Thursday, June 30, 2011

Breathe, In, Out. Breathe, In, Out.

I did it! I was able to meditate for 20 whole minutes, twice this week. I say that like it's some sort of amazing accomplishment or something... but, it is. I'm actually not even sure I would call it meditating, more like... meditation practice?

I found a great website that I love. Wildmind Buddhist Meditation. I've done so much googling and visited so many sites, and this one is by far my favorite. I was looking for one that would explain, in great detail, the very basics. Especially posture, which is incredibly important. I also wanted one that had Mantras, along with correct pronunciation and meaning. I love Mantras.

People meditate in different ways. Some people do Zazen, which is basically just... sitting. Staring at a wall or something, letting whatever thoughts you have come and go. No chanting, no trying to clear your mind, just sitting. I see a validity in this, to an extent... but I don't think it's for me.

I want to give my mind something to do. I need to train my mind, so to speak. I like the idea of repeating something important, I think it will help clear my mind, learn to concentrate better, and so many Mantras have such great messages. I also love the Sanskrit language. I think I'd like to learn more.

So anyway, I find this website and I love it. I read every detail of correct posture and so on. They talk a bit about how some people have meditation rituals, turning off lights and lighting candles and then lighting incense. I also read some great things about incense, aromatherapy, etc... but, another day... I like this idea. Kind of like some people have rituals before going to bed, which can help with insomnia because you are telling your body "Ok, body... it's almost time for bed, you have to go to sleep soon," I think the same thing can help with meditation.

So, I light some incense, I turn off lights, I get my pillow to make a cushion for the floor, and it's on to stage 0. I sit for a for a few minutes just being aware of my body. Then, stage 1. I have to do this the first few times, apparently. No mantras yet. I just breathe in and out, like I normally would, but I try to just focus on my breathing, counting after each breath, to 10. Then I start over at 1. In, out, 1. In, out, 2. So on.

It's hard! My mind wanders, I get little pains and cramps, I worry about if my posture is right, I wonder how much longer I have to do this, I wonder If I'm doing it right...

I can only hope it gets easier. I feel like it's a huge plus that I am even doing it. I had some sort of mental, or emotional, block for a while, I think. Like I'm afraid to just sit alone with my own, unoccupied mind for 20 minutes.

Well... In other news, I chopped off all of my hair for Locks of Love... it's super short now, They had to take off 10 inches! I LOVE it.

 I also have plans to work on this blog a bit more. Add some photos and more information, links, find other blogs to connect with, etc.

Right now I feel as if I am writing only for me. That's ok too, though!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Who Am I?

I thought It might be a good idea to tell you a little about myself, even though I hate writing these bios. Here we go, just the facts:

I am 31 years old.

I have the coolest, most wonderful 10 year old daughter ever. She is super smart, creative, talkative, loves to read and draw, loves music and being outdoors, climbing and kayaking and swimming.

I am in love with the greatest guy ever. He is 42, and I honestly feel like he is my soul mate. He is compassionate, intelligent, funny, we have the best conversations, I love listening to him play his guitar and sing.

We also have 2 crazy mini lop bunnies.

I love reading, photography, poetry, being outdoors, kayaking, hiking, playing games, cooking, gardening, coffee, thrift stores, flea markets, and... well, a lot of things.

I talk too much and too quickly, I try to be as "socially responsible" as I can be. Little things, like using reusable shopping bags, joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) for our produce to support local farmers, cleaning with "green" products like vinegar, and when I eat meat I try to make sure it's free-range, veggie fed chicken or beef. I'd like to give up meat all together someday, I'm just not there yet.

I suppose there is much, much more to me than just what I have time to write here, and I'm sure the more you read, the more you will find out!

Mental Blocks?

I'm not sure why I have not been able to meditate yet. It seems like such an easy, simple concept. It can't be laziness, How hard is it to just... sit. I know this is going to help me. I've been having some issues with insomnia lately. Nothing too horrible, but I was up almost all night at least one night. I could not get my brain to be quiet. Thoughts were coming so fast I couldn't even grab onto one long enough to know what it was. I felt like I was in an auditorium and everyone was speaking all at once and there were even songs playing, like when you get a song stuck in your head, only there seemed to be multiple songs playing. Crazy, right?

It was only at night, I'd feel fine all day long, better than fine. Then, the lights go out and It's quiet and just me and my noisy mind. I'm afraid meditating will be like this, but I know it's going to help me in the long run.

In other news, went to the Three Rivers Art Festival yesterday and it was awesome. We bought a little flute from this really cool hippie couple, hand crafted out of bamboo they grew themselves. I'm hoping to learn how to play it... It's a bit tricky but I think with some practice, I'll be able to get it!

It was a fabulous, hot, but awesome day with my other half... so inspiring, all of that art. I want to make mosaics and pottery now!

Well... I'm going to try giving this a shot, I guess. Meditation. Maybe I will just sit Zazen for a bit... though I think I might like the idea of guided meditation or doing something with Mantras more than just sitting there. We shall see!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Well, Here I Am.

I've started this blog to chronicle my journey to... well, I'm not even quite sure yet. Here is what I know:

In the past year, I have read 2 books that have had an impact on me. The first book, Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner. My first (and to date, ONLY) taste of Zen Buddhism. (Almost) everything I know about Buddhism is thanks to Brad Warner. Suffice it to say, I don't know a lot. But I know that I like it. I know that, for the first time, something actually makes sense to me. I could give you my whole background, how I was raised Catholic, got "saved" by Jesus a few times, always searching and wondering about God, life, purpose, energy, etc. I'm sure I will get into all of that in time. But this, this was something that finally felt right.

The second book was Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is where I got the Idea for the name of my blog:
"Like most humanoids, I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the "monkey mind" - the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl. From the distant past to the unknowable future, my mind swings wildly through time, touching on dozens of ideas a minute unharnessed and undisciplined...
...The problem with all of this swinging through the vines of thought is that you are never where you are." - From Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
This is me! This is my brain! Having battled occasional depression and anxiety in my life, i am ready to find something, do something, change my lifestyle. Tap into that inner peace, find MY "God" or energy or whatever you want to call it, focus my mind and learn to meditate.

My goal is to search, try things. Different types of Yoga, Zen, Meditation. This blog is going to be my outlet, my journal, my scrapbook, a lot of things. I am not a writer, by any stretch of the imagination. I am a monkey mind seeking Zen, who wants to chronicle that journey!