Body scan mindfulness meditation continues. I’ve been sorely tempted some days to back out of it, but I’m pushing through with the hour a day commitment. Gold star for me. I realized over the past couple of days that I’ve been falling prey to two very common complications with it though, which gets my goat a little. Caught me totally off guard too. I hate being common.
Complication number one, I’ve started to let the atmosphere slide a little over the couple weeks I’ve been doing it. I started out by setting up a very peaceful space for myself, putting the cats in the other room, calling my husband to make sure he wouldn’t inadvertently interrupt me with a phone call during that hour, lighting a candle, and then doing some light stretching before I began the CD. I noticed today as I picked up the fighting cats and went to rejoin the stream of meditation that perhaps I’m no longer giving the time the special tone it once had. I locked the cats in the other room today. We won’t go into my guilt issues on that.
Complication number two occurred to me yesterday. Yesterday was one of these absolutely painful days, where I’m fighting through it tooth and nail to stay conscious for the hour. I noticed myself drifting, so I opened my eyes. Then I was still drifting, so I sat up with my eyes closed. Then I sat up with my eyes open. At this point, I figured that maybe I wasn’t getting an ideal meditative experience out of it in that position, but at the very least I would be guaranteed to make it through to the end of the CD without falling asleep. Then I woke up. Falling over backwards.
It’s funny how my mind works when I’m drifting off. It’s like falling asleep while the TV or a movie is going – everything she says gets distorted a bit and worked into some kind of dream scenario. I’ve learned to keep careful watch so that I can catch myself before I’m completely gone, but I have to laugh at myself sometimes. “Now notice that this area of your chest is really a 3-dimensional space.” Yes…space. The space lobsters will come down soon. I should get some kibble for them… Eventually if I’m on point, I get momentarily confused about whether the space lobsters were always a part of the meditation, and if perhaps I had missed them on the CD the previous times. …And slowly I clue in that, no, space lobsters are not a part of mindfulness, and yes, that means I’m falling asleep. That’s about the point where I try opening my eyes.
So at any rate, yesterday was particularly challenging, and after falling asleep sitting up, I was strongly motivated to shut off the CD for today and give it another try tomorrow. After all, I clearly wasn’t going to get much out of this with all of my attention focused on keeping my eyes open (with only minimal success), and it was an extremely unpleasant sensation trying to force it. And kazam. I discovered I was modeling a perfect example of what not to do.
Mindfulness meditation is all about observing what’s going on in the body, with no judgment or labeling. A negative experience is just as welcome and full of sensations as a positive one. So here I was, falling into the very pattern I’m trying to break with this stuff. I’m too [insert any adjective here] for that right now – I’ll do it another time when I’m feeling better. This was a very tough thing for me to recognize as false. I was the unchallenged master of putting off work, errands, fun activities, social gatherings, or pretty much anything else because I didn’t feel up to it. This seemed perfectly legitimate to me. It wasn’t possible to think like that, or do those things when I wasn’t feeling in that place. …Except that it was. I was just full of crap and didn’t know it. I have realized now that the mind is very sneaky in making you believe that its perceptions are real, but that in giving a solid effort to testing them, they very often turn out false. I made a conscious effort for a while to do exactly what it was that I thought I couldn’t do, at all times. I learned a lot. So by dwelling on how much I didn’t want to meditate right now, and therefore how much I shouldn’t meditate right now, I was missing a perfectly legitimate meditation experience, as valid as yesterday or the day before.
Moral of the story, quick complaining and do it anyway. So much for my touchy-feely sensibilities.