Apr 30- Monthly Check-in #4

Meditation: Calm, How to Meditate: Meditation Muscle Groups
Length: 13 minutes
Where: Bathtub, Michigan
How It Felt: Hot!

Ok, let’s get a few details out of the way, here.

First of all, this is not my 4th check-in. It isn’t! You may recall I skipped check-in #3 at the end of March because of all the hospital madness we were dealing with in Florida. I did not have the mental energy to assess myself. I barely eked out my meditations during that week.

So, why is this #4? I honestly don’t have a great answer, except that my weird OCD is telling me that this is the end of Month 4, so it has to be 4.

That’s it. I’m a weirdo.

I can’t end with 11 check-ins and 12 months! I’ll be off every month!

On a completely unrelated note! May is Mental Health Awareness month… and it might be a nice time to start writing for my mental health focused blog again….

Nothing to see here folks! Just a normal, not crazy in any way girl who has to have numbers line up or she will feel crooked and unsettled!

(Before anyone jumps on the “OCD is a real condition! You shouldn’t throw that around flippantly!” train- I do have it. It’s mostly even numbers and hyper-organization. Completely manageable as long as I’m not wildly stressed, but highly annoying. If you want to learn more about the various ways I’m totally nuts, check out my other blog- The Crazy Actor!)

Ok, how’s that for the start of a blog about meditating in my bathtub?! Yes, this is, as far as I can remember, my first ever naked meditation. Milestones, people! I hope not my last…because shouldn’t we all do more things naked?

We have this great tub at our Michigan house that I just love. It’s one of those jacuzzi tubs from the late 90s with lights and a waterfall feature, and, best of all, it’s kind of heart shaped. I always feel like I’m on a romantic getaway in the Poconos when I’m in it. I have no idea if it’s really meant to be heart shaped- it’s more like it’s just built for two adult people to comfortably fit- but that’s how I think of it.

I’m into it.

I had this whole vision of taking the most relaxing bath, meditating, and reflecting on how meditation has changed things for me in these past four months. Drifting away on a lavender cloud… celebrating how calm I am now, how much less anxious, patting myself on the back a bit for making it 1/3 of the way through this challenge!

Kidney shaped, maybe? I like to think it’s a sort of stretched out heart…

Best laid plans.

I am so used to using that bathtub to warm my bones in the wintertime that I ran the water waaaay too hot. By the time I realized, I was halfway through the meditation and didn’t want to stop it! So, I ended up sort of sweating my way through it, heart starting to pound by the end as I just quietly… overheated….

I was proud of myself, though! I used it as a challenge! “Stay focused while sweat tickles your forehead. Keep breathing while you’re super uncomfortable. You’ve got this!”

The lesson of the meditation was really cool. It was about exercising the “muscles” of meditation- here listed as Concentration, Clarity, Equanimity, and Friendliness (or compassion). As we meditated, Jeff pointed out which of the muscles we were working in the different moments, which was interesting. It’s like working out and having someone tell you the direct benefits of each move.

Pretty awesome. And great timing, because it made me really home in on what was coming more easily and what I was still struggling with the most. Although, when your body temperature is a balmy ten thousand degrees, everything is a bit more difficult, let’s be real.

I survived the bath. There was cold water added, and an even colder shower afterward. I made it through a good chunk of my book (finally reading House of Sand and Fog!) and my back got a nice, thumpy massage.

So, now that you’re reassured I didn’t die, let’s begin the check-in! Here are the goals I set out at the beginning of the year, and here is how I think I’m doing:

  • Increased calm, less anxiety- Totally, totally, totally YES. Sure, I get anxious, but I have never experienced this level of calm in my life. I’m sweating the small stuff so much less. I just feel better.
  • Better balance & handling of my manic episodes– Yes! My mania has really been manageable to the point of feeling mostly just productive. I still get manic, I always will I’m sure, but I don’t feel like I’m at the top of a rollercoaster. It’s more like I notice I’m not super hungry, I don’t need a lot of sleep, and I’m extra happy and motivated. Then, as long as I take something to force sleep, it passes in a few days!
  • Much less reactivity in my daily life– I feel about 50% less reactive, which is really saying something. I still get angry in a flash, but it passes quickly, and I don’t need to put that anger somewhere most of the time. I’ve been working on that equanimity (you know I love it!) and the biggest change is that minor annoyances just sort of float over me now. Mostly. I’m human, I stress, I react, but it’s not taking me over anymore.
  • More empathy- for myself & others– I think so! I’ve still been so isolated in a way due to the pandemic it’s hard to test this. I am going easier on myself for sure.
  • A better understanding of who I am at my core– 100% this is happening. I’m learning a shit ton about myself. I’m really drawing lines between where I came from and who I am, why I feel the ways I do, why my triggers are what they are. Meditating every day for four months has been as powerful as any therapy I’ve ever done. More, honestly.
  • Inspiration, ideas, & solutions– I’m not sure about this one! I haven’t been feeling too creative the past couple of months, so my inertia isn’t there. I think it’s the stagnation of my career… I just don’t get super inspired lately. Hoping this changes now that I’m getting back to work!
  • A more direct connection to my emotions– I think I’ve backed off of this one lately. I’m not totally sure why… sometimes when I can’t act for a long time or when I’m working out something painful I detach from my emotions a bit. I feel everything so deeply and it can spiral quickly. I’ve been working on myself and definitely not acting much, or even directing, and only writing in this blog, so I think I must be skating on the surface a little.
  • Forgiveness– Not been tested much! I feel more loving and I don’t think I’m really carrying around any huge bitterness. I can’t speak to this with much authority at the moment.
  • A deeper capacity for love and acceptance– Yep. I feel much more deeply connected to those closest to me, from my husband to my friends to my cat. Acceptance is an interesting one… because the hubby and I have been intentionally scanning our lives for sticking points and things we need to work on as individuals, which means we are finding behavior around us we choose to no longer accept. Hmmm… more to dive into next time.
  • More range & confidence as an actor– Happily, this is true! I had a great audition last week and I’ve never felt more confident! I feel great about myself, my talent, my abilities, all of it. I’m so thrilled about this, because I was worried all that time away would make me nervous when I started up again. I think it has a lot to do with my ability to be more present now. Great acting requires presence, and I’m just now mastering that skill.
  • An even more loving marriage– Without a doubt! Incredibly, better every day.
  • Some wisdom, perhaps– Hope so! I’m learning so much about compassion for myself especially, about how to be present, about getting okay with a lifelong practice you can never “master.” I think feeling peaceful goes hand in hand with feeling wise.
  • Less annoyance at the world in general when things don’t go the way I think they should– Proud to say yes, generally! Work in progress. I can say without a doubt I still get very annoyed when I’m the only one in a group who is communicating, or when other adults are dropping the ball on something that shouldn’t all land in my lap. These are childhood triggers and I’m working on it.
  • Greater flexibility– Yes and no. I’m not sure I’ll ever be someone who is cool with scrapping the whole plan, or just “working it out as we go, dude!” I like to know what’s happening. Hmmm… I can’t say.
  • 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’ve definitely been distracted more than usual the past month or so, generally. I’ve been in Florida, California, Indiana, Michigan. I was processing the loss of a loved one, my husband’s health stuff, the start of life as we know it again. I’ve seen more people in the last month than I did in the year before that. It’s been a bit more scattered, for sure, but I know I will need to find a way to focus no matter what’s happening in life.
  • A clear map to that quiet place that lives inside all of us– I don’t know if the map is any clearer yet, but I’ve definitely added some icons to it.

Right now, I’m feeling like I didn’t make enough “progress” lately, which my logical brain tells me is silly but my Hermione brain is telling me to be sad about. Just typing that out makes me realize how silly it is. I’m showing up every day. I’m being consistent. I’m understanding more about what makes me me all the time. I’m definitely calmer and happier and more focused and empowered than ever.

I should be and am super proud of myself!

I know as long as I keep showing up and doing the work, the “results” will keep coming. Just like the rest of life- if you show up for yourself daily, amazing things will happen. It’s impossible to stop them! I’ve seen this time and time again, so I need to trust it here. I can. I will. I do.