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Posts tagged ‘meditation’

Sleepy Sunday Sangha Sitting

Still maintaining some semblance of serenity.

Still maintaining some semblance of serenity.

The past few weeks I haven’t been meditating much at all, even at work.  The humdrum cycle of school-work-schoolwork-work-schoolwork-work-school has been zombifying me a bit.   I also haven’t been as desperate at work for the silence as I had been previous weeks since the unit has calmed down a bit.  There were also a coupla coffee first-meets, some schoolwork, but generally just eating dinner in the office near the nursing station where we usually eat – our unit doesn’t officially have a break room for the staff, go figure.

I still find it difficult to make that space/time at home.  I’m contemplating shutting myself in the bathroom for 10 minutes before or after showering, though it will bug the heck out of my zoo.  🙂

Today I got floated to a unit that didn’t end up needing me, and my unit was adequately staffed.  Thus, I asked for a day off and my wish was granted!  At some point the idea that it was Sunday and sangha happens on sundays crossed paths, and I resolved to go.

It was nice to be back, Rock Blossom Sangha is always so welcoming.  🙂

My back, however, complained given a lack of recent exercise and sitting time. Despite thinking I had propped myself up adequately, the first 20 minute meditation alternated between relaxation and random pains, and I adapted accordingly with slouching.   I was also rusty on battling my brain and I spent most of the time chasing after thoughts rather than remembering I could let them go for now.   My brain brought up thoughts and feelings from the past and future, a few of which I entertained  in order to provide some compassion to help their release.   What’s different now vs. when I started meditation in November (albeit irregular) is that I’m not beating myself up for not being able to reel in my brain and focus on my breath.  I Just keep reassuring myself I don’t need to act on these things, I have permission to be in the present moment and appreciate it, to just sit.

For the second 20 minute seated meditation, my body decided it was going to entertain serious sleepiness and that became the battle.  Battle?  Why is it a battle?  Let’s just call it a deep relaxation – though perhaps I should have just laid down for that 20 minutes and made it such.   After I regained some consciousness, I did become somewhat irritable hoping that bell would ring, but it didn’t.  I sat, dozed, thought, let thoughts go, breathed, sat, listened to the noises in the room, and eventually the bell rang.

I couldn’t quite shake the drowsiness during the dharma reading which was a passage by Pema Chodron that appeared in a recent issue of Shambala.  In it she discussed  meditation and the need to keep necessary things under consideration, though the human tendency is to make things a big deal.   Fortunately I can still read it online.   If I met a guru, I would sadly  forget 3/4 of what they said anyway, even at my most alert.  *sheepish cheesebrain grin*

Hopefully having the opportunity to sit with a sangha today will kickstart my meditation wagon again.

Now, time for schoolwork.  I’m doing pretty good with that this weekend considering there had been a bunch of procrastination the past coupla weeks too.

Afterwards hopefully will play some cards against humanity with the waiters.  🙂   I never played, though I have bonus cards from over the holiday – including a card with my name on it!  Woot!

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Reawakening to reality

It is a good thing I set that 10 minute timer…sometimes it is the mediator between meditative state and rounding the corner to sleep.  🙂 

Today I meditated in my car before returning home from school.

The last several times I’ve used my 30 sec prep time to say a little prayer or give some gratitude.   I find it does indeed prep my mind/body a little more for the sitting.

Today even though my brain was all over the place, I managed to start counting breaths towards the end of the sit and got up to 13 before the bell rang.   Not sure if I could have maintained focus until 21.  Lol.  Today was just one of those days where paying attention to my breaths did not cause my chest to feel tight – part of why I have trouble focusing on the breath.

It was also one of those sessions where when the sit was done, I opened my eyes but really did not want to move my body.  It was definitely relaxed, kind of heavy.  I really didnt want to move.    ♡

Permission to be at peace

I am most successful at making time to meditate on workdays, perhaps given they are more structured days.  By the time lunch comes around for me I am ready to run into the treatment room, turn off the light, and sit for 10 minutes on a short exam stool.

Initially the techno-squealing was annoying.  Now it gives me something external to focus on if I need help quieting the mind.  Besides, even if that wasnt there my ears would still probably ring.

Somehow I’ve lost track of watching the breath.  I only watch a few breaths at a time.  🙂 

What I have gotten good at is giving myself “permission to be at peace” for these 10 minutes, permission to not have to follow thoughts or work out problems.  I center myself by remembering that I am not on the noisy side of the psych ward at the moment, that I can let go of the reverb in my head of those noises.   Then, I try to watch my breath for a few and listen for the quiet in the room.

Meditation day (?) – 011914

Even when my mind won’t stay still, it feels good to be consciously taking the 5-10 minutes a day (most days) to relax, be present, be still with just myself…..and to remember to try to enjoy the breath, even when it feels like an effort…

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.  

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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
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And a picture of my festive holdiay outfit.

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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.

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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 16 – 12/17/13

(1 minute prep, 10 minute sit.)

I decided to sit away from the beasts.

My bedrooms have barriers to keep the puppy out.  I sat on the edge of the bed in the spare room today and for my minute prep I watched the fuzzkids outside the door.  The dogs always gather at the door and look confused and anxious as to why mommy is separate from them.  Pin walked away and lucas grabbed squeaky snake trying to get pinto to play, which pinto does not do. 

In told them I loved them and closed my eyes as the bell rang.

I notice my body does settle into meditation quicker now.  It is responding to the conscious training to be still.  My back started hurting … I should have at least put a pillow under my butt to tilt my pelvis, but chose not to readjust. My chest didn’t feel tight this time.  My back took the stage.  

My mind observed the noises in the apartment, and reflected on visiting zccc and other zen communities.  It is resonating easy with me perhaps because I am pursuing self growth, spiritual awareness and community all in one.  Yet I am not being force-fed dogma.   Hearing dharma talks haven’t even felt like dogma, but more info to contemplate or embed into my own journey.  It’s nice.  Happy. 

Oh, breath, meditation, right.  🙂
In breath, out breath.

In the background is a little meditation chant box singing amhitaba that andrew-san gave me.  I thought it was ridiculous and cheesy at first but now listen to it for a few moments near-daily as I get ready for work.  It is plugged into my computer speakers.  🙂  if I get a plug for it I might leave it on for the animals when I’m not home.  It has been playing for … 3 hours now?  

In breath, out breath, in breath, back pain, though the rest of my body is relaxed.  I had noticed tension in my stomach when I started and let it go.   Out breath.

Ten minutes seems like it should go faste, though it isnt heinously slow.
The bell rings, I bow, rise.

Dogs are ecstatic I’m rejoining them.   🙂

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.

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Day 15, check.