In this first week I have started to compile a list of dos and don’ts for myself when meditating. Maybe that is the wrong phrase, more like what helps and what doesn’t help me with my mindfulness meditations or focuses. The first one I think will go against every principle of mindfulness but it is what works for me so we’re going to roll with it, or rather I am. I do better with mindfulness after my morning coffee. I am never going to say that the showering mindfully has been a great success or that I can eat a raisin mindfully because I can’t. But, I have noticed over this long weekend that I do, in fact, do a little better with the mindful showering when I have had my coffee first, meaning I am fully awake and aware. Now, does that go against the principles, probably. But when I wake up in the mornings during the weekdays – well, wake up isn’t the right phrase, so let’s say, when I struggle to get out of bed and stumble into the shower still half asleep, mindfully showering doesn’t go well at all. It does go slightly better when I am am, shall we say, fully coherent. During the week days, I start to wake up in the shower and probably fully return to some sort of consciousness when I have my cup of coffee. Now, before anyone lectures me about coffee I have to say, firstly I came late in life to coffee and if someone ever tried to take it away from me, I have generations of Swedes who will roll in their grave or possibly rise up like a bad zombie film and come after whoever tries, especially bearing in mind that I didn’t even start to drink it until my 20s. And yes, this is late for Americans who have a Swede somewhere in their bloodline. And yes, I was an embarrassment to my Swedish grandmother. And yes, I do realise you didn’t ask at all.
The second thing I have learned is, I can’t mindfully meditate with my eyes closed. When I have my eyes closed, it is like I am back at nap time in my daycare centre. I hated nap time at my daycare centre. All the other kids would be peacefully sleeping and I would be laying there thinking ‘oh come on, is this not over already?!?!?!?!!?!’ I, of course, now regret all those hours wasted not sleeping but you try telling 3 year old me anything and good luck to you. However, my point, before I get caught in another distraction, is that closing my eyes only seems to make me anxious and stress me out. Focusing my gaze on one point though seems to do well for me and the time seems to fly by. I can focus on my breath and the sensations in my body much better when I lower my gaze and focus on a point until my vision gets blurry.
What both of these points lead me to conclude is that I need to take baby steps into this whole mindfulness and guided meditation thing. You want me to sit reflectively for an hour in silence, no problem. Or at least not really a problem since my dad died. It was like a switch flipped, but that is another story. Ask me to lay on a thick rug with my eyes closed, I am just going to fidget like a that 3 year old who couldn’t nap. But, that’s okay because this is my practice and it will develop how I need it to.
Also, trying to break my autopilot isn’t going well. I had to stop sitting on the other side of the couch to watch tv because it was freaking out my husband too much. So, instead the other day, I tried putting my handbag on my other shoulder. I kept forgetting and having to awkwardly switch it to the other side. I should make another attempt at breaking up my routine but I am struggling to think what I should do. Any thoughts? And I am just going to say this one more time, quitting coffee isn’t an option.