Until I’m 6 feet under
Baby I don’t need a bed
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Till they roll me over
And lay my bones to rest
Gonna live while I’m alive
I’ll sleep when I’m dead
Ahhh how I loved Bon Jovi, back in the day! Still do. Apparently they are coming to Australia late next year. This ol’ mama hopes to be there! Meantime I can only be amused at how the meaning of these lyrics has changed for me in the space of twenty years. I was a bit of a wild child in my teens and twenties, and I passionately felt that sleep was highly over-rated. Far too much else to be doing with my time! Right now though it really does feel like I’ll sleep when I’m dead and not before, simply cos there sure ain’t much sleep going on around here, and it’s not voluntary deprivation! Miss M is still having her nightly carryings on, and while her Papa is dealing with her, my other baby girl is here on the inside keeping me up as well. Bless! But also, arghhhhhh…how I crave a full eight hours of deep uninterrupted sleep. Six, even!
Last night as I lay awake in a silent house (no fair!), my mind was buzzing. Only nine days to go! This pregnancy has seemed sooooo long, but now it’s speeding up soooo fast! I feared I would never drift off, and I badly needed to, but then I remembered this beautiful photograph (credit: @SharonSalzberg) that came up on my news feed yesterday.
The Buddha looks so rested, calm and content. I visualised the photograph and concentrated only on the feelings of peace and contentment that it stirs in me, and on my breathing. In…and out…in…and out…and it worked, I fell asleep! Not really meditation per se I guess but definitely a Mindful start! I find my mind racing quite a lot at the moment, only natural of course at this stage, but it would be easy to let things spiral. I am really focusing on being Mindful to get me through this time. I’m
staying trying to stay in the moment, remembering to breathe if I get anxious, noticing the little things around me – birds singing, the sound of Miss M’s laughter coming through the open window as she plays with her Papa…all will be well.
Toward the end of the week before last I challenged myself to manage just five minutes of meditation for seven consecutive days. Alas, it did not go well. Days 3 and 4 didn’t even actually happen and by Day 5 it was abundantly clear that independent meditation was not working for me. Or I was not working for it? It’s only five minutes, after all! Day 6 I managed but Day 7 was forgotten as Life got in the way once again. In my defence we have had a lot going on at home in addition to my being almost 36 weeks pregnant and in sole charge of a very energetic and willful toddler for the best part of most days. Perhaps this is not the best time to begin my meditative journey? And yet, I believe that the coming weeks and months are when I am most going to need it. Quandary!
We have a tendency to think that meditation is something we’ve got to achieve, another thing we‘ve got to do and get, but Ajahn Chah would put it in terms of a holiday. Try that, try seeing meditation in that way.
The author also suggests that meditation can be seen:
… as awakened-ness and awareness, mindfulness, so that it actually is something you develop throughout your daily life in whatever way you have to live it, in whatever conditions.
This seems to be a much more constructive and indeed manageable approach to take. I’ve decided that I do really, really want to try to start meditating with at least some regularity and that guided meditation is perhaps a better idea for me right now. Some soothing music and a calming voice telling me what to do and when my time is up sounds appealing. I don’t have time to conduct extensive research at present so I am just going to go with what Spotify gives me and see how I go. Anything that gives me a little oasis of calm and helps me to recharge at least every day or two would be most welcome!
However, as suggested in the article mentioned above, I’m not going to put pressure on myself and have meditation on my list of Things To Do. I’ll do the guided stuff as and when I can, and then rest of the time I’ll just focus on being Mindful and practicing exercises I have read about that suggest that even small daily tasks such as doing the dishes can be approached as a minor meditation by just carefully noticing and appreciating every tiny little aspect of the process – the smell, sounds, feel of the action being undertaken. Manageable goals that will hopefully be enjoyable and beneficial. No pressure!
Blogtoberfest 2012, 30/31
”Close your eyes, mummy! Close your eyes!” – what so you can poke me in the eye again?! “I going in here and I close the door, mummy” – no, you’re not going to play with the toilet brush again, what do you take me for? “Poo poo, mummy! Poo poo!!” …where??!! Ohhhh but I am exhausted! 35 weeks today, B-day three or four weeks tomorrow, which means husband on hols from two or three weeks on Saturday. BRING IT ON!!!
Exhausted laughter had turned to tears by this afternoon for both me and Miss M, however. Fortunately her Papa was able to get home a little early and he sent me to bed with a book, to which I added a large mug of Twinings Prince of Wales tea and two Mr Kiplings mince pies while he took Miss M outside to water the garden. First mince pies of the season! Still feels all out of whack despite that it will be our third christmas in the sun, I just don’t get that chrissy vibe out here – but yeah, for medicinal purposes they were most effective today!
Meditation update: started the day with my five minutes as I was awake looooong before anyone else (*sigh*). Husband came in to find me crossed-legged, palms upturned on my knees, eyes closed. “Oh. My. God”, says he, “What are you doing??”. He’ll get used to it – and be very glad of the benefits in time, I am sure!
Blogtoberfest 2012, 25/31
I am not very good at this meditation lark! Day 1 I really struggled to focus. “When your mind is like a crazy elephant trampling everywhere, what hope have you got of peace and contentment?”, said Sogyal Rinpoche on the first day of this year’s Happiness Conference in Sydney. I have an elephant or two in there I reckon! Day 2 was a little better, and I actually felt quite energised afterward. Days 3 and 4 did not happen. Monday is our Sunday due to my husband’s work. I usually have a very precious morning “off” and do some bits and bobs in town or meet a friend, and then in the afternoon we have more family time. Meditation was forgotten. Not very Mindful of me!! Yesterday was not a great day for a variety of reasons and between Miss M being sick in the morning, not napping in the afternoon and then some family issues to deal with into the evening, meditating was either not possible or last on the list.
Today I vowed to prioritse things better. After taking care of Miss M’s needs, meditation needs to come first if it is to work, I understand that. I was pleased that after 4 days with no nap, Miss M finally gave in and fell asleep on the way home from playgroup this morning. Instead of putting her to bed and then immediately rushing around hanging out laundry, tidying, and consulting to do lists or having a quick look at my Facebook, I laid her down and did my five minutes of meditation immediately. I am still struggling with my elephants! Somewhere I read that you’re supposed to let the clouds (thoughts) just pass on by, one by one, accepting them and letting them leave without pondering…I found myself wondering if the naan bread in the fridge is past its date, should it go in the freezer?, amongst other meaningful and most crucuial thoughts. Oh dear.
I do find that physically it feels good to let the tension leave my body and just breathe deeply, even for just those five minutes, so I guess that’s a start. However, I think I need a more structured approach than just sitting on my own with one eye on the book for the affirmations and one on the clock (can I seriously be only one minute 36 seconds in??!). So, I will complete these seven days and then start looking for some audio stuff – I think guided meditation would be better for me. But at least I’m on the path 🙂
Blogtoberfest 2012, 24/31
Unsurprisingly the practice of meditation comes up a lot when Mindfulness is discussed. I’ve had a bash now and then over the years, with little success. During the initial stages of my recovery from alcoholism (I quit drinking almost ten years ago) I brushed against the idea but having the attention span of a gnat, it really wasn’t for me back then. I focussed instead on AA meetings (in the first months), my long term sessions with my psychologist, and other what I considered to be more “practical” ways of getting better. Then life did get better, but my interest in meditiation had waned. A couple of years later I found myself WWOOFing (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) on a small farm in rural NSW that was run by a couple of Buddhist nuns. I tried to meditate again, with them, in a setting that couldn’t have been more conducive unless the Dalai Lama himself had been there, but I guess my heart wasn’t properly in it, and when I left the property, I left my meditative intentions behind too. Later on, work, life, travel occupied me utterly, and then I became a mother…and here I am.
Over the past year, however, my quest to live a more Mindful existence has of course thrown the idea of meditation my way many, many times, especially when I went to the 2012 Happiness Conference in Sydney earlier this year. I keep telling myself I just don’t have the time, or quite frankly the concentration span. But I also keep hearing about how very good it is, and that many people believe that even a little bit at a time can have such great benefits for one’s sense of well-being, health and peace. This morning I started a book by Nicky Arthur called How to be a Happier Mum, and in the first pages, there it was again. I consider myself to be a happy person in general, but apparently, if I commit to meditate for just five small minutes per day for seven days, I will start to feel even happier. Short and simple instructions – how to sit, how to focus, and a few affirmations – are provided and I am assured that this really will make a difference. It’s not two hours on a Himalayan hilltop, but it’s a start! So, I am going to take up the challenge. My first five minutes will begin shortly!
Blogtoberfest 2012, 20/31
The best part of the whole day was without a doubt the opening speaker, Sogyal Rinpoche, author of The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Absolutely brilliant! Such a fantastic sense of humour, fabulous delivery, completely engaging. I’m more inspired than ever to continue my Buddhist journey. When your mind is like a crazy elephant trampling everywhere, what hope have you got of peace and contentment? Totally! Anger and other negative emotions such as my biggie, resentment, taint all our perceptions, leaving very little room for reality, because it is our thoughts that make our world. Tame the elephant, and all will be well! Apparently it is scientifically proven that 30 minutes of meditation practice per day can change your mind for good, along with many general health benefits. “If you don’t stir water, it will become clear” – sounds much prettier in Tibetan but essentially that’s what meditation is all about. Pascal said, “All of man’s problems arise from his inability to sit quietly in a room by himself”. Food for thought, much!! I just need to figure out how to prolong the gap between one thought ending and another beginning, apparently. Well, I can but try, and we shall see!
Second favourite of the day after Sogyal Rinpoche was comedian and author Ahn Do, who was awesome!! Absolutely inspiring, incredibly moving and hysterically funny, all at once. Loved him!
Peter Singer, one of the world’s leading philosophers and author of The Life You Can Save was less inspiring. In a nutshell his message today seemed (in my humble opinion) to be that you can buy happiness by donating to charity, and that there is a mathematical equation based on income for the amount you need to give in order to live an ethical life. Although he wouldn’t admit to being happy himself. Apparently that is too “static” a position. And may be interpreted as being “smug”. Hmmm. Not impressed and a small poll of my fellow delegates backs me on this one.
Ita Buttrose was interviewed, which was great, but the following segments were rather serious, which was a bit unexpected at a conference about happiness. Much talk of death and dying, couched in positive terms but not exactly joyous subject matter although worthwhile discussions. I skipped the late afternoon session, which by all accounts was much more upbeat, as it was about happiness in the workplace, and I don’t have one. I opted instead to walk back to the harbour and catch my ferry back to the point, and then went for a long and pleasant walk both before and after dinner.
Would I pay $500 for today? Absolutely not. Did I enjoy it? Very much indeed!! Lots to think about, far more than I’ve written here, and I’m so glad I’ve been given the opportunity to attend. Looking forward to seeing what Day 2 brings!