Monday, July 30, 2012

Mindfulness Project: Week Two [Review]

Mindfulness Project: Week One [Week One Review]
Mindfulness Project: Week Two

I'm really glad that I decided to redo week two and make a bit of an effort. I won't say that I was 100% consistent this week either, but the whole point of the Mindfulness Project is to be aware and to learn, and certainly my effort and heart is going into these two goals.

The two main themes of the second week were breathing and beginning a walking meditation:
  • Focus on Breathing: Ian and I did our sitting practice four nights out of the seven in this week (not perfect, I know, we're still getting into the habit), and I was very intentional during the formal practice to monitor and watch my breathing. I found that my breathing often seemed cramped and congested while doing my sitting meditation. It was only last night when I thought back to my old yoga classes (I so wish I could afford to attend yoga classes in New York!), and how we used to expand our chests to be able to breath better. And you know what? I made all the difference. I sat tall, expanded my chest by rounding my shoulders back and away from my chest, and my breathing became much more comfortable. I was able to better focus on the meditation process itself.
  • Walking Practice: Guess what? I really enjoy walking meditation! Gosh, I hope I'm doing it right, but on a lovely day, it is so nice to slow down a little, moniter the feel of my feet and legs as I move, along with my breathing, and just take in the sights! I found that I remembered to walk like this about half the time I was walking outside. And walkiing with a stoller? Great for walking meditation. I only did Kinhin walking once; Ian and I walked around our living room in circles for five minutes once after a sitting practice. I found it difficult to concentrate doing this. I'm not sure if I just need to give it more time, or if I just have a preference to be sitting and being, or walking around town on the alert when I meditate.
My relationship with my mindfulness bell continues to develop. I've had it on my computer for three weeks now, and I am increasingly fond of it every day. The fifteen minute chimes do really keep me grounded. I've noticed that every time I hear a chime, I stop and take into account what I'm doing, how my body feels, and my emotions. Sometimes this helps me to check myself, to realize that my activity is a positive one, removing a negative or annoyed emotion as I continue forward. More often than not, I am overcome with feeling of gratuity.

For example, this afternoon, I was sitting at the kitchen table, folding laundry. Felicity was sitting in her orange chair, destroying a graham cracker piece. The mindfulness bell went, and, despite having terrible menstrual cramps that are reminiscent of back labor (seriously body?) and a general sense of tiredness and achiness today, which would normally get me down, I reflected. I'm sitting in a cool house, folding laundry at this table, with a happy, babbling baby with graham cracker gook sitting adorably on her chin. And I was grateful and present in the moment: I was ecstatic that the house we're subletting has free laundry in the basement, thought about how nice it would be to open up my drawer tomorrow and be able to wear any of my favorite shirts and anticipated that small thrill, and just felt completely, blissfully in love with my small charge, that warm ball of sunshine and snuggles that poops itself.

I can't say that I was as successful about being mindful when drinking tea or water. I was for the first day, and then I forgot. But I plan to pick this back up in the next week.

Lastly, eating, which in our house now means veganism! For the most part, I want to keep my enthusiasm for this project on Plant Matters, our cozy blog about starting our vegan project, but it really ties in so nicely with the Mindfulness Project in so many ways. I'm finding that, even in the first week of eating plant-based food, my attitudes toward food and the act of eating are already changing. I've been cooking more frequently, and am finding that coming back to the kitchen and being a part of the production of all of my meals makes me that much more aware of what I am eating, and why I am eating it.

Mealtimes have also slowed down. Felicity now sits down with us to eat, attired in a bright bib and always a smile (I think dinnertime is her favorite time of day). She may not get much of it in her mouth, but eating with her forces Ian and I to slow down, to focus on what we are eating, and what she is eating. When she was smaller, we would usually have her with us in the room, but might also have a show on in the background. More recently, we'd been eating out more often, or waiting to eat dinner until she was already in bed, by which point we were to hungry and exhausted to enjoy the food. It is such a pleasure to eat a meal with a baby.

Look for the introduction to Week Three tomorrow!