Writing ExercisesI had two exercises that required writing out some lists this week, so in this part of my Week Two report I'll focus on those, plus my habit releasing exercise. The first exercise was to consider things that give you pleasure and pay special attention to the sensations that occur physically and mentally during these activities. I picked four things to focus on.
- Practising guitar – I've been slowly teaching myself bits and pieces here and there for years now. I can't play at all really, I just know some chords off by heart and little things. When I practice I feel progression and challenge without the stress. I can feel my brow furrow, my fingertips hurt and my back hunching over the guitar. I like the sound sliding fingers between chords makes against the strings, and every time I discover I've memorized something new I feel light and cheerful like I'm doing something productive. I'm thinking about music, about the prospect of writing songs and being able to play along with them. I have a goal in my mind that I'm working towards, but it doesn't feel like pressure. It feels happy.
- Watching YouTube Videos – I do this a lot, when I'm relaxing I spend a lot of that time on YouTube. I'm not always watching videos, sometimes I'm just listening like it's a podcast. I have a Hat Films playlist on right now while I'm writing this. For some reason, it helps me focus and quieten my thoughts. I have them on to sleep a lot too because when I'm about to go to sleep my thoughts are so loud and disjointed that it's nigh on impossible to switch off. Having one or two things I can use to direct my focus helps me focus easier and get things done. I relax physically, close my eyes often and just focus on the present moment, on the video in front of me.
- Writing – When I'm in the zone I feel like words are just falling out of me and I don't really know where they're coming from. I hunch forward, press harder on the keys as I'm typing and my focus narrows into just getting the words out of me before they disappear. Once I come out of that zone it's like a release, like everything in my body relaxes because yes, I've done something here, got the words out, and I can see the fruits of my labour in front of me. It feels like my hands are moving of their own accord sometimes. That's so strange to think about. It's a really wonderful feeling.
- Singing – It's similar to writing in that it feels like a release. I do it when I'm happy, sad, tired, full of energy. It's a way of expressing emotion for me. It calms me down, regulates my breathing and changes my whole posture. I stop being self-conscious, I actually close my eyes most of the time. I feel most like myself in the middle of a song.
The second exercise was about writing ten things or people that I'm grateful for, just to keep them in the forefront of my memory and appreciate what I have and treasure it. My answers are fairly generic, but they're the truth, and it's a list I should probably keep on me as I go through my day. It would be good to look at in those particularly trying moments.
1. My boyfriend – None of this would exist without him, and I would be a wreck most likely because I wouldn't have even considered that what I was feeling was something I needed professional help with. I might have snapped, so thank you.
2. The friends around me – you're all terrible human beings and I'd probably be a nun or a saint without your influences, but as it stands we're all damned together so oh well. (I love you all.)
3. My family – My parents and aunties and uncles have sacrificed a lot for us kids in the family, and I know we're all grateful for it.
4. Music – Imagine living in a world without it for a second. What could that possibly be like?
5. The ability to vote/have an opinion – As a black woman I'm pretty aware of how many people fought to give me the privileges I have now, and I'm grateful forever.
6. Lactase pills - Milk doesn't agree with me, but these pills are super awesome at allowing me to digest it better, so I get to have number 7, which is....
7. Ben & Jerry's Half-Baked Ice Cream - Mate. Just...mate.
8. Being able-bodied – Not to say that being disabled is something to be ashamed of, but the #noshameday event on Tumblr recently plus having people around me that live with disabilities makes me think often about all the stuff I take for granted. I look up to a lot of you.
9. The ability to read and write – man, thank God for education, however frustrating it can be.
10. Having a job – Being unemployed in the UK is a pretty dehumanizing experience, particularly if you're on Jobseekers. I thank everything I can thank every time I think about how I would feel emotionally if I were still unemployed or had to go back onto Jobseekers. Nope nope nope nope nope.
Habit ReleaserBoth those exercises are about appreciating the here and now, living in the moment and loving that moment for what it is. This tied in perfectly to my habit releaser, which was simply taking some time to go for a walk. I try to take walks every so often because they really do clear my head, allow me to think and talk to myself a little (which is a sign of madness or whatever nonsense but it helps me organise my mind.) I walked home from work on a sunny April afternoon this week, and actually found an entrance to the park near my house that I had no idea was there. I decided to take my walk through the park, took a couple of pictures, and I was really thinking about how pretty everything looked around me since it's finally spring. Trees were blossoming and all that good stuff, the England we like to think of as grey and overcast was actually bursting with colour the more I looked around me. I've actually been slowly (very, very slowly) making my way back into writing poetry after a long time, and the walk was a nice way of cultivating some ideas.
All in all, the tasks for this week were a lovely counterpoint to the struggle I was having with the meditation. I encourage you all to give these a go in your free time and see how it makes me feel. Do let me know in the comments, too.