Wk12, Day2: And After That?

Yesterday was the first day of the last week of this 12-week experiment. In it, I began making plans for the weeks to come. I decided to add writing longer-form pieces while continuing to write posts daily.

The second issue, which I committed to discussing today, was about deciding what I want to do during the day to keep myself present. During Week 7 (that seems forever ago!) I experimented with a Pausing Practice. I enjoyed it a lot—both the challenge of it and the results. But admittedly the challenge of it was its demise.

Perhaps now, a month and a week later, with the two hours of daily practice firmly in place, it could be time to add a new challenge. Perhaps also I can re-introduce the Pausing Practice into my day in less challenging ways.

So, I’m deciding to begin Week 13 with some form of Pausing Practice. A manageable form, so it has a chance to succeed. It could serve double duty if paired with yesterday’s commitment to starting longer-form writing. I can do Pausing Practice during the time I write long-form pieces.

Thank you, again, for listening.

Wk12, Day1: What’s Next?

Wow. It’s Day 1 of Week 12 of this 12-week experiment. I don’t want it to be over, so it won’t be. I will continue to meditate for one hour each morning and another hour each evening. That much I know.

What I don’t know is (a) do I want to continue blogging daily or do I want to reduce the frequency and (b) what do I want to do to support staying present during the time between the formal one-hour sits every morning and night?

Regarding blogging, I’ve gotten so much out of writing something other than a free-writing, stream of consciousness, handwritten journal every day. It’s been good practice to put together a coherent piece daily for the past 84 days (minus the two I fell off the wagon Week 8). I don’t know if I would write that often without the commitment to this blog. That’s one thing to consider. The other thing to consider is that there is not much new to say every day. The more I write these posts each day, the more interested I’m becoming in weaving together several of them with the thread of a larger idea—doing some longer form writing. The one does not preclude the other. What I don’t know is whether the longer form writing would get done if I kept writing daily. Or, if I don’t do daily posts, I don’t know where I’ll find the fodder for these longer form pieces I envision.

Also, I don’t believe my previous statement that I don’t have ideas to write about every day. More accurately, there were a lot of backed up ideas that readily streamed out the past couple of months, and I’m now in the portion of my writing journey in which there is work to do to create the pieces I want to create: both finding ideas each day and building longer pieces over time.

So, if that’s the case, keeping the daily entries would be best in order to keep myself actively producing each day and generating smaller works to be able to weave together. So, what’s needed is a commitment to generating a longer-form piece. My mind first wants to set a number of those I’ll write over a certain amount of time. A better approach might be to set a regular time to do it each week. The outcome can arise organically from that. Okay then.

Thank you for listening.

Wk11, Day7: Local KM Group

Tonight a KM group from the local community met at my home. It was lovely having so many people here. Lovelier still was coming together to share our interest in meditation and contemplative inquiry. The most lovely was opening up to one another and showing our humanity, seeing ourselves in each other.

We Are All the Same 

Listen to the reeds as they sway apart;
Hear them speak of lost friends.

At birth, you were cut from your bed,
Crying and grasping in separation.

Everyone listens,
knowing your song.

You yearn for others who know your name,
And the words to your lament.

We are all the same, all the same,
ongoing to find our way back;

Back to the one,
back to the only one.

~ Rumi

Wk11, Day6: Hitting Rock Top

I’ve been thinking about Jimmy Fallon. The Tonight Show host has repeatedly injured himself of late; some reports posit it’s due to drinking. I have no way to know if this is true. But I’ve been thinking about him.

Ostensibly, Jimmy’s reached the pinnacle of a comedian’s career. And he appears to be having the time of his life making the show his own. If you’ve seen it, he’s quite affable with the guests and has expanded the format to include silly games and bits with the celebrities.

If he is injuring himself because he is drinking problematically—how is it possible that he’s struggling like this, given his success and the way he’s made it his own? How can the life of one’s dreams lead to this?

In social psychology, there is a body of research that appears to demonstrate a truism commonly accepted in the field. That people have a ‘happiness set-point.’ After very good things happen in our lives (a new job, lottery win) we temporarily peak, then go back to our set point. Similarly, downs due to bad things are also followed by an eventual return to baseline. In essence, the spikes and dips are temporary. Each of us is, on the whole, as happy as we’ll ever be no matter what we do and what is done to us.

Mindfulness may offer another interpretation, though. I, like the Jimmy I imagine, have experienced some very good things along my overall dream-life trajectory since May. From the outside looking in, I’m having the time of my life. What is there to feel bad about ever anymore, really?

That’s the kicker. You build a life that closely resembles your ideal. You live the most in flow and alignment than ever. And you discover it doesn’t matter. You still have ups and downs. You still have aches and pains. Contrary to the mantras you used on your way here, everything still isn’t okay. Not in the way you’ve imagined ‘okay.’

What do you do with that?

That’s the key: what you choose to do with that. You’ve reached a place where you can no longer delude yourself that anything in your life is going to free you. Do you cage yourself in despair at the thought or take that truth to heart and stop chasing things, feeling states, people, and circumstances? What do you choose to do?

Wk11, Day5: Lasting Change

Two weeks ago, Srdja Popovic, the author of Blueprint for Revolution, spoke at a local college. The subtitle of the book is How to Use Rice Pudding, Lego Men, and Other Nonviolent Techniques to Galvanize Communities, Overthrow Dictators, or Simply Change the World. (His specialty, having been a pivotal member of the change process in Serbia, is the use of humor in protests, which you will find throughout this wonderful book. In his talk, he described how one group got around rules forbidding citizens from protesting by building Lego(TM) people holding up mini protest signs.) Srdja has become a scholar of successful non-violent change movements—those that result in lasting, structural differences.

In the talk, he informed us that only 4% of violent change movements (i.e., wars) result in lasting democracy. More astoundingly: 41% of non-violent change movements do. Further, the average armed conflict lasts 5 years, while the average non-violent movement lasts 2.5.

As meaningful as these underpublicized statistics are on a global scale, they have local significance as well. Specifically in mindfulness practice. Drawing parallels, these stats make me wonder about the effectiveness of war-like efforts to change oneself. The longer duration of such efforts and the ultimately grim success rate. By contrast, applying skillful means with kindness and compassion and considering its efficiency and longer-term potential for deep, meaningful change