Meditation : Day 3, 30 mins a day

Some observations regarding my meditation practice.

Everybody practice meditation for different reasons, I have to quote Haemin Sunim again : I don’t have big ambition, I simply want to be able to enjoy my breaths.

Throughout this whole process of trying to better myself, it is very important for me to observe myself empathetically, free from any judgement.

It is no surprise that google is monitoring my every behavior, as this video of Nathaniel Drew pops up on my youtube feed, and it got me thinking, maybe I should set aside a time for my practice. Prior to this, I already meditate 10-15 mins daily, I do this rather aimlessly, I’d look at my clock before I start, and again after I finished. While setting a time goal may seem rigid to most, I think it will help me cement the habit. 30 minutes seem reasonable, so on Monday, I began.

5.30am, turned on the timer on my phone. 30 minutes countdown, and I began.

Instead of the seiza posture Olivier has taught me previously, I sat instead. I supinated my palms and layer them on my crotch. I have no idea what I was doing, I was simply trying to find a comfortable position.

Again, drifting, drifting,drifting, from thought to thought. Alot of re-routing my attention to my breaths. I’d drift then I’d tell myself to focus on my breath. Inhaled and exhaled slowly. Soon, agitation begin to set in, my legs are feeling numb, I felt like I was slouching (It would be fun to do a timelapse video sometimes, I am sure I wasn’t really sitting quietly) It is at this point that I began to tell myself, “Maybe I didn’t set the timer, this felt like forever ! I am sure I’ve passed the 30 minutes mark.” I tried to persevere, “Just hang on a little longer, I am sure you are getting very very close now.” And in the end I opened my eyes before the timer went off, and I always do so as if I have just emerged from the water.

Kinda funny if you think about it, this defeats the purpose of meditating, it was supposed to help me feel calm but towards the end I lost it. It was like Game of Thrones in my mind (I’ve never watched the series LOL)

Subjectively speaking, I did rather well

Monday : 2 minutes short of 30 minutes

Tuesday : 5 minutes short of 30 minutes

Wednesday : 3 minutes short of 30 minutes

My legs were so numb that each time I come out of it, I’d lay on the floor and close my eyes, and continue to focus on my breathing until I feel “recovered” from it.

Side note : I’ve just listened to this podcast by Sigma Nutrition, and Nick Gant, (he’s the director of the Exercise Neurometabolism Laboratory at the University of Auckland)

When asked what is his one advice to improve our cognitive function, he answered :”Just do one hard thing everyday.” And he briefly mentioned how meditating can be that hard thing that challenges our cognitive function. It really resonates with me. Sure, it gets easier with time but it simply isn’t human nature to sit and think about “nothing”. But I think, it is one thing that men perform exceedingly well, this explains why most monks who meditates are men. I am certain if my husband meditates, he will definitely do better than me.

 

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Haemin Sunim : Author of The Things you can see only when you slow down. Image credit to Penguin Books

 

There’s a ghost in our house

This post is dedicated to my lovely partner, Andrew

I have long suspected there’s a ghost in our house. As I do most of the cleaning and tidying up, I noticed things are still always being misplaced.

So one day…I told him

“I suspect there’s a ghost in our house…”

He looked at me shockingly, ghost is not a subject to be joked about with him, he is rather scared of ghosts…I can never convince him to watch a ghost movie.

“Why did you say that?”

“Well you know how I always put the comb back to where it’s supposed to be…but everyday when I wake up, it’s always either on the floor, or the couch, or the dining table…or the coffee table, if it isn’t ghost, I don’t know what is it.”

He laughed sheepishly.

He doesn’t do it with just things. He’d leave cupboard and wardrobe doors open, clothes and socks on the floor..etc.

Authoritatively, I always tell them to put things away.

“Anya, what do you put on a dining table?” I asked

“Hmm…food?”

“Correct…now why are there toys on our dining table?” I’d sneered at my husband.

The key thing to being organized is quite simple really, you simply need to put things back where they are, a trait my husband never learns. 15 years is a long long time…no matter how many times I’ve told him, he remains unchanged.

I remember once, I picked up a book at the airport by Dalai Lama. He mentions how if certain things bothers us, we need to change it ourselves. Simply put, if things are being misplaced and it bothers me, not him, I should be the one to put things back.

Now Dalai Lama, I respect you and I agree with you on many things…not this one.

Men are such a peculiar creature that I’ll never be able to figure out. I am certain the makeup of their brain is entirely different compared to women’s brain.

I did some diggings…purely for entertainment. This point resonate with me alot, I suspect he simply doesn’t hear me

The male ear is weaker than the female counterpart. That is why women can hear subtle intonations and men – not always. Also, in terms of tactile perception, men lose.

 

 

Physical degeneration and mental health : I’m gonna kill myself

Yesterday, there was a little commotion going on at our neighbour’s.

Apparently he locked himself outside of his house, and he didn’t have a phone with him. So he went over to my mother in law’s house (which is right next to our house) to have her call his wife, I don’t want to go into details, in the end everything was resolved because apparently, his son was inside the house.

He was frantic, and angry, and he couldn’t control himself. He was cursing and saying things like :”How could this had happened, I’m gonna kill myself !” My mother in law was shocked upon hearing that, according to my mother in law, he is mentally unstable, so she was concerned he was really going to kill himself.

I am certainly aware that many seniors are suffering from some form of mental illness, and it certainly makes me think alot about how our physical degeneration, is interlinked with our mental health. It’s just hard to feel good if you are suffering physically.

Yesterday, I had a toothache. I don’t want to know what is it, and I’ll never find out, since it has subsided today. I had a wisdom tooth pulled out very recently, and I’ve sworn to never go back to the dentist again…even if the dentist is as hot as Chris Hemsworth. I even read Dr.Weston Price’s book (Nutrition and Physical Degeneration) to get a better understanding on how to improve dental health. The pain started early morning, I was still feeling fine when I was having my breakfast, by mid noon, it has escalated and quite literally, I felt like killing myself. My mood has gone sour and I started behaving like a little kid towards my husband. I forced food down, chewing meat with the other side of my mouth (a true meathead is ingesting protein every couple of hours no matter the circumstances) by evening, it was so painful that I had trouble concentrating, by this time, I started treating my husband like a punching bag (figuratively speaking) . I certainly had alot of internal dialogues with myself, still, I couldn’t control my behaviour because of my physical pain.

I gave in and had 2 panadols last night, the pain subsided.

This little incident reminds me how we need to first take care of our physical health, and once we have establish a good foundation, then, we can only improve our mental well being. Both cannot be separated.

I feel pretty bad for lashing out on him, but when I woke him up for panadols last night, the look of genuine concern on his face really touched me. My health has improved so tremendously that, he no longer has to take care of me like he did, and it was nice to be reminded that he cares for me deeply. Perhaps this isn’t such a bad episode after all.

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Head under water

I put my head underwater,
I held my breath until it passed
Crossed my fingers and concentrated
I closed my eyes and I was free at last – Jenny Lewis 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a fear of being under water. I had a near drown experience in my life, and after that, I never had the courage to learn how to swim : not anymore.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. This is exactly what happened to me. The public pool is just minutes away from my house, and I bumped into a gym friend during one of my daily early morning walks. Casually, I told her I don’t know how to swim because of my fear of water. Long story short, she introduced me to a swim coach who works at the pool.

Years of irrational fear of water, dissipated after my first lesson with Connie, my swim coach. She was urging me on :”Come on, Simmy, you can do it, you can.” There was hesitation, I couldn’t do it in the beginning. I would breath, and exhaled, breathed, and exhaled, repetitively. Untill finally, I dived in.

As soon as I put my head under water, I knew the hardest part is over, I thought to myself instantly, “You got this in a bag.” I’ve crossed the biggest hurdle, the rest will be a piece of cake.

I was elated. Beyond elated. Like a baby first learnt how to crawl.

I can’t believe I am deprived of this for years : The experience of being under water. Everything feels so calming and serene under water, even in a dirty kids pool, possibly filled with urines and snorts. Nothing matters as soon as I get under water. I love everything about swimming, I love how you can’t float if you’re not relax, I love how so much concentration is needed, to the point that I cannot be distracted by other things anymore.

It is meditative.

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Peanut butter kaya jelly

It was one of those mornings again : the dreaded holiday. I have the best intention not to rush through the morning, but with Anya around, things just don’t go as planned.

She was whining on the sofa, she said she was hungry.

“Eat the Horse Ear bread I bought you, you said you wanted it.”

“No…I want to bring that to Kid’s Cove.”

“Just eat half of it, and save half for Kid’s Cove.”

“No….” she proceeded to moan and cry on the sofa, with TV noise blaring in the background.

I was annoyed, as I was rushing up and down the stairs, the “light” came on. It’s one of those many instances where another being is talking to me internally, I call them “the light”.

“Pay attention to how you are behaving, you’re not a 6 year old, she is.”

I paid attention to my breathing then.

Grabbed her shirts, and I went to her, still whining on the sofa.

I drew in another breath, and I said. “Ok, so tell me exactly what you want.”

“Grandma’s bread with peanut butter and kaya.”

“Ok, now I know what you want.”

I prepared the sandwich for her.

“You see ? You gotta verbalise what you want. I don’t know what you want if all you do is scream and yell at me. We’re not animals, we don’t talk to each other like that.”

(It’s crazy how it always feels like I am talking to myself, whenever I talk to her. )

Eating her sandwich, she replied calmly, “Ok.” as if nothing has happened.

It’s so hard to believe, just minutes ago, she was screaming bloody murder at me. It’s like the switch is now turned off.

Her half eaten sandwich, wrapped in a tissue paper and placed on our car dashboard.

 

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Meditation

Meditation

The goal is not to become this person who meditates everyday, but just someone who can sit and enjoy their breaths, even as little as few minutes a day – (Credit to Haemin Sunim)

Every morning I lay these towel on the floor, and I usually meditate with the morning muslim prayer echoing in the background. My house is literally minutes away from a mosque and each morning, the prayer goes off at 5am sharp. I’ve no idea what the prayer is about, but it gives me a very zen like feeling.

I drift alot when I meditate, some days I do better than the other, but I drift. Haemin Sunim insists we are all born with an awareness, and it should come effortlessly : it’s actually harder to not be aware of ourselves.

So I often use his technique in my practice, whenever I find myself drifting, I’d say to myself in my head, with his voice : “Ah…Simmy, why would you have that thought? Now, go back to your breathing, and enjoy your breaths.” I would do it repetitively, for I would drift constantly. I became aware of my “drifting”, and I have to re-route myself back to the state I was trying to achieve : the state of absolute peace and mental clarity. To be honest, I’m not even close.

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