Thought cascades

I found myself with a little extra time yesterday between commitments. I took advantage of the time to meditate for a bit. It got me wondering about “thought cascades” and the way in which our minds work.

Thoughts appear during meditation, like bubbles. Jon Kabat-Zinn called them in one of his meditations “secretions of the mind.” They just float or bubble up. We don’t need to get rid of them or feel frustrated that they keep coming. We just need to notice them.

One thought leads to another…and another…and another. Really the mind can be quite tedious when we observe it.  “Why can’t it take a damn rest?” I wonder, but this is typically when I am trying to get to sleep. I am a lot more compassionate with myself during my daytime meditations, apparently.

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Thought cascades tend to produce certain emotional states as well. If we find ourselves ruminating on a problem, or a stressful situation, we bring ourselves back to the breath and the sensations in our bodies. I often notice my shoulders have tightened up or my jaw is clenched. I did not used to notice that. It took pairing yoga with meditation for me to understand it. 

On Monday I had an interview for a new contract that excites me. I tried to notice my thought cascades during the interview and afterward. I realized my mind creates a trail of expectations, assumptions and details, making up stories freely as it tumbles along. At least I know from Dr. Brené Brown’s work that this is perfectly normal. In fact, our brains reward us with dopamine as soon as we “tell” an internal story, whether or not it is actually true.

This is why meditation has become such an important daily practice for me. For over two years, I have spent at least 5 minutes a day on this practice. Actually for the past year, it was much more than that, but I started small to make it do-able.

Thought cascades for someone with particular neuro-diverse conditions can be especially problematic. Most people seem to have “brakes” for ruminative thought loops. Not everyone’s neuro-chemistry supports this easy compartmentalization. What is amazing is that focus can be built and nurtured, even for people like me! Meditation is a tool for doing that.

Now the cascades are quiet and flowing. Sometimes they are turbulent and rushing. Every time I bring myself back INTO my body, feel the aliveness in my hands, my feet or my heart, thoughts slow down and the volume descends. There is no greater gift than being able to dial it all down when needed.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

My guilty pleasure – Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

I have a confession: last night I skipped a networking event so I could “treat” myself to an episode of the new show by Netflix, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It was my second episode. I watched the first one on Monday night to reward myself for a lot of work accomplished that day.

Marie Kondo has the most joyful and optimistic spirit. I love her way of greeting the house in the beginning and taking a moment to thank the home for the protection it has provided to the family. She also asks for cooperation with the project ahead. Truly, her way of approaching it makes the process of clearing seem sacred, rather than a chore.

One thing that bothers me about these projects is that the women always seem to feel excessive amounts of guilt over the mess. The men very seldom feel guilt, though they often seem to feel frustrated with the women over not being able to keep things clean.

marie kondo
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My mixed reaction is probably due to my feminist complaint regarding women as the presumed keepers of the home, along with my desire to have vastly less STUFF. I love that feeling of open space that comes with removing clutter. And of course I also love my bookshelves full of precious gems.

It does seem that the couples who start with skepticism eventually get to a place of actually enjoying the process of de-cluttering. By the end of the first two episodes, there were drastic transformations, and also very happy couples much more content with their relationships as well as their space. They appear joyous and radiant after the transformation.

This is re-igniting my desire to continue with my own de-clutter process. Now that I work from home for much of the week, when I am not careful my things can pile up quickly. Putting it all away at the end of the day so I can relax is an important discipline I tried to start about a year ago. Perhaps now it is even more relevant to my quality of life since there is less of a boundary between work and home life.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

Single-minded focus

It is an unusual Sunday for me when I do not have a blog topic enter my consciousness and then start writing. But at the moment, with a workshop coming up in January and some ideas I want to sift through and outline I find myself with an unusual single-minded focus there.

woman reading book
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I am grateful for that, since I tend to bounce around a lot of things in my noggin all at the same time. Generally they are on a theme, but they tend to be interdisciplinary. For example, I almost never have less than 3 books I am reading at one time. For some people, that might be challenging. For me, it is the intersection and collision of unique ideas that I enjoy.

I allow for sifting and sorting of what I’m learning to percolate through my consciousness. Sometimes this leads to interesting metaphors to describe concepts in new ways.

Thus, in honoring that focus, which obviously indicates some passion about my topic, I am keeping this short. I know better than to declare less frequency of writing here, though I have been able to take Tuesdays off reliably. I leave open the possibility of serendipity.

Cheers & have a great week!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Allowing space

On the holiday yesterday I was reflecting a bit on the notion of space.

I learned through some reading (and probably a podcast as well) about a Japanese concept called “Yutori” and it caught my attention. It describes a notion of spaciousness. It’s leaving time between appointments so you can get there early and look around. It is allowing time for meditation or mindfully and slowly engaging in a quiet practice of some kind.

I really love this notion. The more I learn about this concept, the more I realize I have been actively trying to embody this notion in my daily life. From the desire for a more minimalist space to my conscious efforts to increase my meditative practices, I am pursuing this desire for Yutori. 

Photo taken from the Coastal walk between Cremyll and Kingsand (Cornwall) in England

As I allow for more spaciousness in my life, my creativity seems to open to ideas I might not have considered before. My days “resist” too much scheduling, but invite just the right amount of activity and rest to feel more integrated. 

Though I am far from perfecting this notion, the concept and its appeal for me is driving me toward my next venture. I can feel that, as much as I occasionally feel I must accelerate things. Somehow I firmly trust that giving the spaciousness enough soil, air and water, I cultivate an amazing garden of inner richness. 

Where and when do you find spaciousness in your life? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Light a candle – my tidying festival has begun

On Monday my appointment for the morning had to reschedule, so I found myself with an unexpected chunk of time without something specific planned.

I have been putting off the task of tidying my office/spare room, mostly because dislike tasks like this. But also because it seems so tedious and annoying. But lately I have been suffering from a lack of ability to find things quickly that I need. So I know I was overdue for another “KonMari” festival.

Marie Kondo describes in her book “the life changing magic of tidying up” how the act of tidying must first begun with thorough discarding, all at once. She approaches the act of tidying as a special event that can take up 3-6 months depending on how much stuff we have and need to discard. I believe it.

About a year and a half ago in the Spring, I really worked at this, clearing out my entire closet and working my way through most of my wardrobe. It felt great, and I got rid of so many things I never wore, or seldom wore. Her criteria for keeping things: if it sparks joy, keep it. If not, discard it. 

Clothes on floor

I began in the “correct” order as she describes, and put all of my shirts and blouses on the floor of the room. Clearly she does not have cats at home… that has a hazard for certain types of clothing when you do not want cat fur on everything. But I am including a picture so you can get an idea of how bad it was to start.

A lot of things had to go, but I only started with the “tops” category today, and I am planning to work through her list all week, spending at least 2 hours a day tidying. Today I spent about 4 hours, but I must say once I made all of those choices and then put things away, I was feeling really exhausted.

So many decisions! Oy!

Candles

You minimalists have the right idea! More stuff equals more stress. By having less stuff, and minimizing my decision fatigue, and lessen the time I spend looking for stuff I cannot find. I hope this helps to optimize my focus at home, something we “work at home” folks truly need.

But I like the idea of approaching this project as a one-time special event, and treating it with the sacred process that it is. I decided to light some candles when I started to make it more of a ceremony. It definitely helped. Let’s see if I can sustain the mood and keep this going tomorrow. Wish me luck!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com