Private Tutoring *or* I Made Out With a Monk Last Night

22 11 2010

Current Habit: Meditation/Yoga Day 4

Deryn: Well technically, a former monk, but we’ll get to that in a minute.  We have officially started practicing yoga and/or meditating every day. I’ve really enjoyed the reaction my body has to yoga in the past (sleeping well, feeling blood flow throughout my body, the loosening of my muscles) and was looking forward to practicing both yoga and meditation more often. In other news, I have recently started dating someone that I’m actually really excited about.  As Sophie so aptly put it, “Yay! You’re not dead inside!” When Zen* asked what I was up to the first night of this habit, I told him that I was trying to meditate for 30 minutes – the longest amount of time I’ve ever attempted to meditate. He texted back, “Did I tell you I used to be a monk?” My first thought: Oh god. I recommended a monk read The Tao of Pooh! My second thought: Score! Private tutor! We began the first of many conversations about his 3 weeks as a monk (it’s a coming-of-age, cultural thing).

Last night, Zen and I meditated together and the only word to describe it was amazing. I have never experienced calm like I did while following his directions on breathing and releasing my thoughts. Previously, I thought that meditation had come naturally for me. It hasn’t been too much of a struggle to breathe slowly and stop thinking, but now I know that I hadn’t been meditating correctly. I learned last night that meditation isn’t about turning your brain off – it’s allowing your brain the quiet it needs to listen to your body. The way I understand it is that your brain only has so much bandwidth, kind of like an internet connection. When there are so many thoughts and sensations happening at once, your brain doesn’t have the space it needs to focus on what’s happening internally.  As a white girl from Texas, I never would have thought that I’d be spending time on a date meditating with a former monk! 

The combination of learning to meditate while slowly but surely coming alive inside again feels amazing. Today I woke up refreshed after very little sleep, relaxed during a very stressful week, and ready to take on what I know will be a very long day.  I think meditation has been the first habit that feels like the results are almost instant.  I know there is still a lot to learn, but it’s really exciting to be seeing and feeling the results!



*No, his name is not really Zen.

Advertisements




Positive Changes *or* Sophie Gets Deep

10 10 2010

Current Habit: Waking Up Early, Day 7

Sophie: So this whole habit-creating idea is having a ton of positive effects on my life and relationship that I did not expect, and it’s kind of awesome.  Apparently, if you take a little time to figure out what you want out of life, then map out a game plan to accomplish that, it makes you happier!  I know, right?  It’s like some crazy novel idea…or not.  But I, and apparently a ton of other people, have forgotten this simple concept.  I think this happens easily with the instant-gratification mindset of a lot of Americans today…along with busier lifestyles, demanding jobs, families, etc.  Or maybe people just aren’t teaching their kids the value of a little focus and determination anymore.  But to be honest, it didn’t take a whole lot of effort to make some changes.  It was thinking about making the changes that was so overwhelming.  Really, I just sat down one day and thought “Who do I wish I could be?” wrote it down, wrote down some things I needed to do to become that ideal person, and jumped right in!

Focusing on this blog is the first concerted effort I have made to really improve my life since graduating college 5 years ago.  My career hasn’t really gone anywhere, I haven’t returned to grad school, and I’ve been with the same boyfriend in a static relationship the whole time.  Quite frankly, I’ve been pretty unhappy and lost without school in my life – some sort of goal to always be working towards.  I’ve been aware of this void, but haven’t been able to figure out how to repair it.  When I set out to start this year long quest and associated blog, I didn’t think it was going to be the solution; it was just something to do.  Now that I’m 3.5 weeks in, I think this is the best thing that could have happened to me.  Well, it didn’t really happen TO me, I just took the initiative to start something.  Nevertheless, it’s had some fantastic effects, and I thought I would share.

First, and I may be completely off base here, but I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten smarter since we started this… maybe not Stephen Hawking smart, but I’m definitely a little more articulate, slightly more quick-witted, have a better memory, and am able to focus more easily.  This might be a result of the specific habits I chose (so far: reading, and waking up early), or it could just be a benefit of being happier in general.  Taking time out of every day to focus on myself, being able to tell Boyfriend that his ‘needs’ have to wait until I’m done with mine, and having a brighter, constantly improving future to look forward to is a natural mood booster, and it’s reinforced every day.  Being in a better mood just has a domino effect on every other aspect of life – I’m more fun to be around, nicer to Boyfriend, motivated to do things (like clean the apartment – which has bonus benefits),  and I’m a hell of a lot more social than I was before.

On top of all that, there are aspects of my relationship that have improved drastically (*wink*wink*….just kidding…kind of).  For example, Boyfriend said to me the other day that he really respects and admires my motivation to improve myself, and it makes him want to strive to be a better person too.  This is INCREDIBLE coming from him, as I’ve never known him to think about self-improvement, or even the future beyond the upcoming weekend for that matter.  This, in turn, has given us more topics of conversation – a huge plus, because after 4.5 years with someone, you pretty much run out of stuff to talk about.  Also, as I mentioned before, he wakes up at the ass crack of dawn.  He’s done this since he was a kid and can’t sleep in even when he tries.  This results in about a 4 hour gap between when he gets up and when I get up, which in turn results in him getting bored and resorting to “natural remedies” to entertain himself, which pisses me off, and gets the whole day off to a bad start.  It’s an endless cycle, that was only broken when I started waking up at 6.  Now, instead of what has been happening, we have the early morning time to cuddle, drink coffee, talk (with all our new conversation material!) and just spend some quality time together that we have never had before.  I never would have imagined that all the time we spent talking about what we can do to fix our relationship could have been spared if I had just made myself a priority for a minute.  I highly recommend trying it





Communication and Relationships *or* Telling the Boyfriend

17 09 2010

Current Habit: Reading, day 5

Sophie: So, as posted in my bio, it should be known that I am private to a comical extent.  Deryn thinks this is hilarious, as apparently other people don’t do it to this extreme.  The first time the two of us hung out alone (we met through mutual friends) was on the way to a roller derby bout.  Neither of us had watched a derby bout before and were excited about the idea of doing something new.  This led to a whole conversation about “having adventures”, keeping life exciting and not becoming “Empty Shell People” – deep stuff for a first interaction :).  Because of the ease of conversation with her, I opened up pretty quickly – but to be honest, this is stuff I haven’t even told my boyfriend of 4 1/2 years.  I was surprised to discover THIS IS NOT NORMAL!!  At the time, it was really funny, but after the fact I was a bit concerned for the state of my relationship.  This sets a good foundation for the topic of this post – introducing Habitual Me to Boyfriend.

When Deryn and I first decided to move forward with this idea, she jokingly asked “So….how long before you tell Boyfriend about the blog?” umm….when he realizes I’ve made an awful lot of drastic changes recently?  I took this as a bit of a self-challenge, and decided I was going to *gasp* tell boyfriend *doublegasp* before we even started the blog…  After all, I am trying to work on my communication skills.  So about a week later (yes it took me that long to work up to it) I nervously sat at a mexican restaurant across the dinner table from the man I’ve shared my time with for so long, preparing every word I was about to say…”So, umm, Deryn and I were talking the other night….and apparently I don’t tell you things, and I’m sorry for that” gee, how eloquent.  But he expressed appreciation, and I proceeded to tell him about the blog.  It couldn’t have been more awkward on my part, and I think that made it awkward for him – but at least it’s progress!!

When it came time to actually start our habits (the first being reading every day) of course my concern went to – what will I do on the nights I spend at his house?  I work with him – out of his house – and spend about every other night at his place, so I will need to be doing a lot of these things there.  This means A) My habits will not be enforced by doing them in the same environment every day (which apparently helps reinforce them), B) I’m really going to need to prepare ahead of time what I will need to stick to this commitment and C) I’m going to have to tell Boyfriend about every one of these habits…. I think I’m up to the challenge.  The first habit is simple enough – I just need to read for 30 minutes a day.  As Boyfriend sat on his couch playing video games, I picked up my book and began to read…and Boyfriend began to talk.  Reading and listening don’t generally happen at the same time. Coincidentally, at the same time I was reading in my book (“Brain Rules”) about how your brain cannot multitask and wastes so much time switching from one task to another and back…so I explained to Boyfriend the importance of sticking to these habits that I value.  I was shocked at what happened next…

…he said “OK, thanks for letting me know” and continued playing his game.  Wow, that was easy..  So communication isn’t so bad, and keeping things completely private isn’t that great.  Day 2 and this is already improving my life in unexpected ways.








%d bloggers like this: