Archive for February, 2011

On Wood and Meditation

This week I did some woodworking with my brother who has been staying with us for the past month. It’s been great to have him with us and to really spend a lot of quality time with him. One of the many things we have done while he’s been here is to set up a shop in my basement for woodworking projects. The first thing we made was a meditation bench. It was a great first project for me as I hadn’t done any woodworking since I was in Jr. High school and had wood shop class one semester. I have always had a healthy respect for artisans and craftsmen who could make things out of wood and now that I’ve completed this project, it’s even greater. Because I am so proud of completing this and thankful to my brother for teaching me how to use the tools and build the bench, here are some pictures of the results of my labor.

I can’t wait to sit on this tonight and meditate. It’s going to do wonders for keeping my hips and knees on a level plain and keep me from hurting while meditating.

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As you may have heard, we got a bit of  snow here in the U.S. recently. It was only a foot or so here in Maine and it fit rather nicely on top of the foot we already had on the ground. Needless to say, today was spent securely indoors and out of the cold. It was the perfect day to finish up my first woodworking project: a meditation bench.

Once the polyurethane has finished drying, I’ll get some pictures and post them. For now, it’s a waiting game. I had a lot of fun putting this together and would never have been able to do it without the assistance of my brother who has been visiting with us. It was a great project to do with him and to learn from him and to just hang out in a workshop and make something together. I’m really pleased with the way that this has turned out and expect to see many hours spent on this bench.

When we weren’t working on the bench or playing with the kids, it was a lazy day. I actually took a nap and rested for a bit. There’s nothing like a foot of snow to bring out an instinct to hibernate. Especially after your belly is full of Caribbean Jerk Quinoa (one of my favorite ways to prepare quinoa). Overall, just a really nice day slowing down and spending time being a family.

One thing that meditation and living mindfully does is enhance your enjoyment of taking slowly the things that don’t need to be rushed. Obviously there are scenarios where time is of the essence and one needs to hurry but those scenarios aren’t as common as we like to think. I think this is because we, as a species, derive a lot of motivation from stress. It’s how we evolved. Since we no longer have to fear being eaten by wild animals or dying from a lack of food or shelter or from catching a cold and having it turn in to something worse, we invent artificial stress to keep us going. This is bad for a few reasons. One, we create states for our body to go into overdrive much more than it should. This causes health problems from “running too hot”. Two, in a lot of people, stress will trigger an emotional response to eat. This leads to a big source of overeating for many of us who have struggled with our relationship with food. It’s a quick way to weight gain since you end up consuming more than you need and your body stores away the calories as fat more readily than it would under normal circumstances. This is why a nice slow lazy day like today is really important every once in a while. It reminds us to slow down and take things as they really are.

It’s started snowing again while I have been writing this. At some point you have to say, “enough is enough!” and get tired of it. I’m probably at that point now but it’s taken all day to get there. The fact is that I have had a great day doing low stress and slow-paced work and play. Tomorrow, I’ll brave the elements and go back to work but that’s a post for tomorrow.

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OK, here’s the deal. I’ve been struggling with some writer’s block lately. I can start a post but I’m having a hard time finishing them. My draft posts folder has eight (EIGHT) posts in it right now.

I’ve also not been able to sit in meditation or go to the gym for over 2 weeks because of the injuries I sustained while snowboarding. This caused my weight to go up a few pounds and my mental state to be less than optimal. When you add in the stress of a high priority project for work, January has really sucked for me in the realm of health.

That’s why I’m pissed. I can’t go back to the way I was. I won’t do that to myself, my family or my friends. I’ve worked too damned hard over the last seven months to mess it up now. I’m just glad I’m (mostly) no longer in pain. Tomorrow I go back the gym for the first time in a few weeks and we’ll see how my knees can handle it.

Once upon a time I would’ve felt defeated. That would lead to spiraling out of control then to huge weight gain. I’ve been depressed this month but now I know how to deal with it so I haven’t had a huge gain: only 4 pounds. No one ever said what I was doing would be easy and I don’t even know how I’ve come this far myself. What I do know is I’m not going back.

One of my favorite moments in the Simpsons is when Dr. Nick Riviera get paged by the coroner and proclaims, “Oh, I hate that guy!” Lately I’ve feel like my old body is paging me. I hate that guy.

That guy was fat and depressed and angry and suicidal at times. That guy was trapped in a cage of his own making. That guy didn’t have hope. That guy didn’t understand the importance of mindfulness and right living. I’M NOT THAT GUY ANYMORE! I WILL NOT BE THAT GUY ANYMORE. I really hated being that guy.
Instead of spiraling out of control, I’m channeling my anger toward my goal of being healthy. I’m no longer mad at myself for what I did or did not do. No, this time I’m being driven by the rage I feel as I think about what I could become again.

I’m trying to process my anger in as healthy a way as possible instead of denying it or suppressing it. Giving my anger a channel and harnessing it for good is the best I can do. One thing I’ve done is to prepare myself for when I hoped to be recovered enough to get back into my routine.

1. I set a date for getting to the gym. February 1st. That’s today.
2. I set a short-term goal for loss: 265 lbs. That’s less than ten pounds and lower than I’ve been yet.
3. I made a meditation bench. I’m not sure if I’ll need it to assist my knees but building it gave me a way to focus on the goal.
4. I have renewed my commitment to mindfulness and mindful healthy living. No more mindfully eating a bag of potato chips (but they’re vegetarian!).
5. I am trying to write every day though I may not post every day. The reality is I’m a bit too busy to do that so I’ll do what I can when I can.

It’s 5:30 A.M. and that means it’s time for me to hit the gym.

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