Meditation and naps in an ordinary life

Internet is full of great material on things like meditation. Delivered by extraordinary people. We listen to the happiest in the world scientist Tibetan monk. We get inspired… For about 15 minutes. We go back to a grey routine.

This is my… ordinary perspective. Meditation, naps, and getting well. From someone who gets through the days, too much screen time, and not enough sun.

Misery credentials

That said there needs to be some challenge to make for an interesting story. Over recent years quite a few things had besieged my mind.

Fear, as my country went through the civil unrest and the hot phase of the war.

Grief, as my grandfather, father, and uncle had passed away.

Loneliness, as my small circle of friends almost disappeared.

Heartbreak, as loneliness veered me into unproductive and unwise romantic crushes.

Burnout, as the job that was everything I (thought I) wanted fizzled out.

Pain, as my body presented a bill for keeping up — in physical suffering.

Perspective

Curiously through all of it I still… functioned. I could make a good living, travel, exercise, and even dress better.

In the ways many people would call vital I was fine.

It just… got hard to think. To dream. To write. To imagine and do.

In the ways that are vital to me I was not.

On immutable

Genes determine about half of us. This number comes up again and again. 50% of alcoholism is genetic. So is 50% of happiness. 50% of this. 50% of that.

This locks us up into challenges that will be with us for life.

This frees us to be ourselves as we are. Embrace the parts of us that are constant. Regardless if we want them to be.

I had to face that I will never be a cheery and upbeat person. I had to stop trying.

On malleable

The half of us might be set in stone. That means the other half is up to us.

We neglect what we can change, as we regret what we cannot.

I had to remember and look for what makes me better. Focus on what gets me through a single day and what improves me over a string of many.

Rest for the body

For much of my life I perceived my mind as borderline separate from concerns of the body. It is easy for obsessive thinker type to do that.

Sooner or later life hammers into you the reality of their connection. As I aged and got buried in problems that became much more clear.

In practical terms that made me pay serious attention to getting enough rest. I always knew I need a good night of sleep. It was hard to commit to that also being an “owl”.

It was harder to face that sometimes I need the rest. Maybe before I even get to the bedtime.

I had practiced naps for a long time and wrote about my staple naps app pzizz before. As things got tough I had to revisit the habit and admit it can be a necessity, not luxury.

Training for the mind

I wrote about meditation site Calm before as well. And turned out it took me a several months more of steady practice to get to the benefits.

The main downfall of an obsessive thinker is the obsessive part. It is second nature to burn away hours and days to spin the thoughts.

And all the thinking tends to leave little time and practice for feeling things.

Mindfulness meditation trains the mind to slow down.

To catch yourself. To draw a line between yourself and a thought. To draw a line between yourself and a feeling.

I realized how much I needed that once I learned to.

Moving forward

As promised this was an ordinary story. I made no heroic effort. I accomplished no heroic achievement.

Things that bring me down are still with me. Some of them will be with me for many years more.

Yet I find my way back to the things that are important to me.

I find my way forward through the things that are hard.

Such is life?

TL;DR

  1. Accept what you cannot change about yourself.
  2. Improve what you can.
  3. Let yourself rest to be able to.
  4. You think, but you are not your thoughts.
  5. You feel, but you are not your feelings.
  6. Exercise your mind to see the difference.
  7. There are apps for that.

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2 Comments

  • Hey, it takes a lot of courage to be so honest I bet, you’re a really strong person.

    If I can advise, and you’re already into meditation, just go do the real thing, and experience the real Buddhist technique, the one Matthieu Ricard talks about. It’s a ten day retreat, free, fantastic food, happens all over the globe, and if you can sit through all of it (and it’s a tremendous effort to meditate 10 hours each day x 10 days) – for the next few months you will know how happy you could have been all your life.

    http://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index

    No affiliation, but I did do it twice. Got incomparably more progress in the first three days there than through out 2-3 years doing “mindful meditation” on my own.

  • oh shit, I already commented your Calm article :D

    See, still reading your blog :)

    Anyway, I’m just spreading the knowledge, it’s yours to take it or ignore it.

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