Writer, Reader, Tea Drinker, Chrononaut

Month: January 2019

Do what’s in front of you

Today’s quote for those of us who get easily distracted*:

“Concentrate every minute like a Roman – like a man – on doing what’s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice. And on freeing yourself from all other distractions. Yes, you can – if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self-centered, irritable. You see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life? If you can manage this, that’s all even the gods can ask of you.”
– Marcus Aurelius**

This was the January 29 quote from The Daily Stoic, which I’m back to reading again, and which pairs quite nicely with Pema Chodron’s Comfortable with Uncertainty.

Even having read this before, this time around it really hit home.


*Is there anyone among us who doesn’t get easily distracted? Anyone? Bueller?

**I have to admit a crush on Marcus Aurelius. Any Roman emperor-military commander who has to make notes to himself about ‘yes it sucks, but get your ass out of bed’*** has my undying respect and love.

***[meta-comment] My loose Latin translation from his Meditations.

Today’s haiku

my yoga soundtrack:
TLC, Bare Naked Ladies
finally a deep breath

-on relaxing after an oddly adrenaline-fueled day

Today’s haiku

no rain and clear skies
the shortest winter ever
for a Portlander

-on incredibly mild and dry January days
that have me slightly worried for summer

Meditation and the monkey

I sat down to do my pre-writing meditation. It’s nothing special—I just sit and breathe and do a body check-in (start with the tip of the nose, then follow a line over my head, down the neck, over the shoulders, down the back, the legs, soles, up over the top of the foot, shins, legs, torso) just noticing how things are feeling. It’s simple and intended to settle my monkey mind down before I write.

It’s normal to have the mind drift off to random thoughts (‘I really should do laundry’, ‘did I ever reply to that email?’, ‘look at me! I’m meditating’), which in Zen gets referred to as ‘monkey mind’, like a monkey constantly chattering away in your mind.

So today I was meditating and the monkey mind was loud and obnoxious and unending. Screeching and screeching. An image popped into my head and I saw the monkey, and he was jumping up and down, trying to pull me down to the ground. Well, I wasn’t having any of that, so I started pounding my fists into the monkey. Then I grabbed its neck and throttled it, shaking it violently with my white-knuckled hands.

When I realized what I was doing, I dropped the monkey. He fell into a heap on the metaphorical ground, and I had a radical thought.

What if I befriended the monkey?

Another image popped into my head, except this time it was me handing the monkey a banana and inviting him to sit next to me. He peeled the banana, started eating it, and plopped down by my side. With a contented sigh, he leaned his head against my side and quietly ate. The two of us sat there, each doing our own thing in companionable silence.

At last, I was able to settle down and relax.

And let me just say: it felt really good.

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