practicing being

On Tuesday I started a course called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).  Weekly, for the next 8 Tuesdays (okay, well 7 now...) I will spend 2.5 hours in a course where my primary role/goal is to "practice being."  Sounds easy enough... so, shall we begin?

Mindfulness=paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, without judgement.  (ooh, I was really on board with that until that last part... you?)

the magic pill?  maybe
I'm the "class angel" too, which means that I get to be of service in exchange for a fee reduction...  Private school ain't gonna pay for itself people (or maybe it will... I'm working on it).  On night one that put me in the delightfully awkward position (I've decided that since I like doing things that create awkwardness for others so much I should start delighting in my own awkwardness.  And by "I've decided" I mean, right now... I decided that.  I'll let you know how it goes) of greeting folks at the door.  And these folks had questions... and some of them were more complex than where the bathroom was... and I (wanting to get an interaction with a stranger over as quickly as possible) got to explain to them why I was their greeter despite the fact that I knew not the answers to their questions (again, unless the questions were "is there a bathroom"  yes, and then I would add the location too just as a courtesy, or "can i sit anywhere" sure can!  oh, i can be so chipper sometimes it's surprising).

Awkward moment of the night goes to the moment when I greeted the 90's electronica musician who may or may not share a first name with the title character in Herman Melville's famous novel... who introduced himself and shook my hand to which I responded "oh, I thought you looked familiar."  Because he did... and apparently I was already practicing being in the moment and in the moment, that's where I was.  Cue judgement--mindfulness exits stage right.  Dang it.  He didn't respond.  I'm still new to this whole Hollywood thing.

I spent several minutes after burying my embarrassment in a brainstorming session about my related Facebook status update.  Then later I found myself reluctantly raising my hand to pledge confidentiality on behalf of everyone else in the class.  So, that's all I can say about that!

So, here's the truth...  I'm not stranger to meditation or mindfulness.  My parents used to play me tapes of Louise Hay's voice guiding me through a body scan meditation when I was 8 years old and deathly frightened of the sounds the howling Santa Ana winds made as they whipped around our house.  In college, after years of not being able to fall asleep with any kind of ease I "taught" myself to pay attention to my breath until my mind silenced and body relaxed enough to slip into dreamland (and now... sleep is so my super most favoritest thing to do--and yes, i only like things that are easy).  Still, when a bowl of "objects" was passed around for an exercise in exploring something intentionally with all five senses my brain was shouting "it's not an 'object' it's a raisin, you idiot!"  I have a ways to go on the "without judgment" part of this whole deal.  Even still... the catch.  This course is asking for a 45 minute committment a day.  Yep... 45 minutes a day.  Most days I do 10-15.  Not the same.

And it's amazing how much resistance my mind puts up.  Yesterday evening I got home to some much anticipated mail that contained some forms I needed to fill out (sorry for being so cryptic...) and headed straight into the forms to find that my pulse rate skyrocketed and soon my forearms felt like they were on fire.  Can anyone say anxiety?

I stopped what I was doing and committed to doing my mindfulness homework (this week we're supposed to do a guided body scan meditation every day) right after I got Spiderman to bed.  I lingered way to too long after he fell asleep poking around on Facebook.  I had to avert my gaze from the unfinished forms I left sitting on the table to keep myself from diving back into them.  My breath was still shallow, my heart still racing, and my arms now felt like weight after being on fire for so long... and I wanted more?  Eesh.

The night before I stayed away from the mindfulness practice by completing a Tuition Assistance application for a private school for spiderman...  by the time I got to it, I was passed out somewhere between the belly and the chest (we start at the feet...) and only awoke to my iTunes moving on to a loudly playing Cake song (which, by the way, was super strange because the next day... it didn't advance to a song.  it just stopped.  so i guess i have a kind spirit to thank for coming through for me on the evening when the veil is the thinnest so I didn't sleep the whole night on my living room floor).

Luckily, I can remember that just on the other side of resistance is the next great thing, so I will persist.*

*speaking of persistence.  I have totally veered of course with my intention for this "month" and I will probably stay here.  I'm still writing love letters, but I'll probably send most of them privately.  I can't figure out a way to make it work here on the blog--any ideas, please email me.  Otherwise, know that I am incredibly grateful to have an amazing group of loved ones and without them I would be only a shadow of who I am and know only a fraction of what i know.