7 minutes in presence, a story of first time meditation

This is the second day of my mindfulness training. I am practicing Awareness (capital intended), with a gentle pushing away of thoughts of the past, future or judgment. In the past I have tried to integrate meditation and yoga into my life but I have not managed to. It seems I am not able to stick with this practice. I know I will have quit this effort by tomorrow. Now I will gently push those sentences aside and focus on my healing breathe. What’s that smell? Dog fart?

I begin with three sun salutations. I spread my toes and felt the floor supporting me and pushed aside thoughts of what the grit on my mat might be. It is of no consequence in this moment. I lift my arms to the sky with a deep inhale and fold close against my legs with an exhale. And a shriek. The small dog jumped up and grabbed my middle finger in his mouth like his newest chew toy. I knew what I could do with my middle finger. No time for that in this moment though. Inhale jump to plank. Or is it exhale. Wait. I am not breathing trying to figure out my breath. I have been in plank too long. I suck at sun salutation. No, I do not suck, I have opportunity to learn and grow. But that learning will be in the future and I am in the present so I guess I shouldn’t be thinking that now. Wait. No “shoulds”. Argh. No judgement about should. Double argh no “nos”. Forget it.

Exhale press to downward facing dog. As I hold for five cycles of breathe the little beastie comes below me and stretches into his own down dog. As he looks up at me I felt a connection between the two of us and the power (but a gentle power) of my yoga practice. He too must feel a connection because he yelps right in my face. Is dog yelping in down dog on an inhale or an exhale? I can’t figure it out. With each salutation he joins me in down dog first stretching then barking more and more loudly. As he is always in the moment I decide he can be my guide. And he decides to bite my hair. Tomorrow I will wear a hair tie. Shit. I shouldn’t be planning for tomorrow. Fuck. I shouldn’t say shit.

Now it is time for meditation practice. I will make time for myself, to nourish myself and create more spaciousness for the activities of my day. As I take a comfortable seated position the dog decides my lap will be a spacious spot for the activities of his day. Which currently include chewing in a sloppy yet chalk grating way on his dog bone. This bone is made up of pressed animal parts and smells like urea as he makes progress on its length. It also creates a wet gooeyness with has the texture of bread dough if bread dough was made up of dead animal pee.

Enough of that. I will need to find a more accepting word than enough. Tomorrow.

I gently set aside those thoughts and celebrate the opportunity he is offering me. I can practice letting go of the sound of his chewing, the smell of urea , and the feeling of him squirming on my lap to gain a better position in which to massacre his bone. This is excellent. I wonder if I am allowed positive judgment. I imagine not. Acceleration is not simply forward. There is negative acceleration as well. It is that way with judgement. I will let go of judgement. I will drop it like a hot coal. I will try not to burn my rug.

I listen to the woman’s voice on my Mindfulness app and let her lead me into a relaxed but alert state. I wonder if she had trouble on dates, if the sound of her soothing voice puts her partner in a trance. Maybe all she can talk about is breathing. If she were soothing and boring would she even have any friends? Well damnit I will be her friend. I will allow her to talk to me about acceptance and whatever else she wants. I will welcome it and make space for it. I will even pay her five dollars a month to do so. So quickly into our new relationship see tells me she would see me tomorrow and leaves me with the closing bell.

It is time for me to go at it alone. I am enough for myself. Everything that I need is already inside me. Except maybe my breakfast. But that is for later.   I search my phone for the timer app forgetting ONCE AGAIN that it was right at the bottom of the screen hiding under the name “clock”.  So tricky. I set it to 15 minutes. Then dial it back to 12. Then 8. Then because I like odd numbers I settled at 7 minutes. 7 minutes of presence.

I am still in a comfortable seated position albeit with one numb leg. I figure this gives me a leg up on ignoring the dog’s squirming because I can only half feel him. I gently bring my attention to my breathe and just as gently bring my attention from the idea that this could become a blog post. Could it be funny? Can someone at peace with themselves be funny? Shit. I am on breathe number 21. The practice is to reset at 10. 22. Why can’t I stop this? 25. OK. 1. My breath is so smooth. It is hear to support me just like the ground beneath my legs. Which I am totally not thinking about while I should be concentrating on my breath. Should. Shouldn’t this be over by now? Trust yourself. I tell me. The session will end at exactly the right time. But…surely this has been too long. I must not have started the Timer. I’ll just take a peek. Instead I gently bring my attention back to my breathe. 14, 15. No, no. 1. 2. Ahh…I am no longer worried about whether or not the timer is on. I can notice and set aside my worry. I am great at this. I can stay here all day. I could stay here forever. I might have reached enlightenment and freedom. Has anyone every done this so quickly? Did I win meditation?

I open one eye to check the timer. It is counting down. 2:17 2:16. So wait…I have been sitting here for less than five minutes? Maybe I should stop for now. As my soothing friend tells me my breath will be with me always. I can tune into it at any moment.

Clearly a dog bone is needed for meditation So in this moment I bend over my lap and the dog stretching my head forward towards the earth that gives us life. And rest my forehead directly on the cold wet dog bone.

Which I not so gently push away.

What we can learn from dogs…eye contact trumps icontact.

Dog looking at the cameraAll around me people are running with their dogs. It is Denver after all. I am taking very small steps trying not to slip on the ice. When I moved here I was told the city didn’t plow because the sun took car of the snow in a day or two. Last winter that was brilliant. This winter…not so much.

As I take my next tiny step a dog pulls very close to me, straining against his owners leash. I am not a dog person. Yet I find this dog charming. He is so gangly and charming. It is as if he is grinning at me as he tries to get closer. I am the best thing he has seen all morning. In fact I might be the best thing he has seen EVER.

I look at his owner, hoping to give her a smile to show her my appreciation for her side kick but she is looking at her phone. She gives him a sharp tug and he returns to her side. His large neck cranes back at me, his lost love. What a thing we could have been.

It the the most eye contact I have had all morning. After ordering my ginger peach tea and veggie empanada at the coffee shop I sat with my head down in front of my laptop. If I had looked up I would have seem a room full of me. Taller, more like a man, blonder, but all as committed to their computers as I was. Its not the work I wonder about. For many of us this is a virtual office. Its the time between, the walks to and fro. The bathroom breaks and bus tubs. Why are we making more “icontact” than eye contact?

cat staringWhen I got home I decided to ask my cat. She simply stared at me. Then stared. Then stared some more. I tried not to blink but like usual she won. I used my eyes to communicate to her the difference between staring and looking. I was attempting to model the  communication that comes from eye contact rather than the weird icy feeling that her endless stare brings to me. She would only stare back. It was like we were at a cocktail party and she was peering just a tiny bit over my head, showing me my lack of importance in her world.

I wonder why I am not a dog person.

In the not so distant past people fell between cats and dogs in the warmth of their eye contact. It wasn’t exactly love at first site like my canine Romeo, but we didn’t used to look at each other with such doubt and derision.

smart phoneThen the smart phone came along and our casual social interactions got a lot more dumb. When we look up from our devices it takes a minute to exit the virtual world and enter the world of 5 sense. By the time we have landed back on the planet that person walking down the street has passed without a smile.

These days I think people don’t fall between cats and dogs, but are more like fish, swimming around in our world of one, almost unaware of the beings around us.

I’m doing my part to change this…I am putting down the device when I am in public and am opting for eye contact rather than icontact. I am even less of a fish person than a dog person.

crowded fish bowl

What about you? Are you most like the dog, the cat, or the fish? Do you want to join me in trying to increase eye contact?Learning from pets