I'm constantly on the prowl for ways to live a less-stressed life. I'm naturally an on-the-go, not-sit-still, mind-always-racing kind of gal and so it is really hard to try to train myself to slow down.
And if you've ever read the children's book If You Give A Mouse a Cookie, I often feel like that mouse. I set off to do one thing and I'm so easily distracted that I am led to starting something else, which reminds me of something else and sends me off another direction. And it happens over and over and over.
I often find it hard to focus. And two things that seem the very hard for me to focus on are 1) watching a weather forecast and 2) mediating. All my life, I have had this mental block in watching the weather. I'd sit and watch the news and as soon as the weather came on, my mind zipped somewhere else. At the end of the forecast I'd come to and think, dang, what did he just say? Once in a while I could stay with Jerry Taft long enough to figure out if I needed to wear a jacket the next day. But I finally found I was able to focus on watching a full forecast when I tuned in to Tom Skilling. Something about the passion he has about what he does was so interesting and although I still drift off from time to time when he starts talking about air masses and barometric pressure, I can pretty much stay engaged in Skilling's forecasts enough to learn what's in store for the next few days in the weather department. Now I need to find my Tom Skilling of mediation.
I've tried mediating a few times in the past and it was really a challenge. My mind goes toward overthinking something I did yesterday or what I'm going to have for lunch or that I need to clean my closet or that I have so many unfinished projects going or that I can't believe that they sent Bumbly home on American Idol - I love the skinny, gentle soft-crooning white guys and the pretty blonde country singing ladies, but come on, bring a little more diversity to the top 10 already. She was flawless and completely adorable. Anyway, where was I?
I decided to try again during this current 21-day free mediation experience from Oprah and Deepak Chopra. At day 13 I have only listened to three, so I guess that shows how committed I am. As I tried today I shook my head thinking that my mediation attempt could be a Saturday Night Live skit. That happens often in my life - when I'm in the middle of something ridiculous and I feel like I'm in the middle of a Saturday Night Live skit.
Here's how it went down.
I woke up before my alarm went off. The house was quiet. Hubby had already left for work. It was overcast and not much sunlight was shining in. It seemed like a good time. I fumbled with my phone for a few minutes trying to get to the app open and to the first available day. It's actually at day 17, but the last 5 days are available when you log in. So I went to day 13.
Oprah starts off following some brief instrumental music and it's a familiar voice. The first sentences make me really smile. "We cannot accept more into our lives without truly appreciating what we already have." "Some of us have the belief that success only comes with sacrifice. That isn't really what the universe wants for you. In fact, the universe is standing by ready to fill your life with blessings."
That line about success only coming with sacrifice really sticks and I contemplate how I work too much and make too little money and how I need to make that balance much better. "Am I really even successfu'?" I think to myself. And whatever success I've had, is it worth the price of often working 11 hours on a Sunday?
From there, it's like I'm watching a weather forecast. My mind waves a little, "bye, girl" and shuts the door while my mind drifts not toward thoughts of gratitude and inner success and grace, but a lot of other topics.
I start thinking about how I used to like to play hooky from school and lay on the sofa and watch Oprah in junior high and high school. And I'd sit next to my mom and squirm if the topic had anything to do with sex and just hope she wouldn't try to start a conversation. And how do you spell hooky - is there a 'y' or an 'ey' or an 'ie". I squash the urge to pause it at that moment and Google it. See what I mean about how I sometimes lack focus? LOL
I thought about when I went to see the Oprah show in the early 1990s with my sister, my friend and my niece - who wasn't yet 18 and who they wouldn't let sit in the studio audience. So, being Aunt of the Year, we left her in the lobby to watch an archived copy on a television with the Harpo security guard while we went in and sat through the taping. (***Note: And in a happy and ironic twist, she got to go to a taping later on AFTER she turned 18. It was the one where Tom Cruise jumped on the sofa!)
I thought about how much I missed my routine back when her show was on ABC-7 at 9 a.m. I'd drop all the kids off at school, come back home and squeeze in a 1 - 2 mile walk before the show started. Then I'd sit on my keister with that tingly feeling in my legs that they were happy from the physical activity and I'd watch intently. And I wonder if I can watch the old Oprah Winfrey shows from the 1990s on Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime?
I thought, "Heck, yeah, Oprah, I'd be appreciative of your three homes and millions of dollars if I were you."
I thought about Maya Rudolph doing the Oprah Weight Watchers bread commercial.
I thought about the Drake and Josh episode where they ran over Oprah.
Next thing I know, Oprah is done and Deepak beings.
I start to drift. Deepak. Deeeee Pak. Kind of sounds like a rapper name. I snap myself out of it and really concentrate on listening to him.
I pay attention to my breathing.
I hear a door slam downstairs. I pause it. I text my youngest son, who is notorious for sleeping through his alarm to see if he's awake. I text again. He responds and get back to taking in some Deepak. Deeee Pak. What kind of rap music would he make? Ok, focus. Breathe.
I try to send my mind down the path of gratitude and internalizing it. It's working. For a minute or so at a time. I drift a little. I hear kids walking to school outside since the window is slightly open. Horns beeping. Birds squawking. Water running. A lot of distractions. I think maybe I should try later. But I know once I'm out of bed, it's on. I'll be busy and it'll be harder to get back to it. So, I try harder to listen. But I really have to pee.
Ok, I breathe slow, I start to focus on listening and now it's time for the quiet meditation. The part where there are no prompts. It's just you and your thoughts. The music plays and there's no one to listen to. I'm really in trouble now. No one to guide me. My thoughts are all over the place and I try to reign them back in. I suddenly realize that Deepak was saying "ego" not "eagle" when he was talking. Now it totally makes more sense. But now I can't remember the mantra. What am I supposed to be silently repeating to myself? Darn. I've got to find out. And I've got to pee. No. Focus. Finish this meditation. Come up with a different mantra. Just keep going. I wonder how much longer it lasts?
Grattitude. Grace. Success. Got it. That wasn't the real mantra. But that's what I was telling myself. And some good thoughts came to me. And I did start to relax. Then the bell rang. I know I'm doing it wrong, but I'll keep trying. :)