Ok, so I have about 10 blog posts that I’ve started working on, but just haven’t had the energy to finish. I’m not sure that “energy” is the right word? But I get half way through typing it out, and then I just go, bleh. Well, I guess that is right word, then. I’ve been struggling lately to have enough energy to do anything other than go to work. Work continues to be very stressful and seems to be consuming much of my life. I know lots of people in the same boat, so I know it’s not just me. I started thinking about what I’m doing, or not doing, now that may have changed in the last few months. I think I know what part of the problem is.
I wrote a post in April of last year and called it, “practice, practice, practice”. I went back and read it and realized I have not been doing this. So what has changed? Well, the first thing I thought of was my meditation practice. I used to meditate every Sunday morning with friends but the building we met in was sold. So that group kind of dissolved. So now, I rarely set aside time specific to meditation. I understand that I can have meditative moments throughout my day, but there is something about taking time out, sitting quietly, and meditating. So I’m endeavoring to do more of that.
The other practice that I realize that I have let go of is mindfulness. I’m reading Stephen Batchelor’s “Confessions of a Buddhist Atheist” (reading is another thing I want to do more of). I keep re-reading a section of his book where he talks about mindfulness. Here are some excerpts from that section that stand out to me:
“Gotama did not encourage withdrawal to a timeless, mystical now, but an unflinching encounter with the contingent world as it unravels moment to moment. To be conscious of what is happening in the present requires training in mindfulness, which Gotama described as “the one way” to achieve the kind of focused presence and responsiveness needed to function optimally on a groundless ground. Indeed, he spoke of mindfulness as being grounded in whatever occurs in one’s body, feelings, and mind as well as in the world about one. Mindfulness is to be aware of what is happening, as opposed to either letting things drift by in a semiconscious haze or being assailed by events with such intensity that one reacts before one has even had time to think.
Mindfulness focuses entirely on the specific conditions of one’s day-to-day experience. It is not concerned with anything transcendent or divine. “When a monk breathes out long,” said Gotama, “he knows: ‘I am breathing out long.’ Breathing in short, he knows: ‘I am breathing in short.’” Such a person acts in full awareness when looking ahead and looking away, when flexing and extending his limbs, when wearing his robes and carrying his bowl, when eating, drinking and tasting…”
There are lots of interesting points all through this excerpt. But the one thing that stood out to me, that I can put into practice fairly easily, is when he talked about when a monk breaths out long, he knows he’s breathing out long. So I’ve been doing that. Like right now, I’m typing, and I know I’m typing. I’ve actually said that to myself. When I get up to get a drink of water, I say to myself, I know I’m getting up to get a drink of water. It might seem a little silly at first, but try it. For me, as far as anything noticeable, it has a very calming effect. It settles my mind and emotions. I’m sure there are lots of scientific reasons for this, but I’m just glad it works. I Googled “effects of mindfulness” and there are tons of things that being more mindful does to your brain. And that, of course, effects everything else. And back to the first paragraph, I do notice that I have a little more energy. Maybe because my mind isn’t going in 50 directions? I imagine that has something to do with it.
Everyone is different, so what helps me might not be the same thing that helps you. People have different things that help them get to a good place, mentally and emotionally. Whatever that is for you, I encourage you to do more of that. But also try the mindfulness thing. Just to see if it helps. If it does, you can add that to your list of things that get you to a better place in this crazy world. 🙂