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MindfulnessOctober 22, 2013

I feel like I have a new toy. I really do. (And it's not the fact that I'm now a New Zealand citizen, although that is AWESOME, too! I am sure my first sheep is on its way from the consulate. RIGHT?) This whole meditation thing has clicked, and it's because I'm using guided meditation, which--for me--has been the ultimate way to learn to do it. 

Doesn't guided meditation sound so woo-woo? Like you're going to lie on your back and someone will talk to you about imagining a field of lilies while really you're just trying desperately to keep from thinking about lunch? Or maybe you'll have to chant something at the end or pretzel your limbs into a position that you haven't been able to get into for fifteen years before drinking some tea that smells like feet?

What I've been doing is a meditation class. (I have no reason or motivation to pimp this except that it's Something Rachael Loves.) Andy Puddicombe, lovely man, talks to you as sit upright in your chair with your hands on your lap. This is something you can do at your desk if no one minds you closing your eyes for ten minutes. Or at the kitchen table. Or on the couch. (I have a low settee in my office that I use.) 

Then you listen to him talk you through things for a few minutes. If you've been reading my blog a while, you know that I have energy to spare. I don't sit still, ever, unless I'm sick. But during these sessions? I just rest. My mind rests, and my body rests. 

It's amazing to find that stillness. And it's even nicer to learn how to not worry about finding that stillness. It's there, you just go visit it, you don't have to do anything but show up. You don't have to make anything work. You just sit and breathe. (Before, when I'd tried, I'd always thought meditation was so much work.) 

The program starts with a free 10 day 10-minute course, and then if you like it, you can advance to a subscription, and the next course is 15 days of 15 minutes a day. Then you get 20 days of 20 minutes a day. I'm ten days into the 20 minute course, and I can tell you this: This section has blown my MIND. 

OMG I AM SO CALIFORNIA HIPPIE RIGHT NOW but dude, if you're reading this, so are you, so light up that nag champa and sit next to me on my locally-sourced hemp chair. (Just kidding. I freaking hate the smell of nag champa. Too many drunk nights as a college student with those sticks burning. Burn some sage instead.) 

Today I learned this: Permission. I think this may be a thing you have to learn on your own and I'm sure I've read it a million times as people chronicle their own discovery, but to me, that's what this mindfulness is all about. Giving yourself permission. You allow thoughts, feelings, and sensations* to arise and fall. 

Today, in the middle of the practice, I got a TERRIBLE itch in my eye. I mean, it was the rub-it-till-it-bleeds kind of itch. I thought, Oh, no! How am I going to resist this? How am I going to ignore it? How will I stay in the meditation, following my breath? 

I thought about what I'd learned in the last month or so and just gave my eye permission to itch. I kind of rested there. Go ahead. Itch. I don't mind. And I just went on breathing. 

My eye still itched. It's not like it went away. But I didn't care. It was just a thing. Eventually my eye watered and the itch died, and then later, I noticed it was gone. 

THIS IS HUGE, PEOPLE. I IGNORED SOMETHING. I didn't twitch, scratch, fret, or tic. When I sit and write, I can get 2500 words/hour and still fix my hair into three different buns in sixty seconds. I move. 

Meditation is being still. Being present. Giving yourself permission. Holy crap. 

If you're like me, a person who can't rest, you might want to give Get Some Headspace a try. 

And for the knitters who are still patiently reading, a bonus photo: 


My gorgeous friends, Juliet Blackwell and Sophie Littlefield in their new shawls. I rarely knit for family, and even more rarely for friends, but after my surgery last month -- even then -- I couldn't sit still. So I knitted a lot. (Super easy pattern, Shaelyn. I'm knitting my third now. It's addictive.) I love the look of delight on their faces in this shot. 

* My least favorite sensation I get during meditation is something that I've had happen in yoga classes, too. With my eyes closed, I feel as if my head is turned, looking over my left shoulder. IT IS NOT. It's dizzy-making and I hate it. Today it happened, too, and I said, All right. Then it went away. DUDE. 



I'm going to check that out. I have an iPhone app that's a guided sleep meditation and the thing puts me out like a rock every time I use it, but it's not a teaching tool.

Great post, I'm checking it out for sure. And love the Shaelyn's!! It's been in my queue for awhile, looks like it's time to move it up.

Following your last post about this I signed up for Getsomeheadspace.com and I have to say it is a revelation. I find it very difficult to relax and get ridiculously stressed but I have a sense of calm through these sessions. His sleep session is very good.

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Someone else has discovered it too! I'm on the ten minutes sessions at the moment but they're already making a difference.

Also, isn't his attitude soothing? No nonsense, no twinkles, which may work for others but get up my nose no end.

I've not yet decided if I will subscribe, but I'm certainly considering it quite seriously. So much creative thiught and work has gone into the app and the website, and they don't seem to have skimped on content or quality.

I love coincidences like this. Favourite Author also uses Favourite App. Now all I have to do is find out if Hugh Jackman likes peanut butter icecream....

I am right there with you, girlfriend -- although I am taking a class with a local therapist who has studied with lots of zen teachers. Meditation is amazing! Like you, I move a mile a minute, so slowing down is hard -- and feels amazingly good!

I had a fifth-grade teacher that taught us to meditate and had us meditate in the mornings before we started (it was, afterall, the 70s) but looking back, I think it was a really smart thing to do. I'm sure it centered and calmed a bunch of us hooligans and he gave me such a gift since I can always fall back on meditating when I need to. I've used that exercise many times over the years. It's amazing.

Congratulations on getting your NZ citizenship. Your Little Mama would have been very proud! I could get British, but never bothered after I spent an hour waiting on the phone (Long Distance 16 years ago) and realized that I would have to send all of the original documents in the mail. Decided it was too dangerous! to risk sending the original documents. You know, LOL - Murphy's Law!

Rachael, I forgot to mention that there is a very good Shambhala Publication entitled "The Experience of Insight" by Joseph Goldstein. My DH has recommended/gifted it to quite a few people and I have it as well. Goldstein is very well respected. I think you would find it an interesting book to have and read/absorb.

Thank you for this. I have been looking for a way to try meditation and I think this is a good place to start. I find the idea of going to a class with people very intimidating as a way to start.

See? That Shaelyn is ADDICTIVE, isn't it? LOL I'm on number 4 right now. LOLOL.

You know New Zealand is just two little islands east of Australia don't you, so you can be an Australian citizen too we would love to have you LOL

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