Three things have happened—recently and in rapid succession—in my life and I’m enjoying watching for all the ways they’re interconnected.
Thing 1: I restarted my too-long dormant meditation practice.
Thing 2: I adopted a dog. His name is Rufus.
Thing 3: I was laid off as part of a “restructure.”
The connections and threads began showing themselves the morning after the layoffs when I sat down to meditate. The first thought that entered my mind was that without this practice, I wouldn’t be maintaining nearly as well as I am. A friend who’s known me through multiple ups and downs, depression-wise, commented that if they didn’t know I was unemployed, they’d never know I was unemployed. As I ushered that thought back out of my mind, I peeked out from under closed eyes to see Rufus directly in front of me, laying on his back with legs akimbo and his front paw firmly planted in his mouth (as in the below photo, same pose, different day. Apparently this is a thing with him).
He proceeded, over the next 30 seconds or so, to grab a toy, shake the stuffing out of it, put that toy down, come lick my hand, pick up another toy, shake the shit out of it, put it down, come lay down in front of me and paw at my hands, then pick up a chew and settle down for 5 seconds of gnawing, followed by a rough repeat of the above.
What dawned on me is that far from being a problematic meditation partner, Rufus is the embodiment of how you should approach thoughts that occur to you while sitting. He followed his instinct to start a new activity, then dropped it in favor of another one, eventually settling down on the couch behind me and watching me intently. Similarly, I’ve heard the process of working with thoughts that arise during meditation as letting them in the front door but not inviting them to stay for tea, rather showing them through the house and ushering them out the back door. Rufus didn’t let the idea of playing noisily stay for tea, cycling through several visiting thoughts before settling into an appropriate option.
The next thread I picked up is that with more time on my hands, I may indeed be able to finish the first draft of my novel by the end of November. For the past 6 months or so, the only work I’ve been able to do on it has been at my Saturday morning writers’ group. And we only write for an hour before turning to a discussion of progress, hurdles, etc.
In order for my highly sensitive self to make it through that discussion, thanks to a particular individual whose energy I find so hectic I can’t focus on anything else, I’ve had to do a similar reframing of the situation. Rather than approaching each group session with a sense of dread, I’ve flipped the proverbial script and now approach it with a child-like curiosity. In the case of this one guy, the difference has been breathtaking.
Rather than spending the writing hour dreading what random shit he’s going to want to talk about (his stories are…intense, but not so much in a good way—I look forward to asking him a lot of questions about his world-building, character development, etc. This perspective shift (see how I brought that around to a familiar topic?) has made such a difference I’m now going out of my way to clear my Saturday mornings so I don’t miss a session! To think I was about to quit the group just a few weeks ago…
So it looks like the threads are indeed connected, by perspectives and the power inherent in being able to flip them over and see a situation, like being laid off, or having a puppy interrupt your meditation, from a different angle. Now I follow Rufus’ lead and am having some of the most productive sessions of my 20+ years as a meditator. And while I’ll be spending plenty of time on my job hunt, I can also devote more hours than ever to both finishing that draft and developing more essay ideas for here on I Like How You Think.
A moment of admin: since I’ll be devoting all that newly-acquired time to writing, expect to see posting here get back on a somewhat regular cadence with a new post going up at least once/week for the foreseeable future. I’m aiming for Monday and Thursday, but we’ll see if that shifts based on my output and how well the book starts coming along.