volume five

too busy to meditate

Hello beautiful people!

How are you today? I hope the answer to that is “absolutely wonderful, thank you so much for asking”.

I struggled to think of a subject this week. Usually, something from the week, or especially the weekend, sparks my imagination and grabs my attention. This past weekend I spent 12 pm - 9 pm both days in an online workshop. It was magical and valuable and so amazing, but it left me feeling exhausted too. That exhaustion then left me feeling slightly uninspired for a newsletter topic because my screen fatigue is real. Eighteen months into the pandemimoore and 98% of the conversations I have are through a phone call or more likely a video call. I am tired. Not to mention all the other screen time I spend trying to learn French, recording or working on the various aspects of my podcast like scheduling episodes and writing show notes and creating graphics and posting on social media and more, my day job for eight hours a day, scrolling social media, reading the news, writing stories and other things, answering texts and emails, at-home workouts, obsessively keeping track and planning out my days in my phone’s calendar, using maps on my phone to plan out my routes as I still discover my city, making appointments, checking the weather, ordering groceries, paying bills, booking through my dog sitting app, being a part of weekly check-ins with a few groups I am a part of … sound like you?

I was on a video call with a friend last week who said it best. She said, “we aren’t in the first month anymore”. We aren’t just missing our friends and wanting to get at them any way we can because just a few weeks ago we were seeing people every day and hugging them and sharing appies and letting people taste our drinks and posing for photos all pressed together. Now we have adjusted to this new, more digital heavy lifestyle and we are set in. Now we are very aware that so many of us spend all day (like seriously eight or more hours a day) staring at a screen for work or study, only to turn our computer off and pick up the phone right away and do the same for a big chunk of our night in order to keep in touch with each other. Make it stop!

So with all of the distractions making me anxious and tired, I wanted to compile a list of ways I switch off, zone out, breathe, reset, step away…

This list is inspired by the workshop I was in for sure and I am so grateful for the opportunity to reflect on what is meditative for me.

SPRAWLING OUT ON THE COUCH WITH NETFLIX

I love binging TV, which yes is still screen time, but with this screentime, I can lay down comfortably and I can even be nude if I want. I can be in my blue-light blocking glasses that reflect the screen of whatever I am staring at, so no one can see my face on a video chat, so I never wear them on those. When I watch TV my eyes are protected and that matters so much. I can shovel food into my face without consideration for what anyone else sees. I can turn the TV off and go to bed when I choose to, without having to wrap anything up awkwardly or cut anyone off (including myself because I can talk and talk and become my own worst screen fatigue enemy). Another thing I like about TV time is that I keep adult colouring books by the couch and keep my phone in another room after 9:30 pm so that if I get fidgety, instead of doom scrolling while also watching TV, I can keep my hands busy colouring in sassy cats. (But I am not too distracted and therefore I avoid having to rewind the show to see what I missed).

WALKING

As mentioned in a past edition I clocked almost 120,000 steps on my week off work — most of those steps taken while walking with no destination or time to get there in mind, just spotting a cute alley I wanted to detour down or a street I had never seen but the houses looked cute. When I actually manage to get away from my desk and walk (alone is key but I love walking with others for different reasons) I enter a meditation-like state. I am absorbing everything but am also completely lost in my thoughts and daydreams. It is bliss. I might accidentally find myself overlooking the city or finding some amazing murals or street art or discovering vegan ice cream or finding a plant store and bringing new green friends home or a thrift store and buying a new dress or a park and coming back later with my book. Or maybe I find nothing, maybe I just clear my head and thoughts and gain clarity. But I do know that the days I do not walk, are the days I struggle to concentrate or focus or prioritise.

DANCING WITH MYSELF

Put on the right music at the right time and I will instinctively close my eyes and wave my arms around in a rhythmic way. Some days I become Elton John or Stevie Nicks others I take on a more Joan Jett or Janis Joplin. If there is a song that feels what I am feeling and I am able to listen to it alone at a high volume, my mind leaves my body and I am taken somewhere else. I haven’t figured out where that is yet but it’s fun!

YOGA

In my living room is good, but as mentioned in previous editions when I am able to get to yoga in the park I am taken to a whole other level of zoning out and being away from anything that isn’t the yoga practice.

REPETITIVE OR MUNDANE TASKS

When I was a server I loved being tasked with rolling cutlery or folding napkins, especially after a lunch or dinner rush. It was the perfect way to zone out and switch off while also keeping my body busy enough it wasn’t tempted by distraction. Similarly now, I love folding laundry and doing dishes and cleaning my apartment for that same reason. If it is apartment cleaning day I will play my music and ignore my phone for as long as I can while I scrub the bathroom and vacuum and dust and clean mirrors and sweep balconies. I love it.

SKINCARE

I have a pretty strict evening and morning routine for my face, but it is my morning routine that feels like meditation. About a year and a half ago my friend introduced me to this face massaging technique and now I incorporate about ten minutes of it into each day, as part of the first few things I do after waking up — to help me wake up. I use one of the face oils I was already putting on my face to massage it in and I feel relaxed, awake, energized, pampered and less stressed as a result every time.

WATERING MY PLANTS

When I water my plants, usually once or twice a week depending on how hot it has been, I shuffle from one end of the apartment to the other greeting them one by one, addressing them by name, commenting on their growth or welcoming new leaves and congratulating them on bounce backs or making it through some of our particularly hot days. My plants all have names that I picked out for them after them being welcomed home, usually within the first two weeks. I really need to get to know them first and sometimes that takes a little time. Their names are Julian, Skye, Bibbles, Cora, Dennis, Floss, Severus, Cecilia, Sly, Mrs Carter, Vincent, London, David, Lucy, Jerrilynn, Marty and Antoinette. If I am watering them or tending to them in any way, I am chatting with them or maybe even singing to them. Lucy, for example, is a Lily and her favourite music to listen to is The Beach Boys. Any 50 First Dates fans out there?

WRITERS HOUR

Another activity that feels like switching off the outside world and switching on my inner self is Writer’s Hour. I am there Monday - Friday at 8 am, sometimes writing you this newsletter, sometimes writing short stories or sometimes working on my pilot, and always being inspired by everyone else in the wonderful community. (Sometimes I even sneak in the 8 am in other timezones like LA and NZ when work is quiet enough that no one notices me missing for an hour). It’s a kind, encouraging and welcome space that has allowed me to find my voice in writing again but also creates an environment that is perfect for being only in my thoughts as they appear on my screen as I type them.

What do all of these things have in common? I am not looking at my phone and I am not concerning myself with other people and what they are doing. These two things are key for me to switch into this mode.

What are your ways to meditate in everyday life?

In the words of Jeff, my favourite voice on the Calm meditation app, “it’s a pleasure being human with you”.

I love you,

Lauren

xoxo

Three things I struggled with this week:

  • Had a tough conversation with someone that I had been putting off. I made peace with the fact that I could not control what they responded with, only what I said. I said what I wanted to, I was honest, and in the end, the response was a really good one. So it was a struggle that turned into a blessing.

  • THE HEAT. Yikes, think I have said this before. Air conditioning feels like (I mean aside from being terrible for the planet) something people with two-income households would find more attainable. I have been keeping wet cloths in the freezer on rotation and will remember this feeling when I am in the middle of winter and cannot feel my toes.

  • Feeling excluded from activities that I used to be invited to before I got sober.

Three blessings from this week:

  • My lovely, lovely friend El picked me up after work on Monday and took me to (well we still don’t quite know the name of the place despite trying to figure it out) but another part of town. She packed us a homemade picnic dinner and we sat by the water and ate and chatted for hours while the sun set. Then we grabbed some ice cream and walked through the neighbourhood which was so pretty and perfect and quaint we kept saying how we felt like we were on a movie set after hours. It was the best night I have had in so long and I felt the love as well as just always enjoying her company and feeling refreshed after time spent with her <3

  • Writing this newsletter on my front balcony on the third floor and my neighbour Raphael bringing out his trash so I get to say good morning and blow kisses with a friendly face. I love living so close to wonderful humans.

  • The moon.

Three goals for the coming week:

  • Starting the HitRecord Class Projects. I got early access to them and am so excited to dive in! My goal is to dedicate one Writer’s Hour Session a week to learning.

  • Continue with this new more balanced work/play/relax flow I am in still since my staycation week. Feel free to ask me how it’s going so I don’t cave and use overworking as an escape again.

  • Put my feet in some water — there is talk of “beaches” close by. None like at home in Australia, so am prepared for water that just happens to sit next to sand perhaps. But I am aiming to get my feet wet this week.

What I am enjoying this week: My wonderful friend Lauren has a great newsletter. She is a fellow ‘Aussie Lauren Abroad’ and writes How to be Self(ish). It is so honest and vulnerable but also quirky and funny at the right times too. I am inspired by her openness as it encourages mine, both in my writing and in life. Big love to you dear Lauren!