Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness

Time is finite and precious. I am sipping my coffee and feeling fortunate. The world seems fairly disordered lately, but my own life, day-to-day, moment-to-moment, is generally peaceful, orderly, and full of love. It’s nice. I am making a point to live these moments, to embrace and enjoy them, and to savor this experience. I am making time for the things that matter most to me. I am enjoying the good company of my Traveling Partners, and nearby friends. I am reaching out, one by one, to far away friends, making time for valued old friendships, the sort of deep, lasting friendship that endure long silences… they are overdue for my attention. 🙂

…Less time writing…

Last weekend, I sent time on my aquarium. The results simultaneously delight me, and fill me with further resolve. It is a tiny world of its own, and there is nearly always something more I can do to improve the lives of its citizens (right now, just a colony of blue velvet shrimp, an oto, and a clown pleco). This weekend, I’ll do another filter change, test the water quality, and add a school of neon tetras. It doesn’t end there. A beautiful planted tank requires some attention and care – as any garden would. I enjoy it. It is a calm tiny world, and a lovely focal point for meditation.

A weekend well-spent, and a lovely perspective on life.

I sip my coffee, preparing for the day ahead. Each time I think about my aquarium, I smile. It represents more than a project completed. Metaphors layer upon metaphors, when I sit quietly, gazing into the small, calm, watery world.

I finish my coffee, still smiling, and begin again.

This morning I woke rested, comfortable, and generally contented. Problem moments of yesterday remain just that; moments, that were yesterday. Small things stayed small. My Traveling Partner and I had a great afternoon and evening together, enjoying each other’s company without reservations, or lingering baggage or bullshit, after the morning’s one sour note in an otherwise harmonious experience.

…Even great musicians occasionally play a wrong note, why would love – great or otherwise – be exempt? 🙂

I keep working on my ability to communicate skillfully and gently. One book, one practice, one experience at a time, I keep at it. Study. Practice. Learn. Repeat. Resilience takes time and practice to build. (And possibly more than one genre of music… 😉 )

Back to the office today, after a restful and pleasant weekend. I touch the small elephant pendant my love gave me at the holidays this year, and smile. There’s more in life to deal with, more to do, more to savor, more to enjoy, and more to grow and learn from. This moment, though? Quite enough just as it is.

I finish my coffee, and begin again. 🙂

I was sipping my morning coffee in the dim of dawn, sun not yet peaking over the horizon. I was thinking about a friend who often seems to default to negative self-talk, and assumptions about others that are built on suspicion, fear, and mistrust. I know enough about my friend’s personal history to have some limited understanding why they would hold such a bleak perspective on life, relationships, and yes, even on the person in the mirror. I hold my friend in very high regard, and our mutual affection and appreciation has lasted many years…but even I am not immune to being the recipient of my friend’s mistrust, suspicion, and doubt.

My thoughts this morning, after recently having coffee together, were less about how uncomfortable it can feel to be viewed as an adversary, unexpectedly, and absent any input on my part to justify or support that view, and more about how unpleasant it must be to go through life that way, living in the context of some implicit certainty that everyone, eventually, is an enemy. It saddens me, and I struggle to balance my understanding and compassion with my feelings of helplessness and frustration – and lack of being understood clearly. My own communication challenges don’t make it easier. My own emotional baggage and personal history with relationships with other human primates don’t make it easier, either. I sipped my coffee, breathing, exhaling, relaxing, and consider my perspective, and where I can, also the perspective my friend expressed, with as much depth, and understanding, as I am able to do.

Perspective changes what we understand of the world.

I think back to articles I’ve read about mindfulness, and the handful of those that point out that undertaking a mindfulness practice can throw emotional health and balance into chaos for some people. I even accept that this is one of the potential experiences people may have; when we have adapted to darkness, the brightness of being flooded with light is not necessarily and immediately helpful, comfortable, or pleasant experience. Some of the things we keep to ourselves over a lifetime, dismissing our concerns, diminishing our sense of self, or building our narrative on a ton of self-serving made-up shit to compensate, perhaps, for the bleakness of our sense of doubt and futility, end up being powerful (and possibly successful) coping mechanisms for the hardest shit we don’t want to face – and having coped with, we don’t have to. Then along comes some “healthy” mindfulness practice that sounds awesome, that our friends are into, and we hop right into it, eager and enthusiastic… then, we find ourselves face to face with the darkness being dissipated by a light so bright we can’t see what it hides from us, and… we run, terrified and damaged, fearful of change, resisting what so bright a moment of illumination might really show us. After all, we’d coped with all that bullshit. We’d found a way. Now, here we are, facing our self, unexpectedly. Not always a pretty picture, and we’re not all ready for that.

Changing our own perspective doesn’t always feel comfortable. Whether or not “mindfulness” can be said to “work” is more than a little bit dependent on what we expect it to do, and whether that is what we actually want – or are ready for.

My friend and I talked about my journey, and theirs. We spoke of expectations, and of “reality”. My friend had, at one time, been a huge advocate for me finding my way to a more positive perspective on life. At that time, they seemed so unbelievably positive to me that it was hard to understand the thinking behind those words – wasn’t it a matter of “character” or personality? Wasn’t my personal history “real”, and sufficient to justify my chaos and damage… and negativity? Wasn’t my cynicism perfectly “reasonable”? Here I was sitting over coffee, after far too long out of touch, and I was the positive one, the contented one, the one bouncing back. My friend seemed overly negative, and out of touch with their own emotional experience, lacking in a certain authenticity and “presence”, that felt strangely dishonest and uncomfortable to me. The conversation came around to meditation, and mindfulness practices, generally. “All that’s bullshit,” my friend said firmly. “I tried that stuff back in the day, and it only made me cry a lot, and made me doubt my relationships.” I sat quietly listening (which can be difficult for me), then replied “What did your therapist say about that experience?” My friend answered abruptly, “I quit therapy. It was expensive, and kept making me doubt my place in the world, and my relationship with my partner.” She gestured vaguely, something like waving off that topic with her hand. “I didn’t need all that, I’m unhappy enough without help. Self-reflection bullshit just made me rethink everything. Who needs it?”

I keep turning the conversation over in my head, in the time since. So much of what she had shared seemed unhappy, and infused with a sense of having failed herself in some mysterious way, punctuated by occasionally accusations of some other person setting her up for failure. If she is so deeply unhappy in life, in her relationships, wouldn’t she expect self-reflection to hold up that mirror, and show her precisely that? Doesn’t that open the door to the potential that change could be made – chosen – and offer the chance to walk a different path?

No answers, this morning, really. Just questions, and self-reflection, and the illumination offered by shining a bright light into my own dark corners. There’s always an opportunity to begin again. 🙂 I am my own cartographer; I choose my path.

It’s a groggy slow-ish sort of morning. The commute was easy. The coffee adequate to the purpose. My thoughts are still fuzzy around the edges and glitchy with sampled dreams from a night of continuous sleep. I listen to the sounds of freeway traffic beyond the window of the office, as I get my day started.

It is too early for deep thoughts, or complex emotions. I still have them. Attempting to “stuff them down” or suppress them is ineffective; I neither manage to entirely put them aside, nor do I satisfy them. I redirect my attention to work tasks, but find myself still distracted by the internal demands for my attention. Interesting. Clearly, there’s something on my mind that wants to be given attention. “Another time.” I tell myself, but I also know how fickle this brain can be; later today I won’t even remember this moment. It’s such a small thing. Finite. Momentary. Fleeting. Unimportant. 🙂 I let it go, again.

I sip my coffee. As of tomorrow, a year at this job. Nice. 🙂 I’m still enjoying it. Even nicer, still. 😀

This is also a moment to recognize that my Traveling Partner and I have been close – intimate friends, lovers, partners – for 10 years, now. It’s just a little mind-blowing to recall where we were as people, ten years ago. Who we hung out with. Where we lived. What our relationships were like. What sorts of things we were up to, day-to-day. Life is quite different, then, and now. A reminder that so much more of life is built on impermanence than ever rested on an unchanging “happily ever after”. 🙂 I’m not unhappy about the changes over time – most of it has been an obvious improvement, with the occasional detour through challenging circumstances that provoked a lot of personal (and shared) growth.

…10 years, though…? That’s quite a chunk of lifetime. I sip my coffee and wonder how often my Traveling Partner questions the desires and decisions that brought us together, and keep us together now? Does he ever wonder what life would be like without the encumbrances of attachment? Does he ever yearn for some place or experience that feels out of reach in the context of our relationship? Does he feel loved and supported in our relationship? Does he ever consider walking away from “all of this” – not out of any hurt or animosity, but simply to feel the path beneath his feet take him somewhere entirely new?

I glare into my coffee mug with some annoyance… cold office-quality drip coffee is less than ideally satisfying. Another sip finishes it. I expect I’ll get another cup, anyway, soon enough. I laugh out loud in the stillness of my office, reminded of cups of coffee that were both much worse for drinking, and far more costly (than “free”)… the moment of gratitude becomes a smile of appreciation. This is definitely one of those “this could be much worse” moments. I yield to the gratitude, and invest my attention there. It’s very nice having coffee available. It’s quite lovely to have enjoyed 10 years with my Traveling Partner – and I hope we enjoy many more, together. It’s a comfortably secure feeling to have a job I enjoy, and to be with it for an entire year and still enjoying it. All of it very much “enough” – it’s a good life. I’m grateful for it – I’ve been in far worse circumstances.

…This coffee cup isn’t going to refill itself. I suppose it’s time to begin again. 🙂

 

I woke early. I felt well-rested, so I got up. It’s still quite early. So far, a lovely quiet morning over coffee. More than enough to start the day well.

I sip my coffee and think about spring; it will be on its way soon enough. I think about flowers, and roses, and squirrels on the deck. I have new pruning shears. Perhaps this afternoon, after work, I’ll get out on the deck and prune the roses. It would be ideal to do it before they open new leaves, and it is obvious that will be very soon. I think about seasons. I breathe, exhale, relax, and savor this pleasant moment.

This moment? It’s one of the easy ones. I make a point to enjoy it. There are so many fewer difficult or unpleasant moments, these days. I’ve put in a lot of work to get here. Hours of meditation. Many hundreds of pages of reading material. Long hours of reflection and contemplation. Hundreds of thousands of written words. So much therapy. All of it to get here; a relaxed, contented morning, enjoying the pre-dawn stillness, lacking any hint of anxiety, or dread. It’s nice.

I’m not bragging. Let’s be clear about that; I’ll have shitty moments, dark days, or troubled times in future moments. We all do, now and then. I’m just saying; there are things we can choose to do that hold profound potential to ease our day-to-day suffering, if we choose to practice those practices, and to make use of those verbs. We don’t have to remain mired in the worst of our experiences of life. 🙂

I sip my coffee and smile. This? It’s enough. Sufficiency. Perspective. Mindfulness. Good self-care. Investing my time and effort in my own qualify of life, and self-care, has been a worthy use of time, and attention. I’ve been more able to appreciate and care for others, and to be a generally decent human being. I’ve enjoyed life so much more, too. There are no secrets to success. Instead, there’s only a reading list, and a handful of reliable self-care practices, and my sincere hope that you find something of value in the words – mine, or those resting nestled in one book or another – and a lot of practice. 🙂

Are you ready? (Am I?) It’s time to begin again. 🙂