The other day I got high and rammed my body with an inadvisable amount of caffeine. Then I found presence.
So during this pandemic, on my days off, I’ve been getting high for midday workouts on my balcony. I’ve stopped doing anything weight based, just low impact joint friendly stuff. I do my own guided stretching that can take anywhere from twenty to ninety minutes, then I’ll do a 30 minute Youtube workout video (quick plug for The Body Project, by the way. Fun and easy to follow for a whole range of fitness levels). It’s also a good time for me to let my thoughts wander ad infinitum. I’ve never been great at concentrating. My thoughts seem to be always in many places at once. I’m sure the weed wasn’t helping there.
After turning my blood to coffee, I wasn’t bucking this trend. I walked out onto the balcony and couldn’t stop my thoughts from racing. Not doom and gloom stuff, just what would a dog look like in a turtleneck?/when do I get to play Magic again?/what am I gonna eat for dinner tonight?/how much of Gremlins 2 do I remember? Altogether it wasn’t conducive to my goal of stretching and working out.
So I gave myself a Time Out. I sat down on the chilly bin and stopped. I closed my eyes, made myself take deep breaths and asked myself a few questions. Is any of this important enough to focus on over what I’m doing? If not, will I need to address it in the short term? If not, is it more of a long term thing? If so, why not put it aside until it’s necessary? Why waste my time and energy on these things that don’t matter right now? Why shortchange something I enjoy for no reason? Why not put my effort towards getting more out of my stretch, enjoying the music, and just being where I was?
And things stopped. I calmed down. I started stretching, really taking into account what I was stretching. I found where to push, what was helping and what wasn’t. Whenever an intrusive thought came up, I asked myself it was important at that time, or if I could think about it later. If it was important, I addressed the thought, then got back to what I was doing. If it wasn’t, I shelved it for later. I had a fantastic workout, and whenever a new thought came up, I continued with this process. Very quickly, I found it quite straightforward to just be where I was.
I came in and talked excitedly to my girlfriend about giving myself a time out. She looked back excitedly and said “babe, that’s mindfulness meditation”. And I stopped. And I thought. And I realised she was right.
In the past few days, it’s made EVERYTHING better. I assess every thought/task and ask myself if it’s urgent. If it’s not, I’ll put it away for later. I focus on what I’m doing. I put full effort and intention into one thing, then I move onto the next. I’m still doing things at the same pace (or more efficiently sometimes), I’m just doing them better. If I’m spending time with my girlfriend, I’m there with her. Kissing is better. Touch is better. I’m listening more. If I’m playing Magic, I’m consciously thinking of the best play, taking into account all the information at hand. If I’m watching TV, I’m paying attention rather than thinking about other things I could be doing. I know that this sounds complicated or exhausting, but it isn’t. It’s the opposite. I trust and love myself to know that I have my best intentions at heart, so I can gauge what’s best for me. If at any point that changes, I’ll figure out how to adapt and move forward. If I’m wrong, I accept it and look for a better option.
Forgive the stoner philosophy, but I’ve realised that life is an infinite series of moments. At any single one of those moments, we can decide to change. We’re not stuck with thoughts or opinions because we had them. We can change with new information. Sunken cost fallacy is bullshit, and being wrong isn’t a curse. Ego is. There are lessons in error. If we realise we’re wrong or misguided, we can stop, take stock, and figure out the best course of action from then on. With ANYTHING. There’s absolutely no purpose to holding onto resentment, regret, or self-doubt. If it’s not helping us, it’s worth taking apart and asking what it’s doing for us. Is there a reason I’m fixated on this? What is it really trying to say? Is there a more constructive way to look at it? Is there an alternative line of thinking? Is there a way to turn this around? If it’s not a quick fix, are there steps I could take? Will that take moments? Days? Months? Years?
Cool. No better time to start than now.