Archives for posts with tag: mindfulness

I woke up sort of cross and stupid, and bumbled clumsily through my morning routine, until I sat down with my coffee. Most of my ideas, at that moment, were half-formed, vaguely annoyed, and wholly human. I considered unpacking my complex relationship with anger – and traffic – or bitching about some other mundanity a great many of us struggle with daily, and lost interest before the ideas even began to take shape. You see, there’s a small bird in the hedge just beyond the stoop, outside my studio window, and this bird is singing, chirping, and generally really making itself heard. First, a “distraction”, now the soundtrack of the morning; I pause, and listen.

I am now enjoying a quiet morning, with a nice cup of coffee, and the sounds of early morning traffic, and birdsong. It’s a better-than-average start to a morning. I refrain from contemplating the day ahead; I’ve got an entire commute for that. Instead, I think about my garden, and consider the weekend for a moment, and quickly return to sipping coffee, and listening to this wee bird chirping and singing, beyond the window. I wonder what woke the little bird so early, this morning?

I give myself a moment or two, to fully wake, to be more prepared for the day ahead (any day ahead, really, not just this one). I sip my coffee, feeling quite content, and at ease. I consider how I want to approach my commute, this morning… knowing it likely won’t matter what I “decide” to do; I’ll find out what I’m doing about that as I drive along, just at that moment when a decision-making turn is necessary, and I see what I did about that, in fact. lol

I guess the point, today, is fairly simple; slow down. Let go. Exist for a moment without demanding so much of yourself, or your time. Just be.

Begin again. 🙂

I woke a bit ahead of the alarm. S’ok. I’m feeling better than I did when I left work Friday. I’m even up to going to work. I’m definitely feeling better, and even “over it”.

My Traveling Partner took care of me, cooking and keeping things on track around the house, while I was sick for what had remained of Friday, all of Saturday, and a bit of Sunday. By evening I was feeling okay. I even look back on it as a “lovely weekend”. 🙂 Definitely a quiet one, filled with rest and nurturing. Lovely.

Here it is already Monday. Already so much to do, to plan, to consider, to get done… I could borrow all that for this moment, and fret endlessly about things I don’t even have to deal with yet. I don’t, though. I sip my coffee, read the news with considerable care and being particular about where it comes from, and go through my email. I meditate. I relax. This time is my own. It is quiet, and I am here, now. 🙂

In a few moments, I’ll finish my coffee, without remorse or resentment for the day and week to come; it’s a time for work, and new beginnings, and change. “Nothing to see here” – this is life, being lived. At present, that feels splendid, and I take time to fully appreciate and savor this good moment, without any attachment to it, or any expectation that it is any more durable than any other moment; moments pass. That’s okay, too. I sit with the moment, present, aware, and fully immersed in it, built of it, observing blending with experiencing. Standing in my own footsteps without any yearning or discontent.

I smile and sip my coffee.

I breathe.

Relax.

I begin again.

Well, new job… new opportunities for contagion. lol Shit. I’m sick. Oh, it’s not any sort of dire life-threatening sort of thing, just an annoying virus of some kind. It began with robbing me of my appetite night before last, but I didn’t really notice that. Yesterday the tickle in my throat, and a spectacular fit of sneezing heralded the coming of the new virus with more certainty. By midday, in the office with it, the weakness, aching joints, and fatigue, joined the party, and I went home to take care of myself. I think my Traveling Partner may have it, too, but I was too sick yesterday to be at all clear about that; he was an absolute pro at providing nurturing and care, and if he was sick, too… wow. It wasn’t obvious, and as sick as I was, we enjoyed our time together.

…I meant to actually just go to bed, and to do so early. What I actually managed to do was sit around wrapped in a fuzzy blanket staring blankly at the television for several hours, then went to bed. lol I woke too early, but also too… awake. Now? Now I’m up. It’s a new day. I get started canceling plans; I am still feeling ill, and there is no good reason to expose my friends to this. I’m already looking forward to that moment when I… just go back to bed. Self-care first, and some coffee, then I will yield to the call of warm blankets, and a quiet room.

Mindfulness will not prevent a head cold. A great meditation practice will not prevent me from feeling confused, weak, and ache-y, when I’m sick. This is just real. I keep grinning every time I consider the “new love” excitement of realizing that mindfulness practices really were helpful for me – every day, every moment, significantly improved with them – and how easily I was tempted into enthusiastic cheer-leading, and also into gradually slipping into thinking errors about what it was capable of doing for me. Great self-care means practicing all the practices that support my wellness – emotional and physical – without putting any one of them on such a high pedestal that it becomes a set up for failure, over time. I’m not dissing meditation or mindfulness, at all, I’m just pointing out that – as is often also the case even with the medicines we take – no single practice (for mindfulness, for self-care, for emotional well-being, for physical health…) can do 100% of everything we need – for everything we need. Just… It doesn’t work like that.

I’ll still meditate today, if I’ve the mind for it. It’s an important practice, a foundation of my emotional health, and I get a lot out of it. I’ll still practice mindfulness, as much as I am able to while I’m feeling ill, and whether sick or well, it’s a practice I find worthwhile for keeping me grounded, realistic about life, and able to maintain a clear perspective on the things that matter most to me. I’ll shower, and practice good hygiene. I’ll make the effort to eat healthy calories. I’ll drink water. I’ll rest. No one of these great practices will cure the common cold. It is what it is. They are what they are. Only that.

…Imagine how awkward, uncomfortable, disappointing, and frustrating it would be, if I fostered a belief that meditation would cure my cold… and then it just didn’t. I might be angry. I might give up on my practice, and lose the benefits it does provide me. I might lash out at others, or rhetorically, spreading my feelings around my tribe or community, and undermining the practices of others with the festering wound of my disappointment and my sense of failure. I would wonder if I were “doing it wrong” and whether it’s “all bullshit”. What a lot of wasted emotional bandwidth. 😦

Meditation has been a practice that has served me well, thus far. I continue to practice. I value the effect it has on my day-to-day experience. I am emotionally more well, in the context of having a committed meditation practice. It’s still only what it is, and it can’t be more than that.

Today I have a cold. At some point, I’ll meditate awhile, and when I’m done with that… I’ll still have this cold. These experiences are not related to each other, and that’s entirely okay. This? This is not my best writing. It is, however, a parable. A moment to pause and reflect on what meditation is – and isn’t – and what it do – and what it don’t do. 😉

Once I’m over this sickness, I’ll definitely begin again. 😀

I just finished reading After the Ecstasy, the Laundry by Jack Kornfield. It’s a worthwhile read on the topic of mindfulness. Interestingly, I happened upon an article about “why mindfulness isn’t working for you”, while sipping my coffee. The contrast was worth making a moment to consider.

Why would mindfulness practices “not work” for some people? I read on, and get to the part about mindfulness potentially being “harmful” for trauma survivors… which puzzles and saddens me; I’m certainly one of many trauma survivors wholly supported and helped by mindfulness practices – they saved my life, in quite a literal way.

I continue to contemplate these positions, so at odds with each other. Helpful vs harmful. Effective vs ineffective. Huh. I consider the following points that seem relevant:

  1. Mindfulness and meditation were only helpful for me after I found a specific style of meditation that was a good fit for me personally; it requires a commitment to practice, and it is helpful to select a practice that I’ll actually practice.
  2. “The way out is through” – I didn’t benefit from meditation and mindfulness practices because they were emotionally easy on me; a large part of the benefit was that these practices helped me process old trauma, and find my way to the “other side”. Nothing about that is emotionally easy, and there was (and is) work involved. Emotional work requires effort, and a willingness to do it.
  3. Mindfulness is not a “cure-all”; these practices are effective for what they are effective for, and only that. Beginning a mindfulness practice, or meditation practice, expecting that it will “fix everything” seems as silly as expecting to put on new jeans and be a different human being.
  4. Read #4 again. Meditation is not an escape from our self – or our life, or our need to do self work. We remain the person we are, with the challenges we have, and possibly still lugging around all our baggage, which we would still need to actually work through (if we want to let it go).
  5. Mindfulness and meditation are not “easy” practices. I mean, the fundamentals can be quite simple, for sure, and it is highly likely that those hurting souls looking for a fast fix may drop by and give meditation a try, but it’s also likely they won’t commit to a consistent practice. It’s not that the practices didn’t work, in that instance, let’s be real about that. We’re not all willing to commit to a routine or practice, in the first place.

Effective. Safe. Low cost. Yes, there are verbs involved (omg, so many verbs), and yes, there is a requirement to be consistent – and maybe even studious, if we’re serious about it. (Check out how many books on mindfulness are on my reading list!) Does it have to be hard? Well… we get out of life, frequently, a return consistent with our invested effort, in some regards. Certainly this is one of those, but a futile struggle with something that isn’t working out for you seems rather silly. If meditation isn’t working for you, find something that is? Or study why it isn’t. (Shit. More verbs. 😉 )

What are you really looking for? Are you on the path toward that goal? Those are good questions to ask, I think. If “meditation isn’t working”, it may be worthwhile to give a moment of thought to whether it was actually the most appropriate tool for the job you went into it expecting it to do. Sometimes, we grab the wrong tool, and make the job at hand much more difficult. Ask what you’re really trying to get done in the first place; doesn’t matter what tool you pick up, if you don’t know what you’re trying to get done, it’s going to be harder to finish the job.

I finish my coffee. I begin again.

It’s sometimes necessary, I find, to accept what is. No, I mean, really, really push past the clinging and exasperation, the disappointment, the frustration, all of it, and truly accept the “now” I find myself in, and do so quite fully, without denial or blame. It’s not always easy. Words are easy. Verbs take effort. Reality may allow me to delude and deceive myself awhile, but… reality always wins. It is.

…Let’s set aside the also real reality and true truth that we make up a lot of our experience in our own heads, and much of what we “believe” about our circumstances is in no way actually supported by reality. It’s made up bullshit we refuse to let go of. Truth. Mull it over.

Reality always wins, and most harshly, reality wins in some uncomfortable ways when I refuse to accept things as they are, without clinging, without attachment, and without self-deception. It’s snowing again this morning. Well, it was. As has been the case for a handful of days, now, our weird winter weather continues; snow during the wee hours, enough to dust everything and coat the roads. By noon, it will have all melted away in the cold winter sunshine. I’ll head home in the winter chill, across dry pavement, perhaps a hint of rain in the sky. The cycle will repeat. Schools have been canceling on days without any actual snow. Businesses have been closing, or opening later, on mornings with utterly dry pavement. It’s… strange. It is also 100% of what it is, and nothing more; no amount of argument or discussion will change it. Reality doesn’t bow to opinion. Ever. My feelings about the snow are not relevant to the facts, themselves. Reality is not an emotion.

I think over the day ahead, without much regard for the weather. I expect it will be more of the same, as it has been; my expectations still don’t amount to facts, truth, or reality. I contemplate my commute, and think ahead to spring, and maybe handling it differently. Park closer to work, spend less distance/time on the light rail or bus, walk more. The walking more sounds so lovely… I already get more walking than at my last job. I’m not sure what changed besides the address that frees me to do so… a different mindset. Did I make that change? (Probably.) Is the role that different? (It is.) Is the location more enticing for walking around? (Definitely.) Choosing change comes with a ripple effect; when I have chosen wisely, so many details are changed for the better, and when I have chosen poorly, quite distressingly similarly, many small details may change in ways that affect my experience in less pleasant ways. Choosing wisely is worth slowing down for. Fully considering the changes I choose, and the changes those changes may cause, is worth making time for. Change will come, regardless, and choosing it skillfully, navigating life instead of bobbing haplessly along its currents, can certainly alter the outcomes.

Well… here I am. Another day, another beginning – and more change to choose, more choices to make, more life to live. It’s already time to begin again. 🙂