“Do not have an attachment to an outcome, yet do have an anchor.” – Joseph Goldstein
In the Fall of 2019, I was at a point where I was not sure how to continue along with this blog. I felt that I was lacking a voice, that I hadn’t yet truly found the blog. I shared this uncertainty on Facebook, and one of my friends recommended that I share more about my inner me and used the words “journey to self.” This really resonated with me.
The decision to see a Therapist was one made in the Summer of 2019, after reaching a point of being so scattered that life was pretty much directionless, and through a difficult conversation with someone very close to me, it became evident that unless I changed, I was no longer moving along a path that lead to something better, and if I did not step away from this path … I was headed toward a point of no return.
Per a recommendation from my Therapist, I started meditating at the turn of the 2020 New Year.
Ten Percent Happier was offering a New Years Challenge. The structure and commitment were very much needed at the time, hence the nudge from my Therapist.
I finished the challenge with a score of over 95% and excitedly proceeded into, and have currently completed the following coursework:
The Basics – Joseph Goldstein
The Basics II – Joseph Goldstein
Common Questions: Joseph Goldstein
Emotions: Oren Jay Sofer
I’m currently taking the following courses:
Essential Advice: Joseph Goldstein
Performance: George Mumford
Mindful Eating: Judson Brewer, Ph.D.
Meditation And The Brain: David Vago, Ph.D.
Healthy Habits: Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D.
Throughout my journey, the following prompts have proven very useful:
Begin again. Probably, if not definitely the most significant and comforting aspect of mediation. If you’re feeling lost, not in the groove, scattered … simply begin again.
Soft mental notes. While meditating, you can label feelings, actions and emotions to bring more awareness to the meditation experience. “I’m feeling agitated.” Note: agitated. “I’m thinking about yesterday.” Note: thinking.
No dwelling. Let your thoughts flow like clouds.
Return to the breath. If this is challenging, use the mental note: “Not the breath.”
Just this breath. Literally taking things one breath at a time. Inhale. Exhale.
“Check the attitude of your meditation experience.” – Joseph Goldstein
I repeated the following sessions:
You Can Stress Better: Sebene Selassie
Behind The Waterfall: Joseph Goldstein
Finding the Time: Joseph Goldstein
What’s Your Motivation?: Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. & Alexis Santos
Giving Your Inner Critic a Break: Sebene Sallassie
The Three E’s: Kelly McGonigal & Alexis Santos
Struggle as Feedback: Joseph Goldstein
Changing How We Think About Change: Kelly McGonigal & Alexis Santos
Keeping it Simple: Sharon Salzberg
Busy Life, Calm Mind: Dan Harris
Clearing Your Mind: Joseph Goldstein
Challenges of Meditation: Joseph Goldstein
What Progress Looks Like: Joseph Goldstein
Know Thyself: George Mumford
“Emotions are like the weather.” – Oren Jay Sofer
Some things that I noted along the way:
January 2020: I’ve missed two days of practice since beginning.
February 2020: I’m still short in certain situations with certain people: usually at a certain time of the day, usually in the morning while commuting.
March 2020: I’ve missed 16 total days since beginning.
April 2020: Looking over the data, I practice on an every-other-day basis.
I reached and noted the following milestones:
I’ve been practicing for around five weeks.
I’ve been practicing for four months: 96 total sessions // 74 mindful days.
I’ve been practicing for five months: 122 total sessions // 86 mindful days.
At the publishing of this post, I’ll have been practicing for six months: 136 total sessions // 96 mindful days.
In the bigger picture of things, as far as monitoring progress along our exploration, Joseph Goldstein says to “look back on progress after five years.”
George Mumford advises to keep mindful of the “lenses”, the “glasses” used to shape how we view life, and how this perspective, the what and how our feelings, affect these views.
Journey to self.
I have been fascinated with the mountains and mountaineering for some time, and an image of Everest was used as the original theme on this blog when I launched it in January of 2019. It has been a adventure with many parallels to high-altitude mountaineering: seeking a journey, finding the “why?”, trekking in to base camp, making the ascents to camps along the route to the summit; all while staying mindful of progress and gauging your condition along the way.
To me, The New Year’s Challenge was like trekking in to Basecamp, and once arrived, getting acclimatized and ready for the next phase of the expedition.
Completing The Basics I and II was like making the ascent to Camp 1 on Everest. It took focus and commitment while being very aware of your surroundings and keeping tabs on your progress.
Completing Common Questions was like making the the ascent to Camp 2 on Everest. The familiarity with the trek in to Basecamp and ascent to Camp 1 provided a solid foundation from which to draw and apply experience along the way.
Having just completed Emotions, I’m feeling well equipped to handle whatever lies ahead, and I know from experience that mountain weather can be quite dynamic. Yet, I have my prompts for guidance and support … my Sherpas, if you will.
It’s time to ascend The Lhotse Face. Camp 3, here I come!
Stay tuned …