It didn’t take me long on Day 3 to come up with words for the Mental Notation meditation; inhale on “stay”, exhale on “here”. Thank you, Sharon, for this meditation!
I have learned that self admonishment has a very strong effect on me. For example, I have found it very helpful to say out loud and very forcefully “I AM NOT GOING TO PEE!” when I am 5 steps from the bathroom and my bladder is begging to let loose before I get there. I will be a little more gentle with myself during meditation..it is not necessary to over-effort in that situation.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness, a real neurological disorder, has been part of my life since my late teens. It’s no fun, but it’s not too difficult for me, personally, to manage. Most of the time it’s fairly mild, and luckily I have never had a desk job. Driving used to be pretty scary, but now I have medication if I feel an episode coming on. Meditation used to be another challenge.
When I first started meditation I was hard on myself about my sleepiness, always angry and frustrated at my frequent “failures”. I would set one minute bells on my timer, and sometimes fall asleep between each and every bell. I envied the people whose biggest challenge was not chasing their thoughts. At least that seemed to be within someone’s control! I would also get caught up analyzing if I was really sleeping, or trancing out (yes, that is a Thing). Then I heard a Pema Chödron teaching which changed everything for me.
My meditation learning curve includes exciting revelations, probably all very common, but initially to me, they were like, WHOA. The very first was the adjusting to the concept of not having to think. What a relief! It was such a release! After that came the heightened awareness. THAT was not always so pleasant. Because on the heels of that, comes…. JUDGEMENT. Constant, unending judgement. I was judging others. I was judging myself-my actions,my words, my thoughts. And of course, after that.. comes the shame. “Did I really just do/say/think that?? I’m a horrible person.” THEN, of course, judging the judging!!! Ugh.
But then I learned I didn’t have to do all that judging! and then I learned it was ok if I still did! (Thank you, Pema, thank you, thank you).Because I am human. And all that comes with being human. I learned (and am still learning) how to be friendly with myself.
So now I know if I fall asleep, when I wake up and notice that I am awake, THAT is the practice. The coming back. “Oh- I fell asleep. But now I’m not. I can start again.” I don’t need to beat myself up. I don’t need to pass judgement on this behavior. I can be friendly to myself about it, and just resume.
So maybe my mental notation “stay here”, like telling myself not to pee,will rally my brain (sometimes) just enough to help. Another tool in the toolbox. Useful not only in meditation, but daily life as well.