30 Days of Meditation: day 13

Today was interesting. For the first time since I started this I actually wanted to sit down and meditate. Actually, that’s not true. I always want to do it, but today there was a certain need I’ve not had before.

I was going to delay, do it later, as the workmen are back and there’s lots of noise round about, but thinking about it I realised that I really wanted to do it right away rather than wait. There was a desire to be still…

Hmm, now there’s a thing. I’m meant to be learning not to become attached to my desires, and yet here I am giving in to one. Now there’s something to think about. Not that I’m going to beat myself up over the idea. As the Buddha said, you can have positive addictions (like meditation, exercise, etc.). I just need to watch out for the moment when choice becomes need.

I will be glad when all the work is done round the back of the house. It’s quite hard to meditate with all the noise going on round here.

Today I attempted switch off my internal dialogue. It’s all too easy for you to think in words, for you to say to yourself ‘hmm, I went away for a long time there’, rather than just being aware of it. It worked to a degree though I did end up just thinking in pictures instead, which isn’t entirely helpful. But maybe it’s a step in the right direction.

A New Life In 30 Days?

I once heard somewhere that if you wanted to make a change in your life it took 30 repetitions – turning down 30 cigarettes, exercising 30 days in a row – for that change to stick.

Now I actually don’t believe that – I managed to give up smoking overnight, and I’ve had long standing exercise routines go by the wayside – but! it is true to say, I think, that if you do something for 30 days and you’re not interested in carrying it on then it’s definitely not for you.

I’ve enjoyed the few 30 Day Challenges I’ve done on this blog – from the original 30 Day challenge, to the moustache for cash, to the 30 Haiku in 30 Days thing I just completed – I think it’s true to say that 30 days is a good period of time to try something out.

So with that in mind I announce my next 30 day challenge, and it’s a bit of a doozie (for me, anyway). Starting on the 12th I’m going to do 30 minutes of meditation and a full yoga routine every morning for 30 days.

ohmmm...

Might not sound like much, but it’s quite an undertaking for me. I include days I’m working in this, and I’ve worked out that along with getting a shower and having breakfast the whole thing is going to take me at least 3 hours. That means when I’m on a mid shift getting up at 7:30am so I can make it to work for 11am. And on nights going to bed at 7:30am to get up at 3:30pm to get in for 7pm. Thankfully I’ve no earlies to deal with (up at 3:30am? no thanks!).

The idea is to take me up to the start of the one week meditation course I’ll be doing in November, giving me a full 30 days of practice to build on when I go there, rather than nothing, which is what I’ve got at the moment.

Hopefully all this will mean the practice of regular meditation will stick. And if not, well… I’ll just have to try again. I know meditation is important for me to do, and I know it will become a permanent feature in my life eventually, I just need to find a way to kick start it that’s all.

I’ll be blogging the results every day as a sort of spiritual diary. Check back to see how it’s going, to see what revelations come about, and to see just how mindful my mindfulness gets (in just 30 days, lol).

A Week Without You Guys

I missed you guys. No really, I did. In fact, c’mon, group hug!! Everyone, just bring it in…

*squeeze*

…ahh… there you go. That’s better. 🙂 Now, back to business…

It’s strange having a week off from the internet. To begin with you don’t know what to do with yourself. Normally I’d get up, check my e-mails, make some moves on itsyourturn, check flickr for new comments, see what activity there’s been on my blog, and then round it all off by catching up on any new posts on the many blogs I follow around the world.

But with no internet, no TV, and no music (I relaxed this rule on and off as the week went by), everything suddenly becomes very quiet and expansive. You end up with a lot of time on your hands. Admittedly, a lot of that I filled with reading, but there’s only so much book you can handle.

My first morning (relax, I’m not going to do a full blow by blow of the week) I managed to shower, do a good yoga session, make food for the day (which involved cooking pasta and the sauce to go with it), cook a full English breakfast, AND wash the dishes, and I still left early for work. With all of the above internet activity I barely had time to shower and knock out a few sun salutations before I was scrambling for the door. I even had time to bake cookies on the last two mornings, ready for my Brighton photo shoot the next day (more about that in the next post).

early morning cooking session

And work was different too. Avoiding watching movies and not going on the internet freed up my brain to connect with the people around me. I was a lot less uncommunicative and monosyllabic, as I tend to be when I’m half watching something and someone asks me a question (I can only do one thing at a time well, and TV tends to really suck me in if it’s on – that’s why I avoid it).

And it made me go out more. On the two days I did have off work I went out one day to help at the Sivananda Centre building bunk beds for their upcoming teacher training course, and the other I spent out meeting friends and enjoying the glorious sunshine.

All in all we’re talking about Mindfulness. The act of being where you are, being aware of where you are, of what you’re doing, and being conscious of yourself as you go through life. (NB: If anyone’s interested, I thoroughly recommend reading Mindfulness In Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana for some simple yet fascinating insights into how the mind works.) I was more concentrated, more focussed on what I was doing at any one time, and a heck of a lot calmer (in my mind) as I went about my day. It really was a most peaceful and positive experience which I’d recommend everyone try at least once.

Upon my return I found I had over 100 e-mails. 75 were porn spam, 20 were unsolicited marketing messages, 8 were solicited but general communications, and 3 were for me personally. Kind of says it all really. I don’t think I’ll be putting my computer on as much anymore. It certainly won’t be my default position from crawling out of bed first thing in the morning. I’ll be using it at my convenience, and not just to fill time. And when it’s not in use it’ll be off, and I’ll be doing something else. Life’s too short to spend it all in front of a computer screen.

Week 18: In which our hero makes some significant advances towards a Brand New Life (or, Movies, mash and meditation)

My but what an ‘interesting’ week it’s been. Mostly I was working, five days out of seven getting up at 5am, but I still managed to squeeze in some newness; new thought, new action, and new intention. And a recipe, which was nice. First the food;

Mustard Mash

It’s probably a bit cheeky to describe this as a recipe, as really it’s just a way of making mashed potato a little less boring, but still it’s worth sharing so here goes.

mustard mash

2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
a splash of olive oil
1 tsp whole grain mustard

Cook and mash the potatoes in the usual way, in a pan of salted boiling water on a medium high heat, for 15-20 minutes or so (until potatoes are soft and mashable).

At the same time fry up the onion in a frying pan until they are soft and a little golden.

Mash the onion and whole grain mustard into the potato. Mix thoroughly and serve with a nice pie (I had mine with one of Clive’s pies, yum!) and enjoy.

Now, down to business!

beginning buddhism

I’ve actually been doing some meditating this week. Only a couple of times, but at least I’ve made the effort to go on that cushion and do it. It hasn’t been easy, as there’s a lot of noise around me at the moment which is very distracting (God bless your neighbours eh?), but ultimately it’s all good practice and can only help to strengthen my mindfulness. To that end I have been aided by a decision I made on Thursday.

I’ve decided to lay off the booze. Not just for a week, but for… I want to say forever, but I’m not going to jinx it. I’m just going to take it day by day. What happened was I was having a good day on Thursday. I felt good, I was energised, I went to Tai Chi in the evening, felt great after that… then I went and had some dirty dirty beer. I didn’t want to, it was just out of habit, and I regretted it later. That night in bed, a little bit pissed and unable to sleep, I decided to pack it in completely, and so far it’s going great. There’s an element of not knowing what to do with myself of an evening, and I was a bit ratty over the weekend dealing with a touch of withdrawal, but I feel good and very positive about the coming weeks. I even poured away the bit of wine I had left rather than finish it off in an effort “not to be wasteful” so things are looking good. 🙂

Also I’m starting to make progress in getting my board game off the ground. I’ve arranged to meet a lad next weekend to see about doing some designs for it. If all goes well maybe I’ll finally make some progress with it; then who knows, maybe in a few months time we can go into production. It’ll take me that long to get the cash together anyway. For now all I’ve got to do is do some style sheets for Saturday, to show how I want it to look. It’s all good.

And finally, I thought I’d share some links and videos with you that have been amusing me over the past week. First there’s The Cleveland Show, the hilarious Family Guy spin off. If you haven’t tried it give it a go; you won’t be disappointed. New episodes available every Monday. Thank you 4oD!

Ever wondered how to professionally fold a t-shirt? Dave Gorman shows you how. Trust me, this is brilliant.

And my love of exploding things led me to this.

TTFN. 😉

Report 11 – Bad backs and blog envy

It’s been a difficult week in the Brand New Life this week. I did my back in last Sunday (Lord only knows how, I was just sat at my desk working) and so spent most of it lying down resting. It’s a bit better now though still a little tender. Hopefully by next weekend I’ll be back on form again.

Unfortunately the enforced period of stillness gave me plenty of time to think, and I was a little unimpressed with myself. I’ve been checking out other blogs, and there are people out there doing far more interesting stuff than me and making it look a hell of a lot nicer. I’m thinking of www.sleepycity.net and www.thegluttonousvegan.com to be precise; two people doing, a: far more interesting things, and b: much better presented vegan cooking, than I am. Now I know there’s no point comparing yourself, but I also now know why I’m getting only a couple of hits a day (and often zero) and why the majority of my comment traffic are spam (seriously, they’re starting to get on my tits now).

So I need to get my thinking cap on and decide where I want to go with this. I may introduce a more random element into the New Things part, like making a list of more outlandish feats and drawing one form a hat each week; and I’m tempted to do one really good recipe a week instead of two kind of okay. I dunno, I just need to think of something. I’d ask for suggestions but no one’s listening (begging the question: What the f*ck are you doing this for?).

Anyway…

Recipes Done:

I’ve got a Spicy Potato Wedges recipes I’m working on, and a one for Simple Salsa, but they both need a bit more work (testing is a little… erratic, to say the least). Hopefully they’ll be up tomorrow, time permitting.

New Thing Done:

Apart from have a bad back, I went booze free for a week. Finally, after trying to do it way back when I started this blog, I managed to do it. It’s only a lousy seven days, but it was a challenge for me, especially the last 2-3 days or so. I just really fancied a pint. Well, it just goes to show how reliant I am on drink doesn’t it. Need to nip that one in the bud if I’m ever to gain spiritual Enlightenment (no pun intended… or achieved no doubt). It’s contrary to the practice of mindfulness.

Writing Done:

Only wrote about 2 or 3 pages this week, as I couldn’t sit and type for too long with my back, but still I managed to do something. Oddly enough it’s a scene I’m pretty sure I’m going to cut eventually, for time or just coz it’s unnecessary, but I felt like it needed to be out there (kind of like it wanted to have it’s say). I mean I like it, it’s pithy and the dialogue puts a smile on my face, but I’ve got this nagging feeling that it’ll have to go before the script is done, and my nagging feelings are rarely wrong when it comes to stuff like this.

Right, that’s it for now. Feel free to comment so that I know someone out there gives a damn. Audience participation is always welcome.

TTFN