Today I’m thankful to be learning basic meditation.
I am keenly aware of stress. If I let it get a foothold I flare and end up back at the rheumatologist, painfully swollen and only able to function at a basic level. The last several weeks have been eventful. In response I manifested several clear physical signs of a flare, though for once they’ve moved slowly. I felt like my body was warning me what would follow if I didn’t regain control. I decided to use the grace period. I’ve been adjusting my daily routine and learning meditation basics. Please know I’m not proselytising for any cause. I use this platform to express gratitude in my own somewhat cantankerous way. These particular changes have helped me. Live your life as you see fit.
For as long as I can remember I’ve thought “I really should learn to meditate”. I read Maura O’Halloran’s account of her time training to be a Zen Buddhist monk in Japan. I found it engrossing, but I’ve never really mastered the feeling of emptiness. I have an unruly mind. It’s an asset for my work, but it also means that I notice every itch and feel the need to rein in my thoughts from their continual wanderings. It’s the antithesis of a meditating brain.
I’m generally wary of alternative therapies. I am willing to try those with a documented body of evidence in their favor. Meditation, especially for stress management in autoimmune inflammatory diseases, is one such practice. The pivot for me was accepting that I can’t expect to start with sitting quietly for 30 minutes in one go. I am simply not wired for it. I can, however, manage 3 to 5 minutes before bed, gradually increasing over time. My runaway thoughts are not a liability. I acknowledge them and return to the quiet. I’m in my second week. My hands are no longer swollen and the raised red spots on my skin have disappeared. I don’t have an ultimate goal beyond trying to stay healthy, but this works for now. I’ve used several apps to track my progress. It helps me to quantify what I do.
Be kind to yourself, and your body. You get one. Finally, a well placed heating pad rarely goes awry. (Blatantly sentimental picture below, because well, why not?)
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Today I’m thankful for occasional chances to live slowly.
Today is Ash Wednesday. I’m ambivalent toward formal religion and lean agnostic. Even so, I sing in the choir of a local Anglican church. Singing is like breathing to me. I need both to live. I attend most Sundays because we sing at set points through the entire service. I don’t believe in the metaphysical aspects but I still find beauty in the rituals, and consider “seeking justice and loving mercy” a worthy idea.
I honestly love the liturgical calendar. I’m struck by the idea that every day is a feast honoring someone. Every day becomes a celebration. Dividing the year into various “-tides” that reflect the cycle of seasons feels far less artificial to me than worrying about quarterly goals. I don’t suffer from misguided nostalgia in thinking the past was “purer” because survival required so much more effort. I do wonder whether we’ve compartmentalized and subdivided our lives so much as to be pointless.
I don’t sacrifice anything for Lent. That would mean abiding by proscriptions I just don’t believe. I do try to use the season to live an examined life. I don’t have any grand final insights. I write what I see. I probably won’t be an objectively better person by Easter but I will be reminded that what I do has consequences for good or ill. I don’t think knowing that is ever a bad thing.
I did it again. I apologize. I’m still somewhat discombobulated after cramming so much travel into a short time.
My trip was a short retreat at a monastery. I am not remotely spiritual. However, I have yet to find any other places that offer such enveloping calm. I love my work. It can also be very stressful. Occasionally I need to fully withdraw from my usual life and seek the quiet. I’ve visited several different communities by using their retreat facilities.
This latest community has a moderately large vegetable garden. I helped gather what was ready for harvest and sowed other crops for later in the year. I tried to actually be helpful and not create more work for the overseer by my incompetence. I’m not certain I met that goal but they were kind enough to remain silent. I knew I’d needed to visit. It wasn’t until returning home that I realized just how much I had needed to go.
Be kind to yourself. You have one body and life. Use them to maximise the good you do.
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