02 June, 2014
JUNE: Take Time Off!
Welcome to June, dear readers! I hope this glorious Spring is treating you well: filling your hearts, lifting your spirits and warming your cockles. Here in the American South we’ve been having a beautifully drawn-out sweet and temperate Springtime. What good fortune we are having!
The month of May found me cultivating my meditation practice, as you may recall. This resolution – while perennially difficult for me – has proven to be much more attainable than expected. I have managed to sit for my practice most days this month. And I’ve not really felt guilty about the days I didn’t sit, but I did, strangely, miss the experience on those days. I have discovered that evening meditations work best for me right now. In the past, I always tried to practice meditation in the mornings after waking, and with mixed results. However, meditating just before bed is proving a welcomed addition to my nighttime routine. It allows me to soften my mind and body in preparation for sleep.
In an effort to keep myself from getting too “thinky” about the practice, I have only been asking myself to sit down and count out 50 breaths. I have a pretty slow breathing pace, so this allows me a decent amount of time ‘on the cushion’ for my practice. I do hope to eventually add more breaths/time, but for now, this seems to be sufficient for me to feel benefits and to still feel like I can sustain the practice without too much effort.
I have noticed that I am drifting into sleep much more easily and comfortably. (However, my sleep, once I’m in it, is still fraught with physical discomfort and crazy dreaming. Will have to figure out how to address that at some point, but that will have to be left for another blog entry.) I have also been experiencing some pretty auspicious emotional shifts happening. I don’t attribute these solely to the meditation practice, but I think the practice is definitely playing an important role. I will talk more on that later. I’m also feeling like I have a much calmer internal sea; much more equanimity. There may be some emotional debris bubbling to my surface, but deep underneath all that is a new stillness and serenity. It sounds a little hokey when I type it out here, but I don’t know any other way to describe it. I believe those moments I’m spending in mediation are directly contributing to the well of contentment, and that is motivation enough to keep up the practice.
June’s resolution is one that I feel would be well applied to the lives of most modern Americans: Give myself days off of work and don’t work on those days. Sounds simple enough, sure. But, in practice, this can be a nearly impossible feat for many of us. In fact, the timing couldn’t be better on this resolution. Just last month I made the decision to add an extra day of work to my schedule. I was already scheduled to what I believed to be my maximum number of client hours in a week, but I was feeling concerned about money (thank you, IRS), so thought I’d try working a little more. Surely I’d be able to do that – work one more day a week … just for a few hours … no problem! Well, as it turns out, it is a problem. So, a few days ago, I changed my schedule back to the old one. The moment I did that I felt a weight lift from my heart and from my shoulder girdle. Whew! Just adding that one day a week to work had increased my stress levels, dramatically decreased the quality of my sleep, affected my ability to make the best food choices for myself, roused an old muscular injury (which is still not ironed out), and made me feel so exhausted and overwhelmed that I found myself just wanting to crawl into a hole to get away from it all. No good! And … No more! I’m back on a schedule that my body, mind and spirit can handle. And, in the spirit of June’s resolution, I am not going to plan too much drudgery on the days when I’m not at my job. Instead, I’m going to do things that make me feel good. Brilliant plan! I encourage you to try it, too! I’d love to hear how it goes for you.
Well, that’s it for now, superstars! Today’s a day off for me, so I’m going to wrap this up and go enjoy the rest of this beautiful Sunday afternoon. I hope you do, too!