Today I’m feeling weirdly motivated but unfocused. Every normal attempt at meditation has been filled with a racing mind and my 30 minutes today has been no different.
When I first closed my eyes a list of all the things I want to do and all the things I feel need to be done came up and I began to feel anxious and stressed about the invisible list that was starting to build. I kind of had to laugh at myself as I’m currently furloughed from my job so technically there’s all kinds of time to do all kinds of things but with that seems to come a pressure and a need to do, create and accomplish.
So many times I’ve made a list of ideas but something like a 10 hour shift of work would get in my way and I’d always say to myself, “Well if it weren’t for work….” Now that there is no work to get in the way I feel like maybe it wasn’t work in the first place getting in my way in terms of what I’ve always wanted to accomplish creatively (or I suppose another option is the fact that a global pandemic isn’t exactly what’s going to create the head space needed to do the things I want to do creatively. It is a scary and weird time that literally no one alive has experienced so I definitely want to give myself a break as far as that’s concerned.) But today I did have motivation to create and that of course happened at the beginning of my 30 minutes of silence so because of this I wanted to rush through 30 minutes as fast as I could as though that could physically be done with an already created measure of time.
Because it’s obviously impossible to rush through an already created construct the only other option aside from skipping the 30 minutes altogether (that’s the last thing I want to be doing) was to just sit with that restlessness. When I finally settled in and focused on the thoughts driving what I was going through and when I finally started to hit an element of breakthrough my phone ended up ringing.
This became a major moment in the course of my 30 minutes as the act itself was startling, a loud noise when focused on something completely different can be rather startling when unexpected and then there’s the general anxiety I get with a phone ringing anyways, especially when the call is unexpected as I don’t typically associate that with anything positive. I’m always fearful that it’s someone delivering an urgent message, something like a relative dying or falling ill or work calling to deliver bad news. In fact that last unexpected call I received was work calling to tell me I was being placed on furlough until June 30. They also told me that they would keep me updated as to the situation going forward. I’m personally not optimistic that the furlough won’t lead to an eventual lay off though I don’t know if that comes from actual reality or just me general pessimism as while there is certainly not positive evidence of the market doing too great (duh) they did tell me they were doing everything possible to bring back furloughed employees and there were others who were just straight up let go the same day. Seeing as I wasn’t one of them should at least give me some glimmer of hope (not that my life will be forever ruined if I have to find a different method of employment but that also leads me to a different level of anxiety and fear as well. One that I’m sure will be faced at some point and probably some point soon).
Because of the unexpected nature of the phone ringing however, I ended up having a pretty intense panic attack which is tough to tolerate in a setting where I can distract myself let alone in a setting where I’ve committed to sitting in silence with no distractions. My heart raced to a level that one really only achieves when they are running a full sprint and this caused even more restlessness and a desire to get up to move so I could literally escape my body (again, like that’s actually possible). My arms, which were off to my side, started shaking intensely to the point where if I wrote something by hand somehow it would have been illegible. Because I had no way to distract and nowhere to go I settled my focus on my chest where my heart was beating and because it felt so uncomfortable my thoughts turned to the idea that maybe I was having a cardiac issue and this injected more adrenaline and anxiety into my body. The more I focused on the uncomfortable sensations the more quickly it subsided and the fear disappeared almost as quickly as it took effect.
The call wasn’t anything important. It was a spam call who left no message. Because of this though the fear turned to anger. I wanted to return the call and cuss out whoever (probably no one) on the other line. I was upset that this time I had set aside for a certain purpose was interrupted and I was building fury on the inside. At the very least I wanted to text, “WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU WANT?!?!?!” but I knew there really would be no use doing such a thing so instead I tried something that’s really tough for someone with a temper like mine and a level of defensiveness that can be quite strong, I just thought about whomever made that call in a compassionate and kind way. I basically thought that “I don’t know what they needed but I hope they find peace and comfort in their life”. There’s a likelihood that person had negative intentions in mind. They could have even been a scammer whose intentions were to take hard earned money from vulnerable human beings but that’s besides the point. My desire to give that person love and compassion wasn’t really for them. It was ultimately for myself. Allowing myself to be angry about the interruption was something that ultimately only affected me. My dealing with the anger and attempting to send that message their way put me in a place where I could move on from the anger and in doing so turn the thoughts into a physical sensation only that could also dissipate with enough focus. Again, that’s what happened and I was able to move on from the startling, interrupting phone call rather quickly.
The rest of my attempt at stillness was challenging in a different way. When I attempted to let my thoughts drift a little bit more I found the task nearly impossible as all I wanted to do was fall asleep. With this a new conflict emerged. A part of me wondered if I should just give in to the sleep because after all, maybe this was my body telling me exactly what it needed but another part of me thought if I battled through such a desire and instead focused on what I was doing I could overcome a weakness of mind. I think one of the reasons I deal with procrastination is because once something no longer feels pleasurable I prefer to distract. For example, in college I often would stop focusing on studying because I no longer found it interesting, or I’d be tired, or I’d be sore so my thought process is what if instead of just giving in to the fatigue I slowly train my mind to persevere through more negative feelings to continue doing a task. I’ll likely put more thought into this though and there’s a possibility that I choose letting my body take over and falling asleep to appease my body’s communication with my mind.
To counter the drifting asleep though I ended up doing a lot of the silence with my eyes open utilizing a soft focus in front of me. I ended up focusing more on my breath and weight of my body against the bed I’m sitting on. This is again a strategy I may shift from going forward as technically it is indicative of me taking over control of the direction my mind is going as opposed to the original idea of letting my mind wander which was the beginning intent of this exercise but it’s leading me to wonder how much lack of control of the mind is truly possible.