Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness’

Reading: The Vagrants by Yiyun Li, The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts
Listening: all things Ben 

The scant flurries from this morning have morphed into a bona fide, diagonal snow that’s marbling the neighbors’ roofs with curling veins of white. I’m starting slow, crossed legs under a blanket, still sipping coffee gone cold long ago. The friends’ dog I’m here to watch sleeps curled in a tight spiral on his own blanket nearby. Plenty of windows in their new house let in a nice amount of natural light, even on this winter day when the sky is that kind of overcast that makes it appear almost white, as if our planet were surrounded by nothing but clear, still water, the way it looks in a full bathtub. I woke up this morning with the top of the dog’s head close to my own forehead, at that crackling distance where almost touching sometimes becomes its own tangible sensation.

I don’t wait for New Years to set my resolutions, and this year I’m letting the holiday pass without the inventory-taking I normally do on the events and accomplishments of the past year. That can provide insight, but at present I feel like being seated in the now, and so that’s what I’m doing. My thoughts float — to my friends, to the little glimpses into their lives I get when I watch their children or animals, to my parents and my love for my family, to how staying in someone else’s home on a holiday when they’re away gives me a feeling of transience and perspective, to the fact that I like this house, to a man out there who I find has gotten under my skin more than I expected — all this with a quiet-spirited warmth that demands nothing, not of them, not of me. I am grateful. Our existence is enough.

By this point in writing, the dog’s up and restless, pacing, fiddling with a rubber ball for a moment before looking for something else to do. I’ll take this as my cue.



Posted: November 30, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

With every breath, I am learning.

I close my eyes, turning inward. The thoughts that have driven me here — the worries about injury, the cares in my personal life, the stresses of the work I just left behind — begin to dissipate as I breathe deeply. Words recently spoken lose the great momentum their continual revolutions have been keeping in my head.

I am sorry. This one will assert itself many times before it really drops away, I know, and so I put it down for now to recollect my strength. Will I always be sorry? I have asked myself; based on past experience, it seems likely. Even forgiving myself for my failings does not mean I do not feel the responsibility. These are things I think about before I arrive on the mat. Even if I did nothing wrong, even if I only caused pain inadvertently — even with the best of intentions — I am aware of the weight of my steps, of what they can accidentally crush. This is not the same as guilt, although I know it might look similar.

With a soft sound like a distant, gentle ocean, my breath leaves me. I rest in the gap between this and my next inhale. My intention is set: clarity, in this moment. I want to do the right thing; not just the thing that I want, but the thing that is right.

I have been impatient. As a constitutionally patient person, I’ve found this perhaps easier to bear than one might otherwise expect… but I long to run again, swiftly, to put miles beneath my feet and control my breath in that more familiar context. The similarity in breath control is something I find comforting. I have grown impatient lately with my heart, too, not just the other muscles that need time to recover.

All of this I peel off like the outer layer I wear and set beside me as the practice begins. I look forward to doing so, to letting my mind empty itself as my lungs fill with air, my body with a deep warmth. I love how quiet a thing this is. In this quiet, I am able to see how I can be my own support system; another healthy reinforcement replaces a self-defeating one. I think that when I’m finished and don both the garment and the concerns, I am better equipped to handle them. I hope it, too.

At the end, I roll up my mat and let my body relax in the warmth it has generated, even as my mind begins to turn to what I need to do and the courage I will summon for the task.

At every step, I am learning.

Some days, the lesson is simply that I am not entirely “over this,” yet. Yesterday, I did a little editing and managed to make myself some food, but mostly I just played Mass Effect 3 and let my eyes run over words and images while thinking away. Some days I spend just feeling lonely in the quiet. I sit with it, walk the hardwood floor with it, stare at the to-do list with my mind’s eye until I accept that this will not be the hyper-productive day I could really use. These are days when it’s nearly useless to try to get work done, particularly anything hinting of drudgery. I consider going out but decide not to. The animal comfort of sitting surrounded by people would help with focus, since drowning out their sound takes just enough effort that the mind’s noise goes with it… but sometimes, that “noise” is the point. If a person can sit with it long enough, it starts to shape itself into patterns, into words. This is not a thing to run away from.

*         *         *

So, I found out today that Diane Birch has just released a new album. I’m listening to it now, for the second time through. After yesterday’s quiet turns ’round the apartment, it feels good — a sort of relief — to have music that’s resonant, resonating, filling the space.

Diane Birch Speak A Little Louder