Volume 1, Issue 11: How Are You Really?

Hi friends! A special hello to my new subscribers. I hope that you find something of use in this ambitious little newsletter!

<gif of Bela Lugosi as Dracula. He opens his cape and the words, “I bid you welcome” show on the screen. He is holding a candlestick and turns away as if leading you somewhere>

On Wednesday at my day job we had someone from the East Bay Meditation Center come talk to my team (via Zoom) about Vipassana meditation / insight meditation / mindfulness meditation. I was worried that it was going to be a cultural appropriation situation and it very much was not and I appreciated that.

I have convinced myself over the years that I am absolute shit at meditating because I am unable to “turn off” my brain. The person who taught us on Wednesday said something that blew my mind, which was that there is no such thing as “bad meditation.” That unless we are causing harm to ourselves or to someone else, that all meditation is good meditation. I’m still rolling that around in my brain (like I do) but it’s stuck with me. Mindfulness meditation isn’t about “turning off” your brain, it’s about noticing the thoughts coming in and going out and not necessarily reacting to them. Funny enough, I do this all the time when I’m reading.

She gave us a little exercise to practice mindfulness throughout our day, which is to rate how we’re doing on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being “worst day ever” and 10 being “best day ever.” Write that number down, notice it, acknowledge it, and move on. Then maybe a while later (I’m thinking 3-4 hours or so), ask yourself the same question and repeat.

I’ve done a “Daily Check-in” on Twitter for years (actually started at the end of 2016 on Facebook) and I’m interested in this idea of checking in with myself a few times a day. Rarely do I slow down and ask myself, “How am I feeling in this moment?” But how often do any of us do this? Many of us are quick to ask, “How are you?” without asking ourselves the same question. 

And it hits different than if someone else asks it. With ourselves, we can be honest. I’m not saying we always ARE honest, but we can be. And that might be scary. There’s A Lot™ going on right now and I’m not gonna lie, I’m a bit afraid of what my answer may be if I truly sat here and asked myself, “How am I doing?”

I think about returning to the Wheel of Feelings that I told you about last week. Maybe I’ll combine that with a scale of 1 to 10 check-ins. I’m not thinking of an elaborate mood-tracker situation like some very creative people do in bullet journals, but I do love a good spreadsheet. Or even a good notebook.

To be clear, the purpose is not goal-oriented. The check-ins aren’t to take a data point and then act on it, trying to increase your “score.” It is simply to notice where you are at any given point and to be present with yourself, which is something that I do not do enough of.

I do not know what the benefits will be, if any. But I think this tiny act of care for myself is enough of a benefit.

Speaking of caring, I am a child of the 80’s and I want to share this tiny bit of wonderful:

<image is a Tweet from @colinaut saying, “My Mom, creator of the original Care Bears, drew a Black Lives Matter Bear! You can buy prints/shirts/etc on her RedBubble. All proceeds go to Reed Foundation, a Black founded organization which helps disadvantaged youth in Tulsa!” and drawings of Care Bears with the Black Power Fist on their tummies holding a sign that reads, “Black Lives Matter”>

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