lavish profits for the very wealthy few, and maybe there will be time for all that, some other day.

This morning, I am focused on peace, on sipping this good cup of coffee, of being right here, right now – calm, contented, rested. If I allow war, the fear of war, the anxiety caused by war, to consume my consciousness then I live every moment at war, without any opportunity to feel the full scope of my emotions, or to experience the entirety of my experience, fully. Seems a waste, really (and it is), the waste that is a collateral cost of war; the waste that is the loss of this singular lovely moment right here, in exchange for contemplation of war. No, thank you, not this morning. 🙂

I sip my coffee and simply exist, right in this present moment, quietly. I breathe deeply and calmly, feeling the chill of the room. It is before dawn. I hear the commuter train some distance away, sounding the horn as it pulls in to the platform, and again as it pulls away. I yawn and stretch, letting my gaze wander the room. I smile, surrounded by my own art. I could only love this space more if it were truly my own. No breeze this morning; I don’t hear the wind chime, and I do hear the traffic on the busy street beyond the community and the park. I notice that it is not raining, at least for now.

Again and again I find my mind wanting to wander to things and moments that are not now. I gently pull it back to this space, this moment. Why borrow troubles from moments that are not now? Seriously. My own well-being definitely requires that I get at least some time in, every day, that is firmly in this ‘here, now’ space, undistracted by the future or the past or what is not yet or what is not here. I’ve been astonished more than once by how much chill I now have, and how much more perspective, when at other points in my day, I am faced with… circumstances. Trials. Challenges. Stressors. Aggravating moments. Frustrating situations. Complications. Emotions. I’ll have any one of those things, or some mixed up handful, reliably without any effort to select for them. I don’t have to jump ahead to get there sooner… and it’s rather nice to face them a bit more prepared, and a bit more resilient. So, every day, I take time to meditate, to exist very mindfully in this space, in this moment – wherever that happens to be, at whatever time I choose. My mind, of course, wanders. I pull it back. It wanders again, and again, I pull it back. It’s a gentle tug of war, without frustration or internal criticism; I am challenging the habits of my monkey mind. It takes practice. Surely I expect to begin again. 🙂

This morning I pull my monkey mind back to meditation, I begin again, and I enjoy thoughts of far away friends, feeling grateful for each step on the journey illuminated by loving words, perspective, the wisdom of experience, and shared moments. I allow my senses to fill up on the feeling of being valued, of being loved, and of loving. I smile and sip my coffee. My smile deepens when my Traveling Partner crosses my mind. My sister, my niece, my friends next door… my recollections are filled with smiles, and this too is my own doing; there are verbs involved. These days I spend far more time recalling smiles, and moments of delight, than I do rehashing conflict or preserving moments of discord in my memory. It has proven to matter a great deal whether I spend my time thinking over past pain or past joy; our implicit biases are built on what we spend our time contemplating. The choices we make about “re-runs” in our thinking are actually quite important.

Thoughts of love make lovely re-runs.

I notice the time and become more aware of the moment with some specificity. It’s time to begin again. 🙂