Sitting and Breathing: Day 5

I’ve considered coming up with more creative titles for these posts, but meh…

Anyway, today went (in my opinion) really well. I felt sort of frenzied beforehand because I’ve imposed a lot of deadlines on myself for getting certain things done (planning to move to Europe and get an advanced degree apparently involves a lot of steps), and today was going to be my day to knock some of those things out.

Given that I work at a bar that doesn’t close until 4am, that usually means I’m not home until at least 5:30am, which means I’m not asleep until 6:30am, which means I’m not awake until 12:30pm. By the time I’ve walked and fed my dog, made coffee and breakfast (lunch) for myself, and settled into any kind of head space for getting things done, it’s already 2pm.

I put my anxiety about my to-do list aside (my realization that it was MLK Day, and many things are closed today helped), and reread the directions for the Letting-Go-of-Thought Meditation on my schedule for today. I put my dog in his kennel, set my alarm for 21 minutes out, and sat, and breathed.

In essence, the task for today was to say, breath to myself on every inhale and every exhale. When a thought or sensation arose – positive or negative – I was to label it not breath and return my focus to the breathing. I found it to be fairly easy to return to my breathing today. I’m not sure if that’s a cumulative effect or today was just a good day, but it was heartening.

Likely as a result of my time in JROTC and ROTC, I have an internal voice that calls me Farrell, and when it chides me it sounds a lot like it’s a drill instructor. Honestly, though, the drill instructor voice was pretty quiet today, and didn’t add much to my experience. The soft-spoken hippie woo woo voice that I’ve developed internally over my years of exposure to counter culture was much more chatty today, and surprisingly, more difficult to shut up.

My mind would wander to things I was upset about, hippie voice would say, “It’s okay that you feel angry.” Then I’d imagine myself in a field lightly scattered with trees, sun shining, wind blowing through my hair, and he’d say, “It’s important to stay in the moment, remember, the point of…”

“Shut up, Hippie! You are ‘not breath!'” I finally told him. Then I laughed, and focused on my breathing again. While I appreciate his input, he makes it difficult to concentrate on a given moment with his kind, considerate prattling on. We get it, you eat organic and recycle, and you dole out self-love like it’s going out of style. Thank you, now shush.

The time seemed to fly by today, which I attribute largely to my attention on each breath component, as opposed to the experience as a whole. I’ve also been able to pepper in some mini-meditations in the past couple days. I’m a doorman at the late-night bar, which means I spend a lot of time by myself in a foyer, staring out a 1′ x 1′ window.

As you might imagine, this allows for a lot of reflection. When I’m not interacting with guests, I spend a lot of time lost in my own thoughts, but last night, I also spent some time here and there just focusing on my breath and on the individual sights and sounds being presented to me. I let them enter and exit my consciousness, then put my attention back on the sensation of inhaling and exhaling (my left nostril is still fucked up, if you were wondering).

Last night, I pondered whether or not my years of exposure to hippies or studying psychology put me ahead of the pack when it comes to self awareness, but I think it ultimately doesn’t make any difference in this endeavor. The truth of the matter is that everyone – from monks to plumbers – can improve on what they’re working with. The practice of meditation is not a cure for the human condition, but a coping mechanism that we can always be better at employing right now. Or now.

Or now. Especially now. Point is, I’m enjoying this.

Back In The Today

IMG_20180827_181346_832.jpgI feel like I haven’t checked in with you in a bit. Hi! How are you? How are your kids? Still nonexistent for some of you? Oh, how I’ve missed you.

I shot my first commercial this past week. I was essentially paid to sit around most of the day and eat free food, occasionally I pretended to be a worker in a glasses manufacturing plant, and went home. The irony of doing a glasses commercial and pretending to wear glasses after recently getting laser eye surgery is not lost on me. Anyway, it was great, and I can say that I’m a paid actor now.

I also did my first video audition, which was to include some information about me, a monologue, and the lines for the role itself. Apparently, actors just have monologues that they’re prepared to do at the drop of a hat. I was not aware of this, and had to learn one as quickly as possible because there was a tight deadline for submission. After thirty or so takes, and a two hour break that I had to take because I was getting too angry, I was able to finish off the interminable 4 minute video. After my final take, I hit upload, then waited anxiously before pressing “Submit” at 11:59pm. There was one view on the video and I had no calls the next day saying I was the best thing they’d ever seen, so I’m guessing I didn’t get it.

I also started Improv classes at Second City. They are fun. They are more fun than I thought they’d be by a pretty long shot. I was not embarrassed or concerned about how I looked because I’m in a new city where there are zero people with an expectation of the way normally behave. It’s freeing in a lot of ways to be an unknown.

Lastly, I did stand-up again the other night, and it went pretty well. I was probably a little tipsier than I needed to be, but I got a few laughs and the host told me he’d like me to come back. So ya know… That’s something.

Three weeks in. It feels like it’s been much longer, and I feel like I should be much farther along than I am, but I’m loving the shit out of this process when it isn’t dreadfully dreary, and I look forward to more.