Thursday, April 05, 2007

Morning Pages and Mindfullness

View of the mountains and the tiny town below from Bean's deck.

At BBC, we were encouraged to take about 15 minutes, first thing in the morning, to write "Morning Pages." Melissa, the co-founder of BBC, explained that Morning Pages were not a "Dear Diary," a place to record what had happened during the previous day, but were rather intended to be a cleansing exercise through which you could purge your mind of all your thoughts and start the day refreshed. The idea for Morning Pages came from the Artist's Way - a book, incidentally, I've had on my shelf for the last 10 years but have never read. It's now on my to do list.

According to Melissa, focusing for a few minutes each morning to record your thoughts is a way to tap into your creativity and inner wisdom. The idea being that writing first thing in the morning, before the distractions of the day have taken over your mind, allows you to see into your core and uncover your truest and deepest thoughts, desires, dreams, and points of concern. Melissa shared with us how she often doesn't recall what she has written for her Morning Pages, but later, after reviewing them she would see patterns of thought emerging, which enabled her to develop a greater awareness of her self. A theme that continued to emerge for her was her desire to have a child. It kept popping up in her Morning Pages, before other thoughts could take hold, and eventually she realized that's what she really wanted to do, and she did it. She now has an absolutely adorable little boy named Dylan.

For me, in concept and in practice, Morning Pages is about being mindful, something which was an important theme for me throughout my week at BBC, and something which I've known I need to work on for quite some time. Being mindful in the sense of being present in the moment, being aware of my mind and body, being still, and embracing where I am at any given moment.

Being mindful is significant for me because for so long I had not been living mindfully. I had difficulty sitting still with myself. I was often in triage mode. I think now that some of my unmindfullness was self-protective. I knew that I was unhappy, I knew that I had to make changes, but I also knew that I was not yet ready to make changes, so I pushed onwards trying to hold on to the small joys that made the rest of it bearable. Mind you, I have no intention of living unmindfully again; I'm just observing that there are reasons for everything, including perhaps my inability to be mindful of my soul during the last couple of years. I had other things to figure out, other lessons to learn.

Other examples of my lack of mindfullness would be the many, many times I have done things such as leap up to go to the refrigerator 10 times in 15 minutes, playing spider solitaire for hours on end in a state of agitation thinking that each game will be my last but being unable to walk away from the computer, ripping off one nail after another, and eating too much too fast until my stomach hurts and my head aches from a sugar overload.

Just this morning there was another example of this unmindful behavior. Waking up at my sister's house, there was no coffee, I had to hunt through her cupboards for breakfast, and there was some minor family stress. My mom and I couldn't get in touch with Bean and her husband at first (because they were sleeping), my mom was stressed about that which was making me stressed even though I was trying to be zen about things, we didn't have a car so we couldn't take things into our own hands (ah, lack of control, interesting), and I felt as if I was stuck in a caffeine-less limbo world. Really, all I wanted to do was know that at some point in the day I would be able to go to the hospital to see Bean and the baby.

How did I deal with this limbo world, you ask? I wish that I could say that I had a nice glass of cool refreshing water, sat in a corner and meditated for 5 minutes, and then purged all of my thoughts by writing my Morning Pages. But, no, that's not exactly what happened. Instead, I fiddled with the TV, sent my sister a text, told my mom to relax, and tried to make myself relax by.... eating an entire bag of Pepperidge Farm Shortbread Chessman Cookies. Essentially, I self-medicated my anxiety with shortbread. Awesome.

I didn't intend to, I swear! I can hear my BBC personal trainer tsk-tsk-ing away. I found the cookies while searching for a healthy breakfast alternative, ate one, then ate two more to make it an even three, then watched some TV, then felt slightly anxious, then went back to search for coffee, then had three more, then channel surfed, checked my phone, glanced at my mother, had three more, etc. Before I knew it, the package was gone and my head was in a sugar coma.

It's not technically true to say that I didn't know what I was doing. I knew exactly what I was doing, and I kept eating them to savor the pure taste of goodness that they created on my tongue. The reason it wasn't mindful though was because the taste of them in my mouth was just a temporary fix, a distraction from what was really going on. The taste is deceptive. Though they tasted like pure goodness, the cookies are not good or pure. Pure would have been meditating, doing my morning pages, and having some water. The good news is, I was able to identify my lack of mindfullness. Tomorrow morning I will be better to myself.

The other good news is that Bean's husband is on his way to pick up my Mom and me. I'll be spending the afternoon ooh-ing and ah-ing over the gorgeous little creature she brought into this world. I can't wait to hold my nephew for the very first time. Make no mistake about it, I'm going to be fully present in that moment.


Starshine said...

Holding the little baby will definitely be pure goodness!


Karianne said...

I'm so jealous!

Sparky Duck said...

trust me, mindful or not, I would be craving a cigarette way before I would be savoring any cookies

Bubbles said...

It is sometimes healthy to indulge, too. Congratulations on the cute little nephew. You have so muhch to look forward to-- like when he is nine and gets gum in his hair during the standardized test and has to cut it out and in order to avoid getting in trouble, he wears a hat constantly for a week before getting caught and having to have a buzz cut. Good times.

Gypsy said...

I hate that "what did I just do and why did I do it" feeling. I hope tomorrow morning is better. :)