Tuesday Tips: 6 Ways to Draw a Blank

Cat Computer Witch

One day our neighbors came over and asked to be on our podcast. So we recorded them pretending to be me and Kelly. It went something like this, "Welcome to the Popular Podcast. I'm Kelly. I'm Jessica. We ride our bikes a lot. And wear helmets, because we're really safe. If you don't wear a helmet, you're going to die. And we're minimalists. And if you want to have a bumpin' party at 9am, come to our place."

We were SO FLATTERED. Today it's the minimalism I'm focusing on. Cut the weeds out of your life and you'll have more space to plant the things you want to grow. Cut out the extra food, the extra observations, the external pleasures, the worries, the past and the future. What you're left with is heaven, and it's happening right now.

Doing

1. Count calories.
Dare I give diet advice? While everyone has different dietary needs and beliefs, the one thing that has always helped me feel better about food is counting calories. It's just like a money budget--instead of conscious spending, it's conscious consumption. After I've had my allotted calories for the day, I have to move on and find another way to feel good, instead of constantly looking for something else to eat to give me a mood boost. So much time is freed up when I'm not walking to 7-11 for snacks! And holy cow, we had money left over in our food budget from October.

Thinking

2. Try this mantra: "It's just me and this __________."
Sometimes when I'm hooping, I think to myself, "It's just me and this hoop." It helps pull my attention into the Now, and imbues the Now with importance. It's just me and this computer. It's just me and this bowl of chili. Deep, right?

Feeling

3. Feel happy with nothing.
Happiness is independent of circumstance. It's a choice you make in every moment. Kelly and I recorded a new audio discussion going into detail if you'd like to check it out here.

4. Want to feel better?
Fill out an "I Want to Feel Better" worksheet. Last week I was feeling sick, and I said to Kelly, "All I want is to feel better!" She commanded me to fill out the worksheet immediately. I resisted at first, but then took her advice. I filled out the prompts in my head. "What's on your mind?" I feel sick. "What do you prefer?" I'm perfectly healthy. "What does the new version feel like?" Celebrating! The worksheet helped me focus on what I want instead of what I don't want, and I started using the mantra, "I'm perfectly healthy," while feeling celebratory. The next morning, I woke up feeling loads better. Today I'm totally healed, and I'm celebrating!

Being

5. Be a warrior.
Sometimes I get scared riding my bike everywhere. If I was driving a car, I would feel safer. But then the adventurous, life-loving part of me speaks up: "I'm a warrior!" Every moment on my bike is a chance to feel like a dare-devil in a movie. Instead of safe and comfortable, I'm powerful and strong!

6. Draw your life.
I found myself getting irritable and bored the last few days. I realized it was just my mind chattering away like a maniac. I was doing my silent counting but felt frustrated, because I know in the Now there is not even room for counting. I want to be able to stop thinking and be in the Now! I've had my fill of writing and recording meditations and talking. So I asked myself, "How do I want to express myself?" The vision of a sketchbook came to mind, so I opened one up and began scribbling away with my non-dominant hand.

After a few minutes I became wrapped up in what I was doing right here, right now. The drawing was the Now. I could hear myself think--and then return to the Now with the drawing. Using my non-dominant hand seemed critical, because when I briefly switched to my right hand, I started rushing and restraining myself.

As I drew, pulling myself back to the Now again and again, I remembered the truths I try to live every day. There is only Now. There is no thinking in the Now, only experiencing. And today if I choose to draw my life, I am here.

6 thoughts on “Tuesday Tips: 6 Ways to Draw a Blank

  1. It’s just me and these Tabasco Cheez-Its which are 150 calories for 26. ;)

    Love the tips this week. Thanks! :)

  2. Alsoooo (…while I’m catching up on your lifestream) I was watching a recorded video with zen Buddhist Barry Magid on Tricycle.com (it’s a Buddhist magazine, unfortunately have to pay for membership or I would totally link you to this talk and it’d explain itself) & heard something I thought might be relevant to counting meditation.

    Basically Barry M. was saying that a lot of people do meditation in order to draw their minds out of reality, to reach an inward state by ‘distracting’ themselves from the Now. That before they meditate they perceive themselves as broken in some way (annoyed, frustrated, sad, angry) and that’s why they turn to meditation – to “recalibrate” the mind to what they believe is a state of balanced homeostasis. Once meditation is over, they feel successful, because they’ve “corrected” themselves and feel better. He said one way that people do this during meditation is counting. They count from one to X number, and if they get to a certain number, they feel successful. They feel like they’ve achieved something. They feel better than they did before, so they think it worked. But ultimately they’re still looking for success, still with no control over whatever bad feelings made them try to meditate in the first place, unable to exist comfortably in the Now exactly as they are – which, according to him, is what meditation should be about. Meditation commonly gets turned into another thing you can do ‘wrong’ or ‘right’, and so the problem is never really fixed because that person is still unable to just sit with themselves, & ‘be’ – he acknowledged that this is incredibly hard for most people because when we do just sit silently with ourselves, emotions & feelings swell to the surface, to the forefront of our minds, & we’d rather not deal with them. We’re ALREADY feeling crappy, so we use mediation as medication – instead of dealing with the root of the problem we do things like count, and we medicate our shitty feelings with a temporary burst of accomplishment, instead of facing them & doing the hard work of [Buddhist] meditation, which is facing, & then separating ourselves from our painful thoughts/beliefs, until they have no control over us. Which removes the need to medicate our feelings altogether.

    Kinda hard for me to hear because I looooove using counting meditation as something to distract myself from anger/stress ever since hearing you & Kelly talk about it in an Ear Candy podcast, but personally I totally got where he was coming from in using meditation to ‘medicate’ & wanted to share that POV with you guys. :)

  3. Ari,
    WOW what perfect timing! Today was pretty much the first day that I’ve decided to let go of counting, because I know it’s thinking, and I want to move beyond that. So I’ve started reading a book called _Dreaming Yourself Awake_ about lucid dreaming and Tibetan dream yoga. In it they talk about three stages of meditation – the first you focus on your breath, and if it helps, count your breaths. But then after that, focus on observing your thoughts and letting them go by like clouds past a window. That’s the stage I feel like I’m just now reaching, and exactly what you’re talking about with “separating ourselves from our painful thoughts/beliefs.”

    I feel like counting is an awesome medication for anger and stress, but you’re right–you have to get to the root, which is being ok with the anger and stress. Being the observer.

    Anyway the third stage of meditation is “awareness of awareness” which I think I get sometimes, it feels like a lucid dream.

    I love how deep it goes!
    Thank you SO MUCH for the information! How exciting to hear from you about this on the same day I’m reading about it.

  4. That made my day! :) Thanks for all you do. Looking forward to the new worksheets & trying to decide which one I’ll get first.

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