Sound Waves

Today’s group meditation finished with our usual two dings of the “bell” (from an iPhone), except for me it was anything but usual, because I somehow experienced said bell not just as a sound, but as waves passing through the core of my body.

This meditation thing is getting kinda trippy.

SoMuchGoingOnEverywhereAllTheTime

Competitive meditation at work has helped me remember on the weekends to sit on my own. Today, for the first time in a while, I was able to watch my breathing without modifying it. I was surprised by how short it was. Maybe because I’d just come back from the gym and my body was still recovering.

I channeled Tuesday’s concept of time slowing down for today’s sit. It was overwhelming, all the sounds, photons, and physical sensations happening in every moment. I see now why adults filter out so much of the world, and how everyday life can be difficult for those unable to do so.

It’s interesting that I’ve transitioned from needing to create something to focus on (counting breaths in 30×11) to having too many things in the moment worthy of attention. When I quiet my mind of thoughts past and future, I find that the present is bursting with activity around me and within me.

The world is very much alive, even when everything appears still.

Competitive Meditation

I’ve been attending weekly group meditation at work for the past month. I like it a lot, and I find it much easier to sit for 20 minutes surrounded by people doing the same thing.

I haven’t quite figured out whether to attribute this to peer pressure, mutual support… or my competitiveness. I have to keep sitting because I refuse to be outsat!

This sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But it’s probably true, and Mike! saw it coming.

Group meditation may be easier, but it’s not always easy. I had a lot of trouble settling and focusing at this week’s sit. With a few minutes to go, I remembered what my coworker wrote when he convened our weekly gathering:

I like meditation because it slows down time.

That was all I needed to enjoy every moment as its own universe.

There was no competition, no support, no pressure.

Just moments.

Just now.

Aeron Spaceship

One of my coworkers recently started a Tuesday morning meditation group. Since we’re in the office, we gather in a conference room.

I’ve never meditated with anyone before, much less a group of people. Turns out it’s easier in a group. When I found myself wondering how long I’d been sitting, instead of checking the clock I thought, “The timer is set, and no one else around you is moving.” That stopped the wondering right quick.

I’ve also never meditated in a chair, and definitely not in an Aeron. (I realize how spoiled I am as I write this.) I started the session with my feet on the legs at the base of the chair. Partway through, I took my legs off, and they dangled freely.

I became unanchored from room. I felt as if my chair was slowly rotating to the left. Omigosh! What if Helen on my left opens her eyes and sees me facing her? That would be so awkward? Maybe I should open my eyes. I fought the urge to do so.

I considered that the spinning was all in my head, and I wasn’t moving at all. Then I felt myself rotating to the right. I resolved not to wonder about my chair orientation until the timer went off, and just enjoyed the ride.

Half a rotation later, the room started rotating. Holy moly, we’re in a spaceship!

Ah, the hammock effect.

The timer went off, and I opened my eyes.

I hadn’t moved an inch.

Settled

Some thoughts from my sit today.

One might say that I’m not “supposed” to be thinking during my sits, but sitting works way better when you don’t hold yourself to supposed tos.

It’s not about sitting really still. It was probably that belief that made 30×11 so difficult.

For me, the great challenge when I sit now is that fact that there is so much going around me, inside me, and in my mind. I only notice these things when I’m still.

It takes about 15 minutes for my mind to really settle. When it does, I’m finding I can truly observe my breath without trying to control it.

Speaking of time, my current conundrum is I want to set my timer for 30 minutes, but that seems too long, so I set it for 20 minutes, and I’m only really settled for 3-5 minutes at the end. Having said that what does “seems too long” even mean? Am I afraid I won’t be able to sit for that long? So what if I don’t? There is no supposed to, remember?

Next sit, 30 minute timer.

Birdful

It’s beautiful out today, so I took my meditation bench outside for a bit. The sun, the breeze, the birds, the birds, more birds.

There are all sorts of birds all over my neighborhood. Songs fill the air.

This also explains why there’s always poop on my car.

Splat

Yesterday, I bought a Hokkaido style cheese tart, one of my most favoritest treats. I took it out of its bag, and just as I was about to eat it, it slipped from its tin and went splat, destroying itself completely on the ground in Lower Sproul Plaza.

“I am the saddest person here right now,” I said. (Melodramatic much?)

Two seconds later, I acknowledged my sadness, cleaned up, and proceeded as if nothing had happened.

It’s fun to watch myself watch myself.

Recenter

I have not had a serious sit for a while now. For weeks. Perhaps months.

My last sit was for about 10 minutes on a poolside hammock at our Koh Lanta resort. I sat upright, held aloft by two coconut trees. It was morning, and most people hadn’t ventured outside yet. The light motion of the hammock sent my mind on a fantastic journey through space.

Seriously, I felt like I was flying through space.

That was seven weeks ago.

We’ve finally hit the end of year lull. I finally have time to sit. Not that lack of time is a good excuse not to. If anything, it means I should have been sitting more.

This afternoon, I sat. Where was I supposed to put my hands? Why are they cold? When will they warm up? I watched my breath. Or so I thought.

After half an hour, I started to get the hang of sitting again. That’s when I noticed my heartbeat. Right! That’s the thing I watch, when I’m still enough.

I sat for another ten minutes after that. Those ten minutes felt calm, centered, balanced, peaceful.

Let’s not wait another seven weeks to sit again, me.

Observe

Today, while washing dishes, I had trouble keeping some just-washed items from repeatedly slipping off the drying rack. After the third slip, I felt annoyed.

“I feel annoyed,” I observed. I thought about why, then set about watching myself feel annoyed. That ended the annoyance right quick.

It reminded me of lunch earlier. My friend was telling me about a difficult situation, and it was emotionally draining enough that even I was feeling down from listening. Several times, I caught myself feeling this way, took a deep breath, focused on compassion, and sent that feeling outward. It helped me a lot, and in so doing, allowed me to help my friend.

This observing myself thing is starting to pay off all over the place.

Float 2.0

I headed back to the float tank today for some focused reflection on hockey. Because maybe there’s something I haven’t worked my way through yet.

I suppose you could call it a housekeeping visit for my mind. I like to be thorough.

I dropped myself back in 2002 and went through the moments that stand out:

Showing up at Belmont Iceland and being taught how to put my gear on.

My first ever hockey drill: Learning to fall, then learning how to get back up.

Breakaways in Green Division. Slamming into the boards because I didn’t know how to stop. The refs asking me if I was okay.

Getting chased down and knocked over by Ruth in Red Division.

Learning how to chase other people down in Red Division. If you’re fast enough, you can take the puck cleanly from them. No knocking required.

Trying out for Maroon and not making it. I worked my ass off the next season, attending every clinic I could find, in an effort to improve.

Skating circles around Red Division after a power skating camp. Scored my first hat trick. That was my last season in Red.

Hating my first season in Maroon Division because our coached cared more about winning than having fun.

My first game in Blue Division, catching my breath on the bench, in awe of how fast everyone skated.

Championship goals and assists. Overtime victories. Game winners.

Laughing with and at my teammates. Getting laughed at in return.

There are lots of good moments, and a sprinkling of challenging ones. The challenging ones made me better in the end. I learned how to chase, I worked hard and improved, and I made fun a core tenet of hockey. My hockey.

My mind jumped a bit to work. Things change quickly at work, and there’s some change I need to spend time processing. Meditation and float time are great ways to surface what’s truly on my mind.

Toward the end of the session I focused on relaxing. The water went away pretty quickly. Peace.

It’s not clear to me whether that water going away feeling comes from my body getting used to the constant even pressure, relaxation from the Epsom salt, or my mind. I suppose if I’m able to relax into this state earlier in the session that would make it a mental phenomenon.

I guess that means I’ll need to try again.