Stumbling Grudgingly Into Quiet

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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My Other Self

Today I’m thankful that I’m spending a week surrounded by thousands of people who love the same things I do.

I’ve been stressed since half my colleagues were made redundant. I think it’s understandable. The notice came about a week before I left for a vacation/conference. I’m at the conference now. I hadn’t noticed how much I missed being around “my people”, silly as we are. The sessions are highly informative, and the location is idyllic. I’ve split my time between the conference and wandering the city. I’d forgotten how truly goofy I am when unstressed. I’m still not certain what my next move will be, but this respite is proving absolutely necessary.

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Seeking Stillness

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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