Monday, March 22, 2021

Mlog 3/22 @ 7:30am - 8:00am (ish) - Day two!!

 Day two of meditating daily went.... okay? In the end, I felt good, and much more centered, but it wasn't the same kind of experience as yesterday and also not to the depth and the level that I remember being able to get to regularly in the past. And that's okay.

I would say I reached what I'm going to start calling "Level 2" in my depth. As I get more experience with this and start noticing more patterns, I'll figure out how to define these levels for my blog but for now, I'm just going to go with this terminology more formally, but for now... roughly:

Level 1 or "Getting settled"

For me, this is the state my brain is in after getting physically settled. My awareness is still basically in a non-meditative state, but it's also not in the type of mental activity it is in when I am up and about.  

Level 2 or "Brain/body fuzziness and mild-centeredness" 

This is where I reached today, briefly, and it was also where I reached yesterday for a longer period of time.

Stuff I struggled with today:

Today, I had trouble getting into anything like a focused state even though I tried some of the same strategies from yesterday. I counted the different types of distractions (I counted 7 this time. Maybe 8. I kind of lost interest in this exercise. Thanks ADHD.), I dabbled in some of the same visualizations from yesterday (brain: "boring!!") and then grappled with feelings of irritation and discouragement.

The other major thing I struggled with was this awareness that my partner was going to come downstairs soon. It's a Monday and we both had work in a few hours, and I could hear movement and thumping from upstairs... it was this sense of "I'm running out of time". I did my best to just let that go, and just add that to my tally of distractions, but it was definitely a big one today.

I started to resign myself to the possibility that today might be one of the days where I couldn't meditate at all. I started to shift my thinking towards that being okay.

How I finally got settled:

Finally, I remembered something I had learned in one of my Mindfulness classes I took for stress and anxiety management. They taught us a technique for basically turning off our stress response in our body through what they called "Diaphramatic breathing" (which I guess is kind of a generic term, even though the technique is fairly specific.)

Basically, this type of Diaphramatic breathing is where you exhale all your breath, and I do mean ALL of it. Not slowly or quickly or anything. Just at a natural pace until you're at the very end of your breath. Then you purse your lips and really push and force out the last little bit of air. You can use a puff, puff, strategy or a groaning sound to help, but you really push everything out. You feel this little flutter in your belly as your diaphram sort of... not spasms, but kinda wiggles?  That's when you know you're done. Don't hold your breathe or anything. You just release and let go at that point. Just relax and let your inhale come back at a normal pace. Breathe normally for a bit. Then repeat two more times. The effect is a fairly strong calming sensation. I used to use this a lot as a kind of emergency-intervention if I was having acute anxiety. It's a really great tool for me for that.

This morning I just did one diaphramatic breath just to see if that would be enough to settle my brain. And yes, indeed it did. I felt calm, more centered, and I could begin focusing on my breathing and my body.

Body scans and breathing:

There are a bunch of different ways I do "body scans". Basically all the visualizations I mentioned yesterday are a type of body scan in a way... if you widen the definition of a body scan to basically anything that prompts you to bring your attention to every single place on your body in a methodical, thorough way as a way to relax and center yourself, then yeah... any of those things can be used for this. 

Today I did a version of it that had me focus my attention at various points on my body. Kind of like a chakra metaphor, or maybe like if you imagined large acupuncture pins placed in you in important spots. I also paid attention to my breathing, and noticed that I felt more in touch with my breathing if I held the tip of my tongue to the roof of my mouth. It made paying attention to my breath easier because it was more interesting, or novel, or something. Maybe another coping strategy for my ADHD brain while I meditated?

Slipping into "level 2":

And then, at some point between one breath and the next, there was something like a small "slipping into place" sensation, or like the click of a light switch or something, and my brain kind of "opened up" and I was in that space I'd reached yesterday where time becomes irrelevant, my body becomes kind of "fuzzy" and there is a kind of mental distance between "me" and "my thoughts". I was still having thoughts, but it was more like something I was watching with curiosity and not directly interacting with. It's a really pleasant place to be. I was aware that I wanted to name this state of mind so I could continue to analyze my experience, and because I was also aware that I've reached "deeper" states of meditation than this before. So I made a mental note to start referring to this as "level 2" and I watched the gentle half-formed thoughts about how I'd write this blog post kind of drift in front of me.

I don't know how long I stayed in that space. I don't really look at the clock when i settle down, and I don't really look when I'm done. But at some point I started to just kind of check in and see if my brain and body wanted to be done, or if we wanted to stay in this space more. I checked in maybe three times before finally I felt "satisfied?" for lack of a better word and I opened my eyes and slowly began moving my hands, my arms, my legs, my ankles, working alertness back into them. 

The rest of my day so far:

I am writing this post on my lunch break, so I've had a few hours of day since I meditated, and I have to say that I really believe this is helping my brain. It's making me feel more like "an adult". I've done a lot of work on some "adulting" work that I've been meaning to do, and I've also been on top of the employment-work tasks today as well. I feel less scattered. I feel more comfortable in my experience with myself today. Not manically optimistic or energetic... just calmly present, and feeling capable. It feels good today. It's motivating me to keep going with this experiment and appreciate how it might be helping me.

One lesson I'll take from today is this: even if the meditation was shorter, less substantive, or felt kind of "half-assed", it still "worked". It was a moment of intentionality that seems to go a long way towards setting me up for having a mindful and intentional day. And that's important. And will be important to remember on those days where maybe I can't meditate (I know that will happen at some point).

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