A Quiet Mind

Early last week, I hopped in our van to go to an appointment and the darn thing wouldn’t start. Fortunately it was just a dead battery (thank you, RL, for messing with the interior lights when you are supposed to be getting in your seat to get buckled!). Unfortunately, when Ben jumped it for me, he fried some fuses or something and now neither our key fob nor the radio will work when I push them. That means for the last handful of days, I’ve been driving around in silence. Well, not when the kids are with me, of course, but when I’m on my way to an appointment or solo errand or yoga, it’s just me and the road noise. No NPR or music to distract me; no dial to flip to get to a song I actually like. Nothing. (Side Note: if you ask my dad, this is probably a relief. I’m pretty sure I terrified him when I was learning how to drive because I was so infatuated with the radio. What can I say? I’m a (shh! pop) music lover!)

A few days into the no-music-van debacle and it occurred to me that I have been in constant search of quiet. All day long, I am looking for a minute to myself where no one is asking something of me, or requesting my presence (be it physical, mental, or emotional). All day long, I am constantly after the big kids to keep it down so Lincoln can nurse or be even more quiet so Lincoln can nap. Shhh, shhh, shhh. All day long, I strive for silence. But as you can imagine, I have never really gotten it. Until now. And now, this sudden silence has made me realize: I sort of suck at being quiet. It is like I have no idea what to do with it.

I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve punched that button on the dash, trying to make it make some noise. I’ve spun the volume and fiddled with my presets, too, hoping against hope that some sound will come out, but clearly the thing is shot. My frustration and fascination with all this has lead me to wonder, why I am so bad at quiet? Do I really not know how to be alone in my head anymore? It then clicked for me that is exactly why I started walking last fall (which I hope to pick back up when it gets warm – C’mon, Spring!) and got back on the yoga mat; and it all comes back to my problems falling asleep at night, too. 

For one thing, I can’t trust the quiet at night. My over wired brain is so sure that someone is going to make noise or wake me up as soon as I zonk out and so I can’t zonk out. For another, bedtime is usually the first time for the entire day that I’ve really been allowed to be quiet and in my own head and it’s like my mind goes: WHOOHOO! I’ve got you now! Let’s roll with 500 thoughts at 500 mph, for HOURS! Clearly I need some calm and some quiet (preferably before bed). 

As you probably know, I’ve tried about a million different things to help my racing mind and lack of sleep in the last few months. And, among other efforts, the next step is to try to improve what is part of my regular yoga practice: meditation. Whenever I attend a class, we always end with savasana or corpse pose: 10-ish minutes at the end of class to be still on the floor and just be. I am terrible at it. I mean, I can lie there with my eyes closed just fine, but just be? Nuh-uh. My mind is all over the place, from grocery lists to you name it. I need so. much. practice! So that’s what I intend to do. I intend to practice and I will learn and I will eventually be able to meditate. Perhaps then I’ll be able to sleep, too.

To start, I got on Amazon last week and ordered my first book on meditation. It is called, much like this blog post, Quiet Mind: A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation and includes “six simple practices presented by leading Buddhist teachers” (and a CD, to boot). I haven’t tried it yet, but plan to give it a go starting tonight. I’m hoping that one or more of them will resonate with me and can become something I can use in my day-to-days so my night-to-nights improve as well.

To help me along the way, I’ve also decided to quit reading when I do my beloved Legs up the Wall pose. I try to do this for at least 15-20 minutes every day, but because I don’t get many chunks of time for myself these days, I’ve started combining leg time with reading time. With a book held over my face, those minutes click right on by and my back and my immune system and my book lover soul all get some nourishment. But reading is not being quiet in my head, so this is an easy way to start adding quiet to my days. I tried it this afternoon and I have to say, at least I made it eight minutes before I checked my phone to see how much time had passed, but wow – it is not easy for me to just sit!

Do you meditate? If so, how? I’m so curious to learn more in terms of practice and benefits. Please share if you have any experience with such! 

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