Meditation: Calm, How to Meditate: The Sweet Spot Length: 10 minutes Where: North Hollywood Park, Los Angeles How It Felt: Wonderful
Another beautiful, sunny day meant a few hours at the park this afternoon. So grateful for the glorious weather we’ve been having, and trying to soak it up before it gets rainy later this week. I listened to my book, walked a few miles, spread out in the grass, watched the bees bopping from one tiny flower to the next….
And, of course, meditated!
I’m going to do another monthly check-in today, but, first, I’ll quickly recap the lesson in this installment of the “How to Meditate” series.
Today was all about finding balance. We did an exercise where first we held our focus with intensity. I was told to picture myself as a Jedi knight, flinging away thoughts with my light saber. (Pretty weird how Star Wars themed this week got, huh?) Then, we practiced relaxing totally, breathing with no urgency whatsoever, just letting…. our minds…. drift….
The idea is to find a sweet spot where you can concentrate and be present, but you aren’t holding on too tightly. It was a cool little experiment, and something I’ll have to keep playing with to find my “sweet spot,” as I think I need to concentrate a little extra while I’m still at the beginning stages. Hopefully, as time goes on, I can loosen my grip a bit more, and more, and more.
I listened to a few chapters of the book “Braiding Sweetgrass” while I walked today, and wrote down two beautiful quotes I wanted to share. It’s such a gorgeous book, and I find myself saving it for when I’m outside in nature. This is a book that makes you want to be around life, plants, and fresh air while you listen. It becomes a spiritual experience. Turning it on while I clean the house or something just wouldn’t be the same.
The quotes I loved from today’s chapters:
“Transformation is not accomplished by tentative waiting at the edge.”
“What I’m looking for, I suppose, is balance, and that’s a moving target. Balance is not a passive resting place; it takes work.”
I can’t recommend this book enough!
Ok, onto the second official “Monthly Check-in” post! I can’t believe month #2 is already done. I’m 1/6 of the way into the experiment now! Pretty cool!
- Increased calm, less anxiety- Definitely feeling positive effects in this area! I can’t wait until life is back up and running again and I can test this out in the real world. Overall, meditation is helping with this. I feel it’s most effective when I’m pairing this practice with a regular yoga practice, however, which fell to the wayside a bit in February. Hope to get to the mat almost every day this month.
- Better balance & handling of my manic episodes– YES. Part of this is definitely just finding more consistency in my life overall, which is keeping me more balanced. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m usually an all-or-nothing person, and changing my habits to a more “bit by bit” approach is basically the definition of finding balance. My manic episodes have barely registered this month as much more than increased energy and excitement.
- Much less reactivity in my daily life– This is a big one. I’m finding a lot more space between taking in a situation and reacting to it. I’m finding more empathy and patience. I’ve been really trying to change my mindset around frustrating situations, seeing them as a challenge to practice equanimity. I’ve even been exploring what it is about getting angry that serves me and why I feel I need to hang on to it. It’s been very freeing. I’ve been using the word “grace” to describe how I want to respond from now on, and I’ve been practicing that. It makes me feel like a kind queen who stays execution orders, and that feels better than being the crazy Queen of Hearts, if you know what I mean. (Why do I have to be a queen at all? If you’re asking yourself this question, you must not know– because I am a damn queen, obviously! All women are, if they so choose!! K thank you.)
- More empathy- for myself & others– As I’ve said before, lack of empathy has never been an issue for me except for the people I find especially difficult or terrible, but I’ve made progress here, too. I’ve really been trying to apply this to the people closest to me when they do the things that drive me crazy. My relationships are undeniably healthier for it.
- A better understanding of who I am at my core– Without a doubt, meditation is helping me with this. For better or worse, I’m really getting to know me at the deepest levels. Every day I’m pausing to learn something about myself, even on my “off” days. For instance, sometimes I push meditating to the dead end of the day even though I know it would help me when I’m overwhelmed, but just learning why I procrastinate in those situations tells me something about myself.
- Inspiration, ideas, & solutions– I feel that the first month this happened a lot, but lately, I’m can’t say exactly what it is, but not so much. I think I’m concentrating more on the actual meditation, which is maybe a good sign, because I’m feeling more present…. but could also be a sign that I’m not exactly clearing my mind to make as much space as I’d like. Much to explore here.
- A more direct connection to my emotions– It’s been so busy this month, I’m not sure I have been very connected with my emotions overall. Little spells of depression have been an issue the past couple of weeks, which may be part of the problem (thanks a lot, WINTER PANDEMIC TIMES). Depression tends to numb me out a bit. I also haven’t been acting, since I was busy directing a show, which usually keeps my emotions right at the surface. I have a table read for a new show this weekend; perhaps that will open me back up a bit!
- Forgiveness– Working on it. I had a big breakthrough with this in month #1… I need to work on the empathy part to really dive deep into forgiveness. That feels like some heavy emotional work. Generally, I’m not someone who holds a grudge at all. The whole “drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die” thing really resonates with me. I don’t have the energy to walk around bitter and angry. Point being, anyone at the moment that I need to forgive is probably a person who has been truly, deeply terrible to someone I love. Those are the people I struggle to find empathy for as well.
- A deeper capacity for love and acceptance– Yes! Sometimes, when I’m meditating, my heart feels so full of love it’s like I could burst! I really can’t wait to get back to life as we knew it and see how all my interactions are affected.
- More range & confidence as an actor– Testing this for the first time all year this weekend! I’ll be reading the role of Martha Gellhorn in a new play and it’s a dream role. I definitely feel more confident than ever! I’m so ready to get back to performing full time!
- An even more loving marriage– Without a doubt, this is a huge YES. I have to give tons of credit to my husband, too. He’s been doing deep work on himself, getting in touch with his emotions in a serious way, doing group sessions online and hashing out some old stuff in counseling. I’m unbelievably proud of him! He’s working so hard out of a deep desire to be the best husband and father he can be. Is that sexy or what?
- Some wisdom, perhaps– I think so! I learned so much about the Law of Attraction and the ways of the universe during the Chopra abundance challenge, and I learn something new about life or myself basically every time I meditate. Let’s just say, I don’t think I’m getting less wise throughout this journey.
- Less annoyance at the world in general when things don’t go the way I think they should– Working on it! I really tried to focus on this in February since I didn’t have much to report last month. I think finding more space before reacting is the key to progress here, which, as explained above, I have managed to do a little bit. I have less road rage, I think! (It’s possible I’m just so happy to have a reason to be in my car I’m in a better mood, after spending the last year with nothing to do….)
- Greater flexibility– Hmmmm…. I’m not sure. Life doesn’t call for it much lately. Every day is fairly predictable… I’ll keep watching this one to see what I notice. (Physically, I have been doing a flexibility challenge, so… not the same thing…. but really close to having my splits back!)
- The ability to meditate well– to sit comfortably, to let thoughts pass without grabbing them, to actually get the most out of the practice (with the understanding it will never be “perfect” & that some days will be more challenging than others)– I am getting so good at this, you guys! I can sit for 10 minutes more comfortably, which may not seem like a big deal, but it really is to me! I used to fidget so much. I have some more mantras I’ve tucked away to use when needed. Going back to basics has been helping me understand the mechanics of it all much more. Progress, for sure!
- A clear map to that quiet place that lives inside all of us– Clear? Not quite. I still need to use GPS…. but it’s possible I’m starting to remember the basics of the route.
TWO MONTHS! This is the longest I have ever done a voluntary activity every single day. I’m super proud of myself. I took two different workshops this week- one about screenwriting and one on managing a career in comedy- that both talked about how important consistency is. Just writing every single day, no matter if it’s “good” or not, goes a long way toward building confidence, enhancing your skills, and finding your voice.
I took that as a sign that, whatever comes of this experiment, I’m building habits that will serve me for the rest of my life, personally and professionally. Whatever else happens, just by continuing to show up, I’m giving myself a gift.
I never, ever would have told you I was the type of person who could be disciplined about almost anything outside of doing my actual job. I was too spontaneous! Too whimsical! Too passionate! Whatever, you get it. I pride myself on being a professional actor in every way- I will never be late to set, even if I can never seem to be on time for anything else in my entire life, for example- but I also thought I was too “creative” and “free” to be consistent.
I now see the ways that doesn’t serve me, and how that mindset was holding me back. If I really want to have the artistic career I’ve always dreamed of, and if I really want to make as big a difference in the world as I plan to, I have to put the rubber to the road a bit more. I have to do more of the work. And it doesn’t have to be a slog; I just have to make it fun!
This blog is giving me so much simply by existing. Round two shoutout to all my readers for your support! I’m truly grateful, as I know if I was going it alone, I would have given up by now.
You are truly appreciated!!