Weekend bliss? – #MindfulChallenge

The trouble with writing about your meditation experience, is that your mind has a tendency to start thinking about what you are going to write, about how hard it is to stop thinking…which, of course, means I’m thinking..it’s quite a mind numbing circle.
It’s the weekend and I’m curled up in bed. The kids are all safely tucked away around the house on various devices. So it’s seems opportune to take my daily time out.

The knot it my stomach, is still there, it always is. About what…I couldn’t tell you. I wish it would go away but calm patient meditation man is telling me that I should be trying not to resist or wish for things to be different than they are. Just notice them.

So ..Ok….listen to my breath. My mind is going bonkers as usual, time and time again I keep suddenly remembering about my breath.  What we having for dinner tonight?….oh yes, breath….What shall i do with my life? …woops….breath….I wonder what the children are doing?…blow that thought away…breath…was that a car driving in the driveway?…refocus on the breath….

Kelly Exeter posted a great article about her challenges with meditation “Why meditation isn’t ‘working’ for you” and I think she makes some two really good points about the expectations that people have when they meditate.  Essentially, 1) That when you are “good at it”, you will have no thoughts and 2) You will feel amazing in the moment.

This is really true for me, I imagine that when I “get good” at meditating, it will feel like levitating, and my mind will be calm and still …like a pond. But really, that’s not the point. Meditation is actually practicing, like practicing an instrument, to be able to keep bringing your mind back to one focus point…over and over and over….

It is reminding me of bed time training with the kids. My daughter never liked going to bed (still doesn’t).  I was told that the best thing to do is to not “engage”, simple get up…take them back to bed, and walk off again. One night I took her back to bed 35 times. It is a huge mental challenge not to go bananas.

And if I think about it in that context, I realise that I am actually starting to progress on this. I think I’m better at putting my naughty children thoughts back to bed. I’m less concerned about how many thoughts are coming. Because the point isn’t to not have the thoughts, but the game is being able to calmly put them back to bed. I have also noticed that I have started to catch myself when I am unfocused and thinking about other things at other random moments in the day. When I’m driving. Brushing my teeth. Trying to get a peice of work done. I suddenly think…oh…your distracted and thinking about something else…bring your mind back. I’m by no means anywhere near a quiet mind but I’m starting to feel like I’m moving forward.

Crap..I’ve forgotton about my breath again… see!!! Arghh

Times up. Oh well, there will be more practice tomorrow…

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Day 1 – #MindfulChallenge

OK step one of the mindful challenge. Start a daily meditation practice.

I’m going to do a Headspace mediation every day. I’ve had the app for about two years and throughout that time I have racked up an impressive (??) 30 meditations #winning,  so I’m thinking that I may need to be a little more consistent.

My challenge is that the meditation that is supposed to make me feel less anxious…well…makes me anxious.

My brain is very active, this morning whilst trying to focus on my breath, my brain was having its own party. Woot woot…she’s just sitting, lets go banana’s. Thoughts were popping up about things that happened in the past or plans for the future. I was thinking about all the things on my to do list, “what are the kids having for lunch today?”, “when are the school photos?”, “do I need to put my washing on?”.

But I know the drill, each time they pop up, I just acknowledge and go back to the breath. So then my brain starts being a bit crazy, at one point…it was singing songs. And there’s this “commentator”, who seems to take pleasure in doing like a voice-over for everything that is happening… and I’m a little embarrassed to say that most of this blog post was written in my head while I was trying to focus on my breath, it just kept popping up and wouldn’t go away. I tried to imagine putting my ideas in a box (I think my brain was worried about forgetting them), or imagine it as clouds in a blue sky blowing slowly away (but then my brain started singing “blue sky…nothing but blue sky..”).

And then there’s the feelings, my body hits the adrenalin response…not exactly helpful when you are trying to be calm. My stomach starts knotting. And this morning I also felt sad. Then bored. Then frustrated.

15 minute meditation complete and I’m feeling, exhausted. Pretty sure that’s not how it was meant to play out.

I know I know I know…this is exactly why I NEED to practice, why this is exactly what I should be doing. Right now it isn’t a very pleasant experience though. I’m not exactly inspired to continue.

But it’s day 1 …right… they say nothing worth doing is easy (my husbands favourite quote whenever I complain about anything..yes…yes, it is annoying).

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I found a circuit breaker for my brain…

IMG_0571This month I’ve been on a slow down mission…and, I think I’m finally getting it. I haven’t managed to sit quietly meditating every day,  but I have done it every couple of days.  And I have been trying to move slower,  to say “no” to too many commitments, to sit with a cup of tea and read my book more often.  As my Headspace App tells me, calm in your mind is like a beautiful blue sky…sometimes it is covered with clouds (aka your thoughts), but the blue sky is always there underneath it…you just need to let the clouds pass.

However, as I slowed down, an interesting thing happened.   I got more stressed and anxious.   The clouds weren’t passing, they were brewing a storm.  What?  No?!?  The whole point of this was to feel calmer, not feel worse!

But the more I made space in my mind, the more the unsettled feelings started to bubble to the surface.   Which, of course, made me more anxious and frustrated.  Clearly,  moving fast and being  very task oriented was keeping me from really truly deeply thinking.  And I’m actually not sure now if I want to go there…

Not that there is anything particularly unnerving to be found ( I don’t think!?), but I suppose just acknowledgement that maybe I have taken on too much which is swiftly followed by a slight (ok overwhelming) panic that I’m not sure which piece of my puzzle isn’t fitting right or how to fix it (yep…there she is, Claire the Control Freak  comes out to play). And not surprisingly, yet again, I hit another wall.  Another melt down.  I’ll spare you the details (but I’ll give you a hint, the children were involved).

It just so happened, though, that I already had a plan in place to have a weekend away with some girlfriends.  I have to admit I wasn’t sure I was going to be good company. But the idea of having a break away from the every day seemed blissful.   And I was right… It was like a circuit breaker for the all the thoughts going around in my head.    Now, I was really able to slow down.  And when I slowed, instead of panic, the gaps were filled with laughter, music and just a quiet calm.

My sister bought me one of those mindfulness adult colouring in books for my birthday (I hear they are really hot right now,  good to know I’m totally on trend)…and I found myself on Sat afternoon sitting by the fire,  colouring the pages, with a glass of wine and good company.  And it felt awesome!

I think I kinda expected that the moment I started to slow down,  I would feel instantly amazeballs and on top of things (because clearly I am amazeballs, I just feel like I have lost that person a little bit in all the chaos).  However, maybe you need to be a little bit more patient (something I am not).  Maybe, it takes longer than you think for your mind to start to slow…and it gets a little worse before it gets better?

I know I still have a long way to go, but I finally feel like I am heading in the right direction.

And next week, I get to start Step 2 of my Ten Steps to Work Life Amazingness…Moving Daily…hmm…

Have a great week…beaming sunshine and happiness to you all… claire2