Mindful Meditations

Welcome to the March Mindful Mama Carnival: Mindful Mama Challenge

This post was written for inclusion in the Mindful Mama Carnival hosted by Becoming Crunchy and TouchstoneZ. This month our participants have challenges they’ve set for themselves toward becoming more mindful. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana

Awakening of Faith in the Mahayana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I do a lot mini-meditations throughout my day. I practice being fully engaged in a task with all of my senses. I’ll place my mind on a single word or idea to clear out the mental chatter. I’ll envision a candle flame and pour all my thoughts and feelings into it until I’m empty. I’ll close my eyes and do a check in with my body to see where I’m holding tension and release it. I’ll take 3 deep breaths and relax a little bit. These practices, done individually, are within my constant flow of activity. They’re a few seconds to a few minutes long and I rarely do more than pause slightly to observe them.

But, they’re vitally important to my coping skills. I wouldn’t make it through the day with compassion for myself or others without them. I imagined that this challenge would give me an excellent opportunity to add a formal, seated meditation practice in to my day. I had expectations that I would find a greater sense of peace. I would be a better person and a gentler parent. I hoped I would reap benefits that would exceed the little pieces I gained from my mini-meditations throughout the day. I missed the piece of me that I had before becoming a parent when I luxuriated in uninterrupted meditation time and I wanted to get in touch with that part of me again.

I remembered from previous experiences how challenging it can be to start a meditation practice and stick with it. I remembered that it can be frustrating at times to notice my monkey mind chattering away nonstop in the jungle around me. But, I wanted those benefits that meditation can bring and was willing to face down the difficulties.

I didn’t expect to run into an impenetrable wall.

For six weeks, I sat. Back straight. Eyes closed. Monkey mind chattering.

Then, I would get to a small, still place and a wall would slam into me, knocking me into bewilderment. I tried examining this wall. Poking and prodding it. I tried kicking it and pounding on it. Then, I became afraid that I’d found another area with repressed memories. So, I decided I’d leave the wall alone. I’d be a meditating person, consciously choosing to ignore the wall.

But, the wall wasn’t ignoring me. It crept closer, eventually pressing in on me until I left meditating in a hurry every day. I was frazzled. I wasn’t able to practice my mini-meditations throughout the day. I became frustrated and depressed. I was often short with my children and my husband.

So, I stopped meditating entirely at 4 weeks. And everything became worse. The wall was with me all the time and I was miserable. I finally sought help from a therapist. She walked me through my meditation until I came to the wall again and helped me explore the wall in a way that took away my fear. She reminded me that this wall was strong because it came from me.

The wall was anger. I was walking around with this simmering, nonfocused anger. It frightened me because this is not the person I thought I was and I didn’t want to face it.

My therapist reminded me that feelings are not the same as the person. Having anger doesn’t make me an angry person. It simply means I don’t know how to process anger because I associate many negatives with it.

I’ve learned a lot about myself during this challenge. Going forward, I am continuing my daily meditations, this time, I finding the negative associations I have with anger and teasing them apart. As I unravel each piece, my anger is letting go. One day, maybe, the wall will disappear. But, for now, I’m happy letting it be.

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17 thoughts on “Mindful Meditations

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  4. I’m so grateful for the open way in which you share your experiences, Zoie. The message about emotions from your therapist is an incredibly valuable one, and it’s something I struggle to remember on a regular basis. Having anger does not make me an angry person. Period. I forget that so often. I’m glad you’re able to let your wall be there for now, and I know you’ll have some incredible insights when it finally comes down. xoxo

  5. I wish so often I could give you a big huge hug!

    I so appreciate you opening yourself and your experiences Zoie, knowing this has been such a difficult time. You are an amazing, strong woman – however this turns out I hope it will be for you the best way possible. Love and blessing to you Mindful Mama!

  6. Thank you Momma Z, for sharing your experience and for gently examining, inquiring into the wall. Walls are definitely our friends if we allow them to be although they can at first feel suffocating – or worse.

    This post brings back many experiences I’ve had with walls. One time a friend walked me through a meditation where I could feel this what at first seemed impenetrable wall all around me. I could sense it was there from early childhood to protect me (although it didn’t work – that brought up some anger). So there was this sense that it was good and bad at the same time. How utterly confusing. As we walked through the exercise I spontaneously sucked it into myself, around the abdomen (third chakra) area, and assimilated it as personal power I could use to protect myself now, in being aware, making choices, etc. You know, doing the best one can do in the healing journey. Anyhow, I’ve brought that to mind many times since then when I feel the wall and allow it to be enveloped into my being for a source of strength instead of something I must contend with. Interesting experience.

    Also, I have often felt that (as the therapist mentioned) our uncomfortable feelings are parts of ourselves needing, deserving attention and integration. I wrote a post on the topic a while back. Possibly it will be insightful… http://innatewholeness.com/2010/awareness-integrating-uncomfortable-feelings

    Much love to you and thanks again for sharing the challenge. In joining together we can embrace them as opportunities. :)

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  9. I totally get this! I deal with anger issue as well. I need to stop and breath. When I forget to simply take five seconds to inhale deeply and exhale the negativity, it wells up more and more until it is festering and bubbling and then it spews forth like a volcanic eruption. Always over nothing.

    Good for you that you are fully aware of how vital it is to your sanity (and the general harmony in your life) that you continue on your meditative path. I think that humans often think that we don’t REALLY to take care of our mental health and that we will be ok. But when you go without that which keeps you sane, you realize how important these seemingly small practices really are.

    Thank you for your vulnerability in sharing this with us!

  10. Okay… I just wrote a long and (since you won’t see it now) let’s say brilliant and thoughtful comment and the computer ate it.
    Sigh…
    You’re brilliant. You have inspired me to start some mini-meditations.
    The way you dealt with your wall is a hero’s journey.
    I have had to disarm many outdated survival mechanisms. Still do.
    I find that when I can remember that they were there originally to protect me, as you say, they were my strength… Then it becomes easier to let them go.
    hugs…

  11. I struggle with meditation. I can do guided meditations where my mind i taken on a journey, but where I need to be still – I haven’t been able to do it and I’ve kind of given up on it. Your experience makes me think that maybe there is something I’m running away from (like we all are) and something I need to face…

    I totally missed the deadline on this carnival. I did a challenge (which was mostly a failure anyway) and then I was feeling too sick to write a post about it. But I will love reading everyone else’s posts and see what challenges you lovely ladies have set for yourselves.

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  13. Anger is one of those emotions (for me also) which feels intimidating and scary and just generally *bad*. I have trouble embracing my anger as much as some other emotions because I want to distance myself from it…which isn’t really helpful at all in dealing with it. I also really like what your therapist said about the wall being strong because it came from you. This post has given me a lot to think about. Thank you for sharing it!

  14. What an amazing realization, Zoie, and a great illustration of just how scary being alone with ourselves can be. I’m happy you were able to find the help you needed to start carefully and compassionately exploring this piece of yourself. And I love this idea: “…this wall was strong because it came from me.” That reminds me of your sweater post. It’s amazing the things we can do to protect ourselves.

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  16. I loved this post. It is very inspiring to know some little practices to insert in the day to help center. As well, thanks for sharing about your wall. That is very insightful to think of anger as just anger, not who you are.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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