Since going MIA from blogland I have had a lot of changes in my life. I think, in the end, that is probably a good thing, although it would be agreed that it was a bunch of decidedly not good things that brought me to today. Ah life, what is it but a bunch of decidedly not good things strung together with an occasional rainbow, puppy and kitten tossed in the mix to keep us sane? Life is hard. Dealing with it can be tough. I am very happy with the distractions of cuteness and hilarity that pop in to make it bearable. If you are a creator of such things, thank you! And please, keep it coming! This world needs you!
One of the ways that I’ve been trying to chillax is to try and do that thing that they always say you should do when you are stressed out and pulling out your hair – meditate. Now if we are talking about meditating on why the world is kind of a poopy place, what kind of chocolate I should have at snack time, or what was the next book I should read – I was a meditation pro! For the actual sitting down and letting your mind be clear thing, well, not so muc-squirrel!! Squirrel!! I see a squirrel- wait is that something shiny…what were we talking about?
Seriously though, I tried meditating occasionally on my own before and to be honest, at that point, sitting still and listening to the nothing echoing around in my head for 5 minutes felt like a lifetime of worrying about if I missed the alarm that sounded when I was supposed to stop (I only had to check every other minute, which I’m sure is probably very good form for a beginner). Then I stopped, because, honestly, I didn’t really see how doing nothing for five minutes was helping me at all. Occasionally, I would pick it up again here and there but mostly I preferred to eat cake, cookies and assorted chocolate and ice cream when bad things came my way. Come on, it’s tasty! Why not pick the tasty route? I was only getting stressed out multiple times a day, that’s a lot of food! Yay! Food!!
I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was trying to keep my brain quiet in these times to avoid the dreaded “monkey brain” which is what I’d heard thinking while meditating being called. I found all I really had was monkey brain, so tried doing a thing where you label your thoughts with something general to better push them out of the thinky space when you are trying to keep it clean for five minutes. So, I wonder if I left the oven on?, fix a with a “Worry” label and push it out an imaginary door. Am I breathing right? Another “Worry”. What colour socks am I wearing? That’s a “thought” (ok, that might be being generous). Oh, yeah, I’m not wearing socks. “Thought”. My feet are cold. “Thought”. Well, you get the picture. About four more minutes of that and my five minutes were done.
Then someone recommended Headspace to me, and guided mediation, and it was kind of a game changer. When someone is telling you something, I found I actually had the attention span available to not (always) be thinking and could just wait for the next thing they say. Score!!! They have a free set of core meditations you can do indefinitely (although the app may remind you every so often that you could pay for so much more!) and it also had something that was also right up my alley. Stats. Oh yeah, baby! Wanna know how many times you meditated on the app? For how many minutes on average and total? It was there! I had some way to count my progress! So, obviously, count it I did, and meditate every day for 5 minutes I did, then I started doing 10 (cuz, well, it’s me we’re talking about here, and that is the logical next step for leveling up your game) and sometimes, even 15. I did it every day for a few months, and then I missed a day and was kind of devastated to have lost the progress and had to start again, but I did! I did!
From these meditations, I learned that I didn’t have to push the thoughts out, so much as let them float by and not follow them. You could observe, acknowledge and let go. Focus where you wanted to and not let yourself drag you into a corner to beat yourself up or have a short chat about something. The more practice I got, the easier this was, but every day was different and yet very much the same. It was interesting to step back from thinking the usual way and not be quite so involved in my own head. There was something to that. To just being and breathing.
And that was when something magical started happening. I started noticing things. Like if I was outside, I would feel the wind and actually stop and breathe for a few seconds just feeling that gentle touch on my skin. I mediated a lot on change, as it was a topic in the freebies and I started noticing and appreciating the way things change. And not necessarily big things, like the seasons, but the little things, like standing up and sitting down (which they suggest to pay attention to, and it was hard. You just take movement and breathing for granted and don’t look at it as small constant changes, well, I always did anyway). And suddenly I was acknowledging that the world was not a static space to wrap your arms around and close your eyes and not let go of. It was a moving space, a living thing, here and gone, changing, always changing. Every moment, every breath, precious in it’s own way if you stop just long enough to notice. And I was changing too. This was a whole other type of squirrel, but it didn’t have the intensity and demanding of attention, this was casual, calm, and weirdly profound. Like bumping into a mountain that you had been walking around for years and somehow didn’t notice.
I eventually fell away from the daily thing, lost my momentum, life moved on. I fell down another hole here and there, I guess you could say, but something I learned is that if things start piling up on me and I need to slow down, and take a moment, then I can. I heard a Ted talk on meditation that mentions that we spend so much time paying attention to other things, but so often we don’t make room to take care of our minds. Moving forward, I’m going to try and give mine a bit more TLC. I am likely going to start up meditating daily again, because it’s a kind of doing nothing that does end up feeling good in a way I can’t quite put my finger on at the moment, and at this moment, and at this moment…but first maybe I’ll get some cake before I start.
If you are interested in the Ted Talk I mentioned above you can see it here:
Also someone with free meditations and talks is Tara Brach. You can check her stuff out here.
Any interest in meditation? Experiences? Favourites? Wanna talk about it? Leave me a note anytime. 🙂