Tag Archives: meditation

introducing zen-log

9 Feb

As a way to keep myself on track with my meditation I decided to record my sessions on my blog. This is mostly for me so I can hold myself accountable and write about anything interesting that comes up during meditation.

If you are uninterested in such things, feel free to ignore any posts labeled zen-log.

If you are a fellow meditator, feel free to have a look. I welcome any guidance that you may wish to offer.

you ride the waves and don’t ask where they go

14 Sep

School update:  I did get a volunteer for my project and I did the initial interview with her yesterday. It seems like they’ll be a great family to work with. We ended up talking for quite a while after the actual interview was done.  It was quite nice. It seems that, once again, I may have freaked out for nothing.  But, it’s hard to change your old patterns.  I’m trying.

Meditation update: I slacked for two days, then got back to it yesterday.  It went much better than on previous days.  I still had monkey mind for the first ten minutes, but then it calmed down.  I think getting some extra sleep definitely helped.  When I try to meditate when I’m sleepy it’s infinitely more difficult. This awakening stuff is hard work.

Emotion update: After about a week of deep loneliness my emotional state has switched over to anger. Maybe this is just the progression of my grieving process or something. I’m angry at myself and at some other people.  But mostly at myself.  I’m starting to realize that I shouldn’t apologize to people for feeling how I feel….about anything. This is doubly true for when I’m in a relationship with someone. My emotions and needs are valid, whether someone else agrees with it or not. I’m angry at myself for forgetting this and losing perspective. Trying to accommodate someone else is not always the right thing to do, even if you love them. Especially if you love them.  Sticking up for myself has never been something I’ve been good at.  But again, I’m trying.

Cheesy concluding sentiment: Recently I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my life and the decisions I’ve made. I’m starting to believe what people say. Your experiences, bad and good, teach you something and if you’re smart you’ll use it as an opportunity to grow. In my younger years I chalked that up to optimistic bullshit. I guess I’m getting wiser or <gasp> turning into an optimist.  In any case, it feels like progress, and that’s all any of us can really hope for.

nipping at my heels

11 Sep

Okay, so I guess posting everyday didn’t work out. I feel like I would just end up making crap posts to fill in space, and that’s not entertaining. Plus, I’ve been too worried about school this week to make sure I posted every day.

As I predicted, failure on the NaBloPoMo thing.

Also, I’m having some issues with my meditation practice as well. I’ve been keeping up with it and doing it almost every day. But the last couple of days have been brutal. I can’t concentrate on my meditation at all. I end up just sitting there thinking about all the crap I’d been thinking about all day long.

I think I’m going to write this off to “last week sucked” and try to start fresh today.

gloomy

5 Sep

That’s what the weather is like today and that’s how I’m feeling.

I was doing so well the first two weeks after the breakup. Now I feel lonely and stressed out. I cried and now my face feels all crusty.

I know I’m probably feeling worse today because I didn’t get enough sleep the past two nights.  I know that has a big effect on my mood. I guess I’ll do my meditation and see if that helps. I’m going on faith that if I meditate every day that I’ll have some sort of positive change in my perspective.  I guess the only way to find out is to keep doing it.

goalkeeping

31 Aug

So, I’m going to try to post something every day for the month of September for NaBloPoMo.  I have attempted in the past and have failed, as is indicative of my ability to commit to a routine. I guess I need to do a behavioral intervention on myself.

Also, I downloaded a nifty app for my iPod that is a meditation timer with fancy bells and a log of all the time that you meditate with charts and graphs and such. This might seem a little counterintuitive, since mediation isn’t supposed to be about reaching any particular goal. But, because I can also be a perfectionist I think it might keep me motivated to meditate every day. I wouldn’t want an unsightly gap in my graphs, now would I?

there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in

18 Aug
Image by Lynn Park

Image by Lynn Park

Like many people, I’m turning to my spiritual side in a time of turmoil. I’ve called myself a Buddhist for a few years now. I’ve joined Zen centers and gone on retreats and practiced meditation on and off. Now, I’m committing myself to a regular meditation practice.

I’ve started reading a lovely book by Susan Piver called The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. It has been very helpful for me. It looks at dealing with a breakup from a Buddhist slant, but could be helpful to people of any faith as it is not overtly dogmatic or religious. This Buddhist viewpoint tells us that it is best to acknowledge and allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling. We should lean into the pain without grasping on to it or pushing it away. Piver gives suggestions for a meditation practice and useful exercises peppered with personal anecdotes and observations about love and the human heart. I’m not usually into anything too new-agey, but this book is just right. Piver brings the good news that with a broken heart comes the opportunity for total transformation. She writes:

Although it is tremendously disorienting on one hand, on another, you will never see so clearly as you do when your heart is broken. If you’ve ever wanted to get at the truth about your life, your character and destiny, the depth of your friendships, you can choose to see these things now.

Something else that she brings up that I wholeheartedly agree with is that when one has a broken heart one has a unique opportunity to feel emotions more intensely and to empathize with others more completely.

When your heart is broken, sadness begins to soften you whether you want it to or not. Your normal defenses are gone. When you think of the pain you feel, the tears come. A sad movie or song could make you cry, but so could a happy one; the poignancy of any genuine emotion is inescapably touching. When you see that others are in pain, you cry for them, too. The world actually seems alive in a way it never had before – every moment seems laden with meaning.

…Heart break presents a very important choice: you can either open to it and allow it to soften and strengthen you, or you can fight it tooth and nail and turn away from it, which is tantamount to giving it permission to harden your heart.

In my experience this is utterly and completely true, and I intend to take full advantage of it.

don’t be afraid

17 Aug

Here is the world.  Beautiful and terrible things will happen.  Don’t be afraid. 

~Frederick Buechner


The relationship I was in for over a year ended on Sunday. I can say that right now I’m feeling way more emotions than I really want to be.  But, I haven’t lost my grip on reality, which is saying something.

I won’t go into details as they aren’t really important and are not things I wish to air in public. I’m not going to place blame, or think about what I should have done differently, or wonder if I’m going to find love again. Suffice it to say that it was a mutual decision and the breakup wasn’t due to lack of love. Right now I’m surprised that I’m not worse off than I am. In the past I would have been incapacitated by sorrow. Right now it hurts but I also have the sense that life goes on. I’m just hoping this isn’t the calm before the storm.

In any case, I’m going to try to get back into meditation and blogging to help me work out whatever I need to. It’s my time now. I’m the most important person in my life. And right now, that’s the way it should be.

my brain has no game

7 Jan

Meditation is hard. But, it can be hard for lots of different reasons. It varies from day to day. Sometimes you’re tired and you’re trying to stay awake. Sometimes your leg is asleep or your back hurts and it’s distracting you. Sometimes you just can’t concentrate (monkey mind).

I’ve been having an anxiety problem lately. Trying to get through the whirlwind of obsessive thoughts has proven difficult. Last night, every time I would let go for a second I felt a sense of fear and the thoughts would come rushing back in. It’s as if I’m afraid to be alone with myself, without all of those pointless thoughts to distract me. It’s like I’m on a bad date with my brain; it gets freaked out by the awkward pause so it blurts out something nonsensical.

new year resolution

31 Dec

So, I hate New Year resolutions. I don’t think anyone ever follows them. And why do it now? This is just an arbitrary break in the calendar that we made up thousands of years ago. But, as humans we do like to organize things, so I guess it works for us.

But, there is something quantifiable I can do in my life to make it better: meditate more. Scientific studies have show that regular meditation rewires your brain, for the better. It even boosts your immune system. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone should be Buddhist. It works for me, but it’s not for everyone. Meditation in some form, however, is included in all the major religions of the world. And, you don’t need to be religious to do it either. What I’m promoting here is self-awareness and growth, two things I think the world could use some more of.

But, no matter what your resolution is, it’s really hard to start a new habit. I have decided to take it a chunk at a time and I have started with the resolution to meditate every day in January. Here’s a section from a great article in Shambhala Sun about a new practice, but I think it can be generalized to any resolution. Good luck.

Here are “Ten Suggestions for Having a Regular Daily Practice Even if You Would Rather Be Thrown into a Shark-Infested Ocean”:

1. Be gentle on yourself. If you think you’re a failure and berate yourself for missing a day or a week, meditation then becomes another excuse for self-hatred. Look, meditation training is like swimming upstream, doable, but takes some effort. Be forgiving, yet keep at it.

2. Allow it to become a habit. Try to do it at the same time in the same place everyday. The way to cultivate a habit is to actually do it. The more consistent you can be, the easier it is for the new grooves to be worn into your brain.

3. Review your day and pick a time to do it that makes sense. If you are not a morning person, in fact can’t even look at yourself in the mirror until after you’ve had your coffee, wait till later in the day. If you come home exhausted every night, try the mornings.

4. Be willing to be flexible. If you miss your morning session, be creative. Take a mindful, silent walk at work; sit before you fall asleep. Don’t throw in the towel just because your daily routine got upended.

5. Prioritize. You need to somehow insert into your brain that meditation is just as important as brushing your teeth, showering, eating, Friends reruns, whatever it is. I think it’s amazing how much time we find to answer email but how strikingly little time there is to sit daily. Hmmmm.

6. Set your intention. Ask yourself as you sit down, why am I meditating today? See what emerges. Then ask yourself, what are my deepest reasons for practice? Return to these motivations when the going gets tough. A liberated mind takes work and reminders.

7. Pick a doable amount of time. Don’t strive for an hour unless it seems easy to you. Twenty minutes to a half hour can work fine. Up it, if that seems easy and fits in with your schedule. Even five minutes will activate those neural pathways, keep it going. And get a new groove forming.

8. If all else fails, get your sweet self on your cushion and take three breaths.

9. Sometimes sitting truly feels impossible. Then use your designated time for some kind of spiritually supportive practice: read a dharma book, listen to a tape, write in your journal.

10. When you screw up, be gentle on yourself. I already said this, but I’ll say it again, it’s key for developing a regular practice.

the habits of happiness

26 Dec
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