Friday, February 28, 2014

February Meditation Challenge - Final Day!

Image courtesy of tiverylucky / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Welp, I did it. I meditated every day. I also finally attended a meditation session outside of my own bedroom. My friend and I went to the Kadampa Meditation Center on Wednesday, which I will admit, was more Buddhist-y than I expected, but I still enjoyed it. I was super nervous for some reason, and I was definitely more distracted than normal (which is funny, considering the talk afterward was about distractions). As soon as I closed my eyes my skin was itchy and something was in my eye and I needed to scoot back in my seat and I wanted to cross my legs and my throat was dry etc etc. I just didn't want to be the dick who made a bunch of noise and caused a bunch of distractions for other people. But eventually I got focused, and it was very relaxing. I still plan on checking out more meditation places like InsightLA and UCLA's mindfulness program.

My final thoughts: I like meditation. It took a while to get going. I don't always feel benefits immediately. However, as I've mentioned before, consistent meditation has brought a sense of acceptance into my life (of myself and the world around me). And it helps keep me in the present moment. All in all, I think it's a good habit, and I plan to keep doing it.

That is all.

Happy Meditating!




Friday, February 21, 2014

February Meditation Challenge - Day 21

My dog, meditating next to me
Wow! Three weeks! I've managed to meditate every morning so far. One more week to go. I have to say, I think I will keep up the habit even after the month is over. I'm starting to like the effects it's having on me. I've noticed myself spending more time in the present moment. For example, I went to see a movie the other day with a friend and I found my thoughts wandering all over the place, thinking about the future or things I needed to get at the grocery store, etc. I reminded myself to come back to the present moment and enjoy my time in the theater, watching a movie, eating popcorn, spending time with a friend. It was much more pleasant than thinking about random future events.

I also find myself choosing acceptance more often, instead of ruminating on feelings or events I don't like. The people who create these guided meditations are constantly talking about coming back to the present moment, while still accepting our thoughts and feelings. I think it just seeps into my brain after listening to it every morning, so now it's becoming more of a habit. It's like healthy brainwashing. Yay for building helpful habits!

 Other stuff:

Happy Meditating!


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February Meditation Challenge - Day 12

Photo Courtesy of Marin / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I'm almost halfway through this challenge, so I suppose I'm due for an update. Although I don't feel like I have a whole lot to say. I'm still meditating every morning when I get up. Here are some scattered thoughts on the topic:

  • I definitely have to sit up straight with my legs crossed for meditation. It's the only way I'll pay attention. Once or twice I've tried to "cheat" and just listen to a meditation while I'm lying in bed. Never works. I always just fall back asleep.
  • I'm still meditating for about 10 - 12 minutes. Anything longer just seems like a drag, but my goal is to add a few minutes. I want to try 15 minutes every morning.
  • I think there might be a market for Menstrual Meditations. You know, meditations for that week when everyone is pissing you off for no reason. This is my latest money-making idea.
  • I like the idea of not labeling my thoughts and feelings, but just accepting them as they come. This is discussed a lot in meditation, and I think it can be applied to real life. Like if I'm angry about something, I'm not usually just angry. I'm angry, then I feel guilty for feeling angry, or annoyed that I'm angry or I think I shouldn't be angry, or I'm angry that I feel guilty for feeling angry, and it just spirals on and on. Better to just accept the anger. It's easier to move on that way. Labeling the anger as good or bad or wrong or right just seems to make it last longer.
  • There have been a number of weird, sad events that happened to people around me this week and it has put me in a really strange, somber mood. I'm interested to see how meditation will play into this.
  • I still haven't checked out a meditation class yet! Putting it on my to-do list for the weekend.

I guess I had more to say than I thought. I'll leave you with this hilarious Honey Badger meditation I found. I love that it's a full 30 minutes.




Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February Meditation Challenge - Day 5

Image courtesy of Craftyjoe / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I'm finally getting into a groove now. I found some free online meditations and podcasts from the UCLA Mindfulness Research Center (MARC) that I really like, specifically the Loving Kindness Meditation.

Here's what I've been doing:

Every night before bed I choose a meditation to follow in the morning. When I wake up, I walk my dog then come back and sit on the bed (not lie down) and listen to the guided meditation. I meditate for about 10 - 12 minutes. Then I go on with my day. Keep in mind I am NOT a morning person, but I've been really good about doing this every morning so far.

What I Like
I like starting off the day by redirecting my thoughts to the present moment. I say "redirecting" because as soon as I wake up, I immediately start thinking things like, "I'm tired. I want to go back to bed. I don't feel like going to work. I don't have anything to eat for breakfast. I should have packed my gym bag last night. I wonder if I'm too dependent on coffee. I need to pay some bills..." They aren't the most negative thoughts in the world, but they certainly aren't very uplifting. Meditating seems to help me get to a more positive place in my brain. Seems like a good way to start the day.

What I Don't Like
I seriously cannot follow a meditation where all I do is pay attention to my breath. It is boring as hell. It think it's helpful to start off that way. Or sprinkle it throughout the meditation. But I much prefer a guided meditation that asks you to think about certain things. For example, the Loving Kindness Meditation I mentioned asks you to think of a loved one or pet and focus on the joy that person or pet brings you. I love that.

I'll check in again in a few days. Hope your practice is going well!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

February Meditation Challenge - Day 1

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Day one of the meditation challenge and I'm already feeling annoyed, which I think is a good thing. It's probably better than feeling complacent and means there's room for improvement. I totally misunderstood the meditation challenge and thought there would be meditations posted on the website. Turns out you need to buy one of Sharon Salzberg's books and follow along that way. I actually did buy her Real Happiness book a little while ago, but it's the Kindle version so it doesn't come with the meditation CD (I guess that's why it was only $2.99). I enjoy the book and think she has a lot of good things to say about meditation and mindfulness, but it's hard to just read the meditations.

Soooo...new plan. I will figure out my own meditation to do each day. I ended up putting on another meditation CD this morning only to find that my computer speakers are f'd up. When did that happen?! Then I was even more annoyed. I ended up using my phone to look up a guided meditation mp3 and listened to that instead, but didn't really enjoy it. There was also a meditation class I planned on going to this evening, but I chickened out. Day one is off to a bad start, folks. But that's okay. We've got a whole month to figure this out.

I think I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed with all the options there are for meditation. You can do it with a group or find a class or listen to a guided meditation or just sit alone and pay attention to your breath or do a walking meditation or...aaagghh! So many choices. Like most things in life, I just want someone to tell me what to do.

I took a step back this evening and asked myself what it is I'm hoping to get out of meditating. I guess I'm looking to find a sense of calmness that I can carry with me. I want to reduce tension, anger, and irritation. I want to learn to appreciate life instead of complain about it. Obviously there will be times in life when I feel sad and angry, but I want to learn to accept those situations and move on rather than dwell on them. I also want to learn to ditch completely unnecessary negative thoughts. I consider myself a relatively positive person, but man, sometimes I catch myself thinking really negative shit.

So I will dedicate the rest of the month to figuring out which type of meditation is right for me. Or if it's right for me. Honestly, at this point, I'm more of a fan of yoga. I did yoga on Friday and was reminded of how wonderful it makes me feel. It relaxes my mind and body. It also forces me to be mindful because it's hard to let my thoughts wander when I need to focus on holding a pose.

Come on, meditation. Show me what you got.





Monday, January 20, 2014

February Meditation Challenge

Image courtesy of markuso / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I'm going to do a meditation challenge in February. Wanna join me?

Last year I was inspired to learn more about acceptance and mindfulness. What do I mean by acceptance and mindfulness? The ability to accept life as it is. To let go of grudges. Accept myself and others as they are. Be in the present moment instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. I dabbled in meditation (i.e. I sometimes listened to guided meditations on my phone before I went to bed), but I'd really like to step it up this year. I think meditating regularly will help me immensely.

After having multiple conversations with other friends who are trying to incorporate meditation into their lives, I thought to myself, 'Maybe I should do some sort of meditation challenge where I commit to meditating every day for a month and see how I feel.' That very same day I saw a tweet about Sharon Salzberg's 28-Day Meditation Challenge in February. Bingo! Just what I was looking for. It looks like you can practice the meditations provided online and then share your experiences with others on the site. I plan on also attending various meditation groups throughout the month just to get some different perspectives.

Anyhoo, I'm posting this online to keep myself accountable. Once February rolls around I'll write a few posts on how things are going. If you want to join me, I'd love to hear about your experiences with meditation.



Monday, January 13, 2014

A Little Halloween Joy

Courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Contrary to popular belief, I don't think about Halloween year round. Even though I refer to November 1st as the saddest day of the year, my brain actually needs a respite from all that Halloweening. Usually a good two or three months will go by before something comes along to get me excited for Halloween again.

That time is now!

I was milling around on Pinterest the other day (procrastinating, as usual) when I saw something that inspired a costume idea. Then I got SUPER excited about this potential Halloween costume idea. Like ridiculously excited. It's still too early to commit to a costume now, so I won't reveal this idea just yet, but it did get me incredibly pumped for Halloween. AND Halloween is on a Friday this year, which makes it doubly awesome! I'm telling you, when Halloween is on a Friday or Saturday the general public gets way more excited about it, and that just adds to the Halloween spirit. And we need that collective Halloween spirit to help make the Great Pumpkin's sleigh fly. Or something.

If that wasn't exciting enough, I got an email from Scare L.A. announcing this year's dates for the Halloween convention (August 9th and 10th). I may even volunteer this year. So stoked already!

THEN yesterday morning when I walked my dog, I discovered my neighborhood covered in a thick layer of fog. I'm kicking myself for not taking a picture now. It was so spooky and wonderful. Very Halloween-y. While the polar vortex has the rest of the country covered in snow, California has remained very sunny, so yesterday's misty morning was an unexpected surprise.

Now I'm just going through all my Halloween Pinterest boards and working out my 2014 Halloween budget. Nothing like a little Halloween joy to break up the January blues. Do you like my new countdown clock?! 290 days!!