This evening I meditated after work for the first time. Focusing on the soles of my feet I saw the quality of my thoughts. It was tempting to see the thoughtstorm of the day as bad (as I have in the past) and something to be changed, but I didn’t. Instead I noticed my thoughts were all responding to lack – fully in doing mode. They felt tight, constructed, and so did my body. I changed neither, just kept going back to the soles of my feet hitting the ground. And that alone brought change – walking for no goal-orientated reason, just concentrating and going back to the experience of walking for its own sake recast my whole mindstate.
I can feel my stress, make no mistake, but the practice did indeed draw a line under the mostly doing of the day (by feeling what it’s like) with the mostly being, which I’d prefer for my evenings. Today really was a huge step forward in developing a more caring and skilful mind.
“Alistair Meditation Mindboo – 4” by Cosmodaddy on audioboo.fm
Shared via AddThis
I thought the presence of my morning thought factory and the accompanying bad moods on the way into work were a sign that thoughts led to an absence of kindness and compassion. Not so. I hit on a good thought and it changed my mood entirely – it was of a colleague who is extraordinarily kind and compassionate, and my mood immediately flipped in that direction. Interesting how it changed through not trying to change it. It was the same theme this evening in Alistair’s class – further great practice of observing and accepting things as they were. I found myself at the end tired, grumpy and impatient but didn’t try to change how I was. Compared to a lifetime of constantly trying to change my mindstate from where it was to where I thought it should be, it was counter-intuitively relaxing. Alistair describes it as ‘quantum’ that ending up with the mindstate you want through mindfulness comes from doing the opposite to what you might expect. Sometimes not changing a bad mood can make you happy.
Walking meditation seems to be really useful for the mindset I tend to be in in the morning. I noticed yesterday morning when being mindful of my footfalls that I was (as on the way home the previous evening) in the middle of a thoughts and thinking storm. I was in the middle of a huge number of thoughts, from future thinking about work, to thinking about how I felt about myself and all sorts of random nonsense which both belonged at the time and didn’t. What was really helpful about being out and active in the world whilst meditating was that I could tell quite well how I was feeling, and what wasn’t there was kindness or compassion. Very simply by being mindful about my walking I noticed that in the morning when I’m thinking like mad, it’s not accompanied by the qualities I’d like to extend to the world around me.
This morning’s meditation walking from the station to work was an enormous challenge. It was good practice, doing it when I really didn’t want to – I had (and still have) terrible neckache – my first attempt at meditating through considerable pain and discomfort. Keeping my attention on my walking, on my footfalls was incredibly difficult, and it brought the feelings about the pain and the sensation itself into sharp relief. It was an enormous struggle to just observe the pain, to notice how my breathing had changed completely, the mood that arose as a result, without changing things. But as with the feeling of hunger last week I stuck with it, despite the resistence. I’ve a feeling this is going to be a useful practice for days when my mood simply won’t tolerate doing sitting meditation.
So this morning I walked the final stretch to work. And I noticed again just how much effort I was putting into controlling my walk, and how I walked. I noticed too how little I was enjoying the control I was expending so much effort on, and how much resentment was building up underneath about this amount of control – how much I wanted to rebel against it. This deep-rooted, habitual & unnecessary control over my breathing, my walking and who knows what else have exerted a fundamental control over my mood; a lack of awareness of them has led to an occasionally catastrophic response.
I also noticed though just how flawed my faster walking was. When I let my walk do what it naturally does without thinking about it, being truly mindful of the soles of my feet, I found I didn’t land on my heels properly – my left foot lands on the ball of my foot. I even try to short-circuit the process of walking. It’s why staying hungry at the supermarket last week was such a big step in the right direction – it was a real step forward merely through mindfulness, and noticing how unhelpful this short-circuiting has been in my experience of life. The same was true today – I didn’t try to change that walk – I just increased my awareness of it. There’s a lot building up as a result of this new run with Alistair and mindfulness!
AudioBoo / Alistair Meditation Mindboo – 3
Shared via AddThis
A lot is starting to come into focus, most of which is in the audioboo. In print though I wanted to look at my final point – feeling negative about good things, be it my husband, my meditation teacher, my boss – having thoughts that they in some way don’t like me or don’t appreciate what I bring, when nothing could be further from the truth. In going round the group for feedback from last week, Alistair took his time to get to me. A thought came up that I wasn’t appreciated, I started feeling negative, despite when he did get to me rather thoroughly validating what I had to say. This happened at work last week, it also happens around Tom. It’s part of my mental landscape, and it’s interesting becoming aware of it, it’s a response to my self-image again.
Of course the very last point really was a doozy. My deeply rooted need to rebel, which has caused so many problems, finally came into sharp focus as a response to my own, self-imposed processes of control, be it of my breath, my walking or anything else. It’s very simple, and one of the most important realisations I’ve had about my self in my entire life. Approaching Alistair’s mindfulness meditation course when things are good really is paying off dramatically.
Tuesday night I did the opposite of what Alistair asked us to do this week, and was mindful of something negative, rather than something nice and positive. Its sheer counter-intuitiveness for me in particular made it particularly appealing. After an evening meeting I felt unbelievably hungry – my normal routine is to find the nearest junk food to shortcircuit the feeling and plug the lack. So I decided to be mindful of the feeling of hunger. It was a very new experience for me – of course this negative feeling wasn’t going to kill me, I was perfectly fine, and I got to know what the feeling of hunger is – the bodily sensations, the emotional response, how my thoughts react. Quite remarkable.
Wednesday’s meditation however (I oddly can’t remember Tuesday’s, although I did do it) was odd. Maybe it was just banal. I was aware of feeling very sluggish, still very sleepy. And when I let my control over my breath go, I think I went to sleep. The alarm at the end of the 15 mins was a shock, so I’m pretty sure I was out. At least I wasn’t caught up in the thought of ‘having to do it right’! Interesting though to see no middle ground – either thinking hard about controlling my breathing and alert, or zonked out and not controlling. I’m going to try an evening meditation for the first time tonight, and see if there’s an easier middle ground at that time of day.