Meditation Monday Day #22: Do Not Disturb

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100 Breaths for 100 Days, that’s the commitment.

General Observations from the Week:

  • Day 20 I noticed that I was keeping count without my fingers, how long have I been doing that?
  • When I’ve already begun to change a lifelong pattern (in this case one that involves trying to remain undisturbed by keeping things- thoughts, feelings, emotions, sensations- both in and out) that the truer workings, subtleties, and intricacies of the way the pattern is woven throughout my life, emerge. Yow. See below.

What it was like today:

I’m sitting. My body is fairly relaxed. I want to get to a place where I can just watch my breath coming and going – in and out – in and out – but the more I want this, the more labored my breathing becomes. Then I ask myself, What if I practice just letting the exhale go? What if it disappears and I don’t care where it goes or how it gets out of me? It’s then that I notice I’ve been simultaneously containing the exhale as I conscientiously try to let it out. Constipated breathing.
Visible in my breathing pattern is the strategy that if nothing goes in and nothing goes out, I can remain blissfully undisturbed. A misguided idea of peace. Since I took the The Do Not Disturb sign off my door years ago, the next layer of dismantling my default mode is apparent here in my exhale.
There’s a shift. I feel creaking in my pelvis, like the way a foundation groans as it settles. I remember the mysterious snaps and bangs my childhood home…back to the breath. At about 80 breaths the exhale is flying free. As soon as I register a feeling of ease, I try to hold it – keep it. I notice this too, and a momentary taste of the present, a fleeting nano-second of calm amidst a busy inner world, is enough.

How’s it going for you?

Have you noticed that it’s so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with you? There’s something even more than support, encouragement, and empathy that happens between us, even online. I’m perfectly willing to go solo on this, but it would be fantastic if you were doing it too. We can share stories – or not. You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there info about coaching, Focusing, free stuff. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends.

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Meditation Monday: Day #15

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100 Breaths for 100 Days, that’s the commitment.

Updating you on what’s happened since last Monday.

General Observations from the Week: Grabbing and Grasping

  • I seem to need about the first 15 breaths to relax my body while maintaining an alert spine. I’ll show you how I do this below.
  • Mostly I just can’t tell the difference. between controlling each breath and merely counting.
  • I worry that I won’t have anything to write to you about- that I won’t remember the sensations and thoughts I experience. Like a hawk circling above a tasty meal, I hover looking to dive,  snatch, and keep one.   I never noticed this vigilance before.
  • When I grab an observation, it morphs into an image and before I know it I’ve followed a train of thought, one that tickles me (hello ego), and I see that I’ve left the breath. Again.
  • Thought I am not giving myself a hard time about getting distracted – this is already different than how it would have been a  few years ago – there’s a sense of p-p-ull-ling myself back to the breath that’s definitely tense.
  • Day 13 I meditate, but I take no notes.

What it was like today:

Cross-legged, I close my eyes. I find my sitz bones (the ones under your butt) on the floor. Then I tune into the right side of my body. I’m imagining it softening and widening beginning at my legs and moving up to my face. Then I repeat on the other side.

At first, this leads to pleasant sensations until my spine starts to droop. Next, I imagine the meeting place between the two sides of my body filled with flowing water. Now my spine is awake enough without too much muscular effort.

My breath has been coming and going more slowly and at 40 I really notice it. For the first time, I know that I’m watching at the same time that I’m watching. Is this  the “witness?”  The part of me that’s watching me breathe feels big and loving; that heart cracking sweetness of watching my babies sleep.

Oops, I’m gone again, lost in memory. My babies. I bring my attention back to my body. Where was I?

How’s it going for you? What have you noticed?

I think it’s  so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with me. There’s something even more  than support, encouragement, and empathy that happens between us, even online.  I’m perfectly willing to go solo  but it would be fantastic if you were doing it too. We can share stories – or not.  You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there’s info about coaching, Focusing, free stuff. Go… and then go forth and tell your friends.

Meditation Monday: Day #8

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100 Breaths for 100 Days, that’s the commitment.

After a whole week ( a whole week!) of sitting Mindfulness Meditation I’m playing  with how I’ll tell you about it. Here goes.

General Observations from the Week:

  • Chucked the cushion, it distracted me.
  • Had to decide where I’d put my hands . Right now I’m opting for in my lap with fingertips almost touching.
  • I avoided sitting on Day 5- but finally did it.
  • Avoided it again on Day 6 – this time didn’t do it.
  • Knowing I was going to tell you about not practicing actually helped me let myself off the hook, “it’s all part of the experiment,” and that led me to wondering if it I could try meditating right after yoga.
  • My mind wants to use mental images to help me bring my concentration to breathing. One day it’s seeing a train conductor playing the harmonica to calm a scared child on the train, and another day it’s finding the very center of my skull. When I sensed the middle of my skull, I felt my spine elongate. My eyes (even though they were closed) shifted in their sockets. Oddly, this made it easier to  breathe.

What it was like today:

Getting started felt like easing  instead of reminding. I attribute this to being super relaxed during Shivasana (Corpse Pose) at the end of yoga. I just sat up slowly and got to it. (Makes sense, Hatha Yoga was designed to get the body ready for meditation- and it makes sense too that I’d have to experience it to get it.)

At about 60 breaths there was a rush of heat (no, not a hot flash) and I welcome it. Then I’m feeling impatient. By 80 breaths I want to stay forever. And at 90 I feel a subtle circling deep in my ribcage. It kind of snakes up to my shoulders and neck as I watch it. Then I have a powerful urge to turn my head all the way to the left, and a voice inside asks, “Are you supposed to move during sitting meditation?”

Then I think, “I don’t know the answer to that, I  haven’t a clue what I’m doing. And since I don’t, it doesn’t matter what I choose right now.” It occurs to me that I can file away this urge for further investigation at a later time. I don’t have to act on it but I can if I want. Now, it seems right to just watch and stay still. Of course, I’ve lost count several times, and am only vaguely aware that I’m breathing at all. 99…100.

How’s it going for you?

Have you noticed that it’s so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with you? There’s something even more  than support, encouragement, and empathy that happens between us, even online.  I’m perfectly willing to go solo on this, but it would be fantastic if you were doing it too. We can share stories – or not.  You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Want to ask a private question? email: judy@moveintochange.com

Related articles & photo credit:

You might want to check out moveintochange.com too. That’s where there info about coaching, Focusing, free stuff … go… and then go forth and tell your friends.

Meditation Monday: The Plan

 image002 100 Breaths for 100 Days,that’s the commitment.

I figure it would be deadly to take you through 100 actual days of meditation practice. So here’s the plan; I will journal everyday but check in with you only on Mondays (unless you have questions, and you can email me anytime- see below). That way, we’ll be able to reflect on a whole week.

Have you noticed that it’s so much better when other people tackle a disciplined practice along with you? There’s something even more  than support, encouragement, and empathy that happens between us, even online.  I’m perfectly willing to go solo on this, but it would be fantastic if you did it too. We can share stories – or not.  You can just read, lurk about and observe – your call.

Leave a comment here or email me: judy@moveintochange.com

Ask Judy #4: The Problem With “Why” or Try a Little Tenderness

“Why” is a fantastic question. So, this post isn’t an effort to remove it from our language, or anything remotely like that. Lately though, I’ve been listening to how some of us use Why questions against ourselves, against other people or situations, mostly unknowingly, or let’s say, unintentionally.

For example, I have a client who has just begun to notice the power of her inner critters (critics). She has become aware of how difficult it is for her to accept acknowledgment from others, or celebrate her own strengths and accomplishments – big or small.

I’ll stop here and state how cruddy it is to want to feel good and to then notice the pattern of perpetuating the not feeling good. Ouch, yuck, and – what use is self awareness if I still feel cruddy anyway? Oh yeah, I know this one really well.

Back to my client, call her Teresa. Teresa wants things in her life to change. She wants out of the patterns that she sees are holding her back. And, she’s in that place where she’s sick of the old, but when she starts to get a glimpse of the new (and how to go about taking small steps to change her pattern) the Why questions start.

Why do I have this pattern?” Why don’t I just change already? Why do I always do this? And, my all time favorite, “Why, if I can see what’s wrong, don’t I just act on what I know?”

That last question can be the subject of this blog for the rest of my life, so let’s leave it alone for now and move on to, the problem with why. Don’t get me wrong, finding out  why a pattern began is valuable work. But, have you noticed that the Why questions above (or substitute your own)  really aren’t about loving inquiry into what might be under a pattern, but more of, well, blaming?

Mostly blaming ourselves.

Why, in this context, is about looking for what’s Wrong.  Under the guise of figuring it out, we look for the bad, or really, who’s been bad (and guess who that turns out to be?). And, on top of that, we’ve  convinced ourselves that answering the question will bring us the relief we seek. In my experience, this doesn’t happen. The answer isn’t in the reason, but in the relationship with the reason, but that’s also a subject for a future blog potentially titled, “Needing to Know.”

Back to Why. When working with young children, I learned pretty early that, why, as in, “Why did you hit johnny with that truck?” goes nowhere productive. When you ask why in that situation here’s what happens:

  • Jenna, who hit Johnny with the truck, may not know why.
  • Asking why makes Jenna feel stupid, confused and possibly humiliated that she doesn’t know, ’cause if you’re asking her, the expectation is that she should know.
  • AND, she probably hit Johnny because she was scared, angry, or hurt and she didn’t know how to deal with it.
  • That’s pretty overwhelming as it is, and Why from an adult just scares her more.
  • Scared = flight, fight or freeze.
  • The answers you will get at this point are; stone faced silence, running away, “I don’t know” or some version of, it was Johnny’s fault.

See how that works? This post is too long already, so I won’t go into what might be happening for Johnny.

We aren’t much different from Jenna except that now we get to be both scared child and interrogator.  Asking why, when we’re feeling terrible just adds to the confusion and/or self-loathing we already feel.  We think we “should” know, we “should” be able to do something about it and we “shouldn’t”  try anything new (or fall back while we’re learning) unless we can know why there’s a problem in the first place.  Gaaaah.

The first thing to do here is the opposite of analyzing the problem. Why can’t help us here. But tenderness can.  Finding some intentional practice of listening to ourselves with tender regard, as we would hold a tiny seedling that we need to re-pot, or watch a bird hatch from its egg, can bring relief. From here, we are free to know more about what we might really need to do to move forward.

There are lots of great practices to investigate. You might try Exploring the Perimeter, it’s a good start. When I’m really desperate, I pick a part of my body I feel pretty neutral about – like my thumbs- and I sense them (eyes closed) with as much patient gentleness as I can possibly stand for as long as I can.

Listening to Otis singing Try A Little Tenderness here couldn’t hurt either.

Ask Judy #3 What if I don’t dance?


A recent call went like this:

Q:  I love the image you have for Move Into Change (Zeno Frudakis), do you use movement in your work with people? Me: Yes, sometimes. Q: Really? Cool…but what if I don’t dance?

Oh my. Much confusion, misunderstanding and totally unnecessary worry is in this question. Luckily this is an easy one, and answering the concerns hidden in the question gives me a chance to clarify something incredibly important to making change.

First, dance and movement are related. Maybe dance is movement’s high spirited child, but they definitely are not identical twins. When most people say “dance” they usually mean some version of having to figure out how to fit their bodies into a predetermined (by a teacher or the cool kids) series of shapes, in a rhythm. Usually this notion is attached to a sense of failure at having tried this and been told something humiliating, hence “I don’t (can’t) dance.” So, no, I don’t do that, unless it is a specific request- then, maybe.

Do I use movement as one way to help clients access what they know, explore what they want to know or to learn specific (non-dance) skill ? Yes, but only sometimes. And definitely not with a client who isn’t interested. There are many ways to get to where you’re going.

I know this to be True, you can’t get where you’re going without a body. And your body may be an a afterthought for you, which may be part of the reason life feels like it doesn’t quite fit.   A better question might be, “Why, the body?” Why so much emphasis on accessing it, through movement or otherwise, in my work/life?  Here’s how I answer this for myself, daily.

My body is my home, the home of my entire experience of being alive.

Living my purpose requires my presence, which starts in my body and with my relationship with and within my body.

My body is a container that is the hub of everything. It contains me now, me then, aspects of me forming, and the “beyond” me that I may not even know is there. It contains spaces, places, rooms with closets, airy towers, floor to ceiling windows and peepholes. There are vast ballrooms for waltzing and cozy corners for huddling.

Being at home in my body means supporting it, listening to it, getting to know the exiled, forgotten, frightened, and shy places and the joyous, desirous, ecstatic parts too.

Being at home in my body also means taking complete responsibility for my inner ecology, the landscape inside, including who gets to come in.

I am queen, king and subject: guru and disciple of this home of me.

I am in charge of my own process. Sometimes this means reminding others (and myself) that they are not.

Maybe today I will learn something about all this.

Even Though…

Aside

Yesterday, a new friend invited me to an art class that she thought I might like. It sounded great, a lot like one recommended to me by an ex- friend years ago. Sadly, this past friendship ended badly-very badly- and  I thought my ex-friend might show up there. So, I shared my story with my new friend. I told her about the shame I felt at having handled some of that situation poorly, and my regret for not knowing then how I could have handled it better.

This is what my new friend said, “If she hates you, that’s her problem. Just let it go.”

Now, I know this new friend was trying to be supportive. She did tell me first that she’d had similar feelings. And, I recognize that the words she said to me were probably what she says to herself. Maybe they give her courage and she hoped they would do the same for me. I don’t know.

Was my new friends advice good advice? Yes.

Would letting it go be a good idea? Sure.

Is it true that my ex-friend is responsible for her own feelings. Yeah.

But.There are a few problems with this.

For starters, I wasn’t asking for advice. What I really wanted was empathy, which was just what she offered, at first. I wish she’d stopped there or asked me if she could give some advice.Since I really like this person, let’s pretend she did, and that I said yes.

Her advice is still problematic, though. Here’s why.

Telling someone to just let go is like reminding a laboring woman in the transition stage to relax. Good luck with that. Yes, more relaxation = less pain. And true, on the other side of letting something go is freedom. But telling someone  words of wisdom doesn’t actually help, does it? If all it took was reminding ourselves to __________(you fill in the blank), we’d all be doing it already – we’re not stupid. To add to the pain of whatever it is I’m reacting to, when I hear something like that and know I can’t do it, I just feel worse about myself. Ew.

So, we know what we want, we’re also hooked/stuck/your word here,and we haven’t internalized skills that truly help us. There’s a reason that Lamaze classes (or any other method) exist. When women are in the throes of labor pain, they’ve had some training to get through it, to contain it. And, they usually have a partner there to remind them what to do, and do it with them when the pain becomes overwhelming. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but the point here is that there’s training to be had. There are practices to be, er… practiced, that can eventually get to the letting go part.

One place to start is with, Even though…

Give yourself 5 minutes alone. Anywhere will do. Take some deep breaths. Sigh a couple of times. Check into your body and see what emotion or sensation you notice. Write the words “even though” then leave some space blank and then write “it’s okay to” on a piece of paper. This is your permission slip: permission to acknowledge whatever feeling you are having. You can add on in writing – or not- something like this “Even though I’m busy, it’s okay to notice this ______________(pain, tingling, anger, fluttering, anxiety, judgement, etc.).” Or, my example: Even though I want to go to this art class, it’s okay to notice some dread there too.

Did you notice we were sitting in and practicing permission too - sneaky me.

Requesting Permission to Land

On Tuesday’s I hang out with my friend. He’s five.

If you remember being five or know a five-year-old you know that they just love anything that moves: hence their preoccupation with vehicles (and excretion, for that matter). They want to make things “go,” preferably with sound effects.

This particular guy’s passion is airplanes and spacecraft. Power. Action. Flying.

He got me thinking a lot about motion; the moving to get away from myself, and the kind that sets me free.

This morning, as I prepared to sit inI didn’t. I avoided it. I made the bed, washed the dishes, checked my email – you know the drill – avoidance stuff. Moving away from myself.

Okay. I noticed it. That made it easier to sit down (sometimes I get lucky).

I started  exploring the perimeter, but it was oh so difficult to stay with it. My plane was circling over the airport, definitely not landing.

In a holding pattern, actually. It was uncomfortable. I didn’t like it. It felt familiar.

So what to do?

Nothing.

Nothing? Well not really. By nothing I mean, no fixing, analyzing, solving, or insisting that it change. Because first comes permission.

Permission looked like this today:

  • I can stop here even though I haven’t landed. (Permission to be just where I am.)
  • It may be enough to just notice. (Permission not to push.) Sigh.
  • Even though my mind wants to figure out what I’m really avoiding and why, it’s okay for me not to know this. (Permission not to know.) Relief.

Landing Gear

It seems that I know how to land after all. I have landing gear. And exercise, squeeze and relax, from long ago popped into my head. Permission does that; it allows something just right to come up once it’s safe enough – at least in my experience, that is. Doing it,  I got to explore my holding patterns and then practice letting them go. Here’s how to do it too.

  1. You can do this sitting or standing, but flat on your back is best.
  2. Start with your feet. Squeeze them hard and then let go all at once. Do this again. Notice the difference between effort and release.
  3. Move up to your knees. Straighten them strongly and then let go all at once. Again.
  4. Repeat the squeezing and relaxing sequence twice with your tush, abdomen, chest, shoulders, elbows,  and  hands.
  5. When you get to your face, squeeze and relax your mouth, eyes and forehead, and then do the same with your whole face.
  6. Now make your entire body straight and tight. Release.
  7. Spend several minutes in repose letting your breath become natural. Notice if there’s any place in your body that is holding or squeezing. Scan for more subtle sensations of holding.

If you have something to say about giving yourself permission, holding patterns, or want to tell me how squeeze and relax went for you that would be great. Or, just hang out, poke around here, or the website Move Into Change.You’re welcome anytime.

For Comment-makers: Reading your comments is something I look forward to. And, it’s important to me that all of us (readers, browsers, comment-makers, and me) feel safe and secure. I ask that each of us be responsible for managing the energy that we bring here. We’re friendly and kind on this site. Just so you know.

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