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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Photo credit link

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

 

 

Sunday haiku – movement joy

To move your Body.

Yoga. Dance. Slow or sassy.

So much Freedom here.

Movement Joy
Had so much fun on February 9th! I will probably go next month too! Sign up here

I am not receiving anything to promote these workshops. I just do it because I am realizing my love for yoga, dance and movement as a way to express pure joy. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Watch the Bullets – an experiment

People have often recommended to me that I must try a bullet journal, if I truly want to keep myself organized. When I watched Ryder Carroll’s You Tube video on why and how he created the bullet journal for himself, I definitely felt that “click” in my brain that tells me someone is speaking my language. (Sometimes it’s more of a tingle in my spine rather than an actual click, but you get my point.)

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Found this cool bullet journal on Amazon, but it’s out of print now. 😦

Carroll titles his Ted Talk “How to Declutter Your Mind” and he talks about his experience with a.d.d., which he eventually outgrew. In the process, he designed a system to help him keep track of things, while also being mindful about not wanting to focus on too many different things at once.

We live in a world with so many choices, and for many of us, more freedom than ever. This is why minimalist living has become increasingly appealing to me. Decision fatigue is a real thing. And for those of us who struggle with some attention issues, de-cluttering our minds by creating a mental inventory and writing things down is important.

Once it is written down, we can ask ourselves: do these things matter? Or are they just fleeting notions that take up mental space? Once we cross off those items that do not matter, or that we truly do not need to do, the list gets smaller.

Paying attention to “small projects” that hold our curiosity and recording these, we intentionally make space in our lives to do them. Carroll breaks these into month-long chunks, because it makes them more manageable.

Over time, we make adjustments, through a periodic process of reflection. We keep the mental inventory updated each day (more videos here if you want to explore). On a monthly basis, we take a more top-oriented view, setting intentions that are longer-term in nature.

I tried the practice in January to see if it works for me, and I discovered a few things:

bullet journal monthly log
January monthly log
  1. I love the idea of looking 3-6 months and putting a “future log” on paper to approximate when I want to complete certain things. Even if you don’t anticipate everything, it helps set direction.
  2. The monthly log rocks. One line per day, really got me to reflect on only 2-3 high level things I accomplished in that day. It was a nice way to look back and see what I did that month in a 1-page summary.
  3. The daily logs are a struggle for me. I am customizing the bullet process, and the migration process to my own brand of check boxes and “swivels” to bring forward the tasks I want to keep. But that is what Ryder recommended anyway. It is why bullet journals are mostly blank – YOU fill in the system that works.
  4. You must exercise compassion. I did not sit down and do my February plan until the 7th of the month!! I think I was reluctant to admit that I didn’t follow the exact program in January (and I didn’t want to beat myself up over the things I did not finish). But I am using compassion with myself to migrate the tasks that are still relevant, and cross out the ones that obviously were not.

I may write about this experiment again in a month, because I am curious about whether February’s efforts will be refined. I want to improve and customize. I should mention that I still do a “shape of the week” in parallel in which I graph out one full week and fill in the sections with my overall time chunks, and then track actual time.

For those of you who have taken the “bullet journal” path – does it work for you? What clever modifications have you added to make it even more functional? 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Dangerously cold

I spent Tuesday at home, with various activities canceled around the area due to the windchill (-24F/-43F windchill, -31C/-41C at the moment). On Wednesday many activities will be canceled as well.

My hubby had to work another 12 hour day, while I got to stay home, warm and secure with the kitties. I felt a mixture of sadness for him, but also tremendous gratitude for my cozy, warm home and the hot tea the accompanied me during my day.

dangerous cold
Photo credit link

I am using my time productively at home, tidying and getting some writing and work projects done. Grateful for the forecast that let us know this was coming, so we could prepare in the best way we could (i.e. groceries and necessities).

Sometimes this slowdown in activity can make us more mindful of what we have, of the grace of our situation, a little extra time to contemplate life. I just lost a dear friend to cancer, only in his early 50’s. And everything became a little more precious and more present in that moment.

I called my Mom to connect with her and empathize with the even colder conditions in northern MN. We hunker down, cats on laps. We breathe in, we breathe out. Thursday is supposed to ease up. But for now, those of us warm at home are grateful for shelter and heat.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Saturday Share – How are You Going to Eat for the Rest of Your Life? — Julie de Rohan

If your New Year diet has already failed, it’s not your fault. This post explains why.

via How are You Going to Eat for the Rest of Your Life? — Julie de Rohan

I had to share this post because Julie speaks to many of the issues I have experienced in my past struggles with food and diets. I love her notion of being curious rather than ashamed of our appetites and preferences. Treating our bodies with compassion and respect has more positive results than continuing the war with ourselves by dieting.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Embody the leader within you

So this is really happening! In less than 3 weeks! I am so excited about this opportunity to collaborate with one of my favorite yoga teachers on this first-time event! This feels like soul work to me, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. Women in the Twin Cities: I would love it if you can join us.

embody the leader

Start off your 2019 right by putting yourself on your priority list with this opportunity, and what will be an awesome group of women.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com