Posts Tagged ‘body scan’

Don’t ask me how I got a patch on my left eye and the inside of my ear

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

My home practice for the meditation course this week let me alternate body scan with mindful yoga.  This was happy and welcome news, as the body scan and I have not always been getting along well.  Yoga is infinitely more pleasant, if only because I can remain conscious while I’m doing it.  The process of changing activities and sensations frequently also means that my thoughts are drifting a lot less frequently.  Anyway, a pleasant change.

My body is still producing lasting angry red patches whenever I use my muscles or something contacts my skin.  Like,…oh,…underwear.  Or other parts of my skin.  Those kinds of crazy things.  I am undeniable quite itchy, and have resigned myself to the fact that I will likely need to revisit the doctor.  Does it say something for my desperation that I was giving serious consideration to whether I could cope with the itch forever if it meant keeping my Wellbutrin?

I am a determined little thing sometimes.  As noted above, most days I chose to do the yoga rather than the stationary body scan.  The yoga where I use my body a lot, and, you know, contact things.

I am itchy…but flexible.

But I’m very in tune with my snoring

Friday, June 12th, 2009

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.

Focus on the sensations, the sounds, the smells…

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

It’s an interesting thing to be sitting in a room full of people who last week shared the labels for their personal suffering.  The meditation class I’m enrolled in is a mixture of everything from cancer survivors to insomniacs, and I can’t help but find myself looking at them differently now that I know their label, curious to find the ways they fit with my completely biased impressions.  The anxiety patients all sit cross legged as we wait in our circle for the course to begin.  Their arms are crossed over their chests, and they aren’t talking to their neighbours.  This amuses me.  My legs and arms are crossed as well.  I curl my legs up into the chair and refuse to be typecast.

The mindfulness meditations are much easier in the group setting, I’ll give them that.  Extra import and natural focus, maybe?  I diligently scan my body as we lie on the floor like an overgrown mat garden.  I am now intimately acquainted with my left big toe.  We’re on good terms.

Sitting meditation is introduced near the end of this week’s session.  I give full and undivided attention to the breathing in my abdominal section.  Feel the sensations.  Experience them completely, just as they are.  Open yourself to the subtle movements in this region.  Kid you not, I have now very mindfully discovered that I have gas.  I mindfully feel things begin to shift and move, very diligently aware that something is…um…heading south.  I am mindful of the visions my mind creates in prediction of what will happen if this makes it to the end of its journey before the period of COMPLETE AND TOTAL SILENCE is up.

I ride the subway back after each class.  Less stressful than having to drive the whole way and deal with the idiosyncrasies of downtown traffic.  Another member of the class ends up walking beside me, rolled yoga mat shining like a beacon of mindfulness.  We do that awkward visual acknowledgement followed by the equally awkward side-by-side walk where we now pretend not to see each other.  She doesn’t seem like the small talk type, and I’m much more of a responder than an initiator.  I ride the subway in peace, and try to put to use our instructor’s suggestions about brining moments of mindful attention to everyday activities.  I quickly realize that subway car at rush hour is perhaps not the brightest time to experiment with this.  Also that I’m not the only one who’s had gas today.

I bet there was cake

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Trying the body scan meditation this week.  One hour is an awfully long time, but I’ve committed to do this, so I might as well do it right.  To be honest, I would have skipped it once already had my instructor not been very explicit in her instructions to note our resistance, identify that we hate it and don’t want to do it, and then do it anyway.  Meany.

I think that I would find it a lot less straining if I could manage to keep my consciousness through it without tremendous force of will.  I was unprepared for the hypnotizing effect the first time, and woke up after the hour to the sound of her saying that the instructions were about to end (which was kind of cool, truly).  In my defense, I did make it all the way through feeling my legs (which admittedly, has never been high on my life list of accomplishments, but I also never previously realized what an achievement this would be).  Legs are good, right?  Legs are  long.  That’s like half my body.  I felt okay about it until I looked at the list of tracks on the CD – Feet and Legs, Pelvis, Lower Back, Chest, Hands and Arms, Neck and Head, Conclusion.  My legs feel shorter.

I’ve never been great with auditory directions, to be honest.  I had a university professor once who only gave lectures – no visual aids or notes at all.  By the end of the first multi-hour class, I realized that I stink at taking in information by listening.  I’m a trooper.  I took pretty good notes considering, but without looking at those notes, I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea what he actually said.  In testament, perhaps, to my having blocked this experience from my memory completely, I once invested in an audio book CD set version of Lord of the Rings.  Fun for relaxing before bed, I thought.  Something different.  Two minutes (literally, I kid you not) after pressing play, I was out like a light.  Wound up from the day?  No problem.  Cued to the scene where they’re fighting epic battles with scary background music?  Didn’t phase me.  After playing the same section over and over again, I eventually gave up hope of ever finding out what happened after Mr Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday, and the ensuing talk and excitement in Hobbiton.  Good thing they made a movie.

To be fair, despite the annoyances I have noticed a difference in feeling after the meditation.  Often I just feel like oozing to the couch and dropping off into unconsciousness, but a calm and centred unconsciousness.  That’s a step up, I figure.