Just Begin Again
I've had a bit of a rough couple of weeks.
First, we discovered some penetrating damp that looked to be coming in through the ancient wooden fascia and not quite as old guttering, plus turns out the back guttering was asbestos, so that was £1,600 we had to find before Christmas.
Then I came down with the mother of all colds, spiked a fever started coughing up some gruesome looking phlegm. I've now mostly got over that, and last night had a delicious and enjoyable meal out with some friends, that led to me being up til 1am, waking up at near 11.
All of this has completely ruined my sleep schedule, stopped me from really exercising at all in the last two weeks 1, completely knocked me off my meditation and journaling habits, as well as my weekly review and therapy habits. I feel disorientated, messy internally, and just not quite there.
Where do you go from that?
I came across the Waking Up app by Sam Harris from a Tim Ferriss newsletter and video 2. He recommended a session called Just Begin Again, a three minute mediation session that's less of a 'close your eyes and clear your head' and more of a lesson on, well, beginning again. Here's a quick section from it:
If you notice that a conversation with a friend or a family member or a colleague isn't going very well or you're not having fun at a party or you've been trying to get some work done, but you found you've just wasted the last hour on the internet or you're working out in the gym, but you haven't been making much of an effort, the moment you notice this ghost of mediocrity hovering over the present, you can fully exorcise it just by the beginning again and then fully commit by relinquishing the past. There's no real reason why the next 10 minutes in the gym can't be the best you've had in years. There's no real reason why you can't put this conversation that's almost over on a new footing by saying something that is truly useful. So the practice is to stop telling ourselves a story about what has been happening and to fully connect with experience in this moment.
I think I've listened to this one session around 100 times. When I get caught up in self-loathing, when I get overly frustrated with work or my energy levels, or when I've been ill for the better part of two weeks and have to start everything all over again. I don't have to cross my legs and close my eyes. I just need to step away, stick it on my phone, and listen. It's like if the infamous Shia LaBouef JUST DO IT video was actually helpful and could be taken seriously.
And it works. Sometimes not for much longer than the next 10 minutes, but that's what life is; a series of 10 minutes. And if I have to remind myself again after that, that's ok. As Sam Harris goes on to say in the session, 'The only way to truly forgive other people or oneself is to restart the clock in the present. And this habit of mind allows for a resilience that we can't otherwise find and they're literally hundreds of opportunities each day to practice it.'
Neither myself or this post is sponsored in any way by Waking Up or Sam Harris. I just wanted to talk about something that has helped me enormously through some difficult and intense times. There is a subscription fee of $99/year, however they also have a scholarship plan designed for hose who genuinely can't afford the subscription where you can apply for free access to the full app on a yearly basis, no questions asked. I've used this twice - first because redundancy left me short, second because buying a house is expensive - and it's as easy as filling in a form and clicking a button.
I've tried many apps, but this is the one that's helped the most. If you're looking for a place to start or freshen up your practice, I can thoroughly recommend Waking Up. They have a great introductory course, which you can then following up with a wide range of guided meditation. In particular, I find their Metta (loving kindness) sessions and the Original Love course by Henry Shukman especially beneficial.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
Thanks for reading! Next week is obviously Christmas, and I might be met with some disapproval from my wife should I chose to ignore her and the family to go blog for a couple of hours, so the next post will be on Boxing Day. Mailing list subscribers will still get the bonus post on Wednesday, so if you enjoyed this post and want to read more of the same, you can subscribe via email or RSS.
Something my Apple Watch and Health app seem to take great joy in reminding me.↩
His newsletter, 5-Bullet Friday, is definitely worth a go. In between the product placements for Athletic Greens and bed warming/cooling covers are some real nuggets.↩