Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Today's Highs- because we all need some

I took at look at this blog today and thought, "this blog could use a little pick-me-up!"

So, here goes, the long ignored high list:

- I'm writing a blog post
- I'm going to Vietnam in less than 8 weeks :)
- I didn't freak out when I took the wrong train today
- A coworker brought me some tea she thought I would like
- All of my loved ones are healthy and safe
- I had enough downtime at work today to bring you this post
- My Grandmother is 70 today!

Laters!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Summer Sunset

How is August almost over? I have no idea. This month has gone incredibly fast for me. It always seems to be that way when summer is ending.

Lots of change over here (or just one big one). My boyfriend and I moved in together and man, I was NOT prepared for what an adjustment it would be. For the past three and a half years, I've lived in apartment that was (for the most part) governed by me. I had roommates, but they were rarely home. Also, nearly everything in the main living space was mine, arranged the way I wanted it. My roommates called me, "Mom".

Despite all of these obvious clues, I really had no idea how much I rely on things being exactly (EXACTLY) the way I expect them to be, so living with someone (who I am sharing everything with) has been incredibly stressful for me because I can't always have my way.

Things that have caused significant stress for me:

- the lights in the living room being too bright
- my boyfriend placing an item on my vanity that DOES NOT GO THERE
- buying feta cheese when there is no clear plan for use of it
- the possibility of a zucchini going bad

I sound like a real peach, I know.

Goal for September: Chill the fuck out and enjoy this stage of my life.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Zen Wednesday 07.20.11

For today's Zen post I'd like to talk about a book I've just started called Wherever you go, there you are written by Jon Kabat-Zinn (given to be me by the all wisdomessful, Virginia). Now, I have only gotten like one chapter into the book, but this is what I've taken from it so far: if we can focus on the present moment, being a good person, being happy, etc., then each moment will add up to the sum of our lives, equalling overall pleasantness. Yay!

A Fun zen story to go along with this concept (found it here):

One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice. As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine. Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!


Another way to look at the idea of living in the moment is a lesson I took away from one of the most depressing movies out there, The Hours; there is a scene where one of the characters is talking with her daughter (I think) and she's talking about when she was young and fantasized about the future thinking "I'm so close to happiness". She then says, "I never stopped to think, that was happiness". Or something like that. I always really liked that scene.

Laters!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Zen Wednesday

I've talked about this book a bit, so I thought I'd share a little zen story from it, that I found particularly impactful. So, Happy Zen Wednesday everyone!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mid-year Thoughts

I am halfway through the year and have only maintained one of the original goals I set, which is to give a spontaneous gift once a month.


Spontaneous gifting has been surprisingly easy to integrate into my routine. Perhaps gift giving isn't that hard for some of you, but for me it seems to take so much effort. I'm always worried about the actual gift itself, is it good enough? will they like it? does it convey what I want it to? I get really caught up in the social pressures and then there is the deadline, which I never make. Even as I'm typing this I literally just remembered I meant to get my Stepdad a Father's Day gift and give it to my mother to pass along when she was a couple of weekends ago. See what I mean? For some reason, the pressure of gift giving turns me into a total flake.


I think I have stumbled upon the key to my success with the spontaneous gifts; they are spontaneous! No deadline and no pressure because any present when you're not expecting it's awesome, right? As for the rest of my goals, let's review:


Meditate everyday (for at least 10 minutes and work up)
Yeah... not quite, but I have kept up somewhat of a habit to the point where I can feel pretty confident I won't be giving up anytime soon. I don't think there has been an entire week where I haven't meditated. Do I wish I would meditate more? Yes, but I'm still pleased with the progress I've made. 

Gym/Exercise at least 3 days a week 
Again, no... I am pretty troubled by this one, just because I have always been a person who has been able to make time to exercise regularly and I have really dropped off in this area. The only exercise I've gotten in the past two months has been riding my bike a couple of days a week. A lot of that is due to my foot being injured, which stinks because there isn't much I can do about that, but the other issue is that I allowed myself to get out of the habit and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to reinstate the gym into my routine. 

Go to Temple once a month
I have been once....In January.... Yeah... 

Complete a Buddhist reading weekly
Very close on this one. I have some blogs I visit regularly and I often return to my books. I highly recommend keeping up a reading routine in conjunction with meditation. 

Daily high postings
I determined this to be ineffective on the blog. Honestly I get more out of the practice when it can be shared live with a group of people. Maybe I will try to introduce it during lunch at work? 


In conclusion, I'm not doing as well as I had hoped, but I am doing better than I expected. I'm looking forward to seeing where the rest of this year takes me. I don't know if this project is completely responsible, maybe it's just part of getting older, but the way I feel about life, (particularly my idea of success) is slowly changing. While I think this is a great thing, I did not expect this much confusion to accompany it. 


Many days I'm struggling for the same reasons I always have, but there are other days when I struggle as a direct result of changing...for the better, which is soooo weird. I didn't expect that. Which is silly to say, but I guess I thought the only issues I would have were the same old comfortable familiar issues. Well, that was not and is not the case. Opening up my mind to change involves being vulnerable and going into really dark places and accepting everything. Which has been tough. However, I'm still convinced that I'm becoming more peaceful and perhaps spreading a little peace as well. In my opinion, totally worth it. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Possibly Back on Track

I was able to get in some reading last night. I know I wasn't very specific about how I've been feeling in my post yesterday, but it's really just the same old crap that everyone goes through, just feeling bored with life and totally overwhelmed with it at the same time. "What is it all for?" type thoughts and feeling like I'm stuck in the movie Groundhog Day. It's nothing new, but it's really annoying and I fall right back into those negative thinking patterns surprisingly fast. The whole point of this project is to phase those thought patterns out and lead a more effective and connected life, so here I am, still a work in progress.

Progress definitely took place yesterday when in spite of being at work until 1:30am, I carved out a little time for myself to do some Buddhist reading. I've also been taking all the little chores I've been meaning to do in my house and breaking them up into little manageable pieces. The only rule is that I have to do at least one thing a night, no matter how late it is. It helps me feel like I'm I still in control of life even when I'm really busy.

We'll see how tomorrow goes, but I'm hoping to get myself back to a regular meditation schedule in the next couple of weeks.

I'd also like to start seriously assessing some key factors about my chosen lifestyle. I've been feeling bored/discontent about some things, but I'm tired of only considering major life decisions in the moment (usually when things aren't going well), as more of a fantasy than an actual thought out plan. I'd like to give myself a period of time and weigh everything when it's not brought about by any particular frustration. That's it for now.

Laters!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I've Hit a Wall

I'm just not feeling life lately people. And for the first time all year I've gotten completely out of the habit of meditating to the point where I totally forget about even thinking about meditating. It's not working for me. I fee like crap, I'm lethargic, I'm questioning the meaning of everything and concluding that everything is pointless and dumb and dumb and stupid. I am the emotional equivalent of a 10 year old right now.

What am I going to do about it? Not sure yet. I don't want to stop this project, so I need to get back on the wagon and I need to do it quickly because my mother is coming into town on Thursday and staying at my house, which means I'll get no personal time for three days straight. The pressure to be mentally recovered by Thursday isn't helping, so we're not going to think about that...

Starting small, goal for tonight is, do some Buddhist study, i.e. read a book, online article, podcast, meditation, SOMETHING.

I'll check in tomorrow.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bad Bad Buddhist

I have been a pretty terrible buddhist the past two weeks. I have mediated about two times. I also lost my iPhone and I got way more upset about it than I should have. The ownership of that iPhone was way too mixed from the beginning due to the pressures I received from work to "be more available" and how uncomfortable I felt carrying around something that was worth so much money. Also, realizing how attached to this device I had become was really sad.

Why I didn't get insurance on it (it's only $10 a month), I'm not too sure. It probably had something to do with the fact that I ordered it in the middle of the night (the second it went on sale) and therefore wasn't thinking too clearly. Also, I am cheap and was buying something I couldn't really afford.

Anywho, I left it in a cab and the GPS tracked it to the drop off point of the passenger after me. Considering I haven't heard from her, I'm guessing she's decided she's going to keep it. Replacing it will cost me more than double what I paid for it originally, so yeah, we're going to wait on that. The thing is, now I no longer have an iPod or a camera, as I got rid of both items when I purchased the iPhone...

Good times. I need to meditate.

P.S. I realize this is no actual tragedy, which makes me wasting so much time fretting over it all the more annoying. I'll work on that. But for the record, I'm really grateful that everyone I know and love is currently safe and healthy.

Laters!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Naturally Optimistic?

Happy June everyone!


Wanted to check in and share my thoughts on an interesting article I read yesterday that sort of ties in with this blog. The article was taken from a book called The Optismism Bias  which argues that studies of the brain and human behavior conclude humans are hardwired to be irrationally optimistic.


The article brings up examples, such as the fact that 50% of marriages fail, yet people believe their's will succeed and it points out that most people believe their future will be better than things are currently. According the the author, there is a portion of our brain that has evolved to make us think this way. The theory is that humans needed to believe they could accomplish things in order actually go out and try to make progress. We need to believe the future will be better, we need to believe we can achieve greatness. Wouldn't this just be living in a fantasyland and not actually living? 

Sharot briefly touches on the fantasyland question in the article (perhaps more in the book) by saying, "knowledge is key I believe knowledge is key. We are not born with an innate understanding of our biases. The brain's illusions have to be identified by careful scientific observation and controlled experiments and then communicated to the rest of us. Once we are made aware of our optimistic illusions, we can act to protect ourselves."

Sharot ultimately ends by saying, "It is possible, then, to strike a balance, to believe we will stay healthy, but get medical insurance anyway; to be certain the sun will shine, but grab an umbrella on our way out — just in case. "


I like what is said about the importance of observation and how its better to be aware of our biases, but
 what does all this imply about being mindful and living in the moment? Are we biologically incapable of doing so? Are we hardwired to constantly consider the future, all the things we're going to do, all the people we're going to be?


I'd like to think not. And I think many people have proven this isn't true. However, I think this article points out that our culture is still largely designed this way because the idea of "living in the moment" never even comes up in the article.


I may have mentioned this before, but life as a person who is learning to think differently than the majority, can be incredibly challenging. I feel simultaneously intrigued yet annoyed by the points made. I think it's an interesting article, but it doesn't address mindfulness, so I feel it's incomplete. 


I've felt this way about many things since taking on buddhist beliefs. Has anyone else had a similar experience? 


P.S. If you read the article, be sure to check out the comments sections. People's reactions are perhaps more interesting than the article itself. 


Laters!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm angry, grrr

Happy Monday folks! I have have meditated every day since I last checked in with the exception of last night. Yesterday was a tough day for me. A time when I should have meditated, but just didn't.

Since my last post, I did manage to increase my reading time and I was feeling like I was finally starting to hit my stride in regards to dealing with the bf being out of town and for the most part unavailable to me. I did a lot of reading on anger and discovered that was my main issue. I was so angry just because I had to be in a situation I didn't want to be in; my boyfriend being half way across the world. I realized that I just needed to practice patience and everything would be fine. I also realized that waiting around for him to chat me and checking the internet every two seconds was just making me more angry because his availability was totally out of my control. I made a conscious decision to be less attached to the computer/phone and I was feeling better. I was feeling a lot more accepting of our situation. I was feeling like I could handle it.

And then Saturday happened. My boyfriend was having a more difficult time dealing with things than I was. I tried so hard not to get angry and I think I did a decent job of being there for him, but it was so frustrating to feel guilty for having a rational mindset.

By Sunday morning I totally gave into all the negative thoughts and just sat around feeling sorry for myself all day. I can't blame my boyfriend for this (although it would be easy to do so) because I allowed his actions and irrational thoughts to affect me in this way. Today was better, but ultimately I'm still feeling weak minded and I'm concerned about facing his next trip, which will be even longer.

For now I'm going to try to focus on the positive (he's back for a bit on Wednesday) and continue to dissect my anger, which I can hopefully learn to combat with patience.

I'd like to discuss the anger reading I've been doing more in depth and less in the context of my specific situation soon. I will try my best to share a post with you this week.

Laters!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yup..Still Distracted

My meditations still aren't going well. I'm totally unfocused. I'm going to make an effort to do more Buddhist readings because I'm feeling distanced from my practice at the moment. I'm still going through the motions, but I'm not getting much out of it, so in my opinion, this means I need to increase my efforts. It kind of stinks that I can't do a Yoga class right now due to the foot, but perhaps I can do a few poses from home?

I'd also really like to get back to the meditation center this weekend, but I may be working on Sunday, which unfortunately takes that decision out of my hands.

Hope everyone else is having a great week. Sorry if I sound like a downer. I promise I'm fine, I'm just having a really hard time staying mindful lately.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

So Distracted

I've been incredibly anxious every other dayish since my boyfriend left town about two weeks ago. I'm causing a lot of suffering (mostly for myself) because I'm having a really hard time accepting that my boyfriend is out traveling the world and I am here in New York, continuing my normal routine. My life is by no means bad and there are a lot of things I'm really enjoying now that the weather has perked up. However, compared to being in a different country every day and having countless new experiences, my life seems pretty dull. When he asks me what's new, I feel incredibly overwhelmed because there's nothing I can say that's going to even compare to whatever he's been up to.  


It's also frustrating to miss someone and believe that the only thing that's going to make you feel better is to be with that person. In my head I'm really happy that he's traveling and so much about what he's doing makes me care for him even more, but I have days where I don't care about him "bettering himself" and I just want him to be here with me. It's incredibly selfish, I know, and no one ever died from missing someone (well, that dog in Where the Red Fern Grows), but I'm kind of sucking at not moping. 


My meditations are becoming times for my mind to wonder. I'm trying really hard to stay focused and to mentally prepare myself for the next week and a half (before he comes back and then leaves for another two months). The only thing I can do right now is stay as calm as possible and try not take out my self-cherishing on anyone else.


Hopefully this week will be better. 


Laters!






Saturday, May 14, 2011

Why it's important to observe your own behavior

The other day, a coworker and I ordered dinner from the office. While I was ordering, the coworker asked me to add a seaweed salad to his order. I did and then when the food came, we ate, it was delicious. However, when I went to through my take out containers away, I noticed that my coworker had barely touched his seaweed salad.

For at least a good 5 seconds I was personally offended by this. I had ordered that seaweed salad for him and he just threw it away?! Luckily, I caught myself and was like, "Wait a second, why am I taking this so personally? I had nothing to do with that seaweed salad. Why should I be offended if he didn't like it? Plus, maybe he was just full."

This is a great example of why being mindful can be so beneficial. The more I thought about this what happened, the more I realized, I do this all the time. People have told me before that I take things too personally and I sometimes agree, but after this incident with the seaweed salad, I think they may have been right, let's say, I dunno... a 100% of the time?

The smallest interactions can shed light on some of our most deeply ingrained habits. Stay mindful folks, it helps.

Laters!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ehhh


Today was a difficult day for all sorts of silly reasons. I woke up really late and then wasted a good amount of time trying to find an outfit that goes with my aircast. RANT: Nothing goes with an aircast except maybe another aircast or a robot or a Storm Trooper costume. Yeah, my foot has a stress fracture. Did I do anything to it, not really, but I did ignore it for longer than I should have and ran on it when it was clearly swollen. And oh yeah, I choose to wear sandals all day at Disney World because yes, I would rather have a broken foot than wear running sneakers with jean shorts. Anywho live and learn, because now I get to wear one sneaker and one robo-boot for 3 weeks minimum. Can anyone say, yay for health insurance?!

Ok, moving on. I was very late for work as in 40 minutes late, so I could say the tardiness set me off on the wrong foot, but really I just didn't feel like getting out of bed this morning. I had one of those days where I felt down about any minor setback. When I got home I almost felt too overwhelmed to do anything, but I put on some music and cleaned my closet instead. I originally wanted to meditate, but I had to accept that my dog was really excited to see me and trying to meditate right then would have only caused me to become very irritated with my dog. I consider it positive that I was able to see this in advance and accept that I could not "fix" my mood right then.

I later did a breathing meditation for fifteen minutes and it was helpful, but not as focused as I would have preferred. Hopefully tomorrows will be better.

Laters!

Monday, May 9, 2011

An Interesting Week

I'm not sure how to verbalize my thoughts and feelings about this past week. I've been feeling a lot of emotion, but my mindset has remained unexpectedly peaceful.

I've thought a lot about loss and how it is generally experienced as a negative emotion. We try to make sense of loss by putting a positive spin on it. When someone dies we say things like "at least they aren't suffering anymore" and "they are in a better place". When we lose a partner or close friend we say "we're better off not in each other's lives" or "they weren't so great anyway". However, I think most would agree, we still suffer. I'm not sure if something in me has fundamentally changed, but I feel a lot more at peace with loss in general.

What I mean is, when I think of those I have lost I still feel "loss", but I can accept it as simply a part of life no different than any other aspect of life.

Loss is OK and holding onto that sad feeling we know as loss doesn't help anyone. Prolonged suffering does not give the lost person/relationship/item more meaning and letting these emotions go does not mean you never cared.

I wish I could explain myself better, but all I can really say is the death of Bin Laden and all the various reactions, juxtaposed with events in my own life (that have renewed emotions of personal loss), have me reflecting on all of the above.

For those who are curious, my meditations have been an average of 3 or so times a week over the past three weeks. I remain mindful and plan to get back to daily meditation and posting this week.





Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm Still Alive

Hello all, I'm back from vacation, but I haven't gotten my life sorted just yet. I'll be back to regular blogging by next week, promise.

Until then, [insert zen phrase of your choice here].

Laters!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I'm totally that girl

The one who stops taking her medicine when she's feeling good even though the medicine is the reason she's feeling good. Yeah... so after a great January (due to practicing everyday) and then slacking off into February and March, I am finally feeling like I'm back to where I was at the start of this project. I am back to being mindful for most of the day, every day (or at least being mindful enough to remind myself to be mindful..?). What this means for me is that when I'm faced with all the little overwhelming hurtles in life, I know how to deal. 

Example: 

Late late for work 2 weeks ago: 
I woke up late and instead of getting up and getting ready I decided to panic and lay in bed for longer, therefore making the situation worse and becoming even more overwhelmed. It was not fun and it was totally unnecessary because when I got to work no one had died or even cared I was running late. 

Late for work this morning:
I took a moment, set a realistic time to leave for work (based off of when I finally got out of bed), and just accepted that I would be a few minutes late. When I got to work no one had died or even cared I was running late. 

It's hard to admit sometimes, but so much of life is completely based on how you choose to react to things. 

I hope everyone is having a drama free week!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Not Quite As Planned


Friday and Saturday I got a little too into vacation mode (see above photo of my really cute dog and the strange man holding him ;) and completely forgot to meditate. Ooops. The weather was really nice and it was just one of those weekends where you have zero plans/obligations. I did do a guided mediation last night though, so yay me :) 

I'm leaving town on Friday for an R&R type vacation, cruise line style. I'm very excited because I have not taken a lazy vacation in a very long time. I'm also really pumped for warm weather. Ask any New Yorker and this has been the longest winter EVER. 

My plans are to continue practicing while away, but I will not be blogging because: 

1. the wifi on the boat costs extra 
2. my laptop is heavy and old 
3. I want to be as lazy as possible next week

I'm also going to set up some automated posts in the form of a "Buddha for Beginners" series. A few people have asked me where to begin, so I'm going to do my best to answer that question. If any of you out there have specific questions and/or advice please email me or comment and I'll include your input. 

Laters!

Friday, April 8, 2011

A Zen Lesson of Sorts

Wednesday night's meditation was unremarkable. Some of the time I was into it and some of the time I wasn't. I had the hot flashes again, so strange. Thursday night I took the easy way out and did a guided 5 minute. Now I must say, I really find this particular 5 minute meditation extremely beneficial for a few reasons:

1. I keep it on my iPod and can use it to meditate discretely on the go

2. It's so short that there is zero pressure/anxiety and I often find myself getting in the groove pretty quickly

3. It's a very basic breathing meditation, very easy to follow/digest

Sometimes, after completing the 5 minute guided meditation I will continue to meditate on my own afterwards. This might be a good thing for beginners to try as well. Pick a low-pressure, short, guided meditation and then continue on your own for a few minutes, only if you're feeling it. I often do this with running as well. I will tell myself I'm running 2 miles (easy to me) and when I get to two miles, if I'm feeling good, I'll just keep going. This method works for me because if I only do two miles I've met my goal, but I also have room to push myself without being disappointed in myself for NOT doing more. 

My point is, I find that I often end up accomplishing more when I don't place a lot of expectations on myself because I actually focus on the task rather than all the hype surrounding the task. For instance with a shorter meditation, instead of thinking "OMG, I have to sit here for 40 MINUTES??" I'm just focusing on breathing because for me, 5 minutes is nothing. I guess, my point is, a lot of barriers are in our heads, so this way of thinking may be a good approach for times when you find the expectations you've placed upon yourself overwhelming.  

I'm not saying don't ever shoot for the stars, but it's ok to set easily achievable goals if the alternative is avoiding the task altogether. That doesn't make you lazy or a bad person or less motivated, it just makes you human, which is what we all are ultimately. This can be hard to remember when we constantly allow other people's ideas of us (and our own) to control our behavior. 

I read a zen story the other night about a wave who was sad he wasn't as big of a wave as all the other waves. He was mopey and sad and down on him self :(

But then another wave came along and reminded him that he was not a wave, he was actually water.  

I thought that was cool. 

If you're still with me, what I'm trying to say is try not to define yourself as a good employee or a good son/daughter, or whatever. Try to simply be a good human. When I do this I usually find that the other things fall in line. 

Laters!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Needed That

Tonight I listened to a :30 minute guided meditation on stress and anxiety. I had the hot flashes again, but not for the duration of my sit. I definitely have a lot of underlying fear and anxiety going on lately. I'm not really sure what it's all about, but oh boy is it there.

This meditation was very helpful because it reminded me of one key element in When Things fall Apart, which is the concept of leaning into your fears and anxieties rather then trying to make them go away or figure them out. In the meditation, it is likened to dipping your feet in cold water and how gradually your body acclimates to the temperature of the water. I always seem to forget this when I need it most, but it is an incredibly helpful metaphor. I know I've said this before, but the second you stop fighting your feelings, they become a lot easier to deal with.

That's about it for now. Stay tuned for some non-diary type posts I have in the works.

Laters!

Going with the flow and hating every moment of it

Last night was tough. I found myself in a completely frustrated and helpless mindset for an hour or so. And later, when I was feeling better, I had the worst meditation I have ever had. It was 20 minutes of pure torture. For some reason, my body was totally panicking, it felt like what I would imagine a hot flash to feel like. I wanted so badly to get up and open the window, but I was determined to stay still and try to really feel what my body was going through. The entire meditation was a struggle, but I completed the 20 minutes and managed to not even check my alarm. 

I'm guessing I was just going through some type of hormonal shiz for no real reason. I'm not going to fret over it for now, I'm just going to celebrate the fact that I stuck with it. 

Laters!

Monday, April 4, 2011

No More Excuses (April 3rd)

I squeezed in a 10 minute meditation tonight before I was walked in on (being caught mediating is oddly awkward) by my boyfriend who kindly apologized and offered to leave the room. I stupidly told him it was fine, but then I found myself distracted by various noises of him moving about the room, so I stopped. If my practice had been more consistent over the past couple months(or years), his presence in the room may not have been an issue.




That said, I'm going to make an effort to be more strict with myself in regards to setting a mediation time and sticking with it. I think it's important to be kind to yourself and not obsess if you don't meet every single goal, but I feel I've reached a point where I have been making a lot of excuses (see above) and I have been struggling in my day-to-day because of it. Starting today, I am going to sit for the entire, pre-determined meditation time. It's fine if I'm falling asleep or distracted or whatever, but at least I will be giving the time I originally felt I needed and I won't be changing things to suite my comfort level. I feel I'm simply thinking too much. I just want to sit, so that is what I'm going to do. 

Laters!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

And.. On to April

Happy April everyone! I'm three months into this project and the challenges just keep coming. Work has been insane and loosing touch with this project has been a consequence, but I have to admit that it's been a choice (whether it feels like it or not) because I was just as busy during the first week of this project, yet I managed to get in the mediations AND the blogging.

While the mediations have still been happening, I've realized that processing everything here on this blog is just as crucial. I think this may be because my skill set is not developed enough to remain mindful under the type of stress I have been under. Taking the time to write on this blog everyday is essentially an extended meditation. It brings me back to the goal and helps me to observe the days events, which I'm not so good at doing in the moment.

In summary, I've decided I'm going to adhere to the blogging everyday from this point on. I think it's the right call since I have felt such a loss when I don't. If I can't actually post everyday, I'm going to recap on a sheet of paper and post later. I'm looking forward to the second quarter of this project and what it will bring.

Hope everyone is doing well :)

Laters!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

That's More Like It

Got back on the meditation wagon last week and by this Monday I was feeling noticeably better, I was also able to exercise three times last week, one of which was an amazing hike in CT on our way back from Boston. It felt so good to do something outside after this increasingly long winter. It had been years since I'd spent time in the woods and I had never done it as a Buddhist. Being in nature is amazing when you take the time to feel the rocks under your feet and breathe in the fresh air. Maybe I've been in the city too long, but I really enjoyed myself.

Here are some pics:






Friday, March 18, 2011

Monday Recap (with a little Tues,Wed,Thurs)

I'm back to feeling hormonal again, sort of. I keep using old habits to try and fix things and big surprise, it's not working. I went to get a massage last night because I had a gift certificate I'd been needing to use. While the massage was amazing, it was unable to cure my mood even though I was secretly hoping it would. I've had very little patience for anyone lately, especially my poor dog, who just wants to play.

I meditated for 20 minutes on, but was mostly just irritated for no reason. I think I'm being particularly hard on myself because now that I'm "in a relationship"(gross) I feel responsible for another person's fun as well as my own, therefore when I'm not in the best mood, I feel like I'm ruining his time as well. This is a trap I feel many people fall into when faced with uncontrollable mood swings because who wants to be the guy bringing everybody down? Also, once I get in the mindset that I'm ruining the fun and I'm the problem (you know, because the world revolves around me), it's really hard to return to a good/positive mental state.

The funny thing is, after I completed my shitacular Monday meditation, I did a little reading in When Things Fall Apart and it happened to be a chapter on exactly what I'm struggling with; putting all of this into practice when in a state of total frustration/helplessness. I can get on this blog and rave about all the times when I have the capacity to observe behavior and the patience to take a "time out" and change that behavior, but at the end of the day, I still get stuck. And I've been getting stuck a lot lately (or at least it feels like a lot), to the point where I just want to run and hide until I don't feel that way anymore.

Anyway, in the book, PC says this is exactly the occasion when we need to remember that feeling out of control is ok, we need to become intimate with this kind of fear. She talks a lot throughout the book about the human instinct to categorize things. As humans we inherently feel that things need to be this or that, but that's rarely how it is. Everything is more...in the middle. And when I think about it, I totally agree, but man is it hard to start rationalizing when you're in that dark moment.

That's more or less how my week has been. A plethora, if you will, of highs and lows. Tuesday was much improved as was Wednesday, but Thursday was arguable worse than Monday. Bleck. I am proud to say that I am back on the meditation wagon though. Have not missed one all week. I also have exercised twice, for those keeping track. Whelp, have a great weekend!

Laters!


In other news, I got a new computer charger, so I am no longer sharing with my roommate, which will hopefully help me to return to more regular posting. 




Sunday, March 13, 2011

Progress Report

Here's a little update on my progress a little over two months into this project:

Meditation: Nearly everyday for a minimum of 5 minutes, usually for at least 20. Have not skipped more than 3 days consecutively. While this is indeed impressive and I'm proud of myself, I really do feel the negative effects (bad mood, sense of no control, etc.) come on almost immediately when I skip meditation for even a day.

Buddhist Reading: Yes, I would say I have read something almost everyday be it on a blog, in a book, or an article a friend sent me.

Daily Highs: I've dropped off doing this on the blog everyday, but I would say counting the positive has worked it way into my daily routine. Ideally I would still do this on the blog everyday, but time is an issue sometimes and I can accept that

Monthly Random Gift or Card: January, February, March completed

Monthly Meditation Center/Temple Visit: Have only gone once so far (January). Again, time.

Exercise: Three times as week only happened for the first week or two. It's been more like once a week which is definitely not enough for me. Hopefully this will change pronto.

In general I'm incredibly pleased with my progress thus far. However, I will note that when I was following the guidelines more strictly back in January and taking the time to meditate for 20 minutes even at 2am, I felt remarkably better than I have in the past few weeks where I have just skipped meditation and blogging for days at a time. While I don't want to beat myself up for not being perfect, I can't deny the positive effects of taking the time to practice, even when I'm totally exhausted. For the remainder of March I would like to meditate everyday for at least 20 minutes and get back to the gym at least two days a week. Hold me to it folks!

Laters!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Walk Don't Run

Saturday night was slated to be a great night. I had friends in town who I was meeting for dinner and two of my newest friends were joining. After dinner we were going to my man friend's friend's karaoke birthday party. My man friend had been out of town for over a week, so I was very excited to see him as well as my out of town friends. I was also anticipating everyone meeting each other because I thoroughly enjoy introducing my friends to my other friends.

I first went over to my friend's/neighbor's house to help them pick out clothes and get ready. Jess wasn't sure she was feeling like going out, but I convinced her we'd have a great time, so she agreed to join us. While I was waiting for everyone I looked up directions to my friend's hotel on my evil snazzy iPhone.

See, the iPhone has to feature where it uses google maps and your current location to create a customized route based on how you're traveling (i.e. on foot, by train, by car). Being that I've lived in New York for a few years, this was the first occasion I had used it to look up train directions, so it was also the first time I realized that it tells you not only what train to take, but WHEN the next train it coming. This is information that people like me should not have.

When I say people like me, I mean people who are constantly trying to be as efficient as possible particularly when it comes to travel. I am the girl who cuts through the parking lot. I am the girl who stands strategically at one end of the platform because I know it will put me closest to my destination. I am the girl who yells at people when they don't have their metrocard out and we miss the train. (For the record, I'm working on all of this, I really am.)

Anyway, if you haven't guessed it already, when I found out the next train was coming in 10 minutes, I immediately decided we HAD to catch that train. It is a 7 minute walk from my house to the train, so I thought if we picked up the pace we would make it there just in time. I am a pretty fast walker, so in order to keep up with me, my friends were literally jogging. It was quite entertaining. We made jokes and it turned into somewhat of a game.

As we approached the station I heard something, it was the sound of my friend in pain. When I turned around she was on the ground. She had slipped and fallen on the asphalt right off the curb of the sidewalk. For a moment we thought she was going to shake it off, but she declared she was in a massive amount of pain concentrated in her shoulder AND that she had no health insurance. We made some calls to various nurses, doctors, and veterinarians(?) we knew and they all said the same thing, "GO TO THE HOSPITAL".

So that is what we did. The ride there was pretty terrible because Brooklyn streets aren't the smoothest and pretty much any movement caused her pain. The hospital was interesting to say the least. The doctor seemed to think she was making a big fuss over nothing and said that it wasn't dislocated. He actaully said her injury was most likely a muscle tear. They took her to get an x-ray to confirm and guess what? It was broken! Take that Dr. Skeptical.

While my non-injured friend and I sat in the waiting area we encountered a man who had a chicken bone lodged in his throat, a man dead asleep with dollar bills sprawled on his lap, a guy who had a seizure and now did not recognize his own family, and of course, a young man who could only keep himself awake by staring up our dress. Ahhh Kings County General. We decided to keep ourselves occupied by browsing the romance section of Netflix on my iPhone. The first movie listed was titled: Walk Don't Run. Oddly appropriate, no?

The good news is, it's a quick healing injury. She should be fully recovered in a few weeks. Needless to say, I feel terrible because I convinced to her to come out and encouraged her to run to the train. Rather than sit around feeling guilty I'm just trying to be as helpful as I can while she recovers and to be more patient overall.

On a side note, sorry I haven't been posting as often. I really miss it, but I'm in an adjustment period right now. I've added some important people to my life, so a lot of my time has been spent enjoying them. I've also been making more of an effort to show everyone in my life how much I appreciate them, which often means less personal time. I'm working on it though and I'm hopeful that I'll be back in the groove soon. But after this weekend I'm not about to rush it!

Take care everyone!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Big Baby

Today I feel like Big Baby from Toy Story 3. She (he?) seems all tough and hardened, kind of a bully, but at the end of the day, she's still a big baby. I was pretty irritable today at work and honestly just wanted to be left alone. In my mind everything was happening to ME and me only.

I woke up late, no hot water, and this lady on the street said I was disrespectful (I think because I had Henry's retractable leash let out too far, but I couldn't really understand her due to her accent and many missing teeth). She also assured me she would be watching me...

Someone else in the laundry room politely informed me that Henry was scratching at the door when I left and it was "shaking the whole hallway". I could barely bring myself to apologize to him. Just not in the mood. I'm resisting the urge to rant here because people getting in my business regarding my dog is becoming my biggest pet peeve.

As you can maybe tell, I'm still really pissy at this point in time. My meditation was all daydreaming and distraction, but as always, glad I took 20 minutes out of my day to sit still.

I'm not being productive at all right now. I'm too irritable to even try to examine my behavior, but hey, at least I can admit it!

Highs:
- going to bed very soon
- got off work on time again
- laundry complete
- in spite of what this post conveys, my hormones did not wreck my day

Laters!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Enter the Void

I just had a really great meditation. I was feeling incredibly hormotional (as VA would say) today, which is why I wanted to focus on stress relief and just relaxing my body. I started off by going through the motions of relaxing my forehead, eyes, et cetera and when I got to my shoulders I really started to get into the zone. Of course I did what I always do when I get into "the zone" which is desperately try to hang onto it, which inevitably makes me lose it (I swear I am not talking about boners).

Anyway...I started to observe this pattern and had a total Buddhist moment where suddenly all of the  yammering about "emptiness" and being comfortable with fear made a whole shit ton of sense. I thought to myself, "what am I fighting to hang onto here? Nothing? Yeah nothing."

So I stopped, I stopped trying to hang onto that tiny little moment of nothingness and you know what? It worked. All at once I had a whole lot of nothingness and let me tell you, nothing is pretty amazing. Now I'm totally ready for bed.

That is all.

Highs:
- meditation went swimmingly
- didn't let my hormones ruin my day
- watched Toy Story 3 with a friend :)

Laters!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Brief

I have had virtually no personal time over the past few days AND no computer charger. I have been meditating, I promise. If I get out of work at a decent hour I will be sure to update you on this past weekend and my life in general.

In the meantime, this is what comes up if you google "random 80's video" Enjoy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday - Thursday

Last night I could not find the computer charger, so I considered typing a post via iPhone, but decided to just wait. My meditation was spent fighting sleep, so I stopped after about 15 minutes of an intended 30. I have found that deciding on a focus before I begin leads to a more effective sit. When I don’t really consider what my approach will be I change it about every two minutes (during the meditation), so I’m unable to feel like I really accomplished anything. Ultimately, it felt great to get back to daily meditation.

Today I have not been in a very good mood. There is no particular reason. I just haven't felt quite right. The next few weekends are pretty busy for me, so I'm just feeling a bit out of control.

At work, I wasn't as pleasant as I could have been, but I'm trying not to be too hard on myself. I'm also trying to observe how I get caught up in gossip really easily and allow it to affect my opinions of people when it shouldn't because it's just gossip. More specifically, it tends to be people in a negative mindset practicing a lot of self-cherishing because most of the time it's about how this person or that person did something to them. I do it too and I've always noticed that I like to gossip, but I have been noticing how much it biases my view and always in a negative way. I need to work on forming my own opinions of people because when I focus on doing that along with being compassionate, I am a lot more at peace and have a healthier view of those around me. 

I haven't meditated tonight, but when I do I think I'm going to focus on compassion. Compassion for myself for my behavior today and compassion for everyone who is struggling with negative energy. 

Highs:
Wednesday 
- got to catch up with my friend rachel (she just got back from Colorado)
- was escorted to work by a very nice man ;)
- got to meditate!

Thursday:
- bad mood but still observant
- left wok early and got to be lazy

Laters!



Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Back To It

Whelp, things got a little out of control last week. To put it simply, I got really busy and really distracted. After my lovely day off on Tuesday, I went out to dinner on Wednesday and then I worked until about 1am on Thusday night/Friday morning. Needless to say, Friday was incredibly painful and around 5pm, I found out I had to be at work at 10am on Saturday. Oh, did I mention I was stuck at work until after 10 on Friday evening? Yeah...

But oh no, I didn't let any of that stop me. Somehow I decided I still had plenty of time and stamina to socialize. As a result, my meditations and blogging got temporarily pushed aside. I still meditated on most days, but they were weak 5 minute meditations that didn't really correlate with my current practice habits.

In spite of what a great time I've been having outside of work (particularly last night when I had many good friends over to cook Indian food), I saw myself starting to fall apart late last night and this morning. I felt so off balance and out of control and could not wait to meditate tonight. I decided to work on a 30 minute stress and anxiety meditation, which was interesting...

I was so tired and physically uncomfortable that I eventually just decided to hang upside down over the couch so I could allow my spine to decompress. When that got uncomfortable I stood up and started stretching. It wasn't your conventional meditation(and I guess I was technically supposed to be transcending the pain), but I have to say it felt really good and I feel exponentially better now. I've said this before and I'll say it again, but I really feel like it all comes down to making time to take care of yourself everyday (or as much as possible, but the more the better). It may seem selfish initially, but for me, it  I am much more productive and in tune to other's needs when I'm not distracted by my own.

That's it for tonight, I'm getting to bed early..ish

Highs:
- got back to my practice today
- getting to bed at a decent hour

Laters!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Have a Nice Weekend

Bogged down with a last minute job right now. Everyone have a fantastic weekend and I'll try to update in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Go Get Em

Today is off to a running start, literally. After leaving work a little after 3am this morning, I finally got out of bed at nearly 10. I decided what better way to jump start the day than to go running with my pup. He wasn't too into it at first, which was really frustrating because I was ready to go. Instead of dragging him along I decided to tie him to a bench and do some up downs while he took a break. We ran for about 20 minutes and I did a few knees highs etc while pup was pooping resting. All in all, a good work out.

When I got back I did a few Vinyasas and stretched. I realized I was feeling incredibly calm and "in the moment", so I went right into a 15 minute guided meditation.  Done, done, and done. Now what should I do for the rest of the day?

My meditations have been much more focused so far this week. Last nights was DIY creation. I looked up loving kindness in Transform Your Life: A Blissful Journey and found this passage recommended for contemplation:

I will cherish all living beings without exception because this precious mind of love is the supreme method for solving all problems and fulfilling all wishes. Eventually it will give me the supreme happiness of enlightenment. 


I wrote the passage down twice on a piece paper and then I meditated on it for 10 minutes or so. Not your conventional meditation, but I truly started to feel compassion for myself and even beings who are particularly difficult to deal with. The act of writing it down a couple of times really helped me to stay focused and also reinforced the message. I may start writing these mantras down more often.

Highs:
- no work!!!
- in a great mood/mindset
- still have the rest of the day to enjoy

Laters!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Disguised as Friday

I worked all weekend, which was better than it sounds. My job can be somewhat demanding in the sense that things come up when they come up and usually need to be done right then. Often I will have nothing to do for hours and then at 5pm, there are suddenly 3 things that need to be completed in time to make 9pm Fed-ex.

Because of this unpredictability, working alone on the weekend was bordering on downright relaxing. Being alone at the office, I was able to sit uninterrupted and focus on one task. Of course I would have preferred to be hanging out with friends or whatever, but if I had to work the weekend this was the optimal situation. Even better, I now have tomorrow off! I really love having weekdays off, it evokes childhood memories of skipping school. Now All I need to get through is loading the last set of footage tonight. It's not even arriving until 10pm, so I will be here until at least 2am. It happens.

My meditation yesterday went well. I did a "mindful lying yoga" guided session. It was only :15 minutes but it felt great to lay on the floor and stretch. I know I said I was really distracted last week, but I think I should share with you that I'm noticing some changes in my behavior that appear to be direct results of this project.

1. I have caught myself (twice so far) moving about with my eyes closed. Was I meditating without even trying? It's either that or I'm a lot more tired than I thought. The first time was on the way to the subway in the morning. I was literally walking down Eastern Parkway with my eyes closed. Weird right?

2. I have been just sitting or "being still" without consciously intending to. I had some friends over for dinner (made a kick ass vegetable lasagna that featured my mandoline slicer! Thanks for asking) last night and after the last one left I just sat on my couch doing nothing for at least 30 minutes. Perhaps I was just zoning out, but I think it's a good sign that I'm getting out of the habit of constantly looking for a distraction.

Highs:
- heavy on the observing lately, finding it very informative
- feeling more kind
- no work tomorrow


Happy Valentine's Day to those who celebrate and to those who do not, don't let all the cliches ruin your day because then consumerism wins!

Merry Christmas (yesterday) to a select few!

Wandering

This week I have been a bit lost. Not in a bad way, but I lost a lot of focus at work and in my meditation. I let myself be distracted by things such as my iPhone and being social. My mind has been drifting to anywhere, but to the present moment.

While, I've been distracted during meditation, I've been thinking about my practice a great deal. I can't put down When Things Fall Apart and I have caught myself a few times stopping in the middle of the page to mull over what I just read. The book has been a great compliment to the main teacher I read; Geshe Kelsang. I've been questioning attachment and romantic love a lot because I'm not sure how to interpret it in a Buddhist sense and I have no idea how a person can truly love someone, but be unattached. As I typed that last sentence the technical answer came to me from a reading - paraphrasing here, but I read that the western societal view of love is not actual love, it is attachment and self-cherishing disguised as love, which makes sense in my head, but not so much in my gut. Damn you, pop culture!

I've had the thought that love should be something that is purely unselfish and I've questioned my true feelings for people I've dated when I have strong urges to be with them based simply off of how they make me feel. How can that be love when I'm essentially using them as a drug? Again, self-medicating

Sex and relationships can be  huge distractions, Pema Chodron points this out in When Things Fall Apart. For me they definitely are. When they are going well, I'm addicted to that hopeful feeling and completely terrified it's going to end. Even better, when they're going badly, I feed from the drama and the pain and the beautiful tragic hazards of love (I watch too many movies). Of course all of this is an exaggeration, but probably less of one than I'd care to admit. Long story shortened, I don't want to do this anymore. I want my relationships to be more productive than two people sucking entertainment out of each other until the novelty wears off. Question is, how do I do that?

Well, first thing I thought of is love them in a loving-kindness way, i.e. wish them health and safety and try to help them have that. Sounds easy enough, but what I often notice happening (not just with me, I've seen others do this as well) is when people are very giving they are expecting something in return. Maybe not at first, but after a while, people start to think, "what about me?". That self-cherishing thing will get you every time.

But seriously, should you be in the relationship with someone who you continually give to and they give nothing to you? When I first thought about this, it seemed that Buddhism's answer was yes. but then I remembered something I always have to remind myself of which is: while Buddhism does promote putting others before yourself it also acknowledges that you need to take care of yourself to take care of others.

So where was I? Love, ok, be giving, have an open heart, but it's ok to walk away from a situation where you find yourself giving so much that you can't function/thrive. I don't have to be a martyr, phew! I need to tell myself that more often. With the last guy I dated I found myself hanging out with him because I knew it would make him happy to see me. Meanwhile I was totally zoning out, becoming borderline passive aggressive, and in actuality being kind to neither of us.

I think I can learn to love in this way. I feel like I make progress with this in non-romantic situations everyday. Attachment is what is really getting me. It seems no matter what I do romantically, I end up completely attached and helpless or detached and thinking. "what the hell is wrong with me?" Where is the happy median? How am I to interpret this? Can I have a lasting marriage (one I like) with no attachment? Is the answer to not worry about the attachment part and just focus on loving-kindness? I think that may be part of it for sure. Where does worrying get us anyway? It just stops us from enjoying anything. The other end of it may be learning to let go if it doesn't work out. I analyze for months, no YEARS after the end of a relationship and for what? To understand why it didn't work out? Maybe, but I feel like it's more to go on living in the past, to continue hanging on. OMG, I'm an emotional hoarder.

If I can keep all of these things in mind and continue to observe my behavior maybe I can start to see some changes in the way I view and handle romantic relationships.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Daydreaming

This week I have been so distracted. The weather is finally starting to become more mild and all I can think about are times to come, which makes it difficult to live in the present moment. I did a 30 minute loving kindness guided meditation tonight and I'm pretty sure I wasn't even listening to half of it. No matter what I did, I continued to drift off into other thoughts of plans for tomorrow, summer, my trip to Vietnam in the fall... ridiculous.

In spite of all the distraction, 30 minutes sitting in the quiet is still pleasant and I did have a few brief moments of the presentness to enjoy. Another nice thing is that all my thoughts were very positive. They were a bit on the fantastical side which I'm trying to avoid in both the positive and the negative direction because it interferes with being the moment and tends to focus on things beyond one's control.

Highs:
- I'm aware of my distracted thoughts/tendencies and able to examine them in a healthy way
- My dog is real cute

Laters!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Inspiring Story

I heard this piece this morning on the radio. What a great way to start the day.

My meditation was great. Did 15 minutes guided AGAIN. I find that one so effective and easy, but it may be time to move on. I'm feeling the urge to up the anti to some 30 minuters. I'm also feeling really pumped about all the people who are responding to this little project of mine. I have at least two conversations a day about my practices and people seem to be genuinely interested. I never imagined adulthood to be this cool. Who knew you could make life choices and the people around you would respond with interest and intelligent questions?!

Highs:
- All of the above

Laters!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hello There

Hi folks. Still being a bit more social than I have been in the past month or so. The weather was nice again today so I found myself significantly more inspired to go out after work (although it totally started raining while I was out and of course I was wearing flats in rebellion to all the boot-not-optional weather we've had). Anywho, I still had a good time and I ended up spending the remainder of the evening hanging out with my roommate and her bf, while they baked cracker cobbler (don't ask) and watching Harold and Maude. In my opinion, a very worthwhile evening indeed.

I read David Foster Wallace's commencement address (turned to book after his death) last night and I am still not sure how to take it. On one hand it was an amazing commencement that can only be rivaled by Ellen's at Tulane, but knowing that he took his own life a few years later sort of fucks with your head no? I definitely agreed with all the points he made, but how can you take the advice of someone who ultimately STILL found life too painful to live? I've argued it out in my head all day and I think I just need to not worry about that one detail. I will acknowledge it, but it doesn't necessarily mean that what he said wasn't true or valuable. The value of someone's life doesn't solely lie in how it ends right? Take our lady Maude here. She killed herself too, but that's not what we think of when we picture the film. We think about her free spirit and how she made a bored boys life a bit more interesting. I think that same could be argued for Mr. Wallace.

Another book I'm reading is When Things Fall Apart. I'm only a chapter or so in, but I really like it. The author is focusing on fear and how we can become intimate with it and through this intimacy, we no longer suffer in fearful situations.

Just a few things to chew on this week. Anyone else reading anything thought provoking?

Highs:
- time with friends (new and old)
- iPhone day (feeling a bit mixed, but I waited so long I can't help but be a bit giddy)
- mindset feels totally on point

Laters!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Winter Weekends

This winter weather is really making me sooooo tired. When I finally reach the weekend, after battling snow and ice all week, all I want to do is hibernate on the couch all day (and into the wee hours of the night). I'm not saying there's anything wrong with taking a day (or two) of rest, but when I reach the end of my weekend I'm finding myself a little disappointed, as well as, overwhelmed by all the things I did not accomplish. I'm also feeling that my practice suffers because for me, lying on the couch all day makes me feel more tired and achy than actually getting up and doing something. Once I waste that day on the couch, forget about having the energy to meditate or do some yoga without feeling completely run down and distracted. Anyone else ever experience this?

Needless to say, my Saturday mediation did not go so well. It was a half-assed attempt at nearly 2am that lasted about 10 minutes before my roommate came home and I used his distraction as an excuse to stop (although he just came in and went straight to his bedroom). I also did not exercise, although I am going to take the dog on a run this afternoon since it's sunny for once. This with the insanity workout once again brings me to two days of physical activity (not 3 as planned). I'm having trouble getting in the workouts, but I am trying and once the weather warms up I'll be riding my bike to and from work. I need to accept that if I want to get in 3 workouts a week, I need to go to the gym BEFORE work.

My Friday meditation was a guided 15 minutes. It's very basic and I think that's why I like it. I made sure to do it before I went out, so I didn't find myself in another situation where I was trying to meditate drunk at 3am. It's a good thing I predicted this because I did not get home until after 5am (I wonder if that had something to do with me spending the day on the couch? Although, for the record I was not hung over, just very tired).

On a side note, my friend Virginia sent me this article about meditation from the NY Times. It's cool to see people are studying the benefits of meditation and actually finding arguably tangible differences in people's brains.

My week of getting up early went well. I never managed to get up right at 7, but I did get up about 20 minutes earlier than my normal average, which was an improvement. For this week, I will still be aiming for 7 and then maybe the following week I can start getting up early enough to work out. The possibilities are endless friends!

I'm still feeling a bit all over the place as far as my thoughts. I've found a good outlet for them is to spend some time in my room doing whatever: reading, drawing, cleaning, just NOT sitting on the couch or the computer. As I said before, I tend to do that when I'm feeling run down, but it never seems to help much in large doses. I think I'm vegging out too much and not giving my brain any stimulation. An hour or so a night of mindless TV is plenty for me, I just need to remind myself of that. I should also note that I'm speaking particularly of episodic TV and mindless internet browsing, not watching a movie (which for me is very cognitive) or reading thoughtful articles and blogs. It's different for everyone, but I think you know what I'm talking about. Everyone has that thing they do when they just really want to do NOTHING and sometimes it's very helpful and then other times it becomes a habit. I'm feeling like I'm on the verge of habit right now. Dear spring, please get here soon.

Highs:
Friday
- made new friends and had a great time with old ones
- nice meditation

Saturday
- lots of R&R
- was able to observe my habits and articulate what needs to change

Sunday
- it's Sunny and not totally freezing
- going out for a run with my pup
- have some lovely evening plans
- feeling much more motivated

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Momentum Continues

I am really feeling all over the place, but in the best of ways. I'm totally motivated at work, I've made some new friends who are really inspiring me creatively (and I am inspiring them as well), and I'm interested in all sorts of stuff. This evening I had urges to make collages as sort of a visual expression of all the thoughts I'm having right now. If I do end up doing this I will be sure to scan and post.

Yesterday I mentioned how I am truly looking forward to meditating every evening and I wanted to expand on that a little. I've always had this way of thinking where I will be inwardly excited about something and sometimes I have to stop and think, "what am I so pumped about?"

Sadly, much of the time I am excited about something material such as a package I'm awaiting (I do a LOT of online shopping). However, lately I have been having that feeling about going home and meditating, or writing on my blog, or seeing my dog (I love him). I think this is a notable step forward. A shift in the way I think. Could it be that the girl who woke up at 3am to order her Verizon iPhone is becoming less materialistic? I'm still pretty damn excited about that iPhone, but I'm more excited about how my mind is evolving.

Read a great post today on Buddhist Geeks which relates to the questions I raised on how practical is Buddhism in today's world. My particular struggle is with my job and how, while I really enjoy what I do, I'm not sure I always take it as seriously as they would like me to i.e. not thinking to check my phone every two seconds even when not at work. And how exactly can I "stop to smell the roses" and be all zen when sometimes I'm so busy I don't even think to go to the bathroom until 5pm (true story people)?

It's difficult because I do have a passion for my career and I can totally accept that there are sacrifices to be made and much of the time I make them gladly. BUT sometimes I just get really caught up in thoughts that my life is quickly slipping away and I am spending all this time pursuing a career for what exactly? To fulfill a need society has placed upon me to be successful? And then I start wondering why I'm not a yoga instructor.

I found the post very helpful because he talked about how working for the man and feeling like merely a tool doesn't have to be the way you think about it. If you can think about your job and other daily obligations as a contribution, as a "an opportunity to live with greater wisdom, and to create powerful habits that support this wisdom", we will feel more fulfilled. And perhaps this is how I can feel more Buddhist while I'm mindlessly making 10 copies of the same DVD for a presentation that I'm pretty sure will not change the world in any way that really matters. Because the truth is, I feel better when I work harder, even when I think no one notices. Anyone who has ever wasted hours at work on facebook or whatever internet vice you frequent, knows that at the end of the day there is some guilt there and each day that you leave work thinking, "I did not do shit today", makes you feel a little less relevant. And I'm not sure I've ever felt like a hard worker until recently. I may have worked hard in comparison to others (or not), but I wasn't working as hard as I could until recently. I'm saying make the most of every experience and even if no one rewards you, you can be content knowing you are building a strong reliable member of society. And having that confidence will do you a world of good.

Highs:
- all of the above
- fun dog playdate/ Grey's anatomy watching for the "moms"
- laying in bed listening to NPR - yes, I know, I sound like a brooklyn douche

Laters!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Tuesday + Wednesday

This week is going really well. My mood and meditations are going swimmingly. I'm looking forward to them every evening. I would even venture to say that I am starting to believe that I could be one of those people who is happy enough not to worry about when that happiness is going to be taken away by something beyond my control.

Getting up at 7am still has not happened, but I have been up around 7:20ish, which is an improvement compared to the normal 7:45, sometimes nearly 8:00 routine. This very well could have something to do with my mood as well. Having the time to set the mood for my day is key.

Tonight I did an "Insanity" workout with my coworker. It was pretty tough. I can honestly say that running ten miles is easier than this DVD. We had a lot of fun though and the people who were still lingering around the office found our struggle quite entertaining (part of their entertainment may have been due to the fact that I was participating in the video as if it were a real class i.e. woo hooing and clapping along).

Highs:
- totally mellow mood - still
- feeling a lot of camaraderie at work

Laters!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spontaneous Gift, January 2011

Yes, on the last day of the month I am focusing on my goal of giving a random gift or card to someone in my life. I decided to send a "just because" type card to my mom. I knew she would really appreciate it and I do about two nice things for her per year (her birthday and Christmas). The woman may drive me nuts, but she is my mother.



Meanwhile, I've been having a strange craving for Shell Silverstein and other child-like things such as drawing. Oddly, Mr. Silverstein seems to make a lot more sense on a Buddhist level than most of pop culture. He keeps it simple and positive on the whole. Not a lot of the angst you see in most poems and music. Take the poem in the picture for example (which I randomly flipped to first thing). It talks about how you can have "one of those days", but it doesn't get all worked up about it, it even adds a funny picture. So, you're having a bad day? No biggie, this guy is too. Right now I'm really feeling like all of life should be interpreted as a Shell Silverstein poem.


In other news, haven't meditated today, but I did get up around 7 this morning. I was definitely awake since 7, but I stayed in bed till about 7:25ish... Either way, I was able to take my time getting ready, but I'd like to get up right at 7 tomorrow. 

Highs:
- really feeling the Buddhist mind-set today
- feeling the buddhist mind-set led to me enjoying everything a great deal 

Laters!



Monday, January 31, 2011

Sunday Funday January 30th, 2010

Today was good times all around. I took care of some business and then I made dinner for two new friends. I had some anxiety about other guests not showing up, but in the end I had a fabulous time with the two who showed up. One more example of how worrying never does anyone any good.

I meditated for 20 minutes (non-guided) and was dozing off towards the end. I'm looking forward to waking up early tomorrow morning and enjoying some personal time before work.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Highs:
- cooked for friends
- procured a new dog walker
- did not allow things not going as planned to ruin my day

Laters!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Playing Catch Up

Thursday was my friend's birthday, so I was really excited to be social because ever since I started dating the guy mentioned in Wednesday's post I had become less social due to the constant pressure I felt to hang out with him. Since I have so little time, it felt like he was ALWAYS asking what I was doing and wanting to hang out. I found myself avoiding making plans because I would feel bad for not inviting him.

I have to admit, any hesitancy I was having about breaking up with him went right out the window Thursday and then Friday night. I stayed out both nights until the early hours of the morning and I had no text messages asking "what are you doing tonight?" or "how are you?"

Very liberating.

When I got home on Thursday I did a 15 minute guided meditation that I wasn't so crazy about. It was more like a yoga exercise. It helped me to relax, but I didn't feel like I was able to relax my mind as much. Sadly, I did not meditate yesterday. I was too drunk to be productive, so I forfeited.

Today has been a bit challenging mentally. I did the yoga DVD, but pretty much hated it the whole time. I almost just stopped in the middle, but I made my self push through to the end. Not even sure I want to meditate later or just settle for the meditation I already did at the beginning of the DVD... For whatever reason I'm whiney as hell right now (maybe PMS?). I'm not sure, but I'm just going to ride it out and start thinking about what i can do to make next week better.

I think I'd like to start by waking up at 7am everyday. Things just go a lot better for me if I actually have time in the morning. Getting up at 7 isn't going to give me time to go to the gym before work, but will allow me to leisurely get ready for work and spend a little more time with my pup.

Here are the highs:

Thursday - Fun birthday dinner for Momo, got to hang out with old friends. Helpful talk with coworker about not worrying so much.

Friday - Fun night out in Brooklyn with friends. Good conversation about this blog, Buddhism, and Islam with my roomie

Today - Lovely pasty breakfast with roommate and his lady friend. Many puppy naps per usual in this nasty weather. Pushed myself to do some yoga and not letting myself get too upset about my current mood.

Laters!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ups and Downs

Tonight was an interesting night. I was urged by a friend to break off a relationship I had been neglecting for at least 2 weeks, maybe more. I feel many simultaneous feelings common with a breakup. Was it the right decision? Was it just not meant to be or was I not open enough to the idea of being happy with someone?

On the whole I am mostly relieved. I had realized (or made the decision depending on how you look at it) a while ago that things probably weren't going to progress much further, so continuing on would have just been cruel to the other party. It's always unfortunate when you have to let go of someone just because they aren't perfect for you even though they are damn near perfect in many other ways and probably more kind than 98% of the population.

I'm currently having urges to reach out to him and tell him that I will not forget how kind he was to me, but I know that would only be for my benefit and what he needs right now is to be left alone and not further confused. So I will leave it be and swim in my thoughts for the days to come.

This aside, I had a very pleasant evening. The date preceding the breakup was jovial and we took a walk in yet another blizzard. Snow in New York can only be appreciated as it first falls. My favorite part is how silent everything becomes. There was also lightening which created some kind of northern lights effect. The sky was purple, I swear.

I did a guided meditation tonight (30mins) courtesy of my friend Virginia (thanks lady). I found it very helpful and it definitely did not feel like 30 minutes. I could have done with a little less talking because I became so focused so quickly that the leader's voice was a bit startling after moments of silence (I may have had the volume up to high). I plan to try out the others Virginia sent as well as do this one again, although I would still like to continue on my own some days. I was very comforted by the thoughts in Yoga Journal about being able to practice anywhere and not needing anything but yourself. There is a certain fulfillment I take away from a successful self-guided meditation that is different from when I attend temple or listen on the computer. It's almost the same as going on a long distance run alone in the mountains and attending a really awesome spin class. Both are fantastic and beneficial, but I would never want to be exclusive to either.

Highs:
- made a painful decision that was ultimately for the best
- hung out with both roommates a little tonight
- feel I progressed in tonight's meditation
- kept strong sense of compassion for other's throughout the day
- Henry is really funny in the snow

Laters!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bouncing Brain

This post may seem a little scatter brained, but here are the thoughts I'm left with at the end of this day.

  • Today and yesterday (and only after work) I was particularly anxious for no real reason. Easily overwhelmed, frustrated, short temper, all that. No biggie, but it happens. Maybe something hormonal, not sure. 
  • Again, why are we so hard on ourselves? I arranged a really generous gift for a friend today and even just typing that sentence makes me uncomfortable because it feels like bragging. But what's wrong with saying, "I was generous today."? Nothing. Even more than that, I started thinking to myself, "how come I never do anything nice for my family, they've given me so much and I don't even think about them when I want to be generous..." I can recognize this as irrational, but I can also guess that this type of thinking is common among all of us. We all need to take more time to allow ourselves to feel happiness over the good we do instead of focusing on all the good we DON'T do. 
  • Yoga Journal is a cool magazine and they have great FREE resources on their livemag website. I ripped out an article today about how comforting it is that you can take your practice everywhere. In the article they outlined a quick little time out for sticky situations that went something like this:
    • Set an intention i.e. "I will overcome what that asshole just said to me"
    • Find a quiet place or put on headphones
    • Take four big breathes lifting your shoulders to your ears as you inhale and back down as you exhale
    • Take 10 breathes, if you get distracted start over until you can do 10 just focusing on the breath
    • Bring your hands into prayer and bow to yourself and your intention
  • Up until now my highs have been centered around things that in Buddhism are considered distractions and are not relevant to an enlightened mind. Now, I'm not anywhere near enlightenment, but in effort to become closer, I'm going to make at least one high more spiritual
Highs:
- FINALLY all seven seasons of Grey's Anatomy are on netflix, love me some medical drama
- meditation went really well this evening
- I focused on a mental state when I realized I was cranky again tonight and was able to have a nice, calm evening aka successfully thwarted my anxiety. 

Laters!