Today’s meditation was quite good. I was able to complete it much more successfully. I attribute this to doing it closer to the time I woke up but not so close that I was groggy (a little less than an hour after waking). I would not, however, suggest doing meditation on an empty stomach, I found my hungry quite distracting.
But all in all a very good session. I’m finding I’m improving at “noting”, today I had several thoughts creep up and I noticed them, gently acknowledged them, then (also gently) directed myself back to the meditation (which today was still visualisation).
In day to day life what noting has looked like for me is this: I note a thought or feeling I’m having that perhaps isn’t helpful/on topic and is perhaps negative and toxic to my happiness and I gently remind myself that I’m ruminating on a thought that isn’t helpful. This either has helped me see my negative thought for what it is (defensiveness because of a probed vulnerability, anger because of a miscommunication, sadness because of feelings of low self-worth, etc etc etc), recognise the real problem behind the emotion, and manage the feeling in a much more effective way.
For example, my mother in law regularly makes comments that I’m not true to my morals, which effectively feels like she is calling me a hypocrit. Which I, obviously, find quite offensive. One day after the most recent comment it was plaguing me, it was all I could think about all day. I was mad at her. “What a bitch!” “Why does she have to bring that up all the time!”, “I’m only human! I’m doing the best I can!” “Half of my wardrobe is ethical, how dare you make me feel bad about a purchase of cheap shoes that are probably a reflection of some sort of slave labour!” And so on. But after I realised what I was doing (feeling), I noted it. Where was this feeling really coming from? (It helps to know I’m also reading a book at the moment called ‘The gifts of imperfection’ by Dr Brene Brown, which talks a lot about how shame gets in the way of living a happy and authentic life.)
I realised my anger and indignation was coming from shame. She was right. And I was ashamed. I made an impulsive purchase because I have a low self esteem and wanted to buy something pretty to make me feel a little prettier. I don’t do a great deal of shopping but ultimately this is still how I see fashion, a luxury of the rich to “express themselves” at the expense of the poor who get paid (if at all) next to nothing in terrible working conditions to provide me with that good. Never mind the way it’s arrived at my doorstep and all the probable shortcuts taken at the expense of the environment. The point is, I’m aware of all of this, and it bothers me, and I try to live my life by a moral code that honours things that I think are wrong with the world. Eg, buy from second hand stores, reduce reuse recycle, buy fair trade products, check the retail outlets I buy from against oxfams “naughty and nice” list, etc etc etc. On this occasion? I hadn’t. And I was disappointed in myself, I feel ashamed every time I wear the bloody shoes now! Allll of this from one little comment she made, so I blamed her. I was angry. But recognising these feelings for what they were I was able to see, I’m not angry with her! I’m disappointed in myself! I can definitely change my ways so that this doesn’t happen again. I can try harder. And suddenly ? I’m no longer mad at her, I was actually grateful for the reminder to be true to myself! Granted it came in a bit of a condescending and passive aggressive package, but it was a helpful reminder all the same:)
Another way “noting” has helped me is by simply recognising that ruminating on certain thoughts is pointless unless I do something about it. Which either causes me to act and move forward with the emotion, allowing these emotions to help me live a more authentic life in guiding my true feelings about things (rather than the default ones that rise to the surface like anger when actually I’m feeling hurt, etc). OR, it causes me to recognise, “just gently let go of this thought, it’s getting in the way of your day and there’s not much you can do about X (where X is the situation I’m stewing over).
For example, I’ve been having a few issues with a friend of mine. He’s terrible at communicating, he regularly says things that I feel guilty in response to, yet I know he loves me and wants to spend time with me. So I find him very confusing to try and maintain a friendship with. Simply recognising that there isn’t much I would like to do about the situation because I don’t see any of it being particularly fruitful has allowed me to still care about him but become a lot less invested in his opinions of me, or feeling as though I’ve let him down, etc etc and as a result I approach the situation with a much more “come what may, I’m flexible” kind of attitude.
Ultimately, while I had a very off day two days ago, the truth is, I AM noticing my meditation helping me during the session AND during the day. For someone who struggles a lot with mood issues, this is comforting 🙂