Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness for beginners

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˜€

I woke ahead of the alarm, and realized groggily that I never wrote a word that wasn’t in the service of my employer yesterday. Wow. So unlike me. I’m tired. The lovely weekend comes at a price, and that price is fatigue. My disrupted sleep unavoidably has its moment to weigh in on my well-being.

I scroll lazily through my feeds, not really reading, just skimming headlines and posts in the weird “I used too few words” extra-large font. I’m not yet awake. The delicious fragrant mug of chai tea (with almond milk) definitely takes longer than a cup of strong coffee. I’m sneezing a lot this morning. My throat is a little… raw. Shit. I hope I’m not coming down with a cold. The timing is poor; I have a life to live and shit to get done. lol

Walking and thinking – a favorite practice for gaining perspective.

Yesterday, I forgot I had a late meeting on my work calendar, and got into the office at the usual very early hour. Early enough to get a lovely 2 mile walk in, along the waterfront. Early enough to get back to my desk, still quite a bit earlier than I had planned to be in – or needed to be. It was a long day, with very little leisure in it. I was pretty glad, by the end of the day, to have taken that walk in the morning. I was less pleased with the commuter traffic when I hit the road heading home around 5:30 pm. Wow. So glad I am generally home earlier. lol

This morning I find a lot to be content with, and it feels good.

I sip my tea and let my mind wander to the day-to-day misery and drama of being a woman in America. My feed is filled with it. Fuck. I’m grateful for menopause, and being generally beyond many of those storms now. You could not pay me to go back to being in my 20s (or 30s), particularly if it meant also having to return to that volatile emotional world of extreme highs and lows, and strange chaotic emotions. I wish I could sit with each of my agitated, distressed, sorrowful, wounded, beautiful friends, listen and let them feel truly heard, give them hugs, and maybe, just maybe find some way to share practices – or perspective. It’s a chasm that is quite difficult to cross, though. I can remember so many similar situations in which an “older sister” or elder in my life did attempt to communicate to 20-something me that this would pass, that I could master and, yes, even control my reactivity – with practice. I could not really fathom what was being said to me. I didn’t believe what I heard when it was shared with me. I did not follow through on any of the practices that were suggested. It was all completely out of reach. I wasn’t ready.

(I still try.)

I’m not saying their experiences “aren’t real” – not at all. Those chaotic emotionally difficult experiences are wholly real, in the sense that they are being experienced, for real. Totally real. Even, in fact, and like it or not, entirely appropriate and reasonable, from some points of view. Culturally, we don’t treat women well. This has unavoidable outcomes in the emotional health of women. We each play a part in creating that culture, and hurting our women. We could do better. (They can do better, too, but it’s a tale for another day, perhaps.)

This morning, I’m just sipping my tea and trying to wake up, and wondering how it is that so many of us, as human beings, being human, are so terribly unhappy… and wondering what I could do to help in any small way. Incremental change over time is slow. So slow. Change does happen, though, and we do become what we practice…

It’s the practicing that’s the challenge, isn’t it? Yeah. Here, too. I do “try”… but… and this is a thing… it’s really more about doing. Many of the practices that have helped me most with emotional volatility require me to “let go” – to practice non-attachment – which means having to yield to circumstances, and give up that righteous feeling of whatever I am feeling so righteously. lol An urgent desire to “be right” – and holding on to that feeling – creates so much fucking misery, and often on many sides of a discussion. I noticed more than once or twice that once I am attached to feeling righteous about something, I’m no longer willing to listen at all, and everything I hear is run through a filter that demands my position be defining for everyone’s experience. I gave up, quite purposefully and deliberately, the “need” to be right. It’s not helpful. (I learn more if I’m wrong, anyway, and often circumstances just aren’t even that clearly defined.)

Listening is hard. It is quite frankly one of the most demanding practices I practice each day. I often thoroughly suck at listening deeply, listening with my full attention, listening skillfully… It takes a ton of practice. Here’s the thing, though, a lot of my experiences of contentment, and balance, have their source in listening – and rarely have their source in talking, in expressing myself, or in “being right”. (Here’s where I slip in a reminder that “listening deeply” needs to be something I also do for myself; really hearing the woman in the mirror, understanding my experience and needs, also requires practice.)

One very cool thing about practicing practices, though? It doesn’t matter at all how many times I fail to “get it quite right”… I can keep practicing. I can begin again. πŸ™‚

This was a weird week. Work felt like 3 Mondays – and I believe 3 Mondays make a case (…of the… lol. I know, it’s bad.) Yeah. So. Today, though? Not a Monday.

The morning started with a foggy drizzle and chilly, still, air. No breeze. No traffic. The commute was easy. I don’t remember it in any detail, aside from the pure moment of delight as the signal light at intersection after intersection turned green immediately ahead of me. Bliss! I maintained a disciplined eye on my speed, marveling at the sequence of intersections, and enjoyed the uninterrupted momentum. I wasn’t speeding, wasn’t going slow… just… driving. It was lovely.

I parked and stood in the chilly morning cityscape for some minutes, just breathing, listening, watching. It felt… mischievous and tempting. I considered getting back in the car and going… where? Somewhere. Somewhere new, or strange, or… away.Β  Ah. Is that it? I smile at the morning, gray and misty. Am I needing “a getaway”? Cuz… that usually means I’m not taking care of myself, and have made that infernal “to do list” a bit too long. I nod wisely to myself, as if I think I know something, and head to the elevator to enjoy a few hours of feeling like I know things.

I got home less concerned about knowing, and more focused on being. It’s a chilly evening. I turn on the gas fireplace. I make a cup of tea. I put everything else aside and properly care for this fragile vessel, and the woman in the mirror.

…At least for the moment, I am not concerned with politics, the scary world we’ve made, how mean people can be to each other, the cost of living life, my health, mortality, or bank account. I’m just sipping this cup of tea, and taking a few quiet minutes. (You think I’m writing; this laptop is balanced carefully in my lap, I am seated on my meditation cushion, with a cup of hot tea gently perched on my knee – a sneeze could be very costly right about now – and I am sitting contentedly with my thoughts, and the lovely view of autumn arriving slowly, and only writing now and then… and almost not at all.

I sit awhile.

Then awhile more.

I finish my tea, and continue, seated… relaxed.

…Sometime, later, I begin again. πŸ˜‰

Damn. Fuck this week. Already. Shit.

I say “this week”, but in all reasonable ways, and well-considered perspectives, this has been building slowly, event by event, detail by detail, day by day, and stitched together by threads of good intentions, affection, kindness, and commitments. I’m still having some moments of major anxiety as delicately balanced circumstances teeter on the edge of not going very well at all, which is stressful on a level I don’t recall feeling in a long time. It’s hard.

…Every new responsibility adds to the burden.

…Every new need piles on still more to a growing list of shit to do.

…Every new moment of stress dials up the intensity of the anxiety in the background.

…Every day… each moment… add another… then another… now one more… still standing? Here, have a little more extra… and more… and again… and still… and even… and then… and now… wait…what?? No time for questions – go go go!!

I caught myself “screaming into the void” on the commute home – a solo rant, with some ferocity, something on the order of a spoken word performance, or poetry, only much less pleasant. lol Not tearful, not exactly frustrated – just mad… about feeling anxious. Mad about feeling ill-equipped to be fully adult, even now. Mad at circumstances that could be just the tiniest bit better and end up quite splendid. Angry just to feel these ancient-seeming feelings of “shouldering the load” again. It’s not any one thing. It’s not any one individual. It’s not specifically work orΒ specifically personal. It’s not lacking in context. I’m not “in it alone”. I’m just one human, having this human moment of mine, myself, and really feeling it. Which is… uncomfortable.

Mid-rant I remembered something I have been finding important; I don’t grow much through experiences that are comfortable, or reliably pleasant, or completely planned and predictable… or easy. That’s just real. Ease does not correlate with personal growth. That thought shut me down completely for a moment. I even stopped being so aggravated by that ludicrously slow driver ahead of me (15 in a 25 – one lane, no passing room) maintaining easily 3 car lengths of distance from the car ahead… during the evening rush hour commute… down a road with intersections more frequently than every quarter mile… with bumper-to-bumper traffic behind him for many blocks (I could see when I got a good view from the top of the hill in my review mirror). Yep. Even that stopped bugging me in the moment that I realized I’d been handed something precious – discomfort, anxiety, and a chance to work through those things and grow.

I’m pretty committed to my personal growth as a human being – I don’t know how much time I’ve got to complete this project, really, and I’d like to get as far along as I can toward being the human being I most want to be. It’s a real and true thing, that “doing better than I did yesterday” is a bit more complicated if the days roll by so gently that what I feel most of the time is delicious simple contentment, wrapped in the affection and high regard of those who hold me dear. I can choose change, but I won’t kid you; I’m not likely to choose to be uncomfortable, stressed out, anxious, fearful, worried, nervous, or in dread of what comes next out of this craze-tacular fun house of chaos and human drama. I like it easy.

Well it doesn’t feel fucking easy right about now. I’m having to bring a lot of attention to maintaining good self-care practices in the face of a lot more stress than has been commonplace for a couple years now. I’m having to skillfully practice “letting shit go” when holding on to it only creates more stress, and has no productive outcome. I’m having to really search for perspective, really work to find balance, and really practice the practices that have brought me so far in such a short time – as if failing to do so could send me crashing into a pit of despair (which it easily could). So many verbs. So little time. πŸ˜‰

Tonight I’m not doing beginnings – just practicing. πŸ˜‰

…A soft autumn rain begins to fall beyond the open window. I chat a bit with my Traveling Partner. The scent of petrichor wafts into the room, filling the space with fragrant reminders that this too will pass. Summer is ending. The tightness in my chest and shoulders begins to diminish. My breathing becomes deeper as a smile starts to transform my face. I’m okay right now. I let my thoughts glide over my day gently, finding a kinder truth in tense moments that are now behind me. I listen deeply to my internal dialogue, pointing myself to a compassionate path, reconsidering human beings in the context of their humanity. Reminding myself to assume positive intent, each time I note that perhaps I had not done so. I take time, too, for gratitude; a lot of people came through for me today, in so many small ways. My smile feels pretty steady, and I feel pretty much at ease; the anxiety in the background is subtle now, less a plague and more a pimple. (…Maybe if I don’t fuck with it, it will clear up on its own?)

I listen to the traffic go by outside. The house is very near to the street, and the walls don’t keep out much noise. Right now it isn’t bothering me; I am aware of the open window. That makes a difference to me for some reason. The noise doesn’t matter. The smile matters more. This gentle moment matters more. Taking a little time to enjoy the moment matters more. Following through on moments and smiles may not save the world, but right now, in this moment, it’s enough. πŸ™‚