Posted tagged ‘meditation’

Mindful … or Not

February 25, 2022

meditationI have flirted with meditation for roughly 50 years.   It started with Transcendental Meditation (TM) and the Maharishi in the 70s.   I remember attending classes with a room full of perpetually smiling disciples explaining how easy it was compared to other forms of meditation, and how quickly I could feel the wonderful results if I was just willing to do it for 15-20 minutes twice a day.   I stuck with it religiously (if you’ll pardon the expression) for about a year.   It indeed made me less anxious and easier to get along with, although I never found the amazing changes talked about on the TM website.  After that, my meditation was more sporadic and I tried other techniques, such as guided meditation and meditation to music.  When I started work the 12 Steps, I sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God per the advice of Step 11.  Many people working the steps say prayer is how we talk to God and meditation is how God answers.  I have never heard from God during meditation, but it certainly makes me feel better and probably more receptive to things spiritual.   Still, consistently meditating has been a challenge for me because my too busy mind really hates to lose the thinking time, in spite of the benefits of meditation. (more…)

Mindfulness

July 4, 2021

meditationThe other day I was taking a shower and I reached for the soap.  To my surprise, I found I was standing on our patio trying to decide what plants would look good in place of the Russian Sage that our builder planted, which I don’t care for.  No, I wasn’t really standing naked on the patio but I might as well have been because that is where my mind was.  If you’ve ever roamed the self-help aisles at Barnes and Noble … or tried to learn meditation … or followed any of an assortment of online gurus, you’ve heard of Mindfuless.  If you Google it, you will find an endless assortment of definitions and promises of its benefits.  Psychology Today says Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention to the present. This state is described as observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judging them as good or badMindfuless.com (who, one supposes, should know) says Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.  It is a combination of attention to the present moment and acceptance of whatever is happening in that moment.   And in today’s world of multi-tasking and sensory overload, I think it is a rarity … something that is a contributor to the state of our society these days. (more…)

High Maintenance

April 25, 2021

Over the almost 77 years of my life, I have discovered that I am High Maintenance. Like an old car, I need regular care if I am to keep running.  But instead of oil changes, spark plugs and the occasional lube job, I need maintenance to keep me from turning into one of the grouchy old curmudgeons I swore I’d never be.   Fortunately, I am mostly High-Self Maintenance. Unlike our vehicles, I can change my own oil and give myself a tune-up, figuratively thinking (sounds a little dirty, doesn’t it?). As to whether my wife Muri thinks I’m high maintenance, you’ll have to ask her.  But here’s the thing … just because I know I’m High Maintenance doesn’t mean I always do it.   My personality (and my ego) really like to be spontaneous (sometimes known as undisciplined). Therefore, just as the maintenance manual in my car’s glove box reminds me when service is required, I have a self-maintenance manual to remind me to take care of myself. In keeping with being a modern old goat, my maintenance manual is stored in my phone. It is stored in a cool little app known as Daily Checklist in which I can check off each item as it is completed.   Every day at midnight it resets, but keeps track of how regularly I do each item.  No pesty reminders or notifications … just a helpful guide that I can look in on periodically.  So, what is in my maintenance manual, you might ask.  Well there are 5 categories.

The first is what I call Morning Practice, a list of things I try to do every morning: Morning Pages, two pages of stream-of-consciousness journalling;  prayer; a gratitude listreading from several inspiring daily readers; and meditation.  Meditation is my challenge … it lubricates my life like nothing else but doing nothing for 15 minutes challenges my personality. 

The second is Social.  In this year of the COVID, isolation can turn me bitter so I need to:  talk to someone (besides my wife and my cat and more than just hello).   This year that has usually meant phone calls or zoom meetings); and write or text someone (I have several prolific e-mail pals).  

The next is CreativeWrite something (usually, on this blog);  Draw or paint something; Photography (often birds); and the catch all, Create something (some days that is a computer program).  I would subtitle the Creative category Feed My Soul.

Then there’s Spiritual, a tricky category for a spiritual but not religious curmudgeon:  Pray; Read something spiritualdo something that touches your soul (usually involves nature or music); and accept something that’s hard.  I could write a whole post on this category and probably will.

Finally, there’s ServiceChores; Take a Contrary Action (do the opposite of one of your bad habits);  Do something for someone (and preferably don’t get found out);  Contribute to something; and Tell someone you love them.

Do I do it all every day?  Nope.  Every other day?  NO!  Do you think I’m Obsessive-Compulsive?  But if I do some of it each day, it keeps me on the rails.   And that’s what making it through your seventies happily is all about.   Do you have a self-maintenance list, either written down or in your head?

Small Things

October 22, 2018

I’m sure I’ve said this here before.   I’m pretty sure I’ll say it again.  The reason I carry my camera when I walk in the park is that it takes my focus away from what’s going on inside my head and into the world around me.   Some days, there are red-shouldered hawks, trees in bloom and sunsets over the lake to grab my attention.  Other days, like today, Small Things catch my eye if (and only if) I am mindful … petals on the ground against fallen leaves …

image

… seed pods hanging from a bright green tree … (more…)

Line Dancing, Chi and Me

July 29, 2018

Clipboard01Many years ago, I took a class in Transcendental Meditation.   I spent several weeks sitting in a room with several eternally smiling teachers who talked to us about the benefits of meditation and the technique, which pretty much came down to mentally repeating a mantra (my very own secret one) and not trying too hard to keep my concentration there.   Not trying.   A foreign concept for me.  For several years I meditated twice a day and since then I have tried to include meditation as part of my daily practice.   Oddly, as I get older, I find it harder to sit down and doline dancing nothing (my Inner Engineer’s description of meditation). Many years ago, too, I was at a country music venue and tried line dancing with my wife, Muri.  Some pseudo-cowgirl was teaching the steps and Muri picked up the half a dozen steps right away.  Me?  When the instructor said, OK, let’s try it all together, I only had two steps down.  I have since avoided line dancing like the plague.    If there is anything harder for me than not trying, it is trying and looking foolish. (more…)

Medinapping

April 18, 2015

MEDINAPI first posted about meditation back in 2010 in a post titled, Meditate? Me?  Since then, I have at least mentioned meditation in 93 posts.   Those two sentences would probably make you think I meditate regularly, but I’m willing to bet that more than half of those mentions involve NOT meditating because for all the good I know regular meditation brings to my life, I find it hard to make myself stop and do it (see Stuff We Already Know, Tuesday’s post). I first tried meditation back in the seventies when the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was hyping Transcendental Meditation, capitalizing on his association with The Beatles.  Transcendental Meditation, or TM as it was called by friends, suggested 20 minutes of meditation twice a day using a mantra given to you by you instructor in return for several hundred dollars.  It was suggested that you sit upright in a straight-backed chair to avoid falling asleep.   I managed to stick with twice a day for about a year, even though there was absolutely no doubt it made me calmer.  Twenty years later, I would begin to work the 12-Steps, which among other things recommend prayer and meditation.  I began to meditate every morning on my way to work (stopped in the park, of course).  I found an mp3 track of meditation bells online for 15, 20 and 30 minute meditations, one gentle bell at the start and three at the end.  You can find them here.  And I reached seventy, still meditating sporadically in spite of the benefits with one more obstacle.  Of course at my age, I needed more sleep, a notion I have trouble accepting … so most times I fall asleep, chin-on-chest before my meditation bells ring, straight-back chair or not.  The Maharishi would not approve. (more…)

Almost Autumn

September 28, 2013

autumn sky

For perhaps twenty years, I’ve used our local parks as a periodic retreat from the bustle of life, a time to write, read, pray and meditate.  Or sometimes, just sit quietly and watch the  world go by.  In my big industry days, I arose early and stopped by a park on my way to work.  Although I’ve been fortunate to have jobs where some tardiness was tolerated, weekdays were always a little rushed so my Saturday mornings in the park became particularly valued.  At this point in my life, my schedule is more flexible but old habits persist.  Saturday mornings are still special. (more…)

Friday Favorites 9/20/2013

September 20, 2013

surf

Pier-to-Pier in Newport Beach

It is a sure sign of my advancing age  that when I run into old neighbors or friends I haven’t seen for a while, they ask if I’m still working.   The easy answer, which I usually give, is that I’m semi-retired.  But the truth is, I’m working nearly full time on about 30% of my days and completely retired on the rest.  It is a lifestyle that requires continual adaptation, particularly those transitions from working to not working.  Please note, in my life, not working does not mean nothing to do.  Between my writing avocation (of which this blog is part), my interests, and a fairly active senior life style with my wife, Muri, there are always things to do.  If I choose to do them.  And that, my friends, is exactly the rub in my retirement.  When life is in session and I need to be distracted, working always gave me something I had to do (at least if I wanted to be paid).  On my retired days, though, I can choose to sit and fret or play mindless computer games until I look up and see a day completely wasted.  Ask any retired male.  The words wasted and unproductive can insidiously sour a retirement, even in easy times. (more…)

Making (Brain) Waves

January 6, 2013

meditationIn the 1950s, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced a meditation technique in India termed Transcendental Meditation, so-called because its practice was said to transcend normal thought processes to a higher state of consciousness.   Although initially taught as a spiritual or religious practice, in the 1960s, the Maharishi began to take a more behavioral approach to TM, citing health and mental benefits, which … along with the participation of various celebrities such as The Beatles … ushered in a burst of popularity in the United States.  Transcendental Meditation is a mantra meditation in which the meditator focuses on a single word while sitting in a relaxed position with closed eyes for twenty minutes, twice a day.   The idea of achieving this higher state of consciousness without effort in forty minutes a day made it ideally suited to our Microwave Society, although it attracted the ridicule of more traditional practitioners of meditation.   It was also condemned by some religious leaders as a stealth religion or a cult.  However, by the 2000s, it had been taught to millions of people worldwide and established multinational organizations to promote its practice. (more…)

The Meditation Carousel

December 30, 2012

carouselIf you’ve been coming here for a while now, you know –  I am a Big Believer in Meditation.   Since I first learned Trancendental Meditation over 30 years ago, I’ve learned that meditation calms me, gives me perspective and that regular practice brings discipline to my life.  I’ve done guided meditations, meditations to music, even come up with my own approach which I described in a post, Bud’s Meditation, back in 2010.  It is one of the most viewed posts here on Bud’s Blog.  I’ve written sixty-seven posts that talk about meditation or ways of meditating.   I’ve tried to incorporate the momentary meditations David Kundtz calls Stillpoints into my day.   I’ve written that the kind of stream-of-consciousness journaling known as Morning Pages, painting, listening to music and writing are a form of meditation for me because they focus my mind on a single thing.  Unfortunately, the Big Believer in Meditation isn’t a Big Meditator … of all the things I’ve discovered that are good for me, I find it hardest to stick to regular meditation.  I can’t seem to get myself on The Meditation Carousel … I need to meditate to be disciplined but I need to be disciplined to meditate.  I’m inclined to be a Human-Doing and true meditation seems too much like doing nothing, which is why I substitute writing and painting. (more…)