In Full Catastrophe Living, my guidebook on this solo tour through eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Jon Kabat-Zinn writes about being in the moment observing a sunset and then turning to a friend to comment about the sunset.
In speaking, you disturb the direct experiencing of that moment. You have been drawn away from the sun and sky and the light. You have been captured by your own thought and by your impulse to voice it. Your comment breaks the silence…So now you are really enjoying the sunset in your head rather than the sunset that is actually happening.
I don’t find myself watching sunsets with friends very often (I don’t spend much time with other adults at all lately). But I break the silence by mentally drafting status updates, blog posts, and tweets about whatever I’m experiencing. I knew I did this, but it became very apparent when I spent today offline entirely until 7 pm. And since I woke up to meditate at 5 am and the kids and I had no outside-the-house activities planned today, this was a loooong stretch of time.
I filled it with laundry and homeschooling and hemming a pair of pants for my husband and calling a friend and listening to hours of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy.
My draft update for homeschooling: My son knows the routine now: I ask my daughter, “What do we do after breakfast?” and from the other room I hear my son yell, “Flute!”
My mental blog post about hemming my husband’s pants involved me taking multiple pictures of my progress (mental only; I wouldn’t let myself get the camera), wondering at the fact that this was the first time in my life I’ve had the courage to cut rather than just roll (and roll and roll) a hem to the right height, and mentioning that my daughter was tickled that I let her sit on my lap and work the sewing machine pedal and that I was tickled we made it through the entire project without a hot iron falling on my son’s head.
I also worked on a mental book review for Elaine Aron’s The Highly Sensitive Person, which I’ve not quite finished.
So, what’s tough about my Bold Plan?
Oddly, it’s not the waking up early, at least not so far. For now it feels like daylight saving time ended and I have this extra time I’m not sure what to do with. (Wow! It’s 10:00 and our homeschooling is done! Let’s spend an hour reading Greek myths!)
And it’s not the reading one book at a time. For now I’m having a tough time finding the time to read at all, let alone to read multiple books at once.
The internet “vow of silence” is what’s toughest at this point. On the one hand, I like having the extra time and I find I have much more patience with my kids when I’m not giving myself the option of running off to the computer every five minutes. But on the other hand, the internet is pretty much the only contact I have with other adults besides my husband (and I get to spend just about fifteen waking minutes with him each day).
To keep myself from being entirely isolated, I’ve added an official addendum to my Bold Plan:
Call a friend.
This isn’t core to the plan, and it’s not really specific (Do I call one a week or one a day? Does leaving a voice mail count? Does calling my mom count?), but I’m hoping it will stave off “hermit” status for the course of my 8-week meditation challenge.
And who knows? Maybe it will deepen some friendships better than the “broadcast” method of connection in which I’ve been engaged via blogging and social media.
And you might be wondering how the meditation is going. Well, I’ve been doing it, dozing a bit, but staying conscious more of the time than I did when I was taking the MBSR class in Salt Lake City. Aside from that, I’ve been avoiding making judgments about the meditation. I’m just doing it, noting things about it (which I’ve been posting on my Imperfect Happiness Facebook Page, if you’re interested), and letting it go.
I did, however, note that my six months in central Massachusetts has made Jon Kabat-Zinn’s accent on the meditation recordings much less noticeable. I no longer giggle when he says, “comf-tah-ble.”