MY JULY GOALS FOR LIFE FULFILLMENT:
1. Meditate every day for at least 10 minutes
2. Read blogs and learn how to promote my own
3. When I’m about to say something negative, say something positive instead.
I picked this month to meditate because I knew it was going to be stressful. And, indeed, for the last few days my boyfriend, Paul, and I have been stressing out about our cross-country move (as well as the horrifying expenses that go along with it.)
Speaking of expenses, our pricey U-Pack cube arrived the other day and, much to our dismay, it was smaller than we were expecting. Thus began a tense time of deciding which of our things were cube-worthy, and which had to be left behind or taken to Goodwill.
Yesterday, as I was carrying a box out to the cube, Paul asked me what was in it.
“My stuff,” I said savagely. “Leave me alone!” I was afraid if I told him the box contained wigs and Harry Potter books, he would tell me it didn’t qualify as “first tier items.”
“I’m thirty-two years old,” I moaned, scratching at my legs where welts were forming from dozens of mosquito bites. “I’m too old to be storing stuff in my mom’s basement.” I wanted all my belongings in one place – wigs and Harry Potter books and all.
“I know,” Paul said. We were both disappointed because it didn’t seem like we were going to be able to fit my couch into the cube, or his desk. We could buy furniture on craigslist when we got there, but it was just one more expense.
We decided to take a break. Paul went for a run, and I meditated. The entire time I was sitting on the floor, trying to focus on my breathing, my mind kept wandering back to the storage cube and how we could fit everything into it. Each time I found myself drifting away, I tried to come back to my breath and be present in the moment, but it just wasn’t happening.
When Paul got back I said, “you know, I don’t think meditation is for me.”
He laughed. “You’ve only been doing it for four days.”
“I know. And maybe I’ll feel differently at the end of the month. But that’s what it seems like to me.”
From what I understand, meditating is a practice in being observant of my mind and body in the present moment. Most of the time, in daily life, we go about our days doing one thing, but thinking about something else. We think about the past or the future instead of focusing on what’s happening right now. I find myself doing this all the time. During a movie, I’m thinking about what I’m going eat for dinner after the movie’s over. While I’m eating dinner, I’m planning what chores I need to do before bed. When I’m doing my chores, my mind is replaying an awkward conversation I had earlier in the day.
I also find myself doing this while meditating. It’s very difficult to sit and be present in the moment. Just me and my body and my breath.
While I was meditating yesterday, I finally let go of thoughts about the cube, but then I started thinking about ideas for my novel, and blog entries I wanted to write. “No, no, Eva,” I scolded gently. “Back to your breath.”
But then I started thinking more about writing. Writing is a time when I am present in the moment. When I really get into what I’m writing, I’m not thinking about the past or the future or chores I need to do. I’m caught up with the story I’m telling. I’m focusing on what’s happening right now – in my imagination and on the page.
When I was living on Cape Cod with my friend Nikki, I was always so impressed by her ability to meditate for thirty minutes or more every day. “I feel like I should be meditating, too,” I told her. “It seems like a good habit.”
“Well, for me, meditation is a time to sit quietly with myself and observe my thoughts. It seems like that’s sort of what you do with your blog.”
“So maybe writing is my meditation?” I asked.
“It seems like it to me,” Nikki said.
On Friday, Paul and I put all of our belongings – first and second tier – in the cube, and then we realized there was still lots of space left over. (Goshdarn volume…it’s so tricky to gauge, even for a physicist and a former math teacher like ourselves.)
We both knew what we had to do, but we didn’t want to admit it. We had to take everything we’d so carefully packed out of the cube, put the couch in, and then put everything back in around it. With a sigh, we set to work.
After we finished our cube work for the day, Paul went swimming to de-stress. I wrote this blog entry, and I meditated. I have to say that the writing made me feel more relaxed and more focused on the present moment than the meditation did.
I do still think there are benefits to meditation I can’t get from writing. For one thing, I don’t observe my body and breath much when I’m writing the way I (theoretically) do during meditation. Also, it’s only when writing blog or journal entries that I’m observing my thoughts. When I’m writing fiction, I’m focusing on the present moment for a character, not myself.
I’m going to keep doing the daily mediation this month because I promised myself and the people of the Internet that I would. But I’m beginning to think that writing can be a type of meditation. And combined with yoga and taking walks (both of which involve an observance of body and breath), perhaps I’ve been doing thirty minutes a day (or more) of my type of meditation all along.
The Need for Letting Go from Rule Your Mind (I like this site because you can ask questions and get answered in a post.)
The Meditation of Noticing the Itch from Return to the Light