April 12, 2013

Oh, What A Beautiful Morning . . . for Back Porch Meditating

My porch view: April 10, 6am

Finally! After weeks of below-normal temperatures this spring, I was finally able to move to the back porch at 5am Wednesday  to complete my daily joy of quiet meditation. Watching the dawn break while listening to the birds' songfest and my garden's waterfall, I stayed there for another satisfying hour.  

This time -- MY time -- has become an absolute MUST in my daily ritual.

I've tried meditation for years, always attempting to follow the hottest new guru's instructions. They typically advise, "Empty your mind!" Mine just doesn't empty. Then, a few years ago, I felt some progress when I tried mindfulness meditation, where you just relax and watch the passing parade of thoughts.

I began making my own adaptations. My "joy of quiet" time usually lasts about an hour. I spend a few minutes focusing on breathing in and out. The rest of the time, I simply enjoy the peace and quiet, let my mind go where it wants, check to see how different parts of  my body are doing, and try a few easy stretches. No rules, no instructions. 

I've recently added a new, important feature. Thanks to my terrific physical therapist, I now have some back exercises that are really working to alleviate my lower back pain. I do the warm-up exercises and back exercises in bed at the start of my joy-of-quiet meditation. I take my time with these exercises, moving slowly and observing the flow of thoughts. While the exercises could easily be completed in five minutes, I often spend a half hour on them. What's the hurry?

Then I get up and move to the living room -- now the back porch -- to spend another half-hour in the straight-backed chair, trying to sit as erect as possible, which helps my back. I throw in a few seated stretches and exercises as the mood strikes me.

This time is often so enjoyable that I have to force myself to return to bed. It's usually a snap getting back to sleep for a few more hours. A recent story in the NY Times noted that two sleeps a night -- my pattern now -- was the norm before the Industrial Age. Our misguided obsession about logging a "solid seven" hours of sleep only fuels our anxieties about insomnia . . . and drives us toward harmful sleeping pills.

Whatever. I know this split-sleep works fine for me.

And I haven't even mentioned what may be the best part of this early morning ritual: the flood of creative ideas that arise at this time, apparently the result of my bedtime 5-HTP serotonin booster, my first sleep, followed by quiet time.

Here's my "meditation" chair (and pillow) on the porch at 6 o'clock Wednesday morning:

This being crazy, unpredictable Washington, the temperature soared later in the day into the upper 80s, setting a new record for the day.

1 comment:

nancy downer said...

you are an inspiration to me. I'll bring some of you into my quiet efforts. nancy