Well, idk how real shit's getting with meditation. I started to write about meditation and then that went sideways into gratitude, it's gratitude that's getting more real and that's when SGR popped into my head for a title; and then it was getting so long, I figured I'd split it into a two-parter. Where shit's getting real in Part I, but not so much in Part II. I didn't look far enough ahead, ah well. Meditation's getting something else, though.
Historically I've had an okay grasp of meditation, first of all. I've been doing some form of meditation since 2000 or 2001, picking it back up and putting it back down at points—June 2009, October 2014— and being okay with that, and picking it up again this August 2015 and more or less holding steady since then.
Here's an appropriately-sized, not entirely legible image from 2009.
Way back when I first started meditation in 2001, I started with the parade. When I started again in 2009, I started breath counting and played a bit with the path through the body—i.e., skating laps. Then when I returned last October, I returned to breath counting with the parade as my backup mechanism. And then when I picked back up this August, I picked back up with breath counting with the parade as backup and that's pretty much what I've been doing since then. But now that's changing in kind of an interesting way, so I thought I'd write about that.
Breath counting with the parade as backup is counting my breaths up to four and starting over, over and over, until the timer goes ding, and when my mind wanders to the parade of thoughts, see those thoughts as the never-ending parade, name the thoughts that as passing by, and gently return to counting breaths. This has worked great for me and I recommend it, but only if it works for you.
And also, but.
But it entered my mind... well, what entered my mind was that song Cat's in the Cradle. Super sad song, right? Because a thing that came up in my therapy was that I felt like I had no friends. (Sorry, actual friends that I do have and did have then.) Raise your hand if you predicted that my therapist annoyingly asked, Are you a friend to yourself?
It's annoying because being a friend to myself doesn't count, now does it!
Annoying therapist: why don't you count?
Dammit. Mind blown.
So I started to think what if my friend wanted to bring up a thought. Would I smile beatifically at her, boop her on the nose, name her thought, and gently return her to counting breaths? I gotcher boop right here, Poppy. No, I would listen to her thought! I would let her talk. Because I'm a good friend like that. Am I a good friend like that to me?
So my meditation is changing to breath counting and ...listening to the parade, I guess. I start with counting breaths but when the parade goes past my house, I don't just boop it on the nose and go back in the house. I say hello, I suppose. I ask how it is. Sort of like that.
Listen, it's still the parade. It's still seven-six trombones and a hundred and ten cornets and elephants and flying monkeys, I still try not to be carried away by the flying monkeys. I pet the monkeys, let them know they're cared for, and politely excuse myself and invite them to join me? No? Okily dokily.
And that's what convinced me about anti-gratitude. I don't think I'm a very good friend to myself if I only listen to myself when I have nice things to say. I'm a good friend to myself if I don't have anything nice to say, I still listen. I wasn't in good enough shape to listen to it all before, but I think I'm in good enough shape now.