Peace can exist only in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say “Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace.” What is “this”? A diploma, a job, a house, the payment of a debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another “this” that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only “the hope of peace some day.”

-Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

I’ve been trying to find certain kinds of balance – how to have goals that don’t become tools I use to beat myself up for not completing all of them? That’s one I think I’ve made some progress on.

It is funny, I periodically read blogs about personal development, about efficiency and productivity, and over the past few months I’ve grown to positively distrust these ideas. I’m more than a list of goals, and my happiness is certainly more complicated than that. Or maybe I mean simpler. It is sometimes hard to tell.

Regardless, I’m doing myself no favors by writing a list that will later make me feel guilty for not having been able to complete it.

Yet, goals themselves are mostly positive things.

And so I have begun to learn that I need to have goals that are a bit more vague. “Read some pages in a non-novel” is helpful, “read 1 chapter in such-and-such book” is not. For me.

Tonight I began reading a book I talked about a few days ago, “The mindful way through depression”, and I am just as impressed three chapters into it as I was two pages into it. More so, in fact.

There is an eight week plan to help start a practice of mindful meditation. I started tonight. It was a guided meditation, lying on the floor doing a guided body scan.

I’m not experienced with meditation. I really appreciated that he stated, a few times, that there was no judgement, no failure, that thinking thoughts was natural and we shouldn’t feel bad when our mind starts to wander, to simply notice and bring ourselves back to the present, to our breath and our body scan.

I didn’t find it difficult at all, and I look forward to seeing how the meditation feels day to day. I’m sure it will be different every time.

Two of the most interesting physical reactions I noticed were:

  • my hands were the hardest body part for me to relax, especially my left hand
  • when I would notice, and really hear and feel, my heart beating, it made me panic a little

Neither would have been anything I’d have predicted!

The one thing that it confirmed for me is that the physical act of sitting (or in this case, laying) meditation is fairly easy for me. I don’t have the urge to move or to get up and do things (at least not with a guided meditation). Mentally is where it is tough, and I had all kinds of mind wanderings, from real life stuff to fantastical imaginings to “hearing” bits of songs. Well, I say “tough” but it was more interesting than difficult to me.

I think that meditation is going to be a big help for me. Hopefully it will help me prevent relapses into depression. Even if it doesn’t do that, I know it will nevertheless help me with general life stuff.

betty and billy at ps