Saturday, May 15, 2010

To be able to come back to yourself, at will.

Well, the second week of May hasn't gone that well, either, to be honest with you. I'm definitely LESS obsessed with facebook and email, but enough that is still surprises me. And I've been thinking more about why it bothers me that I'm so addicted. It is, partly, the fact that I recognize that I look to it for validation--it's a way of putting myself out in the world and waiting for a reaction. Which sort of makes me disappointed in myself; it's a very adolescent impulse and need, in a way. But, actually, I think the bigger problem i have with it is that it goes against everything I've been learning about mindfulness. It is a fairly constant pull away from whatever I am doing. And yet there's rarely anything significant about it.

I had an interesting chat with my boss this week. We were talking about characteristics of candidates we were interviewing for an open position in our office, and somehow we started talking about the ability to juggle a commitment to family with a commitment to the office. She shared that something changed for her in the past year, where she's felt a lot better able to find balance. And, since that's what I've been thinking about so much lately, I asked her if she knew what had changed, exactly. And do you know what she said?

I kid you not...she said she took a mindfulness workshop! And now feels like she is able to be more fully devoted to her family when she is with them, because she knows she has set aside time to focus on work later. And she can be more devoted to work because of the fully engaged time she has set aside for family.

And then, completely unrelated, I was talking to my mom about how important it is to each of us to be fully engaged. I was talking about how even though I could look at my week at work one way and feel totally disheartened and frustrated and overwhelmed, I was also really engaged in some projects and that made the time fly by and kept me satisfied in a certain way and it was easy to focus on that instead.

And, to circle back, that's really what this whole year of month-long resolutions is about for me. Finding that level of engagement (Thich Naht Hanh would call it "flow", I think) seems to hold the key to being happy for me. And finding that level of balance that my boss was talking about seems to hold the key to staying sane. There is something in the idea that parallels the concept of "multiple truths" for me, and that's an idea that's been on my mind lately too. "I am completely devoted to my family" and "I am completely devoted to this engaging work that I do" can both be true. And, maybe HAVE to be true, to feel fully engaged and centered and whole.

After reading several meditation/mindfulness books last month, I really thought I was doing pretty well at staying centered and rational and...not unaffected, exactly, but unchanged by situations that would usually leave me ruffled or frustrated. And I was proud of myself. But this past week, I've been disappointed to find that when the situation hits a certain level or a certain button in me is pushed, I don't yet have the ability to stay within myself. I become part of the perceived hurricane.

And...that brings me back to all of my excuses last month about why I didn't meditate. I wanted to do it right. And Gina called me out on all of my excuses about finding the right exercise and told me that I just needed to do it. And that was the only right way. Or there was no right way, but you just had to do it anyway. The idea was to sit with yourself, not necessarily be guided by someone else. To be alone with yourself and notice yourself and be okay with yourself. To come back to yourself when your mind wanders. She told me that that ability...that was the point of meditation, in a way. To be able to come back to yourself at will.

Even in the middle of a hurricane of a situation, you can supposedly notice it and be okay with it and then come back to yourself.

Like your own personal PAUSE button for life.

And I have noticed myself noticing (and getting frustrated with) others who lack the ability to press that pause button when needed. And my books last month pointed out that what frustrates us most about others is really tied to what frustrates us most about ourselves.

And the truth is I have been scared to try to meditate. And I have no idea why. I keep saying that I like spending time alone with myself, and that is true. But it is time when I am reading or crafting or listening to music and cleaning, even. Not time just sitting. Being.

It feels silly. I don't know why. But sitting on the floor for 10 minutes just feels silly. It keeps coming to my mind to do it before going to bed, but I am tired and fear I will fall asleep. Or I am laying down and feel silly sitting up, cross-legged, with my arms resting on my knees like I have heard you are supposed to. Can you meditate lying down? Is it still meditating if you fall asleep?

Can sitting still with yourself, for ten minutes, really make a difference in your life? In your day?

I tell you what...I don't know but I am going to find out. I'm making an executive decision to change my goals for the last half of the month...again.

I am going to stick with the reduced facebook and email time. But I'm dropping the Danish and photography as a goal. I'm going to sit with myself. Silly or not.

Starting now.


runningwiththejig said...

Maybe I'll try it too.

Ouidad Blog said...

I really like this post, it's quite 'mindful' and I know I'm going to be super conscious about how I spend my time physically as well as mentally. That's really great your boss can be so open with you and tell you about how she deals with balance.

Thanks again for a really great post.

Katie for Ouidad