Monday, September 16, 2019

Running nostalgia

Thursday: 25 minutes sitting
Friday: 27 minutes sitting
Saturday: 27 minutes sitting (in a chair*)
Sunday: 27 minutes sitting (in a chair*)
Monday: 30 minutes sitting

Ruh-roh, better catch up. The blog suffers when I have a real weekend, but it is well worth it not to turn on my computer at all.

When we went out for a walk yesterday we ran into a couple of Montana Marathon** stragglers passing by Mile 20 rather late in the day. One of them was limping and looked awful—I wanted to pull her aside and ask if it was really worth it to press on for six more miles—but it still made me sort of nostalgic for the marathon experience. I no longer think it’s good for me to run such long distances, but I started fantasizing about training to walk it next year. I am officially slapping that idea away, though. The meditation thing is the thing I’m doing now, and I don’t want to make the classic Julie mistake of starting a whole bunch of other rules/resolutions at the same time.

* I have a chair in my closet that is great for throwing once-worn clothes on, and it also works for meditation when my normal spot is not available (perhaps because someone is napping near there). It was a pleasant little break to not have to worry about my leg falling asleep.

** I went looking for my race report, and it’s not on this blog but on a computer file and dated Sept. 20, 2009. Ten-year anniversary!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Tuesday: 25 minutes sitting
Wednesday: 25 minutes sitting

I’ve been in a weird, moody mood where I definitely don’t feel like working or socializing, but I do feel like weeding the lawn. Like all day, weather-permitting. I might just be crying out for fresh air and sunshine—or maybe it’s the said, neglected lawn doing the crying. It’s infested with some insidious new kind of weed this summer that is really challenging my commitment not to use chemicals.

At any rate, my current status is: Wishing I did not have any other commitments so that I might spend a relaxing week or so filling cans with yard debris.

Monday, September 9, 2019


Saturday: 25 minutes sitting
Sunday: 25 minutes sitting
Monday: 25 minutes sitting

I dove into the index of my meditation book this morning to read everything it had on legs falling asleep, because that has suddenly become a major issue. The topic comes up a bunch of times, and it seems I have several options:
  1. Just meditate in a chair or lying down; it doesn’t matter
  2. Wait for the body to adapt; it will eventually get used to sitting for long periods
  3. Ignore any harmless sensation; it is practice for dealing with distraction
  4. If it’s too distracting, turn the focus to the sensation itself and meditate on that instead of the breath; I can then mindfully decide to change position if I want
I’m trying to get over the silly notion that sitting in a chair is not how the cool meditators do it. At any rate, #1 and #2 are mutually exclusive, so for now I’ll just try #2 and #3, resorting to #4 when I have to. Oh, and great idea* that just occurred to me: I’ll also raise my cushion a little higher off the ground for the time being.

I think I heard somewhere once that the whole original purpose of yoga was to make the body more comfortable in meditation. I really like that concept (which is why I’m not even Googling it to find out if it’s accurate), and I do enjoy some yoga before I meditate. It definitely makes sitting afterward feel that much more relaxing.

* As I was flipping around the book, I noticed that one of my earlier observations is addressed as well. I called it “The challenge of ideas”; he calls it “The Problem of Discursive Brilliance.” :)

Friday, September 6, 2019

Sitting and Twitting

Friday: 20 minutes sitting

I was planning to increase my meditation time by 5 minutes a week until I hit 45, but adding that precise amount of time precisely every seven days feels so arbitrary when I am clearly ready for more. (I swear I am not just trying to rush through Stage One!)

I know you’re probably very worried about how I’m going to find 45 minutes in my busy schedule, but I’m thinking I can take some of it from the approximately 15 minutes I waste on Twitter after every session before even getting up from my meditation cushion. Now you’re probably wondering what the hell is wrong with me, and I don’t know. I guess sometimes I don’t want to stand up yet because my lower legs are asleep, and sometimes I’m just succumbing to an addiction to my phone. It has a nifty meditation timer app that I like using, but I suppose I should at least start setting the thing down out of reach.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Gift from a neglected garden

Thursday: 20 minutes sitting

Sometime in, I assume, May, I planted some seeds in my little garden as if spring and summer of 2019 weren’t going to be a nightmarish haze. Fast-forward to September, and I’ve pulled some weeds now and then but honestly have no idea what else is supposed to be growing in there. There are several large, leafy things, but no vegetables that I can discern.

I honestly didn’t bother about it much, but then a few days ago, some part of my mind piped up with: Kale?

Yes, of course! A vegetable where the leaves are the finished product!

Brain almost immediately fortified with kale chips, I thought to have a look at my seed packets, and the other plants are supposed to be baby bok choy and Brussels sprouts—but if those are happening this year, they don’t seem to have happened yet.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Trips and traps

Wednesday: 20 minutes sitting

As I mentioned, the book I’m reading presents meditation as a journey that’s actually leading somewhere, versus just a thing to do for a few minutes a day to be better at life or whatever. Maybe that is not a surprise to you, but apparently everything I’ve read on the subject until recently has been rather Americanized.

Anyway, I’m on Stage One, where literally all I have to do is establish a regular meditation practice. I’m also working at the same time on Stage Two, where I aim to lengthen my periods of focus and shorten my periods of distraction. Doing both at once is fine (and book-approved), and I suspect—since I’m really taking my time to get Stage One right—that when I’ve mastered it I will have pretty much finished Stage Two as well.

All this stage stuff is tricky, though. You want to stay motivated and aware of where you are on your journey, but you also don’t want to get fixated on goals or achieving the next milestone. I feel like I could be vulnerable to that latter trap, so I haven’t even read the chapters about Stage Three and beyond.

Another trap, by the way, is categorizing any one meditation session as good or bad. That leaves very little to talk about in a blog post, but I will just say that today’s session was quite pleasant in general and that for the first time in a while no body parts fell asleep. :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The children

Monday: 20 minutes sitting
Tuesday: 20 minutes sitting

Dex graced us with a short visit on Monday morning, which was nice, because it’s been days now since we’ve had a child in this empty nest. His life is full of adventures that it’s probably good he never tells me about until after the fact: four-day backpacking trips with sketchy trail maps, full days spent rock climbing, a series of quests to soak in secret hot springs, that kind of thing. (Actually, literally those things.) I’ve always been glad we moved to Montana, but I think I’m gladdest about having brought Dex here. At least we will always know where to find him.

I wonder where Mik will ultimately end up, but I suspect it won’t be determined by something esoteric like the call of the mountains. I feel really good about where he is now, though, which, if you don’t know, is a teeny Midwestern college with challenging academics and a superior swim team. He’s just casually enrolled in Calculus II, hit the weight room, and gotten on with it.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The challenge of ideas

Saturday: 15 minutes sitting*
Sunday: 15 minutes sitting

Here’s an initial challenge to blogging about a meditation journey (as opposed to blogging about an Ironman training journey): While doing the meditation “training,” you don’t get to amuse yourself by writing your next post in your head. Writing in your head is an amazing distraction for, for example, swimming laps, but here the whole point is to not get distracted.

Actually, all sorts of ideas pop up while you’re sitting and breathing, but rather than entertain them, you’re supposed to pat them on the head, set them aside, and go back to focusing on your nostrils.

At this (early, early, early) stage, I have to say that ideas are a particularly tempting distraction for me. I really love to entertain them and have even been known to form elaborate plans and acronyms around them.

But all this is just a monkey running off with my elephant, so I’m patiently walking the path.**


* I am specifying “sitting” because at some point down the road I may break up longer sessions with a walking meditation or something else.

** The monkey is distracting thoughts, the elephant is my mind, and the monk at lower right is me.

 Image result for monkey elephant illustration meditation