Awareness Heightened

Since starting my daily practice, things pop out at me or fascinate me like never before. Sometimes I feel as if I’m a baby again and this world seems so new and curious.

When I went for a jog yesterday I noticed a squirrel on a tree limb happily chewing away at some food and staring at me as it did it, I was so amazed that it wasn’t scared of me as I jogged past it. As I kept jogging, I felt super awake and just kept noticing how much would change with each time my right or left foot would land on the ground. Right foot down and I notice a happy mom and her energetic toddler walk past me, left foot down and I see a rusted pick-up truck turn the corner, right foot down a crow flys past me, left foot down I notice a hooded-man sitting on the park bench.

This constant awareness of everything, there is so much to be an awe of, how could one ever say they are bored? I used to say that as a restless teenager, but if I only knew back then. No regrets though, I’m so happy that I have been lost at one point so I know how it feels to be found again.

It’s in almost every moment I notice things more. As I sat in my car the other night, having a little bite to eat before heading into a class, there was a natural made disco-party of some sort going on in my car. I know it sounds funny, but I had music playing and the streetlight above my car made the rain-drop shadows from my windshield move amongst my car as if they were lights from a disco ball. I just sat there an awe and felt so grateful that for one: I even noticed it and for two: that I could find joy and beauty in such a simple moment.

Peace and love! 🙂
–Ilona

Don’t Forget to Breathe!

The last couple of days have been rough.  Even though I have started my day out with a twenty-minute meditation, the stress doesn’t care.  My work has been ultra busy and I have noticed myself easily slipping back into old anxious thinking patterns.  It doesn’t help that no matter how many people I encounter or talk to in a day, I have an extreme sense of loneliness.  Mostly lonely in the sense of, am I the only one trying to be spiritual in a very physical and materialistic world?  I know that’s not true, I’m not unique in partaking the spiritual side to life, sometimes it just feels that way.

 

As I was shuffling through papers on my desk at work today, worrying about whether I have forgotten to do something or didn’t say the right thing to someone, picking at my lips, I paused and realized I couldn’t remember the last time I noticed my breath.  At that exact moment, I put everything on my desk down, took my hands away from pushing on my cheek, took my teeth away from picking at the inside of my cheek and just took a long breath in, that helped tremendously.  From that moment on to the rest of the afternoon I kept remembering to never forget about the breath.

 

Also, I have found it extremely helpful to just count a few things to be grateful for (although I know there is so much more than just a few things.)  It really takes things into perspective, always.  I got a free carmel latte at work, I used all four of my limbs to have a good workout after work and I have a kitchen filled with food.  I am blessed.

 

Peace and love!

Ilona

Dreams….

I just wanted to jot down this “dream” I had (dreams are in quotes because I’m still questioning if it wasn’t more…) in the first month I came back to Portland, after traveling across the world for some of the summer, I had just started up meditating once a week at the Portland meditation group and I had this dream the morning after a deep meditation sitting the night before.

Straight from my journal:

“9/5/2012

I had the weirdest f***ing thing happen shortly before waking up.  I was in the sky, but somehow I realized it wasn’t an earthly sky, the color was that of another world.  It was sepia-tone, is the best way to explain it.  There were stars everywhere and I realized I was free/flying/floating in the Universe.  It was so vast!  So expansive, eternal, it was lovely, but then I fell back into my body and then I had this intense ringing in my ears (I had this the same night after our family cat, Kier, passed away a year ago.)  With this intense ringing, it wasn’t even as if it was my ears, it — the best way to explain it is, you know that noise as you change a channel on the T.V. and it’s static?  It was like that, as if my mind was changing channels and I was back out in the expansive Universe, it was breath-taking, so ever open and the feeling of leaving the body — I was out of my body and I tried so hard to start exploring this new Universe and then I realized I felt stuck lying down on my bed, but it was so over-whelming.  This euphoric, free feeling…I started breathing heavy and the buzzing/ringing came back in my ears and right back into my body I fell and reality came back.

Again, I realize that the point of meditation is not to have these experiences, but it seems that OBEs (out-of-body experiences) and meditation go hand-in-hand, no?

I would love to hear other stories of this….anyone, anyone?  Bueller?  If you have read this far, please share!  🙂

Tuesday night meditation.

 

changeyourthoughts

–Norman Vincent Peale

During my one-night-a-week group meditation (the energy of meditating in a group is amazing by the way) I had some really cool experiences.  The first cool happening was that my teacher mentioned during the guided part of our meditation that one of her favorite meditation teachers always mentioned “stay grounded in your body because it is easy to leave it while meditating and if that happens, you’re no longer aware and staying present.”  I really thought that was interesting she brought that up since I had exactly that experience (of leaving the body) just a few days prior while meditating.

 

The other interesting happening during this particular Tuesday night sitting was that I felt a strong tingling/tickling on my forehead and eventually it was so strong of a sensation that it felt as if a floodgate opened in my forehead and blood was just gushing in a circle in the middle of my forehead, it lasted for the rest of my sitting.  It is said that meditating activates the pineal gland in your brain which is located around the area I felt this sensation (also known as the third eye chakra.)  It wasn’t uncomfortable in the least bit, it was more so of a comfort in a way…..it was just very cool.

 

The third neat-o part of this meditation (and probably my favorite part) was another student in the class mentioned that since he has started to meditate on a more regular basis, he has noticed a tremendous positive change in his life.  He said he has been noticing negative thinking patterns a lot more and he’s been able to catch himself before getting wrapped up in a negative spiral.  He said that he has just felt incredible moments of calm and peace.  He said his teen-aged kids have been noticing his change and he has been getting along with them better than he ever has before.  He then caught my eye, pointed at me and said “yeah, actually, this has all been since a few weeks ago after you mentioned that you meditate for 20 minutes in the morning.  It inspired me, I had been doing it off and on when I had time in the evening, but ever since you mentioned that, I have been waking up 20 minutes earlier than usual to meditate and it has been great.”

 

That right there was proof to me that this has been starting a postive domino affect.  I had mentioned in my first post that doing this for myself is really going to benefit many others, it’s a positive echo out into the world.  Just one person saying that I inspired them means the world to me, because when it comes down to it….I’m doing this meditation for all of us, as a whole.

 

 

Observation Number Eight.

I am actually kind of losing track of the days while doing this, so I think instead of doing a daily update, I’m going to just jot down observations that seem pretty interesting to me.

I am noticing that I am becoming hyper-aware of sensations.  I went for a jog yesterday and the colors around my neighborhood seemed so vivid and the sounds of birds chirping and dogs barking seemed so incredibly loud.  I get this feeling as if I have been “asleep” for a long time and meditation is reactivating my awakening.

I went to a house party later in the night and while it was fun to socialize, I felt completely overwhelmed by all the energy around me.  In the past I would resort to getting drunk to numb out the overwhelming feeling of being in such an extroverted setting, but I have not had any desire to drink since getting more into meditation.  In fact when I do have a couple of drinks, I get the feeling of wanting to take them back, I want my FULL senses back and even a drink or two dulls the vivid senses I have been feeling more of.

One last observation is that with meditation, synchronicities seem to happen on a much more frequent basis.  One example that happened this morning was that I heard this song at my gym where the lyrics immediately jumped out at me and upon Googling the lyrics when I got home I got chills up and down my spine because it is EXACTLY what I have been feeling and thinking lately.  The main message I have been getting from within is that there is nothing to fear and as long as you do everything out of LOVE, you have nothing to fear.

“What Your Soul Sings”

Don’t be afraid, open your mouth and say, say what your soul sings to you.
Your mind can never change unless you ask it to.  Lovingly re-arrange the thoughts that make you blue.
The things that bring you down only do harm to you and so make your choice joy, the joy belongs to you.
And when you do, you’ll find the one you love is you, you’ll find you love you .
Don’t be ashamed no, to open your heart and pray, say what your soul sings to you.
So no longer pretend that you can’t feel it near, that tickle on your hand, that tingle in your ear.
Oh ask it anything because it loves you dear. It’s your most precious king If only you could hear.
And when you do, you’ll find the one you need is you, you’ll find you love you.
–Massive Attack

Day Six and Seven.

  “Well I lost my pride, with this body of mine….in another land, I began to understand.” –Awolnation

My computer is on it’s last legs and it wasn’t letting me post on Day 6…..just have to roll with the punches and work with what I have.  🙂

Last night I reached an incredibly deep state of meditation, I felt that I was floating above my body and in this formless land.  It was just bright white light and I was absorbed by it and it felt so peaceful.  It was pure love and peace I felt, it was amazing.  I had to open my eyes though because at one point, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to get back into my body.    However, I know that to reach this state is not the point of meditation, I somewhat lost myself and lost my concentration.

In the book “Small Boat Great Mountain” by Amaro Bhikkhu, this subject gets touched upon:

“Incidentally, this is why in Buddhist meditation circles there’s often a warning about deep states of absorption.  When one is in one, it can be very difficult to develop insight–much more so than when the mind is somewhat less intensely concentrated…..in cosmological terms, the best place for liberation is in the human realm.  There’s a good mixture of suffering and bliss, happiness and unhappiness here.  If we are off in the deva realms, it’s difficult to become liberated because it’s like being at an ongoing party….up in the brahma realms it’s even worse.  Who is going to come back down to grubby old earth and deal with tax returns and building permits?”

This made a lot of sense to me because I felt so incredibly good in the state I was in that I almost didn’t want to go back into my body, but I was also having a bit of fear because I felt so detached, it was so foreign to me that I wasn’t sure what would happen next.  While this plane of existence on Earth is really tough, with all of the pain, suffering, dirt and grime….it is also gorgeous and absolutely wonderful at times.  I am not ready to leave this plane of existence, I have a lot to learn yet….

Day Five.

I am becoming a lot more alert of emotional states I find myself in.  When I’m nervous about something, I actually stop to feel the nervousness and I don’t push it away.  It is so fascinating to me about how you can actually feel the physical sensation of certain emotional states, I think I used to be so intent on pushing them away that I wasn’t aware of how much your emotional states actually manifest into physical form.

I also am realizing how much I rely on my phone to make me happy.  I don’t look at my phone for hours, I work straight from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm without looking at my phone, but I find myself looking forward to spending my whole lunch hour on my phone and also on the food I’m eating to make me happy.  Once lunch hour is over though and I’m back to the grind I find out that over-indulging in the food has made me physically feel sick and being a slave to technology leaves me feeling more empty inside.

Just little observations, ones that I probably wouldn’t notice had I not been meditating so much.

The big lesson of the day: you become aware of a lot more when you meditate daily, especially unhealthy habits…….you look at intent more.  Such as: “Okay, so I ate that second piece of pie because I thought it would make me feel better, the intent was good….I was trying to make myself satisfied, but what I’m trying to seek is not in that second piece of pie.”  haha…..

Day Four.

Waves of gratitude.  They come out of nowhere ever since I started meditating.  I was just driving home from work and had an immense feeling of graditude…..grateful that I found meditation, grateful that I work with such kind people, grateful for the new shower head one of my roommates got for the house, grateful for all the food in our kitchen.  Negative thoughts are getting drowned out like never before.

Thanksgiving Weekend.

Wow, the holiday season, what a way to throw routine to the wind.  I was graciously taken in on Thanksgiving by roomy’s family in Idaho.  It was a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and I was really grateful to have people to spend it with, but my meditation routine definitely wasn’t quite the same.  I ended up meditating in the car (not telling my roomy that’s what I was doing, I still am a little shy to announce my meditation addiction…) on the way to Idaho, but it wasn’t quite the same.  I’d also wake up at her family’s place and meditate for 20 minutes before getting up out of bed, but lying down while meditating usually means I drift off to sleep a bit, so it wasn’t the most fruitful of meditations.

I am finding though that even just trying to meditate is at least putting forth an effort and a good intention.  I am glad to get back into my usual routine and am ready to continue on……

Day Two.

Today was a pretty tough day.  I set my alarm 20 minutes early to get my meditation time in, but once it came time to sit, I got interrupted a couple of times and I also had two Couchsurfers staying in the living room right outside my bedroom.  They were sleeping, but I still had a slight feeling of vulnerability, as if someone would walk in and catch me sitting on my arse on my bed staring at nothing (staring at the back of my eyelids.)

It probably didn’t help that I didn’t get much sleep the night before, so when certain stressors came up at work, instead of calmly embracing them I went back to old thinking patterns, back to thoughts based in fear.  Often I would catch myself with these anxious thoughts and come back to the breath.  The breath always is a constant reminder to take in the moment and to remember everything is negotiable.

Short post, but sleep awaits me.  Looking forward to Day 3!