Read, Sit & Write: Racing Concentration

Sitting. Meditating. Breathing. Watching the mobile device. Sitting. Sitting. Watching the breath. Sitting. Watching my Concentration. Breathing. Making lists in my head of blog titles. Sitting. Waiting for timer. Breathing. Sitting. Itching. Listening. Breathing some more, now write.

Why do I meditate & why would I want to open myself by sharing my inner most thoughts on my experiences on the mat online? Racing thoughts & and a desire to live in line with my personal values brought me to meditation years ago when I stopped drinking but seeing others use the process of mindfulness practice in conjunction with guided writing brings me back.

Initially I wanted to quiet the thoughts that keep me up at night & fill me with waves of anxiety in the morning but as my practice deepened I began to understand my inner conflict between my values & actions were what was in part fueling them.  I can go from loving kindness practitioner to full on internet troll in a flash of an eye and mentally justify the dramatic shift.  Sitting on a regular basis is helping me relate with more kindness to this conflict, move past the self flagellation & begin to get some insight into the workings of my thoughts.

David Gabriel Fischer

Image by David Gabriel Fischer


As apart of my personal prep for the 28 Day Challenge I’ve been spending time each day reading things that either relate directly to the practice of Buddhist Vipassana/Insight Meditation or to the work of Parker J. Palmer. One of the themes in his writings is the conflict found in leading a divided life: where one’s interior life (one’s values) don’t line up with one’s actions.  Came across Palmer’s work initially through my Quaker friends within the Occupy community through discussions about.  Recently picked up a copy of one of his books from a dear friend’s over flowing bookshelves that’s given me a chance to explore his .  The collision of Right Intention & Effort is at the heart of what Palmer describes as what leads many to feeling they are leading a divided life.

In all my research, study & contemplation of things I couldn’t find a way to bridge the two in my own life.  The values I count upon for personal definition, clarity & personal direction often get lost to me.  It wasn’t until I began to sit daily & use the writing techniques Sharon suggests as the part of the challenge that I realized the solution had been staring right at me whole time, from my keyboard & in my writing.

It’s been one of the the forest for the trees realizations for as I make my living writing.  I spend most of my day writing, editing & curating content. Palmer & many writers I adore suggest combining contemplative work with personal journal writing.  Huge ‘duh’ moment.

Going through my personal readings & the first part of Real Happiness I’m seeing the writing process has been a huge support for my practice.  I just hadn’t had the clarity to see, for me it isn’t just about sitting and having the experiences in isolation. The act of externalizing things in the form of a meditation journal in addition to the other forms of writing I do is allowing me to gain some interesting insights.

I’m using the Insight Meditation Timer mobile ap to time my sessions and have been making great use of the journal option it offers. These little notes taken when I am fresh from sitting are providing some interesting, often humorous moments of poetic insight that I may include in future posts.

What readings & digital tools are you finding useful at the start of your 28 Day Meditation Challenge? I’d love to hear what you are using to support your daily practice. I’ll be juggling the several notebooks & fancy pant journals I have been writing in- I can commit to sit but picking the right vessel for my writings, that’s a level of commitment I am not quite ready to make.

Thank you for your practice & for taking the time to join in this community experiment with mindfulness.

Justin SD

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