I sometimes think that if I just started with you every day, then life would be clearer. Maybe I should try it.
When do you blog? Is there a routine? When do you read blogs?
I have been well recently and hope to stay that way. I have also been very busy.
Apart from writing (I am trying my hand at competitions) I have been away for the weekend on a retreat. Retraining your mind isn't as easy as it looks and this experience was a bit of a mixed bag whilst I was there, but the overall effect was incredibly useful and my meditation has really turned a corner.
Let me set the scene for you. I arrived first at a beautiful big farmhouse in Suffolk although the others (mostly arriving by minibus) followed shortly afterwards. I was wearing high wedges -nervousness always panders to me shoe fetish- and had brought an large canary yellow suitcase for 2 days, containing amongst other things, my laptop. I had a deadline due and wanted to make the most of no family responsibilities. Apparently, I had been told to bring a small back pack?!
I have the same level of obsession for luggage as I do for shoes. The yellow one is a CHUBB. Who knew they made suitcases? The lady in the shop said when they received staff training they were told to jump on the Chubbs to prove their indestructibility , since being makers of locks, they have a reputation to uphold. I can't help wondering though, what's to stop the thief just opening the zip like I do, but maybe, being professionals, they like to do things in a manner that demonstrates their level of expertise. Anyway, yellow Chubb has a purple Chubb big brother and a pink Dunlop little sister. Pink Dunlop had a big sister too but she's now disabled with a prosthetic wheel. We keep her in the attic for sentimental reasons. Anyway, my reckoning is that someone cannot hot foot it down the platform at Waverley station with an enormous acid-Purple case that didn't belong to them, it'd draw attention. Heck, I'm embarrassed to be seen with it!
Everyone else was in sweat bottoms or PJ's. In my defence, I was entirely unable to get into any of my old sporty clothes because of the weight gain and so dresses were my only comfy option, though I had stopped off on the way to buy myself leggings as the view of my sitting cross legged or some-such in a frock without the legging safety-harness is not the view one expects to see at a lotus-flowered shrine.
So, I was in peacock-coloured dresses all weekend, with leggings and when I needed to walk anywhere, resorted to the shoes that reminded me of my grandad, and that am sure I have seen Foggy wear on Last Of The Summer Wine.
Then I learned I had to share a room with 3 other women. I was mortified. I racked my brain to see if I had ticked the wrong box on the form. I had imagined a single suite, not a dorm with a dodgy shower. I decided to be a trooper and bear it. Straight into meditations.
These were hard. I really found the next 24 hours agony until the evening. I felt sick and headachey and I resented every moment that they left me alone with my thoughts. 6 hours meditation in 1 day really is too much if you're constantly rerunning a scary movie in your head; terrifying. By the Sunday though, I was able to tell them that and they told me three very important things:
1. NEVER forget your body whilst you are meditating. Now, this came as a huge surprise because I thought the point was to forget your body. Thinking this had generated confusion and fear in itself as I was simultaneously being told that meditation was good for me in order to keep me calm and relaxed, and that I shouldn't meditate because it took me out of myself and I already spend enough time in my head. So, knowing that I could meditate and constantly check out my body was a revelation and it made perfect sense. I would be constantly grounded by thinking how my body was feeling in that posture, how the carpet felt on my knees, how my body felt with each change of meditative focus, the emotions it brought up and so on. After that, the constant pain at the base of my skull and in my neck disappeared along with all the fear I was generating, because I was constantly checking out with myself if I was OK.
2. The second thing they said was that if you persisted in generating negative thoughts, then be kind to them and to yourself . !!!!!!!!! What? No self flagellation required? No kicking myself up the arse for not being able to do it right? Not imagining that my brain is 1 big area of terrifying quicksand? No? Oh, Ok then I'll give that a go............sigh...........breathe...............sigh................comfy............sleepy...............hmmmmm :)
3. The third thing, was that when practising Loving Kindness, you always start with yourself.
(Now, just to interrupt, for those of you worried that I have joined a cult, I need to point out that almost all of the 31 participants were not Buddhists, just people curious for a better way of life and who wanted some intensive meditation practise.)
Loving Kindness makes perfect sense to me because it gets rid of negative emotions. Anger, frustration, dislike all peter out and calm takes their place. I am someone who doesn't normally suffer fools gladly, and indeed I met a right cow on this retreat and had to focus on her very strongly for the 'Loving Kindness to someone you find very difficult' meditation. I am not saying that I was about to add her to my Christmas card list, but I did manage a forced smile a bit later. It'll probably take months if not years, before I am able to prevent rather than fire-fight in the suffering fools department. But, as Tom Hanks said in that deeply philosophical movie Sleepless in Seattle, 'These are things that I am willing to get to the bottom of'.
Once home, my Facebook status read "Thank Goodness I have been on a weekend retreat for now I can emanate loving kindness to the bastard that sent me a nasty message on eBay"
That about sums up where I am at the moment. But being kind to myself, loving myself? I found that incredibly difficult and it will take practise. But the idea that I can, that I should and that it will make me happier is like someone filling me a warm bath and putting a milky cup of sweet chai on the side. I will practise that, because I know it's the one thing that will improve my life. And, now that I can meditate in comfort and without nausea for as long as it takes, there's nothing denying me that lovely, calm, quietude that meditation brings- all day long if I need it.
Oh, and I didn't use my computer at all.