Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Breaking it up

Tuesday: 45 minutes sitting
Wednesday: 20 + 30 minutes sitting

I needed to break up my meditation session today for logistical reasons, which I’ve decided is not such a horrible thing to do, especially if I can end up with more than 45 minutes total. The 30-minute afternoon session was especially pleasant—by the end of that time my legs are only just starting to fall asleep, and knowing that I’m not going to be there so long seems to be protective against the posture freakout.

Maybe I’ll do 30 + 30 for a while and see if it helps me to build endurance or restore my brain or anything.

Monday, October 28, 2019

May have miscalculated

Friday: 45 minutes sitting
Saturday: 45 minutes sitting
Sunday: 45 minutes sitting
Monday: 45 minutes sitting

I really debated with myself about taking a day off of work this weekend—normally I make it a habit, and I do think it’s smart, but my freelancer livelihood depends on not disappointing people, and I have so much to do. Finally I decided that I wanted to be absolutely sure I can be free next weekend, when Dex has suggested he may possibly be visiting, so I put in 12 hours of work between Saturday and Sunday. M.H. and I also cleaned the entire house in preparation for being jointly even busier in the month of November.

That seemed to be fine at the time, but then I sat down to meditate this morning, and my brain was broken again.* I had what I’ve started to think of as a “posture freakout,” where I can’t get comfortable, my back aches, I keep fidgeting, I question everything in my life that’s come before this moment, etc. Not saying it’s necessarily caused by overwork; but just noting the correlation for the record.

* My book says it’s not helpful or correct to think of your brain as having something wrong with it because of difficulty focusing, but that’s just my shorthand for “Out of nowhere I was meditating like a person who just started yesterday and also has an anxiety disorder.” 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

The escape artist

Tuesday: 45 minutes sitting
Wednesday: 45 minutes sitting
Thursday: 45 minutes sitting

Weird meditation thing: the phenomenon of having your own brain try to outsmart you.

It’s because it gets bored so easily. It’s like an fidgety animal you’re trying to tame, and it’s always testing its limits. First it just runs off and thinks about whatever it wants, and you have to guide it back to your breath over and over. Then it argues with you about why it’s OK—no, better—to be thinking about something besides your breath. Then it makes you sleepy so it can wander off without your noticing.

I’ve read about all of the above in my meditation book. But today I noticed that I was blending thoughts together in a way that has never happened before and is hard to explain. At one point, for example, I realized that I was thinking about both my breath and the fireplace that was right in front of me, but it wasn’t two thoughts; my breath was the fireplace. I was still focused on my breath, but I was breathing the fireplace in and out.

I know that sounds insane—or like I was dozing off—but I think it was actually a really creative way my mind was trying to use to try to “escape.” And it was working, too!

Monday, October 21, 2019

Whooo’s psyched to get a new toy?

Friday: 25/25 minutes sitting
Saturday: 45 minutes sitting
Sunday: 45 minutes sitting
Monday: 45 minutes sitting

Further reading on why legs fall asleep during meditation and how to prevent it led me to the world of specialized meditation pillows (called zafus), which led me straight to Etsy with a fancy new search term, which led me to this wonderful thing:

I am weird in that I almost entirely refuse to purchase anything new; I do all my shopping for clothes and household stuff at garage sales and thrift stores. So it might seem very out of character for me to drop $54 plus shipping on this, but you have to understand it’s not that I’m cheap, per se. I just don’t want to create additional demand for things mass-produced by giant companies and underpaid workers for rich Americans to wantonly buy and then discard. On the other hand I’m a big supporter of individual humans who have artsy side businesses of hand-crafting owl-themed meditation gear that might make me more comfortable for 45 minutes every morning.

The bad news is that there was a mix-up of some sort and this actual zafu got sold twice. The good news is that the owl-sewer is going to make me a new one exactly like it and, by request, make it a little taller than the original. I’ll have to wait a few more weeks, but now it’s perfect in every way.

P.S. There have been some ups and downs, but I feel like my brain is 90 percent back from being broken.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Trying to make it to Friday, unironically

Wednesday: 45 minutes sitting
Thursday: 45 minutes sitting

I swear, working so hard for so long just breaks your brain somehow. I’ve had just a normal amount of work all this week, but the weekend was an absolute, you-don’t-need-to-hear-the-details nightmare that capped off three straight weeks of long workdays, and there’s no doubt in my mind that what I really need right now is a few days off, and soon.

I’m sure I would have been able to figure this out anyway, but sitting down to try to meditate really makes a broken brain come into sharp focus.

I’m assuming the meditation time is a force for good here, but it’s also a lot of mental work, and sort of exhausting. I’m thinking about breaking the session up into shorter chunks for a few days to see if that seems more manageable while I try to recuperate.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

In the eye of the storm

Thursday: 40 minutes sitting
Friday: 40 minutes sitting
Saturday: 10 minutes(?) lying in bed
Sunday: 40 minutes sitting
Monday: 40 minutes sitting
Tuesday: 40 minutes sitting

I had a horrifyingly bad day in the middle there—there was a computer issue compounding a deadline issue, and I spent all day figuring out how to fix the former when I needed to be working on the latter. I realized at 10 p.m., just as things were finally getting sorted out, that I still hadn’t gotten around to meditating, but since 10 p.m. is already at least an hour past my bedtime, I knew it was pointless. I did what I could to avoid writing a 0 up there.

I have another big deadline on the horizon, but I’m hoping now for a week or two of relative calm (and real weekends) before things get stupid again.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Keeping it together

Tuesday: 40 minutes sitting
Wednesday: 40 minutes sitting

All my clients insist on continuing to send me work, even though I was maxed out about four projects ago. I’ve already said no where I can (thanks but no thanks, Grumpy!) and pushed back several of the proposed deadlines. Now, due to basically never leaving my desk, I think it’s just possible I might be able to deliver for everyone—but only if the influx stops immediately.

So that’s the situation, and it’s notable to me that I’ve been just steadily working through it all, prioritizing appropriately, without panicking or getting overwhelmed. (I mean, I am overwhelmed, but not emotionally.)

I’m just a baby meditator in the grand scheme of things, but I think I’m seeing the fruits of doing a serious, sustained practice versus doing the five-minutes-a-day practice I’ve seen recommended in self-help books.

I’m still waiting for acquaintances to remark on how calm and enlightened I am all the sudden, but maybe that’s just because I never leave my house in order to see any of my acquaintances.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Work mode

Saturday: 40 minutes sitting
Sunday: 40 minutes sitting
Monday: 40 minutes sitting

I probably technically don’t have time to write anything, but you can’t work ALL day, even with a giant book deadline, concurrent with two less-giant deadlines this week that need to be worked into the cracks. Everything I do now counts as a “break,” including flossing my teeth and taking out the compost.

On the numbness front, Saturday was the day my right leg fell so soundly asleep that I literally couldn’t move it. I had to flop over onto my stomach and belly-crawl until it was straight enough to regain feeling. Sunday went much better, and today was somewhere in between.

And I’ve worked 27 hours now since Saturday morning; the book I have due for Happy is going to take a minimum of 27 more, but that could go much higher if I want to do a better job. (Happy’s industry prioritizes speed over perfection.)

It’s an easy decision not to jump up to 45 minutes of meditation anytime soon.

Friday, October 4, 2019

The gym situation

Wednesday: 40 minutes sitting
Thursday: 40 minutes sitting
Friday: 40 minutes sitting (in a chair)

I quit the gym a few years ago, having decided that it wasn’t worth the money and that the bossy, competitive, appearance-focused, “no pain, no gain” attitude there was not really my style. But this summer I wanted a place to swim that wouldn’t require me to get up at the crack of dawn and then freeze to death while embarrassing my son, so I took advantage of a special they were having to join from May through August.

It was nice to have a place to swim and really nice to rejoin my favorite yoga classes for a few months, but mostly I reconfirmed to myself that it’s really not worth the money. So I’m a nonmember once again, but I’ve hit on a great way to have the best of both worlds: Since my mom is a member, she can bring me in as a guest for $5. I’ve been arranging to have her bring me in at 9 a.m. on Friday to go to my favorite yoga class—and then because the guest pass is good for 24 hours, I get up around 7:30 on Saturday morning to swim. So I get to go twice a week for $20 a month. That’s like 90 percent of what I would have done with a regular $60-a-month membership anyway, so the math works out favorably.

I don’t know why I even decided to mention all this on my meditation blog, except that it’s part of my “training” to sit and also I’m really tired right now from yoga this morning. :)

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

In training

Tuesday: 40 minutes sitting

Getting up to 40 minutes feels like a big accomplishment! It will be good to hit the magic* number of 45, though, so I can stop increasing the time for a while. My main challenges are physical—it is just hard to sit up straight on the floor for so long, plus my legs are still falling asleep. Of course I am adapting—I have basically the same issues I started with, but instead of appearing at, like, minute 9, they appear at minute 32.

I was thinking about how I could work on the physical aspects of meditation, so I used the trick of asking my pretend internal life coach. She wisely said, “You have to train for this $#!+,”** so there you go: an exciting new incentive to work on my core strength, hip flexibility, and overall health.***

* Magic meaning that’s what the book says my minimum should be (but I’m allowed to get there in my own time).
** Remembering fondly how my mom used to read me the comics when I was very little, and every time she encountered one of those symbols-as-swear-words constructions that show up so often, she would say, “blankety-blank.”
*** As if being blankety-blank 48 wasn’t reason enough.