One of my big ideas for this 100 Days of Practice project is awareness. I'm trying to observe, without judgement, my own reactions in day-to-day situations and interactions. And one thing I've observed is that I like to be very busy. I fill my days with work, house projects, and exercise. Even yoga is something crammed into the spaces, and always hot yoga. Intense. In the evening, more work, more exercise, and sometimes watching TV. I hardly ever just sit and breathe, or write. I'm always doing and planning. It's almost like I'm avoiding being with myself.
Thinking about this reminded me of something I read recently over on ejshea.com:
...I fall asleep every night with earbuds and an old episode of 30 Rock, but it also feels a bit, I don’t know, sad. Not pathetic-sad, more like frustrating-sad. Was it really so hard to be in my own head space, in the quiet of my own mind, for the duration it would or should take me to fall asleep?
I'm considering whether this need to be busy is similar to Erin's experience - do I really find it hard to be in my own head space?
As you may already have gleaned from the title of this post, today is Day 13 of my 100 Days of Practice. I haven't structured this project in any particular way, but it has occurred to me that effective practice is structured. When I played piano, I sat down to practice at about the same time each day. I spent roughly the same percentage of my practice drilling scales, learning new pieces, and polishing my current repertoire. When I trained for a marathon, I ran hills or did speedwork on Tuesdays, went for an easy short run on Thursdays, and spent Saturday mornings (and sometimes afternoons) adding miles.
In these first 13 days I've noticed two occasions at which I'm considerably less mindful: While I'm eating, and in the evening, when the day is winding down. Over the next few days I'm going to work on structuring my practice, focusing on these two situations.
First, I will practice paying attention to my food - to being mindful of what I'm eating, and how. To consider where my food comes from and how it is prepared. To notice how I feel while I'm eating, and to take my time, and let myself feel hungry sometimes, just enough to be sure that I'm eating because I'm hungry, and not because I'm happy or sad or bored or there's a really delicious cookie available. (OK, maybe sometimes that last one.)
Additionally, I will practice different ways of ending the day. I'm not sure yet what this looks like (good thing I'm still practicing!) and I'll try a few things - maybe a 10 minute meditation, or a short creative endeavour like writing a paragraph or drawing a picture. Regardless, pre-bedtime activities always include flossing, pillow fluffing, and lots of good night smooching.