Catitude and Chore Meditation

Meditation and yoga got the housework done; no, I haven’t invented a new variety of either, it’s just that its TRUE…..meditation and yoga help you see things differently.

Of course Precious ‘s (cat) own brand of ‘Catitude’ helped spur things along as she wont be ignored; indeed if you try, she gives you a look that would curdle milk. But I am getting ahead of myself. For this mornings meditation I though I would try the added hurdle of meditating with my eyes open; its more challenging (seemingly) because you have to concentrate on avoiding what you see as well as what you hear / feel etc.

Meditate

Great thought I, will gaze absent-minded  out the window and drift into the rhythm of the breath….breath in and be grateful, breath out with easy and feel the surroundings….breath in…wonder what to have for dinner?…..ohh breath out with thanks….. breath in deeply…..am I getting a cold? and look at the weeds out there! exhale….bring mind gently back to breath and quiet the commentary in head…. breath in …..Look at the dirt on the windows! how can you relax?….breath out in irritation……. Ten more minutes of a banal mental newsreel and I was thankful when Precious appeared at the window demanding to be let in. Honestly, if you ignore her she gives you the paw!

Switch to Yoga

By this stage I was a little tense so attempted a quick half hour of Yoga, I mean the mat was out so why not? and it may just achieve what the meditation didn’t. Precious abandoned me as I wasn’t going to sit still and be her pillow for her average nineteen hour nap, Fickle she is!. Yoga Tree pose’ into… I am a Crane’, breath….was that a twinge?…breath out and move gently to next.. feeling empowered in warrior pose’, head up…is that a cobweb in the top corner?….. down on mat for Cobra pose’…Damn, Precious is back  and rubbing herself on my head as I am now closer to where she wants to be as the sun is coming in the window now. Pause to put cat back out and then straight into a challenging Eagle pose’, now, for those of you not familiar with Yoga, this stance involves wrapping one leg around the other while standing and at the same time entangling your arms with each other and then pretending squatting , as if to sit on a chair that isn’t there, and then (allegedly) holding the stance. I say allegedly as my imaginary chair vanished and I arrived at the relaxed baby pose’ flat on back. And this is when I found a bit of Christmas.

Chores

From my floor vantage point, there, under the couch was some glistening strands of foil from the Christmas tinsel !,what can I say, I don’t lift the couch on a regular basis, and lets just pretend that static must have made it stick to the underside of webbing and so must have missed it during previous vacuums. Nice as it was to find a bit of Christmas as we approach Easter (a bit of a reverse to having Easter eggs in the shops at Christmas!), it spurred me into action and if you now looked through my nice sparkling windows you would see only boring  tidiness, no tinsel in sight. So you see, Meditation and Yoga got the work done.

Celebrate and Relax

Whether you are looking at celebrating the impending holiday from the perspective of religion, chocolate or a love of bunnies, I hope you have a fun and satisfying time. I am not going to be doing an Easter egg hunt for fear I might find a well hidden abandoned egg next Christmas! Instead, we will paint hard-boiled eggs and roll them down the nearest hill until they are smashed and inedible; which is a ritual from my childhood. The dogs will no doubt help in the clean up of any leftovers as they will eat just about anything, even it has rolled through a cow pat. I don’t know the exact origins of our egg rolling habit in Scotland (where I am from) but as a child I always imagined it must have something to do with the biblical ‘rolling away the stone’; only the youthful me imagined the large oval ‘stone’ being rolled away as a big oval Chocolate Easter egg and hence the need and desire to chase it down steep slopes. But then have always had an over active imagination and chocolate took precedence over any religion  in the tender, chubby years. Happy Easter x. * Mindful that practice makes perfect, but thankful that I am not.

 

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Plastic Brain, No Preservative

Having a plastic brain is something we humans all have in common. Yes, I hear you…we all know some Numpty  you would swear just had sawdust in there, but nope, tis all plastic…… or we all have Neuroplasticity if you want the posh …ehmm….brainy version. It is only over the past few years that scientists have been able to conclusively overturn  the long-held theory that our brains were fixed and that was that. A point that is illustrated brilliantly in Norman Doidge’s book ‘ The Brain that changed itself’, in which he shows many life changing examples of brains (and real life people) that have transformed themselves following strokes and brain injuries to compensate for damaged areas; regenerating and altering to compensate.

So you see, the old saying ‘use-it-or -loose-it’ was onto something; well, it was if it was referring to the cranial department and not to where some people refer to others keeping their brains!……..lets drag our heads back from THAT department.

This all came to the forefront of mind (sorry for pun) this week as I undertook a course of study and initially my head felt like a blob of plasticine that had been left abandoned , and not played with for a while. So it was read, read, read… ouch!…..(squeeze, prod the blob, soften it up)…read, read, read, (flatten, stretch, pull, shape). All trying to wake it up and have it malleable enough to form new shapes or ideas.

When I started to apply mindfulness principles to what I was doing, it really felt as if some strands in my brain were, like cobwebs blowing in the breeze and struggling to find an anchor point of comprehension, to tell the rest of my head that it understood what I was reading! But after a while, like well worked Blu Tack, it became usable again, started to make connections and reason with new thoughts. Phew! I was relieved, as was starting to think my head may have turned into that nondescript brown blob of play dough seen in childcare centres at the end of the day, when the kids have mashed all the pretty colours together.

So, as I am just your average overachiever, I have set myself the ambitious task of moving the content of my head from Blu Tack to Memory Foam that fills my head! (I know, 2 puns in quick succession is probably too much, but sometimes unavoidable).

The trouble with our plastic brains is that it doesn’t really matter what end result  or brain format we are aiming for; because the brain changes its structure with each different activity we perform! It seemingly adapts itself like a super smart shape changer, perfecting itself to the arrangement best suited to the task.

Gosh….that makes you wonder what folks we refer to as Richard Head do with their time?!

So look after you brain and feed it wisely; with wholesome, new and varied  positive thoughts and actions. But remember to give it exercise as well, as you don’t want a nondescript , inflexible brown plasticine blob between your ears. Make it a beautiful , shape shifting sculpture. * was mindful of why meditation works, and learned there is a reason we say “my brain hurts” when concentrating on the hard or abstract…..it has a whole transformation to make!

 

 

 

Toe Breathing for beginners…..

Part of aiming for overall fitness of mind / body/ spirit I have been working on improving my meditation technique……they say it takes 10,000 hours to perfect so this old girl hasnt a moment to lose!

As I have also been fitting in a 5km  daily walk with Henry (Choc Lab) it occurred to me that if I could combine both it would be super efficient……….so was time to give Walking Meditation a go…..>>>>>>

So off my choc buddy and I went, complete with me plugged into iPhone voiceover  app of “mindfulness walking meditation”, well we started off  at a cracking, enthusiastic pace until the soothing voice urged me to “concentrate on where you ARE rather than where you are GOING”…..what the?, OK, slow down and concentrate…..ooops , don’t walk into the lampost…..you can’t shut your eyes to concentrate, focus girl focus….nope…he is definitely reinforcing “just be where you are and be curios about THAT and don’t worry about the destination”……..by this time poor Henry was getting bored with such slow walking and was leading me off in the direction of a pre piddled tree. Having just reached the part where I was to imagine my thoughts like “clouds drifting in the sky” was when Henry became my assistance dog ( he is such a brilliant chum) and stopped me walking out in front of a car by running in a circle and wrapping his lead round my legs…….what a pal {Note to self……dont have both ears plugged in while out and about….even if  what I was doing was  meant to improve “awareness”! what an oxymoron}.

Ok, now with one ear being safety conscious and H having decided it was safer to walk in front we got to the part where ; having scanned the whole self, i was to “breathe in deeply down to my left little toe and then feel same toe breath out all the way up to my lungs”………..concentrate girl, concentrate….nope, cant even feel my wee left toe; maybe my socks are too thick….ooops he has moved onto the right foot and i havent even exhaled from the left!!!!!, wondering if my foot may blow up gave me the giggles and I had to abandon the voiceover.  Clearly this toe breathing is going to take some practice so maybe will start with my feet up on a stool to help with the visualisation…..Maybe one of the occasions when wine helps.

A regular dog walking (nodding acquaintance) very sweet old gent did stop for a chat on our way back and commented on how happy i seemed that day, so maybe part of the meditation worked :). *I learned to be mindful and you can only consciously listen when you make your ears available.