I’m into the second week of an eight week formal meditation practice in Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book, Full Catastrophe Living. So far so good but it is not easy. It should be no surprise to me. It is easy to tell Sheba to sit but she doesn’t stay. I haven’t really insisted upon it either. I give up too easily, so as soon as my back is turned, she is up and away. Like mistress, like dog.
Being the mistress, I’m having more success with staying – at least my body is. My mind darts here, there and everywhere. My body wants to bolt, too. I stay. My pulse races. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. I breathe and let go, remembering to accept what is at the moment. I see the poster in front of me. “Live Each Day to the Fullest”. The words soothe me and I breathe again. I feel my heart calming, the beats slower. I read the line “Live Each Day to the Fullest” again. That is what I want.
I had not known that it is so difficult to stay in the body. My mind wants to be somewhere else all the time. I give thanks to whatever that has led me to this process of discovery. The power lies within my body and spirit. It is not out there in Somewhere Else.
There is always something to be grateful for – even in anxiety and sleepless nights. You suffer in both, sometimes unbearably. Never a stoic, someone who can keep a stiff upper lip, I seek for relief relentlessly. It is no surprise that I have a whole library of self-help books. By now, I could write my own. I should start making notes. What I know for sure is, there is no permanent fix. But you can learn from each episode and make it easier for your next time. It’s still about doing your best and then letting go. Perhaps, you might find me too direct, up front and revealing. But what/who does that hurt – admitting that I am human and flawed? I am with you all in the
milieu catastrophe of life.
In the middle of a sleepless angst, I rose from my bed one night and migrated to the kitchen. I made a cup of ginger tea and cuddled up under my Hudson’s Bay blanket with an old friend – Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Full Catastrophe Living. I’ve read it a time or two and have practiced some of the exercises in it. You know how we human beings are. When the going gets tough, we are so serious and dedicated. Once the crisis is over, we stray and then abandon the practice altogether – till the next time.
This is my next time. I’m doing the practice again – of sitting and watching my breath for 15 minutes. The first time was not too bad, being the first. I was full of resolve. I can do anything in that state. I felt some discomfort the 2nd time. My thoughts strayed. I wanted to water the plants. I wanted to make soup. I wanted to get out of my skin! I breathed and felt the rise and fall of my belly. The 15 minutes passed.
Today is my 3rd day. The 15 minutes are easier. The mind wanders. I accept it. It is what it is. I have 4 more days to complete the week. Then it is 7 more weeks, working up to 45 minutes of formal meditation, of watching my breath. Can I do it? Yes! Yes! Yes! It is worth the effort to come out from under the thumb of my misfiring mind. If I don’t try, it won’t happen. I can always do my best, whatever it is on any given day.
Miraculously I am myself again. It is as if someone has put the patches on my chest and defibrillated me. I am at ease. It is as if it never happened. It’s like a bad dream, a nightmare. I shake my head and wonder what the hell had happened. It matters not. I pick myself up, dust myself off and truck on down the road. Life goes on. So do I – not quite an EverReady battery.
It is another overcast day. The greyness wraps itself around my shoulders. It seeps through my pores, clouding me, slowing me. I do not let it drag me down. I hear the traffic whooshing down Preston Avenue. Life is busy as usual and I must move with it, however I can, as best as I can.
It’s a good time to get into the moment, this moment, the present moment. I have been listening to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a professor of medicine, an expert on stress and mindfulness. Something he said in his book, Coming to Our Senses, twigged something within me. We have the five senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching. But how aware are we of them?
I often turn a blind eye to many things, a deaf ear to the sounds around me. I try not to feel, afraid of the unknown. I eat to fill my stomach, not savoring or discerning the different tastes of food. My nose wakes up only to the pungent odours. I am ‘out to lunch’ too much.
On this day, I am coming back to my senses. I am trying to come back home to me. I am staying here to feel the grey. It does not hurt me. I see the sun trying to come through the layers of grey. All is well with the universe. I stay here in this moment, to feel the wind on my cheek, to smell the fragrance of the rose, to hear the birds sing and to taste the raindrops on my tongue.