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Entries in challenge (2)

Friday
Dec162011

Hold The Space

Certain gifts are so much easier to give others than to give ourselves.

To be present.  To listen well.  To accept without judgement.

These are gifts I want to offer to the important people in my community and I hope that I succeed in that, at least sometimes.  But I am not in the practice of offering these to myself.  I am not in the practice of receiving them from myself.

I noticed this, as I sat in the dark with only the sounds of my breath and the the furnace cycling on to warm the house before daybreak.

It's hard, sometimes, to know how much space to take in the world.  I don't know if I've grown lately and am straining against the edges of a container that used to be comfortable.  Or maybe the shape has just shifted and the new corners are irritating me but I'll stop noticing as soon as I form new calluses.

In the dark I can't see where I end and the world begins.  An image of my internal space materializes in my mind, a cramped and partitioned apartment building with lots of doors and not enough light.  That's not how I want to look inside.  Internally I want to be a vast meadow where the breeze ripples tall grass and any sound could echo for miles. 

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So far it's worth it, trading 30 minutes of sleep for quiet, dark wakefulness.  It feels like a gift to myself, holding the space for an endless landscape to unfurl inside me, where I can stretch out and breathe.

Wednesday
Dec142011

Breathing Practice

Sometimes it's embarrassing how long it takes me to notice the obvious. Even after I admitted in public that I skipped out on shooting a rare-ish celestial event (that happened right in front of me, when I was sitting there with all the appropriate gear) it didn't really occur to me that I should do something about this hunger for solitude.

You know, since I'm so busy and engaged with people in Very Important Ways all the time.

I was explaining all this to a friend Monday, and she challenged me invited me to commit to meditate for thirty minutes every day for thirty days. Just to see what happens. I recognize that a meditation challenge sounds like something of an oxymoron, but it had the ring of a good idea. As I thought about it I noticed, right, I need alone time.  I can make that happen.  I just have to decide to create the space for it.

I tested the hypothesis that this would be worth trading a half-hour of sleep for, and crept out of bed at 5:00am yesterday. It was nice, sitting there alone in the dark, even if the thing I noticed most of all is that my breath was shallow and uneven and I couldn't really moderate it the way I wanted. 

Inhale.

Exhale.

It's not as easy as it sounds.

I used to be very good at breathing, and I never realized it was the sort of thing you have to practice. But it was obvious as I sat there that I have forgotten how to breathe. That seems like a good thing to notice.

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I'm going to try not to be too hard on myself.  I'm going to try to just show up for myself every day for a month, the way I show up for work, or for Ezra, or for meetings at school.  I'm going to try to remember how to breathe.  We'll see what comes.