The 10-day experimental meditation journey has come to an end. It took me not 10, but 15 or 16 days to squeeze the 10 sessions into my life. I tracked my progress on this blog here and here, and some of my friends were alarmed by my stressy, perfectionist approach to the whole enterprise of mindfulness and meditation, which in turn, alarmed me. Was I playing up my rigidity for comedic effect or am I worse off than I thought? Maybe I need stronger medicine, like a Mediterranean vacation or an on-call therapist.
An important realization: I am not a laid back person. It’s time I faced that fact. But then again, I am not on the verge of apoplexy most of the time either. I like to think of myself as laid back, at least about certain things. For instance, I experience very little anxiety about being a bad parent (so far.) But in general, I mentally and emotionally overinvest in most everything else.
A few examples: Kids (who are not my own) playing in the sun stress me out because I worry that they might not be wearing sun screen and I don’t want their perfect baby skin to be marred. I worry about perfect strangers’ teeth when I see them drinking sugary sodas. My blood pressure goes up just listening to friends’ tales of frustration and adversity caused by the totally preventable stupidity of others. I yell at the TV screen, often giving advice to fictional characters, and cry over videos of gorillas being reunited with their human friends. As a graduate student, my advisor occasionally had to remind me that the people in the novels I was writing about were not real people.
To me, all of this is not only real, but also real important. And that’s just my worries about people I don’t even know or who don’t really exist.
Acceptance: So I can’t separate reality from fiction. So I sweat some of the small stuff. The minuscule, microscopic stuff. That’s how I got to where I am now – trying to find ways to avoid letting imaginary minutia get to me. Given the poor showing I made on my attempt at daily meditation, I do not think I will invest in a meditation subscription at this juncture. Before I do something like that, I should be sure that I can get into a daily effort frame of mind and that just hasn’t happened yet. For now, I’ve at least started a few conversations, learned about a couple of other techniques for taking it down a notch, heard about the experiences of others, and started thinking about what I need to do.
Plan B: I will keep trying to become a calmer version of me. Will I try a mindfulness and meditation group? Maybe I will! Will I read self-help books? Or perhaps I’ll just peruse them at the library and make a mental note of helpful hints. Who has time to read an entire self-help book anyway? I will continue to build my community and support group of people who are working to find their inner calm and just knowing they are out there trying just like me already makes it seem less daunting. I could pay to play and join a community of strangers, but when I started to look around and talk to people about these private struggles, I found that just about everyone is looking for inner peace.
I’ll find my own way with a little help from my friends. On that note, I’m still taking suggestions!