If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been told that I should be meditating I’d be able to wave the day job goodbye.
I get the concept, I really do. I feel as though I’m constantly on restless energy flitting from thing to thing, my brain keeping up a constant internal monologue; some rest from the chatter would be nice.
Aside from a brief flirtation with Kundalini yoga (I found all the mantras a tad confronting) I’ve always been more about active meditation – walking after work and listening to the birds, noticing the things that need to be noticed, or swimming lap after lap along a black line with my own mantras running through my head. Kneading dough after a particularly trying week in the day job has the same effect.
Each of these has worked for a time but I’ve fallen out of the habit – as I tend to do with those habits that are actually doing me good. (Why can’t I simply fall out of the habits that bring me undone?)
My morning walks with my husband (the 5 at 5) should be mindful but as we’re on a schedule to get there and a schedule to get back for work, they’re not. Plus we walk and talk – usually with me rushing to keep up with him and cursing the fact that I have to rush to keep up with him and complaining about how by the end my dodgy ankle feels as though there’s a vice around it. It’s that same dodgy ankle that’s keeping me out of the lap pool – I can’t put the weight on my ankle to climb the ladder out #catch22. As for the dough thing, it’s too hot to turn the oven on.
I’m well aware that most of my bad habits are because I’m looking for an escape route – mindless rather than mindful – and I know I need to find other coping mechanisms. So this week my just one thing was about being mindfully mindful.
The strength session I did today was super hard and I need to do some more stretching…so set the reminder on my phone to do so after I log off for the day. I also download the Calm app for their 7-day trial. Mindfulness for Beginners sounds about right.
I settle into a comfortable position on the floor and switch on day 1. I quite like the narrator’s voice and some of what he says strikes a chord with me – especially the part about running after everything with restless energy and being present for none of it. Plus he says meditation creates space in the brain – and I certainly need that.
Sitting cross-legged is impossible so I prop my back against the lounge with my legs out in front and my hands on my thighs, palms up, eyes closed. Kali thinks this is rather interesting so nudges me, giving up only when she realises I’m not going to pat her.
The birdsong and water are lovely but not loud enough to drown out the noise of next door’s screaming child. I grit my teeth and persist.
I forget I’m supposed to meditate and after work loll about in the pool with a book for half an hour. Mindless rather than mindful. Besides, my muscles are really sore from yesterday. While we’re having dinner I remember I was supposed to meditate, but promptly forget again and watch another episode of The Great British Sewing Bee before bed. Yes, I’m addicted
It’s a no day-job day today so after a Get Fit With Rick session (the Harry Styles walking workout this morning) I settle down for Calm’s day 2 almost as soon as Grant leaves. Next door is having some solar panels installed and the tradie has his stereo blaring. My boss rings and I ignore his call and then Kali decides she needs to go out to the toilet. I give in and (with much grunting and groaning – my body is still sore from Monday’s fabulous session) get up to let her out.
Later I go to my first art class and spend 2 hours (badly) sketching a coffee cup. The time flies and I realise afterward I didn’t think of anything else while I was sketching that picture. It might not have been meditating but it was certainly mindful. Today gets a great big tick.
It’s feral outside again today – 95% humidity and a “feels like” temp of 29C at 5am. Ugh. I do another strength class and while I’m still on the floor at the end of it, do day 3 of my Calm lessons. A work colleague – who’s forgotten the time difference between Sydney and Brisbane rings in the middle of it. I give up and take the call.
Another scorcher. I rush through a Get Fit With Rick session and have just enough time to shower and get out the door – this morning I’m facilitating (for the first time) a writing group at the library for Queensland Writer’s Centre.
It’s about 38C when I get home so I get straight into the pool before settling in for another writing session. I’m immersed in Philly’s world and before I know it Grant’s home from work. No meditation, but I’m giving the mindful thing a tick.
I spend this afternoon pottering about in the kitchen. I quick-pickle some carrots for a mid-week dinner and take my time preparing tonight’s dinner. I think about making some bread but it’s too hot to turn the oven on. It occurs to me that when I’m chopping and measuring and slicing and stirring and kneading, even though I have music on, all I’m concentrating on is what I’m doing. My mind is in the moment.
I cancel my Calm trial.
My lesson from this week is that while I might not be the person who does a daily meditation practice, if I can be mindfully engaged in something – whether it’s art practice, writing, baking, or meditation – that is better for me than beating myself up because I haven’t actually meditated. I get the importance of meditation, I truly do, but I’m not convinced that it’s for me.
This week my just one thing is about alcohol free days… it’ll be a tough one.
Love this Jo because you are honest and I can certainly relate. I prefer active meditation and for me that is going for a run or a walk. I’ve tried meditation in the past and it isn’t for me. I accept that now and don’t think there is something wrong with me. Reflecting on your week is being mindful and sometimes just being mindless is good too, because our minds do get overworked. The takeaway for me is that we should do what is right for us. Sure be open minded and try new things but don’t be afraid to say ‘it’s not for me’. Have a lovely week. xx
Thanks Sue… it really is about giving things a go…
Hahaha! You sound like me! I think meditation can take many forms… a long walk, floating in a pool, doing something creative, whatever. I’ve never been one to sit in a soulful position and let my mind go free.
I think calling it meditation is where the problem begins lol.
I was not very mindful of the potatoes cooking while I was reading your post, and they might be nice and browned 🤭. I practice mindfulness but have never done meditation. It’s good to note what helps bring about mental peace.
It really is a horses for courses thing isn’t it? Ooops about the spuds…
They survived and were tasty!
Hi, Jo – Your post reminds me of one of the many reasons that I adore you. Your incredible powers of self-reflection and unflinching honesty are both huge gifts. Mindfulness over tradtional meditation totally makes sense to me!
I follow your IG with great admiration – the struggle is part of the journey … I appreciate so much your openness in sharing your delights as well as challenges.
Thanks! I just booked a few days in Singas in October (at the tail end of a trip to Vietnam) so will need to get the streetfood tips from you – we haven’t been since 2019…
Oooooo cool! Let me know what you need with trip planning… and if you have the time, space & inclination to meet up!
I will… Thanks!
I’ve never been a fan of meditation – I’m not sure why it doesn’t work for me (I’m wondering if I can blame it on my aphantasia – where I have to narrate my inner world because I can’t visualize anything?) I find that I enjoy disconnecting from busy-ness and stepping away when things get stressful, so I count that as mindfulness – just being aware of what triggers tension in me and trying to minimize or avoid that – rather than looking for ways to fix it afterwards.
I think with all the balls you juggle every day, a beach walk with your husband, a float in the pool, or puddling in the kitchen, all would count as being in the moment and stepping away from the busy-ness for a while. So it’s a win in my books 🙂
Anything that takes my brain away from day job worries and the internal monologue is a good thing.
I find meditation makes me anxious– because I can not shut off my brain and my to do list just keeps on running. BUT I have found I relax more with other things– crafting, cooking/baking, sitting and reading a book. That mindfulness while doing other things is much more my speed.
Exactly! Tbh anything that takes my brain out of day job is a good thing.
I tried the Calm app. I tried the Balance app. I find my morning journaling meditative in a being in the moment, calm me down way. I find shelling at the beach meditative, in a zone out of everything else way, but don’t do it that often. And writing almost always keeps me in the moment. But no, I’ve not been able to create a routine meditation habit either.
I admire people who can…in much the same way as I admire people who run. Neither, I’m afraid to say though, are for me.
Totally get this!! Book me in for the 5am walks in July!!
You’re booked in!
You are so honest Jo and I laughed out loud at the “cancelled the free trial’ comment :). At least you gave it a go and you know when you are mindful which is very important! I think you’re doing well with your ‘one thing’ and enjoy your posts. I also get why you were so sore too!! I take my hat off to people who can use meditation to help them through things.
I wish I could, but…well…
I think you did a good job of trying mediation. I prefer mindfulness whilst walking, cooking, drinking my morning cup of tea etc. it sounds like you completely got into the flow when you were drawing and writing so perhaps they are the best way forward to calm your chattering mind.
I wish I was the person who could meditate, but it’s not to be.
As you have a creative mind, maybe guided visualisations might work for you? They might stop some of the mind monkey chatter
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