November 21, 2010
Acceptance means seeing things as they actually are. It does not mean that you have to like everything or that you should be passive in attitude but trying to be open to whatever the present moment offers.
For me, this Attitude is pretty significant. The three-year anniversary of my diagnosis is just around the corner but I'm not sure that I totally accepted my serostatus until recently. I only know that just about everything began to look better once I finally did. I will never like being HIV positive but I do accept that until there's a cure, its inside me. Because I'm not wasting my time and energy dwelling on what might have been, I am more focused and able to make decisions about the present.
This week in place of the Body Scan, I used both the Standing and Lying Yoga exercises found in the workbook to cultivate mindfulness. I've been hooked on yoga and the stillness it consistently provides me for over ten years, so to be honest, these both felt comfortable and safe. For those that have a hard time sitting still, I don't think there's a better way to quiet the mind than yoga. Doing the poses my body is kept so busy that thinking becomes harder to do and so much less important than breathing.
On Monday evening, my friend Russel invited me to do a 45-minute Zazen (seated meditation) at a local Buddhist Zen Center (this is California after all). It was special and unique to practice with other like-minded people in such a beautiful space. Couldn't help but notice the physical diversity in the people around me. I hope to return there as much as I can to keep my Practice alive when these first eight weeks are up.
I'm starting to see my meditation as a form of mental exercise. Just like working out or doing cardio, it took time to build endurance and confidence. In the beginning I felt awkward and couldn't imagine sitting every day for 30 minutes (or more) but over time I've surprised even myself. There are days when I'm a fidgety mess but I just tell myself those are the times when I need to meditate the most.
Letting Be -- With this quality of awareness, you can simply let things be as they are, with no need to try and let go of whatever is present.
It might sound dumb but I think I get what the Beatles were referring to in "Let It Be". Most likely written and recorded during their search for enlightenment with the Dalai Lama, I imagine they also discovered the power of such a simple concept.
While reading both the book and the workbook, I noticed the only time the two were in conflict, was using "letting be" over "letting go". The best way to describe the difference might be that letting go implies that you're getting rid of a thought or situation and letting be is more about co-existing with things just as they are. Letting be is more in line with A.C.T [acceptance and commitment therapy], so I chose to use it here. A small but important distinction. Continued doing the two yoga series from last week alternating days with the Body Scan. My mindful mornings are still intact but with the days growing shorter, sometimes sleep wins over meditation at 10pm.
I notice that I have become a lot more sensitive to the world around me in so many ways. I'm reserving judgment about whether or not that's a benefit but since it comes with improved mental clarity it's hard to label it bad.
At the beginning and end of each session, I am reminded to thank myself for taking the time to do self care. This week I became aware of how my self-deprecating thoughts and behaviors have decreased. I wouldn't go as far as to say they're now 100% positive but in developing mindfulness, neutrality is preferred anyway.
My Practice may not be a cure for depression but it sure seems like a powerful antidote.