Reflections on Meditation

I have some long overdue van updates to come, but I wanted to break from the vanlife news and share something a little deeper and more personal. I used to do a lot of introspective writing, and I have always found great joy in making connections on a deeper level … but it’s also important not to forget about all the fun in things in life! So, while I work on more posts about the Great Winter Vancation, other recent adventures, and updates on the van construction (we installed a roof vent!!!!), I will share a snippet of other things in my life:

I began leaning on a steady meditation practice at the beginning of 2015. I was going through a stressful divorce, creating a new life for myself and seeking out change in any way I could find. The results were life-saving. Yet as time went on, as I felt stronger, my practice had slowly gone by the wayside. As 2016 came to a close, I thought about the things I wanted to change this year, the person I had become, the person I want to be and my journey, past, present and future. I needed to be more steady, more focused, and less chaotic.

These past few months I have been giving myself more inward focused care, and more time to grow my meditation practice. Last week I reached a profound milestone. I have made a promise to my own heart to be a more loving being, to always share compassion with all beings. This is my new everyday — my living, breathing mantra.

Today, during my walking meditation, I imagined myself as a tree — grounded and peaceful. My feet, roots communing with the earth on each step. The hairs on my head, branches and leaves. As I walked, my thoughts and worries and stressors all streamed behind me, taken by the wind and dissolved into the sky. The breeze rustling and multiplying the love in my heart, carrying it far, and wrapping all of my worries in a blanket of compassion before sending them off into the atmosphere. The growing compassion swelling my heart and spreading to the farthest reaches of all humanity. My mind, clearing and making room for all of the love, kindness and compassion absorbed throughout my day and beyond. Like a tree, I am strong and unwavering.

This is a beautiful life I’ve been given and each moment is wasted if not filled with love and kindness.

I am exceedingly fortunate that I am able to have these experiences; that my life has provided me the opportunity to have strong and admirable teachers, mentors and friends. I am thankful for each and everyone of them — and for all who read this, you are loved, even from afar.

On Motivation … or a lack thereof

I originally wrote the below as a private journal entry, and it began life as a stream-of-consciousness entry. These things don’t always make a lot of sense for anyone outside of my head, but I thought I’d take a moment to share it, regardless.


 

In this moment I struggle with my motivation. Everything feels as if the amount of effort required is crushing. I feel like each step is so long and drawn out and by the time I get to the next one, I have no idea where I am going. Was I foolish to think that I could right myself one time and then continue on in that particular state of being? Did I not think that I would continue to change and evolve and that sometimes life would direct me in ways that I could not have imagined, perceived as both positive and negative, forward and backward?

How does this change the way that I feel about my goals and desires? How does my journey influence my feelings toward where I might be headed and my desire to get there? I have observed that setbacks affect me terribly. As a sensitive individual, these setbacks, even minor, are felt so extensively, so deeply, and sometimes to the core. I have allowed them to rock me intensely, allowing these temporary moments to win and to shut me down. These sometimes minor, sometimes major, but always surmountable emotional triggers too often cause me to unnecessarily question my direction.

I oft think to sit and reconsider my goals and my plans to achieve them. I consider what level of energy and commitment is required, and if these things are what I genuinely desire. I infrequently actually engage in this practice, resulting in feelings of self-letdown. I know I shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

I don’t need to change my goals when the terrain of my travel changes. There are many paths to reaching the place I desire to be. What I should value the most, is the journey I am on, and the present  moment that I am in. There is a special feeling in reaching back in my memories to consider the distance I have come, and to ruminate what might come next, measuring my progress with a critical, yet gentle mind, enjoying the process of becoming — but this is not the spotlight. The focal point is here and now, this present moment, the current feeling; recognizing what comes to the surface and allowing, rather than being overwhelmed; greeting each thought, feeling and judgement with kindness and peace. The rest will unfold organically.

But what of the times when the place I desire to be might change? Is this losing my focus? Is it a reassessment? I want to continue to assess my end goals, but I should not give up on my dreams — the strength of my desire for my dreams may wax and wane, but my dreams remain intact. Perhaps what should be continually assessed are the steps to reach my goals — one at a time, and as needed. There is no reason to overwhelm myself.

Perhaps my true goal is to be happy, in this moment, here and now.

The Art of Doing Nothing

I have been avoiding writing for a while now. I keep telling myself that I want to, but I then the writing never materializes. I’ve been slightly avoidant; finding little things to check off my list while procrastinating on the things that take more emotional involvement, or involve more difficult decision making. You could even say I’ve been wallowing in a little bit of self pity (This thing is so hard, I should just take it easy and have a glass of wine instead. Or, I’ve been working so much, I should just relax and do nothing.). 

And then … I actually end up doing nothing. And feeling terrible about it.

Is doing nothing such a bad thing? Maybe I really don’t know how to unwind. Doing nothing gives me that uneasy feeling of regret over wasting time that I could use to be “productive.” Contrarily, doing nothing can be a good thing — time to decompress, de-stress and let go of so much unwanted tension and pressure. Planning to do nothing is a hurdle for me; actually doing nothing is an even taller one.

The anxiety that stems from doing nothing has always negated any benefit that it might offer me. I’m absolutely terrible at relaxing. Just horrible at it. Every massage I’ve ever received yielded an unprecedented amount of abhorrent comments from every practitioner of the trade: “You’re ridiculously full of knots” and “You need to relax or I won’t even be able to do this” or “How on earth are you so tense?!”  Physical therapy, massage therapy, casual massages … all the same. Apparently I’m walking around with the tension of someone who actually has a stressful life. So what’s the deal? I need to learn to chill out …

Today, in front of God and man and all the Internet, I proclaim my promise to myself: to learn to properly relax. I am going to take very seriously my newly declared dedication to the art of doing nothing. From this point forward, I am going to actively pursue the steadfast ability to release tension, cope with unwanted stress and to sleep peacefully. I will remember the importance of a quiet mind and a calm soul. I will allow myself to do nothing without anxiety. I will give myself time to let it all go.

This is gonna be so good.

 

Gratitude and Intentions

It’s the day before Thanksgiving – one of America’s most celebrated holidays. A holiday that has come to be synonymous with acts of glutton, greed and gratitude. What a strange conglomeration.

It would be very stereotypical for me to write a specific onerous Thanksgiving post listing the many things I am thankful for and the many reasons for you to be grateful. We have so much! We are so blessed! We’re the best! Hurrah! In the midst of many horrific events and sad situations surrounding us in this world, I suppose it is not a bad idea to reflect on what we are grateful for. To do so in a humble, peaceful, non-boastful way is very commendable. To take action, turning that gratitude into something that can be radiated to others is strikingly noble. I hope that I have it in me to do so.

I am immensely grateful (and I hope that it is evident in the majority of my writing), however, I want to share that more and more each day, I am focused on the intentions I set for myself. I am approaching the close of a very epic year for me – a year that has included one of the most amazing re-birth processes I never could have imagined. It is a year in which I bravely turned my focus inward in the most profound way; I looked in a proverbial mirror and saw what I needed to see, picked up the heavy weight of my downtrodden soul and ran. Ran far from every preconceived notion, every stubborn idea, every idealized and unfounded desire. I picked up my disillusioned self and embarked upon a journey to replace it with something calm, balanced, emboldened, with eyes and mind wide open.

What I found was that I could choose to be the person I wanted to be — and then just be. There are times, however, that I find myself unhappy with my direction, and I determine that I’ve wandered from the path I chose to be on, and I again choose my direction. I’ve found wise and appropriate moments to look back upon my progress, and re-visit my choice, and with extreme kindness, redirect myself. To set my intentions. 

Recently, I sat down and assessed how I spent my time. I walked through my schedule in my head and what I did that week and thought about what each activity brought to my life — if it enriched my life, or took something away. I thought about the feelings that certain activities evoked and I thought about if I felt satisfied with that. I wrote down everything I did that I thought enriched my life — brought me joy or satisfaction, increased my happiness, contributed to my journey and propelled me in the direction I wish to travel. What was I doing that was making me into the person I want to be? What wasn’t?

I thought about my intentions behind the things that I choose to do with my time. Am I doing things that have no purpose or meaning? Are the things I do having an unintended effect? This practice was so very clarifying. Thinking ahead to the new year, I am more and more exhilarated about what the coming months will bring, and I am increasingly satisfied and content with the person that I am becoming.

So, while I am always trying in every way to express as much gratitude as possible, today I draw my focus to setting honorable intentions for myself — for the coming year, and for each and every day.

I encourage each of you, dear readers, to put thought into the intentions behind the things you do with your time; and, with kindness, determine how they influence you, what feelings they evoke.

Happy Thanksgiving!