There’s a Zen saying that how we do one thing is how we do everything.
I don’t subscribe to that perfect fractal theory of everything, however, I do notice there’s a theme that goes with me everywhere I go. A theme is like a default, almost a factory setting, wired into my mind. Mine is, something like, “start energetically, then lose focus, let interest slide elsewhere, and get involved with something else. Repeat pattern.”
I have been learning more about my attention — and that, since I tend to like change and thrive on learning new things — sustaining energetic enthusiasm for something repetitive or prolonged requires a great deal of FOCUS on my part.
Not effort, just paying attention. As a neophyte to meditation practice, I kept a journal for several fall months. Now, in spring, I’m re-reading the journal to glean any enlightenment or amusement.
Day 2 was very difficult so I think the first day I was riding on the wave of our first class night. My body wanted to bend not sit up. Waves of sleep chemicals overwhelmed my focus…yet after 10 minutes I got a few moments of stillness and clarity. Better than none!
Day 3 stayed home sick so meditated later in the morning. The natural pull was to be thinking and planning. I decided to think about my intention. “I am doing this for creativity. I want to be in touch with myself and my true nature, which is creative.” Saying my purpose was like a commanding presence in my head. The chatter and natter ceased.
On Day 5 I was at Asilomar. My mind was like the birdsong with a thought here, a snippet there — and I heard a voice in the background — doubting. “Why are you doing this?” I felt the criticism. How worthless my little practice is. That observation is a huge hint about why i start things with energy and dedication and then they fall by the wayside.
Doubt hides, but I was glad to hear it clearly. Ah, you little scoundrel, you. Knowing a varmit is in the bushes is better than being ignorant.
Day 6 I actually looked forward to my meditation time as a reason to get up this morning. I lit the candle and sat after starting my tea. This roll of thought flowed by, like a player piano, but frankly they are getting, well, less interesting. 🙂 I remember observing their newspaper-like repetitiveness and thinking, “My dreams are comparatively fresher and more interesting than this narrative version I call my thoughts.”
Day 7 the distraction is being chilly. Cover legs, wear a jacket, find a shawl. I like that my tea is steeping, while my mind is — um, not steeping. Maybe clearing? Waking up to inner consciousness? What, really am I “doing” when I meditate??
In class Tuesday night, I learned one thing I’m learning is to be dispassionate. To keep my cool. Be self-possessed. And how to use pranayama breath to calm down. Chill out! God, did I need it.
On October 3 I wrote a long entry about going for my regular dental checkout to find I had a cracked filling and the tooth needed a root canal. Except for humming a little distracting tune while Dr. N injected Novocaine into my gums, I stayed with my mantra, breathing regularly (through my third eye). I meditated for the entire procedure, even with the weird sound effects. I got a heightened appreciation of the value of focus. I took some Ibuprofen and went out to dinner and to see Gone Girl with my walking buddy.
Today meditating helped calm some emotional energy and kept me from the brink of just wanting to cry. I am making decisions; to look at my retirement account again and seek alternative income to support myself. Ugh. Sunday I worked on grant stuff all day, felt lonely, worried about projects, regretted not being more patient with others, and really don’t have enough patience with myself. On the one hand, I don’t think I’m doing well at this — and other the other, perhaps this vulnerable feeling may be a result of opening up.
October 6 Tuesday already again. I see my self-judgement in “how well I’m doing at this.” I suspect something bigger is happening than my thought-count being reduced. I’m getting keenly aware of being aware. I find a rest between tasks. Having more tasks than fit in the clock day perturbs me less. Oh, Inner Critic, I can ignore you. You are always evaluating something about which you know little.
October 12 I notice that the underlying activity to simply resting and breathing has been problem solving. I could write about balance. Not hanging out solely in the body or in the mind.
Oct 17 Paying attention has been helpful and revealing. Yesterday, however, I was end-of-the-week weary. The dullness seemed overwhelming. I need to let go.
More letting go. There’s a freedom I’m feeling in not being attached to what my peers think of my work or of me. the layer that is arising for my inner work is fear. Let me not list them all here. I can do this. I can make the life circumstance changes I want. Lots of palpable fear – in my body, my energy and thoughts. Trying to face this squarely as i would dearly love to do more creative work for my income.
Yes, I am becoming more at home with my own self. There’s a joy and a spark of aliveness. And the circumstances aren’t really different. There isn’t a something that is going to make me happy. I just get to stop chasing after happiness.
November 18 Signing off on discontentment is such an energy release. Discontentment narrows attention.
What has worked is to put my yoga mat into the morning routine, doing some standing, floor and forward fold poses for awhile before meditating.
So far, I’ve learned to calm my feelings, see the attachments that drive emotions, quiet down to think clearly, stand up for myself, write more to know my thoughts, unfriend my defensiveness, and most of all, I learned that the art of gratitude can heal a lot of darkness. Gratitude can light it up. I care less about my peers’ drama and stand in calm happiness for the privilege of teaching.
It’s okay to set the bar high. I will be paralyzed by failure if I fear it. An obstacle is a place to learn. These homilies start sounding trite all lined up together. Do I persist in making poor choices? Sometimes.
Sometimes words, especially words condensed over time, can become pedantic. I don’t want to be “high-minded” rather to reflect on my reflections in one place. If my themes are true, they may resonate with you.