"Don't just do something, sit there."   (view our quote database)

All public journal entries by Charlie


I took a month-long break from meditation. I had given myself the goal of doing 30 minutes each day for one month straight. When I started to slip, I noticed how disappointed I was getting with myself, so I just decided to lay off altogether. I was feeling pretty depressed when I was keeping up with meditation, and since I have a predisposition toward depression, I had to cut down on my expectations of myself, even if that meant sacrificing something as beneficial for the mind as meditation. 

My depression lifted. When I try to maintain one goal, I tack on a dozen others. Write every day. Exercise no matter what. Go vegetarian. Go to bed early. Play at least 30 min to an hour of each instrument each day. Add to all of that having to juggle school and work responsibilities and also considering I would take 20-30 minutes at a time each day to sit quietly in a separate room from my wife, I just had to ease up. Some of my favorite time spent with my wife is when we both get in bed and read. My escaping to meditate while she sat alone didn't make me feel very good. I was trying to do it both in the morning and at night. I'll strive for each morning for my next week, and if I really find it an opportune moment, I'll do it at night here and there, but I won't stress about it.

I hate to think meditation was partially what was dragging me down, and I know it was merely everything surrounding my sitting, but when you're a depressive guy and meditation makes you feel like you're placidly sinking down into quicksand, if you feel like you're beginning to do the opposite of helping yourself, you're going to panic, kick, struggle, and fight to find some other way out.

Posted: 4 years ago

Tagged: depression

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Foamed-up earholes

I used earplugs for the first time during meditation. I have a trove of them for muffling the roar of cymbals and drums when I play music, but due to neighborly respect, I've restricted my thunder to the hard-quiet thwap of electronic pads and a set of headphones through which only I can hear the simulacra of 110 different assorted drum sets. 

I have more than I know what to do with, is all I mean. And today, with the sounds of Little Women streaming through the walls from my living room, I figured I would leave my better half undisturbed to consume Winona Ryder and Christian Bale at whatever volume level she desired. Sound waves not totally absorbed by the walls and various surroundings were more or less tempered to a suitable level for sitting concentration. At one point, when some higher-frequencied operatic goings-on were commanding my attention more than the muffled *lub-lub* of unrecognizable dialogue, I started wondering if the television in the other room or the violent orange earplug slowly birthing its way out of its coiled form in my ear hole was the more distracting. The TV was then turned off, so I was left with the creepy feeling that a snail was unfurling its sluggy meat and reaching out into the air. I also started imagining my ears housing intumescent reactions of sodium bicarbonate in the form of neon Pharaoh's Snakes. 

Then my heart announced itself more pronouncedly than before, its thump seemingly irregular and conjuring images of the lumbering, mute, hirsute Looney Toon member, Gossamer, dancing out a tap routine inside a rubber room while drunk and dizzy from medication. It was arrhythmic, is all. Not so unusual for myself. It was interesting to be more aware of it, though. I had to force breath down into my body because letting aspirations take themselves was leaving me feeling shallow and short of appropriate oxygen delivery. I can't tell if it really slowed my heart at all, but I felt a little bit better if only under the illusion of control. Then my timer went off. It wasn't all an ecstatic experience, and a bit distracting, but it made me feel at least like I edged out a fraction of a diametric unit by expanding my awareness of my circulatory process and its influence on my state of mind. I'm predisposed to neuroses and have always had marginally high blood pressure, so it has blipped on my radar that I might want to keep an eye on potential aortic-quaking factors. I should probably kick or notch down the caffeine intake, but as I jettison damnable vices here and there, I tend to hold more firmly to the ones I have left. I don't drink, smoke, or ingest illicit substances at this stage of the game, so what I have left are an all-consuming intolerance for any lack of excess in caffeine and a ravenous desire for junk food. Exercise in excess used to balance this all out, but since I'm finding less time to hone my physical body by devoting more time to studying, these indulgences take their toll with a bit more corrosive enthusiasm. 

I'm trying to devote more time to meditation, but I also want to direct more purpose to the practice. Sometimes I feel like I'm just zoning out with my eyes closed and chastising myself every few seconds for letting my mind buck around like a wild mare. I've got loads of books on the stuff, but I lack the commitment to one dedicated route. While I know it isn't the best approach, I have apparently chosen to carve my own path with psychic miscegenation. This is a choice I'm more and more willing to correct through finding how directionless and confusing it can be. 

Posted: 5 years ago


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Day two of 29

I turned 29 on Friday. I have pledged to meditate more, for longer, more consistently, with more directed focus, and with more clarity for the past few milestones I can remember. A few January firsts, a few birthdays, etc. I am in the last year of my twenties. I assumed that over ten years ago, I would have gone well beyond where I am now, but I assumed a lot of things when I was 17, 18, and 19. I can only project that I might become more realistic in my expectations over the next decade. The past ten years have held, between a decade's nebulous bookends, a heft of tumult and danger. An identity that itched like razored steel wool has been shed, but I got all kinds of fucked up from wearing it and even from the act of taking it off. 

I have had an immense amount of good fortune come my way, and when compared to my former habits and relationships, I feel like I've seen through the eyes of an evil twin for most of my life and I now have the most beautiful wife I could ever imagine, and aesthetic strengths aside, we fold into each other and make an exact fit in every way I could ever think possible. Even when we're fighting, I can't help but feel that it's better than even the best days between myself and my ex-wife. 

My life has taken a seismic shift from what it once was, and I want to spend each day acknowledging how thankful I am for what I am lucky to have. A life of negativity and substance abuse have carved furrows in my mind and patterns of thought. This has wrought negativity in a full-force bursting forth of hungry, acrid, toxic goo that eats through flesh and metal and wood and glass. So I'm trying to dig on some neuroplasticity and reroute some streams, dam some things shut, and open the gates for a flood or a trickle of a more fruitful path.

I got 20 minutes in today before the wife and I went out for some Sunday errands. I noticed that my threshold for irritation and upset was changed in such a way that when I was met with negativity from others or in something I conjured by myself, I was able to let it roll off of me with a bit more ease. I was still affected to some degree, but with less rigidity. 

I'm reminded of my professor from last semester, who also happens to be a tai chi instructor. He said that a brick wall is thought of to be very strong, and a linen sheet is thought of to be very weak. In some sense this is true, but consider a large boulder being thrown at the two. The boulder hits the brick wall, it crashes through, the bricks crumble, and the wall is destroyed. On the other hand, a hanging sheet reacts differently to the same boulder hurled with the same force. It gives, and accepts, and it follows. The boulder continues its path, but the sheet flows back to where it originally hung, largely unaffected. His point was that tai chi is a mode of accessing one's ability to relax rigidity and accept things as they come. I have never done tai chi, but I feel meditation can give similar results. If you're already loose, meditation can be like a scented dryer sheet to give you a little bounce. I'm a bit more like a brick wall at this point. Gotta keep on.

Posted: 5 years ago


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