Archives for posts with tag: stillness

This morning I woke up feeling peculiarly disconnected and distant. I scrolled through the news, my Facebook feed, my email, all while feeling strangely uninvolved. I’ve finished my first cup of coffee. I don’t recall whether it was good, bad, or unremarkable. I swallow the last sip, but still can’t really tell much about the experience. The remaining dregs were smooth, not bitter, and tepid. Uninteresting. The apartment windows are open to the morning breeze; the forecast for the day suggests it will be a warmer one. I am only as involved as necessary to remember to cool the apartment first thing.

Am I tired? I slept well, and woke at a natural time, feeling well-rested. I’ve no cause to feel ‘hung over’ or out of sorts due to some change in medication. There’s nothing much “on my mind” at the moment, and it feels like a nice day has begun… certainly… it’s a new one. So… what’s up with the woman in the mirror, this morning? I feel as if I am a stranger to myself in some peculiar way… like commuters passing by each other on the light rail platform in the morning, on the way elsewhere; I see an impression of this person who is ‘myself’, and I continue on my way, unmoved. I have no idea what, if anything, to do about it.

One moment.

One moment.

I may see my traveling partner today. I don’t actually know. We’d made plans to connect over the weekend. Those fell through. Monday. Tuesday. We planned. Plans change. Real life happens, and gets the higher priority as an actual experience. No stress over that, but as it happens, today I lack any particular certainty that we’ll see each other. We probably will. We might not. The map is not the world. The plan is not the experience. 🙂

Yeah… I’m in a weird place today. I wonder why? I wonder if wondering about it is worthwhile? I wonder if any action is needed, or if things will sort of… just sort themselves out on their own? Change is. It’s a given that change will continue to be. I could actually quite literally simply ‘wait this out’, and change would do its thing, and at some point I will feel differently and have a different perspective. I could also act on – from? – this strange neutral place, and catalyze change in some active way. No idea whether it matters which strategy I submit to.

What do I need from me today? Some basics first, I suppose. I check the calendar for planned commitments. I look at the blank page of my task list for today, and consider what shape the day could take from that distance of minutes and hours displayed as blank lines. I hear the commuter train in the distance. I see cloud-filtered morning light bounce off blades of grass in the meadow, through the open window. I consider a second coffee, without taking action. Poor verbs, disregarded and kicked into a pile in a corner, somewhere just out of my awareness, unattended, and for now unused… Now what?

If I wait until I “sort everything out” before starting my day, it seems likely the day may never quite begin at all. Where will today take me? I’ve no idea. Perhaps if I simply begin again…

This morning I woke with the alarm clock. It’s been weeks since that’s been necessary. I’d probably have awakened plenty early without it, but having a firm departure time this morning, it was the safer choice to set the alarm. This one small change is enough to throw me off my routine this morning, and I overlook taking my medication for almost half an hour after I am “awake”. I’m not sure I’m actually quite awake even now. I take another sip of my coffee.

Rain? Maybe.

Rain? Maybe.

The morning sky seems peculiarly dark. I find myself wondering how this is so – I’m generally up at this hour, and don’t recall the sky being so dark… The sun rises 12 minutes later than it did on June 21.  So. Darker at this time? Yeah, probably a bit, but I think it’s more to do with the heavy dark clouds overhead. I watch the dawn begin with a flicker of sunlight breaking through the clouds, and breathe deeply.

Day break. Time to begin again. :-)

Day break. Time to begin again. 🙂

The sunrise begins to color the sky in shades of peach, pink, and orange. Feeling my toes cold against the concrete patio, I feel a moment of appreciation for walls, doors, a roof, and this moment as the sun rises. I put the morning on hold and enjoy the sunrise, until the heavy clouds take back the dawn.

The sunrise is so brief, surely there is time to enjoy it?

The sunrise is so brief, surely there is time to enjoy it?

It’s back to the VA, this morning. I’m feeling hopeful, and mostly pretty emotionally comfortable. I am looking forward to a visit with my traveling partner after I return home. The minutes and hours we spend together are precious. I take time to appreciate love. I check the clock. I smile contentedly; I’m right on schedule.

I’ve no specific expectations of the day, beyond attending this appointment and returning home. I’ll see where the day takes me, and then I’ll know what I’ve done with it, afterward. I’ll practice being present for each moment. I’ll breathe through any stress, remind myself it will pass, and practice not taking things personally. I’ll make a point to enjoy is enjoyable in each moment, however challenging. I’ll let go of my attachment to outcomes, expectations, and assumptions. I’ll walk my own path, and practice making mindful choices that meet my needs over time. Today seems a good day for it. 🙂

Today is singular. I woke early, from a less-than-ideally-sound sleep. I went back to sleep. I repeated this a couple times. My traveling partner was also not sleeping deeply. I sometimes snore, and I know I woke myself a couple times with it in the wee hours. This morning I am conscious of his need for sleep, and I quietly go about my gentle morning: yoga, meditation, study, a few minutes to pause and reflect on things I am grateful for and to appreciate my circumstances, a cup of coffee. I feel tender and sweet toward that human being in the other room, and enjoy treating him very well. I continue to treat myself well, too.

It is an unexpected (and unplanned) delight to have my traveling partner staying over, possibly for a couple days. I smile when I think about the delights of his day-to-day companionship, which I cherish. I frown briefly as I remind myself to continue to ‘handle business’, maintain my quality of life, and take care of myself well; it’s easy to lose track of everything but the warmth of his smile when he is staying with me. I’m very human. 🙂

Love matters most.

Love matters most.

Today is simple, my calendar is empty – that’s harder for me some days, rather than easier; there is still much to do with this precious finite lifetime and, since it isn’t on the calendar already, I’ll have to make it up as I go along. 😀  I’m okay with living life unscripted, actually. It’s taken some time to get here, but the conversations are profoundly more interesting when I don’t practice them in my head beforehand…and I hear more of what is being said. 🙂

Today I will do some things. Basic self-care will be among the things I do. I’ll prepare and consume calories. I will no doubt read something. Perhaps I’ll paint. The housekeeping is handled. The garden needs care. I find it rare to run out of things to do, and generally make a point of adding ‘sit still’ to my ‘to do list’ – not because I wouldn’t sit down for a moment, ever, if I didn’t – more because it reminds me that when I do, it matters to be in the moment, actually sitting, actually still, actually at rest, awake, aware, and committed to stillness. That moment of stillness is a big deal for me – and it can’t typically be had with the television on, sometimes even music in the background interferes with that needed moment of stillness, sitting, content, aware, not bored, not restless – calm and content.

A good day

What will I do with the day?

It’s a good day to chill. A good day for bird watching. A good day to walk in the sunshine, and to breathe fresh air.

Where does the path I choose lead?

Where does the path I choose lead?

Today I am in more pain than I’ve been in for a while. The cooler weather? It doesn’t matter too much why, the pain simply is, today. It’s just my arthritis, and it eases some with walking, and with yoga. The sense of being nauseous with pain is hard to shake, and unpleasant. It will pass. The pain isn’t terribly severe, just present, and I’ve been enjoying being in less pain with the hotter summer weather, recently (the contrast probably makes the pain seem worse than it is). This cooler more-like-spring weather returns and brings the pain with it. Today is a good one for seeking distractions. I’m okay with that. I find myself appreciating the luxury of not having to be at a desk for 8-10 hours while I am in pain; more freedom of movement results in less (and more manageable) pain.

Isn't this enough?

Isn’t this enough?

Today isn’t fancy, or busy, or well-planned, or filled with events or workload. It’s a day. It could be any day. This is the beginning and there’s so much more to come. If today were a shit day full of challenges and emotion, it would still be only a day, different from yesterday, different from tomorrow. Each one a new opportunity to do, or be, or go, or discover – or not – all at the ready to convert what I anticipated, expected or yearned for into what I recall. The stopover in this moment now, living, breathing, and being is all too brief. Today is a very good day to live now. I think I’ll go do that. 🙂

It’s been awhile since I was awake in the wee hours. I woke in tears with no recollection why I might be crying. I got a drink of water and ‘checked for monsters’ (walked through the small apartment quietly drinking my glass of water and assuring myself all is well). I went back to bed. That was more than an hour ago. I wasn’t going back to sleep, and the tears just kept sliding across my face. So.

It’s been a long while since I was awake in the wee hours. It wasn’t so long ago that it was a frequent thing, destroying my rest, throwing me off-balance, and fatiguing me well beyond any healthy sustainable point. I’m glad it isn’t every night any more. I’m appreciative that it isn’t even every week; it’s become quite rare… But I’m awake now. Tonight I am not sleeping through the night.

The wakefulness itself causes me no great stress. The feelings of insecurity and doubt, on the other hand, drive anxiety. On top of existing work stress, and common enough life stress,  I add stress in a valued, critically important (to me) relationship that suddenly feels far less secure than I generally take it to be. I am unsurprised that I am awake, or that I am overcome by waves of emotion attached to the thoughts about my experience: sad, insecure, doubtful, angry, hurt, frustrated, disappointed… did I mention sad? I did not get out of bed at 3 am to ‘enjoy’ the experience more intensely; I got up to reduce the intensity. I was not finding much success with distracting myself and getting back to dream land lying there in bed. My thoughts kept carrying me back to sad.

There is no miracle pill for sad wakefulness, or the tears that won’t quit at 3 am. There are a great many practices that ease my suffering, though. I get up and do some yoga; the focus on my physical body, and easing physical stress feels good. I drink a glass of water; crying makes me thirsty. I meditate, nothing fancy, no soundtrack, no light – just sitting in the stillness, in the darkness, focused on my breath, no timer – just time. I write. With just a few words in the night, I pause the flood of emotion to look at things from a more abstract observational perspective, giving myself a little distance from the hurting, and a chance to ‘edit the language’ as I see it in text on page instead of lit up boldly in the chemistry of my brain. It actually does make a difference [for me] to take the time to remove or change the adjectives and adverbs, correct the syntax, re-evaluate the thinking. So much easier to do that seeing it in written words [for me]. I read my experience from the edited perspective. I read it again. I am no longer crying.

Tomorrow is a work day. I haven’t set myself up for success there by being awake during the night – but being awake during the night and crying generally has an even less desirable outcome, emotionally. I feel valued to take the time with myself to ease the suffering I am experiencing, however much I can. I am definitely having my own experience. There is no lover here to hold me in the darkness and tell me everything will be okay – and maybe it won’t be. It generally will be, though, for at least some values of ‘okay’.

Small stressors keep piling up. The loss of aesthetic beauty of my wee home. The loss of day-to-day quiet here. The increasing tension and discontent in the workplace. The increasing insecurity and doubt in an important relationship. The lack of personal skill at coping with it when solitude becomes loneliness. The loss of intimacy and physical contact in my every day life. The chaos brought to my life through the exterior work being done in the community – it’s actually stressing me out to see paintings stacked differently for the convenience of contractors, or to see the A/C just sort of …sitting, no good place to store it, and such a small apartment. Lingering bitterness – not over old hurts themselves, but over the lack of being understood, the lack of consideration – or even awareness. I guess this is when I get to put new emotional resilience to the test, and find out whether all of the time and practice invested in emotional self-sufficiency will be enough to survive on. I’d like to thrive. It’s on my list of nice things to do for me. Maybe another time.

I feel very alone right now. Oddly, I notice the ticking clock – and realize there is no additional stress to being aware of the sound of it. I find some comfort in that. It’s a small thing, but it is meaningful that the ticking of the clock does not cause me stress, or anxiety. You know… sitting here in the darkness, at 3:34 am, that’s enough. It’s at least something – it’s incremental change over time. I think I’ll go back to bed.

It will be dawn soon enough. I will begin again.

It will be dawn soon enough. I will begin again.

Sleeping and dreaming are two of my favorite things. Seems a bit odd considering the challenges with insomnia, sleep disturbances, and nightmares, perhaps it is because of those things that I enjoy sleeping and dreaming so much. I enjoy and appreciate them greatly, and definitely have experience with some of the less pleasant, less restful, and less satisfying options sleep has to offer.

I did not sleep well last night. I don’t recall my dreams. I had no nightmares, and did not spend the time restlessly – I just mostly wasn’t sleeping. I managed more than 4 hours of sleep, though, and one period of unbroken sleep that lasted nearly 3 hours. Not too long ago, a night like last night would have been spent out of bed, awake, perhaps writing moodily whatever stray thought crossed my mind in the twilight of minimal artificial light. I would have, potentially, become more cross and frustrated – and anxious – as the night passed. I was sleepy and tired last night, just not able to fall asleep, or stay asleep, so I stayed in bed, relaxed and comfortable, meditating through periods of wakefulness until I felt sleep begin to return. I am decently well-rested, though not ideally so, and I am in a mostly pretty pleasant mood, although I am in a lot of pain with my arthritis.

There is a connection between quality of sleep, and my experience of pain. Pain seems more than usually painful when I am not well-rested.

I yawn, and stretch, do some yoga – slowly and with great deliberation. I am stiff, and seemingly unreasonably so, but I’m not really surprised by it, just annoyed. I accept the feeling of annoyance as a warning that I may not have the emotional resilience I expect to, today; the moment of kindness turned inward eases the annoyance, but not the pain. My medication will kick in slowly, over the next hour; I count on the yoga for as much relief, and it generally delivers.

Sipping coffee, dreaming of love, and thinking of home.

Sipping coffee, dreaming of love, and thinking of home.

It is a quiet Friday morning. I enjoy quiet mornings greatly. This one I spend gently, considerate of my needs and my lack of sleep. I take time to contemplate the sensation of ‘going home’ – and getting there – and what I might enjoy seeing and experiencing as I step into a space that feels like ‘home’ for me. For the purpose of this moment of contemplation (daydreaming?) I accept the assumption that my emotional experience of ‘feeling homeless’ is not driven by externals, that it is simply a stray sensation I am stuck on that can be changed by moving in the direction of things that feel differently for me, with practice. This opens the door to considering what does feel like ‘home’ to me? (My traveling partner is correct that my linguistic and grammatical tendency to phrase thoughts ‘in the negative’ supports negative thinking and experiences more effectively than it can support positive ones; I work on changing my implicit biases with a number of practices like this one.) Beginning with the assumption that I can improve on this experience, I allow myself to ‘think through’ a variety of ‘arriving at home’ moments, letting my imagination fill in gaps and create little details that catch my attention and point my awareness in the direction of what sorts of things really do feel like home – for me. I have changed over the years, and my taste has as well.

This morning, I ‘come home’ in my imagination to a very orderly place that feels spacious, but is quite compact. The space is ‘filled with light’; windows that bring in the natural light of morning, or afternoon is especially lovely. The decor is organized around function, and in favor of being able to create in the same space in which I live; finished art on the walls, beautifully arranged with adequate white space, easel and brushes neatly ready on a whim, and unashamedly out in the open. The art would be selected to take advantage of the light, and also ‘where I’m at’ in life now; lighter, brighter, more glow, less darkness, sensuous textures, positive meanings. Decor in neutral earth tones in light shades and pale wood case goods would direct my eye back to the color; art, objects, beautiful porcelain tea cups, books – always so many books! In a place that feels to me like ‘home’, all my lovely breakables would be on display – and in use. I would live gently in a ‘cruelty free zone’, treating myself with compassion, kindness, and care (I have been too hard on myself for far too long). The environment would feel quiet, and stillness would be available – even plentiful – and would be ‘inspiring’ to live in. The dining table would be set, beautifully, simply for the loveliness of it, in between meals. The kitchen and pantry would be arranged to suit my needs and cooking style, and would take into account my injury and my arthritis – putting things I commonly need in easiest reach, and maintaining a ‘logical sense’ that perhaps only makes sense to me, but does so in an intuitive way, changing only to improve on that. This is unmistakably a ‘selfish’ perspective; there is no reason to hold out on myself in my own daydream, and the point of the exercise has nothing whatever to do with how I treat others, or building a lovely home in a shared experience. This one is for me, about me… it is me, communicating my needs to myself with greater clarity than I otherwise might, and hoping to improve on my day-to-day experience along the way, just benefiting from knowing myself and my needs a little better.

More often than not, when I feel ‘home sick’ or yearning to ‘go home’, it is desire for a safe place that feels like my own, filled with order, stillness, sufficiency, and contentment…the other details are simply a way to get there.

...And a wee garden would be lovely, too.

…And a wee garden would be lovely, too.

Today is a good morning to consider going home. Today is a good day to consider what that means to me. Today is a good day to be my own best friend, compassionately listening, offering encouragement and support, and celebrating growth. Today is a good day to enjoy change.