Mindfulness- the utter misery of being awake

There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen

Next to me Steve rolls over to bury his good ear in the pillow. He clutches the comforter and pulls it to his face to better create a cocoon.

He is not a morning person.

I have been awake for an hour but just like my husband I am not quite conscious. Despite weeks of morning meditation my first instinct is still to hit the mute button.

I have my phone in my hand flipping through the color coded screens in an attempt to distract myself from me. Earlier this year I removed candy crush in all of its incarnations in an effort to tune in rather than tune out. I loaded Duolingo and TED, I re-upped my subscription to Lumosity and figured that upgrading my apps would turn mindlessness into mindfulness. So far that has not proven true.

I have chronic shoulder pain. Most of the time I brace against it, hold my breath and create tightness from head to toe. There are some magical moments when I accept the pinch. When I breathe into it and allow myself to notice the feelings in full force. This always helps ease the pain. When I think I am protecting myself by ignoring what is happening in my body in fact I am doing the opposite, giving the pain the power.

Most of the day I rush through things to get to the next step. I brush my teeth for not quite the two recommended minutes because who has the patience for that. I tug up the bed covers too close to the pillows then too far to the foot and then back again like that time in 8th grade when I cut my own bangs.

I scurry down the stairs to make breakfast and race to unload the dishwasher before the water for my tea boils. I always lose. Always. And start my day as a labelled loser. Then I cram things into my back pack and speed walk to the coffee shop where I open my computer. And so it goes from there one step to the next rushing to nowhere from nothing all in an attempt to ignore whatever pain may be beneath my skin.

Just like Steve I create a cocoon, buffering myself from thoughts that might be painful and the misery of being awake.

But really it is only the crack in things that lets the light in.

So yesterday I took my time getting ready for my mammogram. I figured if I could stay in the moment while my boobs were being smooshed I really could be present for anything. I appreciated the warmed puke pink gown. I joked with my fellow waiting room lady about wearing the same outfit. I noticed how clean the hallway was and made myself a peppermint tea.

In the room I kept my breathing even as my armpit was impaled by a cold plastic shelf and my breast was flattened into a crepe. Because those are even skinnier than pancakes. Then it was over and I was walking home uphill in the 74 degree sun. I walked slowly to avoid losing my breath.

It is not so scary going slowly.

This morning I think back on my leisurely walk in the sunshine. Next to me Steve rolls over and opens his eyes just a bit and lets the light shine in.

Wondering what got me motivated to stay in the moment?

Published by

Anna Palmer

Anna Rosenblum Palmer is a freelance writer based in Denver, CO. She writes about sex, parenting, cat pee, bi-polar disorder and the NFL; all things inextricably intertwined with her mental health. In her free time she teaches her boys creative swear words, seeks the last missing puzzle piece and thinks deeply about how she is not exercising. Her writing can be found on Babble, Parent.co, Great Moments in Parenting, Ravishly, Good Men Project, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Playpen, Crazy Good Parent, and YourTango. She also does a fair amount of navel gazing on her own blog at annarosenblumpalmer.com.

22 thoughts on “Mindfulness- the utter misery of being awake”

  1. I was rushing along reading your post Anna and then at the end felt calm. My word for the year is Simplify and I’m trying to ease into each morning rather than the usual get up, race to computer, coffee and go. When we slow down we really can breathe and enjoy life. I’m sorry about your chronic pain though, that makes it hard to relax.

  2. Two simple thoughts, get a slower tea kettle; I race the tea kettle too while trying to unload the dishwasher, although I did not realize it until I read your words. See that? You made me more mindful!
    And I don’t get warmed gowns or peppermint tea at my mammograms!

  3. I love this!!! I read a book on mindfulness, thinking it would give me the quick fix! When I heard you’re supposed to sit in meditation for an hour once you get good at it, it lost me. An HOUR???

  4. Everything in moderation for me – and that includes mindfulness. Btw, pain in the region of the diaphragm gets referred to the shoulder. On the left it is the liver and on the right it’s the spleen.

  5. I can so relate to this post as I rush to get through the next step of so much of my day. Finally, I think I can relax but then there is always another step. I did read The Power of Now a few years ago. Thanks for reminding me through this post and by showing the image of the book.

  6. Indeed you write very well. Practicing mindfulness? Meh….besides you have a free pass not to…you have two young boys to chase around. As I age I feel the slow cracks yielding to mild pain here and there. It’s kind of like swimming like a shark–if you keep moving, you won’t feel it.

  7. I love that you take the time to chat with others in the waiting room — even if you are wearing the same outfit! 🙂 Just one of the many things that make you special.

  8. You manage to take what is generally a nerve-wracking process (any doctor visit, I mean) and embrace the peace surrounding it. That’s a monumental task in and of itself, but to then translate that so that the reader feels it is very impressive. Great piece.

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