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Posts tagged ‘90in90’

Meditation day 43 – 1/13/14

In the midst of a chaotic day at work, after having missed half my lunch hour already, I called mercy and took a break.

I set the timer for a 10 minute meditation (I now do a 30 second prep timer).  My body doesn’t usually melt into the same level of relaxation as it did in the honeymoon days, but I was grateful I had this practice to make some space to provide a mindful opportunity to relax, rather than just a break on my phone or with my eyes closed stressing or just eating.   It is a different space.

Even though I wasn’t fully comfortable or connected to the moment, I tried to stay focused on my breath.  In breath, out breath.  Try and enjoy the breath, I hear the sangha leader echo in my head.  It is a challenge to enjoy the breath when Im stuck feeling like breathing is a conscious effort some breaths.
Then there is catching the breath when the stream of thoughts try to carry the awareness away.

I had accidentally programmed a bell to go off at 5 minutes too, which actually deepened my sensation of sitting.  Towards the end though I had to latch onto repeating “om mani padme hum” in my mind.  Glad I have that flexibility because it made a difference.

I suspect meditating may have prevented me from fraying my last nerve(s) on the psych ward tonight, which has been rather acute lately.  



Meditation day 19 – 12/20/13; Relaxation

1 min prep; 15 min sit.

Revisited my friend the exam room at the start of my lunch today. Upped the ante back to 15 minutes, did a few little stretches and breaths to loosen up a smidge in my minute prep time, and settled onto the exam stool.

15 minutes didn’t take “that long.” I had more success with breath watching today, counting after each exhale.  Not sure I concentrated long enough to make it up to 21 as they suggested at newbie meditation
@ KTD Monastery when I visited in August.  I know I made it to atleast 10.  At some point I took the suggestion of someone else and
focused on the sound of the fan blowing when it distracted me for a few moments.  The fan drowned out the wifi router squeal, but not quite the whirr of the COW.

The observations on my thoughts escape me at the moment.  What stands out the most was feeling how relaxed my body was after a few minutes in spite of the various tensions it has at the moment [sciatic, clavicle] that were still present.  Now I find I dislike having to open my eyes and resume activity when the bell rings.  This is becoming a constant, even if the session had been a squirmy one –
except last night with the restless legs.

Of course I want this to be profound. So on the topic of Mu (does a dog have buddha nature?), I leave you lucas chasing his tail, obviously very much in the present moment.

Meditation day 18 – 12/19/13 & restless legs

Just did my mediation now in the parked car after returning home from work.   I tend to not meditate at night because I get restless legs most of the time.  Of course, self fulfilling perhaps this happen tonight.

I tried to ignore it first….rather, I tried to observe it.   The sensation is in so much pain as it is an action potential that must manifest into movement.  Observing it tonight, in my right leg only, I’ve noticed that it feels like I’m trying to hold back from reacting to a tickle.  For the record I have a strong dislike of being tickled.

I’m able to just observe for a little while but then it becomes so much more urgent and uncomfortable. I just have to move it, so I stretch my legs out to see if that would alleviate the tension.  Nope…. the battle with my restless leg is well established now.  I continue to try to watch my breath and observe this action potential that comes in waves starting at my hip.

I become so uncomfortable ….I start getting more and more frustrated my body starts getting more and more tense…. as I try to let my body just relax….. and I tell my leg in my head to relax….to no avail.   It brings me to tears and I encourage mindfulness to join me with those tears of frustration. 

I find it amazing that its not even a pain but I *have* to move my leg to alleviate that pressure.  

Normally in the past restless legs meant “hell no I can’t sit still like this, fuck it!” but now I somehow have more resilience to sit here for those 10 minutes that I had set my meditation app timer to, with some squirming and frustrated tears.   Somehow I’m still sitting in the car, writing about this because I just want to get the frustration out and be done with it for tonight.

I don’t know what my body wants or needs or what’s missing that I get these restless legs.  But I had not observed that it was similar to that borderline tickle reaction before.  For those of you who might suggest exercise, it’s worse when I exercise!

I sit without relief from the waves of tension that increased in frequency the longer i sat.  But I kept trying to return to breath, and observe this phenomenon.   I tried to let the outside noises be my observation point to little effect.

I thought about TNH saying we have everything we need in this moment to make us happy.    I thought about doing some tapping (EFT) to try and reduce it, but decided it would be counterproductive to observation. I wondered whether it related to my sciatic discomfort or something structural in my foot…but it isn’t every night since I left med-surg. I remembered my coworker who did reiki on me one day and said my energy flowed well except from my knees down.  I continued to breathe and cringe and squirm. 

I was so glad when the bell rang!

Of course, the tension is still there but the intensity of the waves are less since I’m no longer trying to be still. I feel a knot in my throat, a diffuse odd tension in my torso like a bad nervous energy one might get when they are in trouble.    🙂  My body just feels strange.

But I sat for that 10 minutes.  I may have even gotten 10 seconds of breath watching in there.  *grin*

Now off to my fuzzkids.  ♡

Daily pics:

Here is the crudite dish I brought to my unit holiday party

And a picture of my festive holdiay outfit.


Be well!

Meditation Day 17 – 12/18/13: Chronic lateness, Original fear/desire, Present moment.

My subtitles are out of control.  🙂

Sat for 15 minz today @ ZCCC

Originally my plan was to go to zccc tonight for zazen, but I might be taking a random drive to Darien, CT to accompany a friend to an xmas choir rehearsal.  For me it’ll be as good as watching a performance.  🙂

So, after dropping off my last paper for the semester – yay! – I decided to attend the lunchtime meditation at zccc.   I dilly-dallied showering and getting out of the house so I got there 15 minutes late.

On the train I read a few pages of Reconciliation, in which TNH discussed a few things including habit energy. TNH says that when we act out of habit our ancestors are acting with us.  One of my habit energies is chronic lateness since  grammar school, which is the habit I am trying to change right now.   I say I “inherited” it from my mother since she was always late.  As a kid I remember struggling to wake her up to help me get ready for school…frustrated, crying.  My mother also suffered from depression. Last week in therapy we did some EMDR on this memory and coincidentally I was on time for work this weekend.  I will reserve claiming correlation though.  🙂  It is an interesting notion to think of both those habit energies, lateness and even depression, going back further, beyond my mother.  Depression not so strange, but lateness, yes.

TNH also discussed original fear (helplessness, needing others) and original desire (survival) and knowing we have everything we need in this moment to be happy, that the child inside needs to recognize it is no longer helpless.  We do not need to reach into the past or future.

So, of course, all this was floating in my brain when I sat.  There was a lot of grounding monologue involved before I was able to let go of wishing I could see a distant bff tonight, wishing I hadn’t been late to meditation.   Grounding involved saying to self that I was sitting for my ancestors, sitting for me, for my friends, for world peace.  Ha!  Then I had to let go of self-importance for doing such a thing.  Oh, the humanity!

I was uncomfortable watching my body since neither my heart or lungs were relaxed.  I thought about how by having cats it keeps my body somewhat inflamed since I’m allergic, not to mention my diet isnt exactly anti-inflammatory.   I needed a shot of my asthma pump on the train which helped my lungs but got my heart going.  I was kneeling on 2 pillows so that wasn’t so bad but my body and breath still had trouble relaxing.   There was a part of my being  that I sensed was relaxed, that I was sitting, and was grateful.  I find discomfort less likely to make me want to stop meditating now.

Finally I found a mantra of sorts to rest with and repeat: “Present moment, this is it.”

Above the meditation hall altar at Blue Cliff, there is calligraphy that says “this is it” which I find so enlightening and amusing.   I mean it is true.  All we have is any present moment.  Maybe we walk into a meditation hall expecting some kind of shazzam-pow satori, or that’s what brought us there.   We are like, oh my gosh!  I’m here! I’ve arrived at the super spiritual land monastery meditation hall!  What now?

Above the altar are the words “this is it” taking center stage.  It can be anticlimactic (hence amusing to me, sarcastic) or it can be an invitation to be with yourself in this ‘present moment’ and enjoy it for what it is.   I am reminded of the phrase, “wherever you go, there you are.”

Present moment,
this is it.

In breath
Out breath

Really, I swear, I did keep trying to return to the breath.   *giggle*

Getting to places on time for me has that duality as well.  I have to mindfully appreciate that my psyche and the universe lined up for me to do the right thing, since being on time reflects integrity and respect for others.  It also gives me a fair chance to succeed instead of setting myself up for failure.   The lack of adrenaline rush of sorts (for survival, for pleasure …even though being late feels bad) is anticlimactic.   Some of this was already explored throughout the years, but it was nice to have a comparison to reflect upon.

It’s intriguing, also, to notice how pre-meditation factors can influence the quality of the thoughts that float by in the session.  Not surprising,  of course, but encourages me to consider reading a brief passage of something prior to sitting.  Or not.

I always have the present moment, whatever, whenever that may be.


Pic of Lunch today: ZCCC holiday party leftover ziti dressed up with green beans, chicken fontina spinach sausage, crushed tomatoes with green chilis, mozzarella, parmesan.   ❤

Meditation Day 15 – 12/16/13 + reflections on friendship

Today was emotional.   I was supposed to see a friend tonight but they relapsed last night, and I got fed up despite their intent on still showing up.  Was there really a guarantee?   Besides, I’m angry and hurt and I feel bad for them, but I have to protect my sobriety and sanity.  I was also just feeling kinda lonely after that.  Another friend I had gotten used to having around regularly has been busy or spending time with their significant other.   I’m amused I’m craving friendship, considering up until a few months ago I was primarily craving lover time.  That shows progress…but where is my tribe?

I spent the first portion of my life without friends.  The second portion I was accessory to multiple tribes.  I want my own tribe now.  I refuse to believe that I am meant to be a lighthouse on an island instead of a community, or the woman on the mountain with just the animals.   I believe in my spirit that I will find a lasting community, or create one.    The people I’ve had the longest run of kindred feelings towards are all far away – Peru, Berlin, Oklahoma, Washington, New Jersey, Connecticut, China, Boston.  Don’t laugh, New Jersey is a thousand million miles away when you are a NYC resident.  😉  

So, today was an emotional wanting tribe day.  Then I also missed my freakin’ English professor to turn in my paper, so I have to go to her at 1030 Wednesday morning!  Ack!   Mornings and I….

So, I went to ZCCC for their holiday party.  Overcame social anxiety [Yes, I’m shy. Don’t laugh] by instigating conversation with the person standing next to me who wasn’t speaking to anyone else, and we chatted for the next few hours.   He had watched ZCCC grow from seeds over the years, and it was nice to touch that memory with him.   I encouraged him to rekindle his meditation practice.  Listen to me, 15 days in acting like the disciplined meditative Bodhisattva.   I left the party with a bag of leftover pasta and sweets, an unexpected parting gift, and a koan [mu/moo/wu] which will fill me up much longer should I choose to accept that challenge, and even the idea of doing a standing meditation.

It seems I’m always leaving zen centers with more than I walked in with.   I sense that’s a koan too.

When I got home, I peed the dogs, gave them the new bones I got them, and tried to slip in my meditation before noshing on another round of pasta.  Sitting on the table edge drew the puppy away from the bone, so I took a seat on the couch.

1 minute prep time, 10 minute meditation:  My body felt relaxed, but my brain immediately wanted to relive feel-good interactions at the party.  I tried to counteract that with consciously summoning up some of the seeds of sadness encountered earlier, and invited mindfulness to be with them.  I think, if I recall, on my drive into the city I also invited mindfulness to give some compassion to those feelings.  I tried to count breaths after cycles, as my new acquaintance suggested he did once.  At some point I focused on observing the environment because pinto started growling at lucas [bone-couch turf war].  Heck, I got scared Pinto was going to launch an attack, wondering if I could consinue to simply observe as they fought it out before me – which ends up in play, interestingly.  I observed that fear rise and fall, and nothing happened.  Observing my cat behind my head, the fish tank gurgling, then was feeling bad about my crappy fish tank care and thought about … oh, right.  In breath, Out breath.  1.  In breath, out breath.  2.

10 minutes seemed like a long time, but when the timer rang, I wanted to sit longer.  HA.

I didn’t, though.

I bowed to Lucas,

and revisited pasta.


Day 15, check.

Meditation day 14 – Sunday 12/15/13

Finally my head was not sleepy today!    During the minute prep time, a coworker brought the EKG machine back into the exam room.   I invited him to join me but he declined, alas.  

Kept the meditation at 10 minutes again, perhaps I’ll go back to 15 tomorrow.  Meditation as a process seemed to require less effort.  The thoughts and mind wandering were profuse, but I wasn’t as bothered by their appearance.  The returns to watching breath were short, though.  There are a lot of to-do lists that pop up during meditation. 

Is that a typical phenomenon?   Do you experience a lot of “gotta do” thoughts when you give yourself a chance to sit still?



Meditation day 13 –Saturday 12/14/13

Starting to feel normal again, sat in meditation (on an exam stool) for the first 10 minutes of my break.  My head was still a little foggy, my chest felt tight (I still have a cold, too).    It was done, though.    This serves as a record.  🙂

In lieu of a profound meditation report, I present you with this, inspired by Moo (which I just learned about)   [inserting links aren’t working, will fix when I restart my browser]

Meditation day 12 – Friday 12/13/13

Working from 7 am – 11:15 PM and my head was foggy, my body exhausted.  I couldn’t find parking in the morning so parked in the garage, spent nearly the entirety of my first lunch break trying to find street parking.  I should have waited until after 4 when I could park in front of schools, it would have been the same price.  

Meditation met with a twilight zone of consciousness during my second break in the evening.   I’ve continued to use the exam room for my work meditations given the infrequent use of that room.   I sat the exam table near upright, put on the Moses Code Meditation, and just let myself be, trying to watch that breath and listen to the sound, which initially exacerbated my headache.  

It was relaxing, but I feel it would have been more useful had it been an actual nap or a traditionally seated still meditation, rather than seated on the table, despite the back support.   It did help alleviate my headache though, which sadly returned before the night was out.   I woke up with the headache the next day, too.  I slept on the couch when I got home so Lucaspuppymonster could be out of the crate.  The little bugger didn’t even cuddle with me all night!   He slept on a different chair.  

So much for mama’s boy!

Meditation Day 11 – Thursday 12/12/13

Since I’m writing this several days after the fact (on Sunday), I’m racking my brain to remember when the heck I meditated on Thursday!    I had no work; I finished (well, 95%) my nursing research paper from last semester (29 pages!); and I did a Trader Joe’s shopping spree – I hadn’t gone to TJ’s in 2 months!   

Ah, yes.   I couldn’t let myself *not* meditate -but nothing prolific to report here except the occurrence of meditation, and subsequent mental torture by my kitty.

Before laying down in bed, I set my meditation timer for 5 minutes, the bare minimum, and sat upright in bed for those 5 minutes trying to watch my breath.   I might as well have sat for longer because despite being tired and having to get up early the next morning, sleep was sabotaged.   My indoor window-loving kitty Falcor decided tonight, the night before I worked a double, was the night he was going to scratch at the window half the night.  Why?   He’d stop after I chased him away, but there were several occasions I was awoken by it again.   He normally doesn’t do this that I’ve seen.    He normally just meditates.  😉

Meditation Day 10: Wed 12/11/13 – Part 2 + “World peace and a cure for cancer” vs authentic healing

I “needlessly” “suffered” the wrath of playful puppy – I had forgotten I had made an acupuncture appointment.    It was to be a day of distraction, though.  While I was getting prepped for it, I had discovered my Ipod was dead, so no Moses code meditation for this session.  Thought about queuing up something on the phone/youtube, but decided to keep it simple.    As it turns out, “keep it simple” apparently meant let my brain run wild.    It wasn’t that noisy – I was tired, so it became a cycle of watch breath, feel buzzy needles, let thoughts float around, and doze off a tad.   It was relaxing nonetheless, but certainly not mindful.

That’s okay, though.  There was more meditation coming!  Woohoo!    I had been reminded recently about Zen Center for Contemplative Care, whose volunteers and chaplains I often see visiting patients at Beth Israel.   As it turns out, they had zazen on Wednesday nights, so I went.    It was nice to be sitting in a room full of people…well, sitting… again.  I felt at home as I did sitting in the meditation hall at Blue Cliff, feeling like I was surrounded by spiritually like-minded people, regardless of differing backgrounds and lifestyle beliefs.    I still felt partly shy and awkward, though.   30 minutes went by faster than some of my 10-15 minute sessions, followed by a walking meditation, a brief talk by the chaplain in which we were reassured of our mind being likely to leaves us 1,000 times during zazen, and another brief sitting session in which I kept reeling my mind back in and focusing on my breath.

Since I’m writing this several days after the fact I’m having difficulty recalling specifics of my meditation challenges though there were definitely some challenges adjusting my body initially.  I ended up sitting on one pillow and supporting my right knee with another.  I’ve had some sciatic strain on that side since September, hence the acupuncture.  It worked out, though, and my back in general didn’t feel too much discomfort over time.  My hands didn’t know where to find balance, though, and given a height difference in my legs a traditional zazen hand position wasn’t happening.

Afterwards, I talked the ear of the chaplain off, and cried a bit.   

I have this line I use.  When a waiter or customer service person asks me if I want anything else, I often say “world peace and a cure for cancer.”    It was just world peace until my mother got sick and died of pancreatic cancer 3 years ago.  If I don’t ask for them I’ll never get them, I argue. The chaplain, whose name I wish I could remember, reminded me that such a statement could cause harm to someone, which for some reason made me cry.  Not sure why I was so sensitive, except for being present in a space/community that was aligned with my goals – providing compassionate care to the sick and suffering.  Plus, I don’t like the idea of hurting people.

 Usually when I ask for those things, I get one of two responses:  “it’s impossible” or “I’ll get on that/I’ll see if we have that.”   Often it is an experience that makes people smile from incredulity or amusement.  I had grabbed a snack at Pret prior to meditating and the cashier was so rushed and unhappy seeming.    When he implied peace was impossible, I broke out the line from a t-shirt I had bought at Blue Cliff:  “Peace begins with your lovely smile.”  He said he’d give me half a smile, and I commented “Half a smile to go with my half sandwich.”    It actually led to a larger smirk.  

                I was able to recall an instance where a waitress who had grown up in Colombia did not believe peace was possible, understandably.   I continue to hold hope for her.   Did I cause her harm by bringing peace up?   I also think that my being able to identify with other persons who are affected by cancer is a chance for mutual identification, rather than a harm-causing event.  

                I look at this from several angles.   I think about Dr. Wayne Dyer, trying to help shift the gears of unhappy people we have brief interactions with.  The chaplain talked about interdependence, which I had also just read about that morning in Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child, and entering into the other person’s experience.  I also think about a concept that had come up in my English class this semester about authentic vs. inauthentic healing.  Though the context was about daytime talk shows, it came to mind about this situation.   The lines I use aren’t neccessarily an authentic way of entering into someone else’s experience.  They are a line, a gimmick, a shocker – I have lots of those sorts of lines.  

 Don’t New Yorkers need something gimmicky though to catch their attention?  How can I authentically enter into/make lighter the person who is “stuck in a miserable moment” when our interaction will be brief?    What percentage of the time are my lines likely to cause harm?  I do recognize that when I was working 12 hour shifts on a busy medicine unit, it was very similar to a busy waiter shift, and I was too busy to focus on my problems, which was a relief.   Am I interrupting their work zen-peace?  Am I possibly being too intrusive even with these simple statements?  

I can’t even just say “you can smile” to your average NY customer service e person because it would be perceived as rude, regardless of tone, a majority of the time.    Further, if I never ask for world peace and a cure for cancer, and possibly inspire other people to do the same, we might never think it was possible at all. 

With the chaplain, I was also discussing how I could better help patients.   After meditation the first thing I said to him was “How can you help me save the world?”   *grin*  I have a goal of leading nightly meditations when I work, which is not so easy to implement on a psych ward given the diverse diagnoses.    I also expressed frustration with not having meaningful conversations with patients every time I work.   I was reminded by the chaplain that even giving a medication or having a brief conversation might be all a person needs in that given moment.  I realized that chasing profound catalytic therapeutic conversation was chasing the high I would get from feeling I have connected with and helped someone.    A coworker had said that as psych nurses we are speed bumps in the insanity our patients had been living.   Just being there at work, looking out for these patients, interacting with them in the slightest, I am still a speed bump – a brightly lit, pink-haired, speed bump. 

Sitting with ZCCC and talking to the chaplain was an unexpected speed bump for me for which I’m grateful. It helps stimulate me to cultivate more intentional effects.  I seriously hope that the next year contains more speed bumps than the potholes this past year and a half has held.    A spiritual mentor and community and artistic collaborators would be nice, too.