Archives for posts with tag: repetition is learning

I’m counting down hours until my Traveling Partner is home again. I’m counting down days until my camping trip. Right now, this moment here? I’m counting down minutes until this coffee is cool enough to drink! lol

…Here’s the thing about all that, though; none of it is “now”. This now. Right now. This present-tense moment, right here? It isn’t about a future moment that may (or may not) happen at all. I know, that hints at a certain grimness, but the future is the future, and we don’t know with any certainty what that future will be. It’s the flip side of “this too shall pass”… So, um, “that stuff, also, hasn’t happened yet, at all”. lol

I pull myself back to the present moment. If nothing else, it is a wholesome exercise in waking up to the new day, shedding whatever baggage crossed over into my waking consciousness from my dreams, letting go of the “what ifs” and untested assumptions on which I could, if I prefer drama and disappointment, build my day upon. Starting fresh with what I observe, here, now, and how I feel in this moment, physically. My coffee is still too hot to drink. The street beyond the driveway is still quiet. The sky is dark, reminding me that the season is slowly changing, and that soon summer will become autumn. I feel relaxed, and comfortable in my skin, and the casual clothes I put on for the day. The pain I woke with seems familiar, and manageable. Although my coffee is too hot to drink, the mug feels warm in hands, a luxurious counterpoint to the morning chill in the room, artificially imposed by the air conditioning. (That reminds me to adjust the temperature to a “day time and I’m not at home” temperature, from the “night time and I sleep best in a cool room” temperature.)

….Ah! That first sip of coffee… so good. Well, I mean, realistically – as good as coffee can be, and only if you’re into coffee (I get it, I really do; it’s not everyone’s thing). lol How does this coffee really taste? Smooth… (not a flavor!), mildly astringent (also more of a feeling), something like… roasted bark… or… damp cardboard… or… I’m not sure. It tastes, to me, like “coffee”. It’s black. Hot. Feels good in my mouth. Comforts and refreshes. LOL I guess I’m a bit vague on what it actually tastes like. I let all of that go, and simply enjoy the experience.

I attempt to apply the same principles of non-attachment, awareness, and presence, to the experiences of waiting for my partner’s homecoming, and even to looking forward to my camping trip. This moment is best lived… well… live. 😀

…I complete that thought, and immediately find myself contemplating the weekend that is just behind me, already drifting out of this present moment, into some other moment that is also not “now”. lol Fucking monkey-mind, always at it. I let that go, too. Breathe. Exhale. Relax. Let those past moments recede into the background, again, and pull myself back to “now”. Whups – there’s that tricksy daydreaming and anticipation of future moments, back at me again. Damn it. Another breath. Another exhalation. Relaxing and letting all that go – again. I see-saw between contemplating some past moment, and looking ahead to some moment that is not yet now; all very normal and human. I keep pulling myself back to “now”. It’s just something that requires practice, and there is no stress or perturbation in it for me, not these days. Progress comes in due course; incremental change over time, well, it takes time. I know I’ll likely practice for a lifetime, regardless – this is one of those instances in which the journey itself very much is the destination.

My coffee, now, is precisely the correct temperature for comfortably drinking it, while also having the subjective experience of “hot” coffee. It’s very relative; my idea of “hot coffee”, and yours, likely vary by some degrees. I have a friend who drinks it near to scalding hot – I don’t even make coffee with boiling water. I have other friends who just don’t ever drink coffee hot – iced coffee 24/7/365. We’re each having our own experience. 🙂 (Hey – cool metaphor! lol)

I check the time. Monday already, and an entire new week ahead of me. Doesn’t matter. The entirety of the lifetime behind me doesn’t “matter” much more, in one particular regard; it isn’t “now”. The moment I’ve got to work with, at any given time, is just this “now” moment, right here. I’m not encouraging any sort of FOMO or YOLO foolishness, or painful clinging to things-that-are-not-now, either. I’m just saying, and I’m not the first to suggest it; be here, now. It’s an ideal starting point on all manner of journeys, physical, metaphysical, and beyond. Actually… it’s damned difficult to start anywhere/when else – and attempting to do so is a sure fire impediment to making any real progress.

I smile, and sigh contentedly. The sky is lighter now, a shade of pale blue-gray, with a hint of violet at the edge of darkness, and a hint of peaches and pinks yet-to-come at the edge of the sunrise. I finish off my coffee. This opportunity to begin again isn’t going to handle itself; there are verbs involved! I breathe. Exhale. Relax – and finish my coffee. It’s definitely time to begin again.  🙂

 

It’s hard to call it “waking up early”, when on a different day of week, under other circumstances, I’d just be… still awake. lol I woke around 1:30 am. I’m not sure what woke me, and initially I had every intention of simply going back to sleep. That just didn’t work out. I’m awake. Wholly and completely awake, and quite alert, and ready to begin the day… only… it’s not time for that.

I finally gave up on trying to sleep; it’s not an endeavor that lends itself well to vigorous attempts, and it had become clear that I wasn’t going to be sleeping again any time soon. I’m too familiar with the enduring grogginess that comes of finally falling back to sleep, less than an hour from the alarm going off, and then having to more or less drag myself through my day. Wasted effort. Never able to fully wake and enjoy my day with any sense of purpose. Trapped in a dream-like state. I just have too many other things to do with my time, heading into the weekend, and getting things ready for my Traveling Partner to return home. So – awake it is. I showered, meditated, did some yoga, and made coffee.

…So far it is a lovely morning. 😀

There is some sort of cosmic, comic, betrayal in my experience of sipping on this excellent cup of coffee; I am immediately sleepier than I’ve been since I woke up! I laugh it off; the clock keeps ticking, and I’ve committed myself, at this point, to starting the day a bit ahead of schedule.

As if mocking me, this also ends up being a morning on which I have little to say, as I sit here. I’m sort of just… here. That’s okay, too. There’s no requirement (or real potential) that every moment of living life be somehow spectacular and richly fulfilling. Some moments are just moments – quite enough as they are, and nothing noteworthy or fancy. It’s that sort of morning, only with extra minutes. 😀

I put on my headphones, and hit play on my favorite playlist. It’s tempting to read the news…but… I don’t need to fill my head with outrage machinery and Other People’s Drama, certainly not this early on a quiet morning. Music seems a better fit to this moment. 🙂 I smile into the day ahead, and let the moments tick by, contentedly. This morning, it’s very much enough. 🙂

Perspective is sometimes about the view from a singular moment. If I stand somewhere else, doesn’t my perspective change? 🙂

It took time, and still requires regular practice, and I can’t stress enough how valuable it has been to learn to shift my perspective. Getting hung up on one element of one moment of one experience can really wreck a day (or days, or weeks, or a lifetime…), and there is so much more to consider, to appreciate, and to incorporate into totality of this human life. I’m definitely a fan of a change in perspective in stressful times. Sounds easy – isn’t always. It’s easier with practice, though; we become what we practice. 😀

How though? I mean, in practical terms, how do I “change my perspective” on some hard moment, or other? Well… sometimes I play “The Multi-Verse Game”. 🙂

Every window potentially a different human life in progress, a different point of view…

To play The Multi-Verse Game, I consider my challenge from the basic assumption that there is variety in human experience. Given a large number of human beings, each potentially sharing some slightly different version of a similar, potentially very common, experience, how could the subtle variations play out? What different results would play out, based on differing choices, and subtle differences in experience? I imagine many different sorts of human beings, having this experience that is challenging me so very much, and I allow the scenes to play out, one by one. This person, that choice, these details – how does the story end? That person, other choices, different details – and now how does it go? I extend this into various versions of my own experience; if some one choice or detail were different, in my own life, how would my experience change, then? If nothing else, it becomes entertaining narrative craft, a little internal theater – and often, it allows me to more easily let go of bullshit assumptions I’ve made, and failed to notice are needlessly driving my stress. Sometimes the game serves to alert me of alternatives, and choices, that could work out well for me, that I had not previously understood with clarity, but are revealed in the story-telling.

Another great practice in dark times is making a point to test my assumptions; so much of my anxiety turns out to be caused by my assumptions, rather than by any solid truths or realities of my circumstances. 🙂

…I think of a friend. One of those old friends that is somehow “always there”, even if we’re out of touch for years. Still… sort of a dick move to not make at least some effort; people matter more than that. I pause to send him an email. Just a greeting, really, and a reminder that we exist on a shared journey, separated only by distance. 🙂 Dropping off of the social media landscape has been a little odd in this regard; I’d grown very dependent on it to maintain friendships and associations across vast chasms of geographical distance, and even across time. Now? I’ve got to actually work at those – and occasionally find myself “trapped in the now”, far away, and less than inclined to do so in any practical way. I contemplate my great-grandmother’s letter writing, which I can recall from the edge of adolescence. She was still living, and it was the focal point of her life. She wrote letters to friends. They wrote letters to her. It’s a habit worth cultivating. The world changes – will social media (and the internet, or even electricity) always be available? I sometimes wonder…

The music plays on.

Yeah… that’s the stuff I listen to “in real life”. lol  What about you? Aren’t there details about who you are, the you that you, yourself, know so well, that all those “non you” people seem regularly surprised by? 😉 I grin to myself, content to be who I am, in the wee hours, half-aware of the time as it passes, song by song, minute by minute. I notice that my coffee, cold now, is almost gone. It’s well past 3:00 am, already. Feels like a new day, and not the “middle of the night”, now. I guess it’s time to begin again… 😀

This morning over coffee I watched a clip from a Joe Rogan interview on the topic of “How to Workout” and found myself contemplating the concepts of consistency, intensity, and flow. A worthy start to my day. I pause long enough to send the link to my work email, to share with my team; the concepts easily apply to cognition, and workload management, too. A healthy consistence pace does reliably result, for me, in an enjoyable experience, with better long-term results. 🙂 Applying that everywhere I successfully can totally makes sense – why haven’t I considered this sooner, and more often??

…Why are we so eager to seek fatigue?? Where did we get the idea that working that hard is necessary or even good?

The weekend was filled with flowers, and love. Making a point to enjoy them matters.

I got in a good walk yesterday. (It’s not really a hike, is it, if I am on a comfortably paved suburban trail, no pack, wearing sandals, and just strolling along?) I hit a personal milestone, getting my distance back up nicely, and getting back home without feeling completely wrung out; I felt great! There were so many flowers along the way. It was lovely.

Pause for flowers. (It’s a metaphor.)

The hole in my jaw seems to be healing… I try not to overthink it. Reliably good self-care seems the way to go.

“Consistency”. Something new to contemplate further. It makes so much sense; it is precisely why practicing some simple healthy supportive practices results in incremental change over time. Why I haven’t applied this concept to way more things in life is less important than recognizing this is the case, and making some changes. 🙂 No point wasting time on “troubleshooting” this one; I have choices, choices that result in change, changes that can result in improved quality of life – with potentially reduced intensity of effort day-to-day. 😀 Easy.

…It’s definitely time to begin again!

Just a reminder; regardless whether it “looks easy”, it probably took work. Just saying, it’s rare that things are truly “easy” or without effort, however effortless some other human primate is making it look. 😉 Don’t let the appearance of someone else’s mastery dissuade you from making your own choices, following your own path, or embracing the very real likelihood that learning something new and becoming great at it will require considerable work. 🙂

We’re all working at something.

I have no idea why we’ve ended up with the notion that things need to look easy. That’s a bit weird, isn’t it?

That thing you want to do or learn? It’s worth the work involved. 🙂 Go ahead, go for it – begin! 🙂

…Be prepared to begin, again, a fair few times along the way. 😉

I got off work yesterday in a good mood, tired, enthusiastic about the walk through town and over the bridge at twilight, and looking forward to a quiet evening at home. The commute wasn’t merely uneventful, it was also a miracle of coincidence and great timing. I arrived home, still smiling.

Some enchanted evening...

Some enchanted evening…

What follows is a cautionary tale about emotional health.

As I waited for dinner to cook, not wanting to wander off or be distracted, I picked up my phone, and opened my news feed. I noticed there seem to a be lot of articles about hate, hate crimes, and the general mistreatment of human beings toward one another. I dove right in and read one, then another, and another… over minutes, I read several. I was also cooking, and pretty focused on that. As minutes passed, I found myself no longer smiling. Feeling somewhat discontent. Generally a bit aggravated. A few minutes further on, I was feeling annoyed. Irritable actually. I sat down with dinner, finding fault with small things that typically don’t bother me at all. (Damn, are the guys next door going to be so noisy all evening? Seriously? Is that a leaf on the floor from where I came in, earlier??)

I ate my dinner in a mood of aggravation and discontent. It seemed a mysterious change, and it was some minutes before I connected my roiling stew of negative emotions looking for a fight with reading the news some time earlier. Then I did make the connection. I put down my device. I tidied up the dinner dishes feeling a bit thoughtful and pre-occupied. Had I really made a point of willfully turning a lovely mood sour by my own hand? What was I thinking? I sigh, recognizing the temptation of turning my negative emotions on myself, rather than helping myself into a better emotional place with at least the same effort I brought to wrecking the pleasant mood I was in, in the first place; it’s easier to be hard on myself than it is to change.

I gave the news a rest, and renewed my commitment to not treating myself so badly in the first place. News retailers are in business, and business is focused on profit, and what is profitable is holding consumer attention, and what holds consumer attention is… outrage. Yep. We gobble up news about hate, about fear, about the outrageous and “what is wrong with the world” – and then wonder why we’re angry, outraged, or frightened. We’re some fancy fucking primates – not all that smart about some things, but damn, we’re fancy. We write news, put it in front of other primates, sell what we can – and write more of that. Think about that for a minute – if the point is sales, and profitability, and what sells are the stories about hate, doesn’t it seem quite obvious that more stories about hate will be written? I’m not saying that the world isn’t full up on hate these days, but I am saying that whether or not it were, if stories about hate are what sells the most views, clicks, and subscriptions, then aren’t there going to be just a whole bunch more stories about hate? To read. To be consumed. To set an impression of the world we live in, generally?

I put myself in a gentle time out and spent much of the evening meditating. It was a significant improvement over reading the news. I ended the evening feeling soothed and balanced. Hate in the world is not eased or relieved by fear, or anger, or more hate. Awareness that hate in the world is an issue is something to cultivate, but succumbing to it myself is to be avoided. That seems practical and obvious (to me). I don’t need to read even one more article about some human being treating another badly “because Trump” – I am aware that human beings mistreating each other is a problem. It was a problem before the election, and it will likely continue to be a problem after the next four years is behind us; some people choose some really vile verbs. Hate exists. Fear exists. Anger exists. People having those experiences are probably having them in fashion that seems justified, reasonable, or even appropriate to them in the moment. There are some hateful things going on. There are some scary circumstances (and scarier people) in the world. There are good reasons to be angry, and things worthy of being angry about.  It remains a worthy endeavor to treat people well, nonetheless – including the person in the mirror.

This morning I woke to the alarm. A new day. A chance to begin again. I don’t start with the news. I renew my commitment to myself to choose what I read with great care. Sensational headlines get my attention; that’s why they work, that’s why they are written that way. It’s generally enough to read the headline, sass it silently, and move on. Advertising and color commentary masquerading as actual news can be distracting – and emotive. I remind myself to avoid it. Hell, at some point, continuing to read and reread the same tired bullet points spread across media outlets, being used to stoke new outrage and keep reader engagement high, actually takes time away from taking action on causes that matter… in some cases, the very causes that are so engaging to read about. (How many news stories have you read about DAPL? Have you taken a leave from work to get out there and help? Donated money? Written letters to congress? Any verbs at all – or just reading along? How about the lead in the drinking water in Flint, Michigan? Local homelessness? Foreign wars? Just saying; there’s plenty in the world that could use some well-chosen verbs.)

I’ll point out that all the same choices and practices that soured my mood could be made more selectively, more skillfully, and used to build a great mood from a bad one: intellectual distraction, investment in a specific emotion by choosing experiences that tend to reinforce and enhance it, repetition, and mindfully engaging that emotional experience deeply.

Today is a good day to put down the news, set aside the outrage machinery, and choose some verbs. If the point of life is to live it… why would I be spending my precious limited lifetime reading the news, anyway? 😉