… people judge an experience largely based on how they felt at its peak (i.e., its most intense point) and at its end, rather than based on the total sum or average of every moment of the experience.
These are three relationships I have had all my life – U1, A1, and A2. They are all equally closely related. All of them did something terrible recently – together – that has ruined these relationships.
The question is, are the relationships equally spoiled? Or, despite their joint betrayal, I should treat them differently based on the ‘sum total’ of the past experiences?
There were lots of setbacks in 2018 – some of them enough to drive me back into depression just by themselves. So I am not going to pore over them. Instead I am going to take note of some of the successes…
I climbed at least 10 floors every day++
I averaged about 23 floors/day, with a peak of 154 floor equivalents* on a day when I went for a long hilly run.
I climbed 10 floors even in the days after injuring my ankle. Neighbours noticed as I hobbled up and down (down was worse) our steep drive way to get those 10 floors.
Steps target completed every day for 6 months++
I finished my step target every day for the later 6 months of the year. I started on 1st July, half way through the year, and a month and a half after the injury so the foot could manage 5K+ steps without discomfort.
I usually meditate at either middle or end of the day – when the head is usually frazzled or distracted, and needs a dose of calm and care.
Since everyone talks and writes about it, today I decided to meditate in the morning. At about 6 AM, after finishing coffee and before starting work, I took 15-20 minutes to meditate with Calm.
The meditation itself was good, and I may have maintained the focus better. But due to the timing, it wasn’t as useful as usual. I was already calm and focused before the meditation (early morning is my favourite, and most productive work time). So the marginal benefit provided by the meditation was small.
Later when I felt the need for meditation in late afternoon, I hesitated – ‘because I had already done the session for the day’. It was a stupid self-argument, but I listened to it and didn’t spend the 15 mins. I have paid for it with a distracted mind and subsequent low productivity all evening.
Looking forward, I could fight that argument (‘already done it today’) in my head with logic. But that’s a system 2 action, and system 2 is lazy so I’ll probably end up failing more often than not.
I could set a fixed afternoon time to create a rule/habit, but that will have a similar constraint – I will end up meditating when its scheduled, and not when I need it.
So, instead I am declaring the morning meditation a failed tweak, and will instead go back to meditating when I want/need during the day.
To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.
I don’t have money, and I need a lot. So, I need to save money.
I have strict work and personal relations targets this year. They require me to be very focused, and not squander time or attention. I need to be frugal with my time and cognitive capacity this year.
I have set myself a target for running time, and I have an entry in London Marathon to address last year’s failings. Combined with demands for attention on work and relationships, I can’t afford to waste time or energy this year. I need to be frugal with my physical and mental energy, as well as with time.
I weigh too much, having gained 10 kg in the 7 months since the ankle injury. I need to lose weight, eat frugally.
Multi-tasking was considered a desirable quality when I was in college and in my early working years. In hindsight, it was an easy escape too – when things get tough in one area, switch to the other. Smartphones, social media, TV and multi-tab browsers have added to the toll – all together in the cause of making my current easily distracted present self.
Mindfulness, focus, being in the present – all define an ability to stop becoming a multi-tasker. To get back to being fully focused on just the present act – whether its working, playing with the boy, reading, or even watching TV (‘watch the TV, put down the phone’).
The reason for why the previous two changes (1, 2) are hard is mindfulness (lack of) as well. Remembering to slow down – while talking or eating – both require active focus. It would be hard to focus on slowing down when I am too distracted to even fully notice the act of talking or eating (e.g. watching a TV show while eating, or thinking of ‘what are they thinking’ while talking).
Eventually, I hope to turn them both into habits so that I speak and eat slowly even unconsciously. But till I get there, I will need to be focused in the present – be mindful of the act to be able to slow myself down.
Today’s meditation session was on observing, noting and not-reacting to distractions.
There were three kinds of stimuli causing distractions – external sounds, body sensations and thoughts.
Chewie made some noise a few times while I was mediating. These sounds were the easiest distraction to recover from.
I felt a bit of a tinge in the lower back, and some funny sensations in fingers. These too were relatively easy and quick to recover from.
There were thoughts. Lots of thoughts, mostly about people and things that I would rather not think about. These were the hardest to recover from. And a few of them recurred during the session.
There was progress made though. By the end of the session, I was able to have longer sustained periods of focus without distractions. I noticed this (does noticing this and feeling happy about it count as a distraction?). And, on this very rare occasion, I wanted the session to go on for longer than it did :) Continue reading Meditation observations: Reactivity