Thursday, October 23, 2014
I read a fascinating book this week:
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story (by Dan Harris)
I considered buying it a few months ago, but told myself " hey you have enough books about mindfulness and meditation" and it was true.
But KANOE10 recommended it, so I gave it a try.
It is a funny and thought provoking story of the author's Odyssey through the sea of information about how to live a happier life. He is a journalist who used to live a very busy life and worried a lot.
It inspired me to try walking meditation for real.
What I normally refer to as "walking mediation" is in fact a combination of moderate pace walking and open awareness meditation.
I always knew I should walk much slower, slowly enough to feel one leg raised, moved, put down on the ground and feel the weight of the body transferred. Then repeat with the other leg. Gaze at the ground before me, and focus on the bodily sensations of walking. Preferably to be done at home where nobody can see you, on a 10-15 steps long route, then turn around.
If people see you they will think you are crazy or a zombie.
Now, my preferred mindful activity is yoga (every day).
Second is the body scan (2-3 times a week)
I rarely do formal sitting meditation, and never tried the walking meditation.
We have a 4-day weekend, so I have plenty of time.
I went for a walk in the forest, and decided to give it a try and slowed down my steps. Very very slow. Nobody saw me ; )
I liked it a lot. For me it is easier to focus on my steps than on my breath, and I was able to keep my focus and quiet my mind much better.
This is NOT an exercise, it is really very very slow.
I ended up doing walking meditation for about 3x10 minutes, and spend another 90 minutes walking normally, focusing on what I see and hear.
It was very calming and blissful at the same time.
The book also inspired me to do sitting meditation, I already did 2x10 minutes yesterday.
I intend to incorporate 1-2 short walking and sitting meditations in my everyday life.
Thursday, October 23, 2014
This update is two days late, normally I do this on Tuesdays, but I had very busy work days. I even broke my 60-or-so day login streak.
Eating was not so good: mild overeating almost every evening, even during the day in the weekend / work at home day.
Good thing I skipped dinner when I ate too much during the day.
I would certainly gain weight if I continued this way.
Exercise was good, limited to running and walking (ie. no yoga) on the two busiest days.
I look good, feel good and clothes are loose so I guess I'm within range, hopefully around center.
I don't remember anymore how I exactly looked in the mirror 7 weeks ago ; )
Two more weeks to go and the truth will be revealed!
Tuesday, October 14, 2014
This week was good.
Lovely sunny autumn weather, good walks and runs, and yoga outside on the terrace.
Eating went well, cooked 3 times.
A friend grows tomatillos in their garden and gave us some, and I made roasted tomatillo sauce - turned out very well, my first attempt.
Dinners are still my weak point, though.
Once I had potato chips for dinner, with lots of carrot sticks - crappy choice but amount was OK and at least I had the carrots.
The last 2 nights mild overeating: salty crackers after dinner at my parents, and fresh white baguettes last night at home.
Oh well... I can maintain if this is the worst thing I do, 1 or 2 times a week.
This may be a result of getting confident not knowing my weight.
I feel good, and I wore my skinny jeans during the weekend and to work on Monday.
I bought it about half year ago, and it fits well only when I'm at the lower end of my range. So I put it on rarely, because - obviously - usually I'm above the lower end.
Now it fits me well : )
Another good sign is that my meals are less automatic
I mean when I have lunch at home (usually more than the packed lunches at work), I tend to skip afternoon snack or dinner, once I skipped both. I may get my natural sense of hunger back one day.
Saturday, October 11, 2014
I used to do weight lifting with a barbell, but I replaced that with yoga, which I enjoy much more.
So no lifting for about half a year.
The only way I work my upper body is yoga, and it is enough to maintain the muscles:
We have a warm and sunny October here, I enjoy every minute outside.
Thursday, October 09, 2014
Mindfulness is a good place to be.
When I first read about it (here, in SP articles about mindful eating and walking) I thought "oh dear it sounds really boring, thinking all the time" and dismissed the idea.
Now, 3 years later, several books and many hours of practice later, I can see I got it totally wrong.
Mindfulness is not about thinking. It is about not thinking.
It is about staying in the present, paying attention to what is and what I am doing right now, and not thinking about things that are not there: past and future.
One can breath, walk, eat, wash the dishes or do any simple everyday activity mindfully.
Meditation, like focusing on how breathing in and out feels, helps to stay present, and - as one of my favorite books smartly puts it - helps to clear up the "thick fog of subconscious thinking", by creating a pause in the continuous flow of thinking (I searched my books for this quote but could not find it).
I try to remember this often during my day.
Three times a week I walk outside in the morning, about 20 minutes feeling how my body feels moving, how my steps touch the ground, what my eyes see, how the air feels on my face.
Another 20 minutes on the way back I practice a lovingkindness meditation, that I put together from the examples I read in books.
It is about sending loving thoughts to myself, to someone I like, to someone neutral, to someone I love, and someone I have a difficult relationship with.
This is how it goes:
"May I be peaceful any happy, may I live with ease
May I be safe and healthy, may I be safe from harm
May I be free from anger, anxiety and fear
My happiness depends on my own thoughts and actions, not on my loved ones - I don't blame them when I'm not happy
The happiness of my loved ones depends on their own thoughts and actions - I cannot make them happy - I accept and respect their life journey and I don't try to control them"
and then I repeat the first 3 lines for someone I like, for someone neutral, for someone I love, and for someone I have a difficult relationship with, adding actualities if there are any.
I have ran out of real people on the last category, so I send loving thoughts to incompetent and corrupt politicians ; )
Sometimes my mind is preoccupied and drifts away, but usually I manage to stay focused, and this practice is really uplifting.
Going through these good wishes, I almost always realize that right now, this morning I am safe, I am healthy, I am free from anger, anxiety or fear - and compared to this, the petty inconveniences of life don't really matter.
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