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I’m reading The Willpower Instinct which is more of a self-help book than I’d like but was recommended as an engaging and well-written look at the way our brains work. This is one that I would pass along to others, particularly those thinking of starting a new habit or taking a new direction. At any rate, I’m reading it in conjunction with the book my mother sent and together the science/faith perspectives are fascinating. I would not have said that, come August, I’d be knee-deep in self-help, but there it is.

Honestly, it’s nice to think solely about myself (and science and faith) for 20 minutes every night. It gives my brain a chance to step down from the constant effort required to raise a thoughtful and peaceful three-year-old. Being dynamic and engaging while also reframing situations for the better is mentally exhausting. I spend a lot of time in the space between action and reaction riffling through a mental rolodex of possible responses and tactics. She’s an exceptionally good wolverine and a fairly good kid, so the mental gymnastics pay off (and my own good parenting is becoming more habit).

The Willpower Instinct barely gets started before discussing meditation (nice summary of that here). It really isn’t something impossible (in theory). Just five minutes spent focusing on breath. Incidentally, meditation is also something that my mental health and fertility doctors have recommended. I would love to have that five minutes but I can’t find them.

Getting up earlier doesn’t guarantee quiet – in fact, it would almost certainly wake up the rest of the house, gears of daily life grinding. Staying up later feels like I’m depriving myself of the peaceful conversation with my wife in bed and the wind-down of reading. Tuning out to meditate and then tuning back in to re-engage feels uncomfortable to me. I’ve looked for a spot at work but I can’t focus for fear of being crept up on. I have a fleet of excuses.

If you have suggestions, pile on. As a reward, I give you this lovely link setting Wikipedia’s edits to sound: http://listen.hatnote.com/


5 Responses

  1. Mediation makes me tense. I know, I know. For the record, yoga makes me unhappily competitive. It’s a wonder I am allowed to keep my lesbian card.*

    What does make me calm down and center or whatever is swimming, not that I’ve managed to do it in years. Also walking. Maybe it is more possible to build some ostensibly purposeful activity like that into your day? I dunno. Ever since the unsleeping child came into our lives, I’ve had a nearly ungovernable desire to stab people who suggest “just” waking up earlier.

    * I don’t like portobello mushrooms, either. And I’m cooking veal for dinner.

    • I’ve heard that swimming is, in and of itself, a meditative practice for some folks. I swam competitively for so long, all I can think of when I swim is how I’m not working hard enough. I know. I know! I wish wish wish I could find time to sit and meditate but it may well be that walking (or something!) is probably going to have to do. That said, I haven’t worn my birkenstocks in two months. The Lesbian Police are totally coming to my house first.

  2. When I was trying to get knocked up, I really liked Yoga Nidra. I only went a few times, but it was good for quieting the anxious voice in my head. I can’t ever find time to meditate or exercise at home. I find that I have to actually make it a thing and leave the house.

  3. I used to be really good about finding time for myself – mostly first thing in the morning. These days with the ungodly hour the big yellow angel comes to collect the child, my old habit of getting up and working out at 6 am doesn’t fit. I still find the time, but it’s not a regular habit – definitely NOT during the summer, when I try to sleep the day away, meaning, I lounge in bed past 7 am.

    That said, I do my best to make a Wednesday lunchtime yoga class on a regular basis – it helps my hips and I’ve realized that it’s helped me learn to carve out a few minutes here & there to just breathe.

  4. I knit, when I get the chance. I usually do it while watching tv (used to be sci fi shows, now it’s mostly Sesame Street and Word World), but when I do it just by itself, I find it especially meditative. Something about the repetitive motions that make progress works for me. Not that that really helps with finding the time, I’m afraid.

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