Last Month – November
Before I talk about December, I’ll begin with a customary reflection on what happened in November.
I have done my death meditation, continued with steps, mantras, affirmations…
I only missed one day of not getting 10,000 steps. In fact, I got more steps in the month of November than any month since I started the project. Now that it has gotten cold and it gets dark so early, I find that walking in the cold and dark isn’t that appealing. I have started “jogging in place” at home while watching something on Amazon. I have come to really enjoy these morning exercise sessions after meditation. (Don’t forget, my “smart” watch never counts the first day of the month.)
I am wrapping up practicing the death guided meditation. I have actually enjoyed it, but I’m ready to get back to silent meditation. Each of us is different and different styles of meditation work better than others for all of us.
For me, I definitely, DEFINITELY prefer silence. I’m not even sure I enjoy having a candle lit: I relish the darkness in which I can delve deeply into meditation and see where my mind goes. I don’t worry about having a clear mind. I just try to re-focus on my breathing when I can remember to do so. No judgement there.
It bothers me when I can’t focus on my breathing because I either can’t hear it or because I’m focused on something else, such as the words in a guided meditation.
I’m sure that guided meditations help a lot of people. I’ve even created a few of them.
I forgot to set my meditation timer 3 different times during the month, and so those days don’t show up, but I can tell you this: meditation is so important to me that I MUST get up and do it each day upon waking up.
It is now an ingrained habit thanks to this project and I do it every day without fail, the only exception being when I was traveling earlier this summer.
Reading + Journaling
Did I finish the book? Yes…and no.
I had read The Magic before. For some reason, re-reading it just didn’t seem that beneficial to me. I kept writing about gratitude in my journal and each day.
I also go around thanking people and expressing gratitude such that I have to wonder if people think I’m a broken record. Thank you for this. Thank you for that. I appreciate you.
Not that that’s a bad thing.
Just that it makes me smile how integral gratitude is in my life.
So, I picked up another book from the library: The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom.
Since I was contemplating the whole idea of death, reading this seemed fitting. It was a neat story about a man who dies while trying to save a little girl on an amusement park ride. He then embarks on a journey to meet five people who had intersected his life in some way.
It was a good story. Do I feel completely differently about death after all this?
Eh, I’ve never feared it all that much. Perhaps the process of dying gives me more fear than the actual event. But even still, I do feel less anxious about all that and realize that now is as good a time as any to think about writing a will, and figuring out how I’d pay for my own funeral.
Such weird things to think about, but I remember the relief my own mother felt when her mom passed away and we all learned that she’d already paid for her own funeral. That’s ideal: to have your death not be a burden to anyone else.
As for journaling, through the third week of November, I kept a gratitude version. But then I started writing more daily flash fiction stories, all of which were 850-1000 words.
The December LIFE Project
Back in April when I created the LIFE project, I had no idea how much life would change and how much more I would be intentionally living.
I’m in the process of working a part-time job I love, writing and creating four days per week, and making a “go” of it through the process of intention.
Little by little I’m getting there.
But, these were the original parameters of what December was going to look like:
31 days of no Facebook Work no more than 4 hours (other than for regular work) on any given day Sundays are screen-free days altogether
- create a painting for
charity donate to a charity (either with the painting, time or money)
- Continue 10K steps, journaling,
20-20-20meditation and mantras
Where you see the strikethroughs are where I have to modify this project.
Because my part time job and my writing/creating/blogging all necessitate that I spend significant amounts of time in front of a screen and using social media.
While that’s not a bad thing, I’m also aware that if I’m not mindful about it, it can lead to imbalance and addiction.
While I don’t consider myself addicted, I incorporated this into the project as a way to check myself, and as a way to make myself be more mindful of the time I spend on a computer.
I thought I would modify the project to reflect the fact that I’m a digital marketing manager for a school, as well as someone who makes a chunk of her living online.
The Good and Bad: Using Technology
Technology is here to stay.
Personally, I use my computer to pay bills, to write, to take notes, to record meditations and other things, to meditate with, to use as a calculator, to use as an alarm, as a way to track my daily steps, as a planner, for entertainment, for research and information, to find recipes, to connect with people around the globe, to send and receive email, to order products, to get ideas for stories and novels, to download software…and the list goes on.
There’s also the fact that I work on my employer’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, as well as update their website as well as send and receive communications to all staff.
You could stay that technology is pretty integral to my existence.
And yet I recognize its detrimental effects on sleep patterns, on face-to-face communication, and how much “sit” time a person has, causing deleterious effects on health, and there’s even the “dark side of the internet” to contend with. There are the social problems that technology can antagonize, not to mention the potential of addiction.
I suppose you cannot have the good without having the bad.
Or in the words of Luis Marques:
Light and darkness. One cannot exist without the other. There is no true Master, without the power of balance. - Luis Marques Click To Tweet
Such is the case with technology.
Using Technology Mindfully
Due to the need to use technology (and avoid taking a month of from all my work), I’ve had to modify the intentions of the December LIFE Project. I intend to:
- Create a calendar of days and times for tech mindfulness
- Create a painting to donate to an Intuitive and Spiritual subscriber
- Continue 10K steps, journaling (stories!), silent meditation and mantras
- Donate to the blog and to the school where I work
It seems I’ve made this list shorter.
I have…BUT…that’s because I’m still doing LOTS of things for the website here, and all the standard intentions for the LIFE project.
The Calendar for Tech Mindfulness:
Regarding this calendar, I’m looking at all my activities for the month and have planned these days accordingly. For example, I know I won’t be working on December 30. It will be a tech-free day. Let me know if you’d like me to send you a Microsoft Word version of this calendar.
Day 1 starts with December 1 and continues to December 31.
- Research mindfulness and technology
- Install “Breathe” app on phone and use it to send me reminders to breathe mindfully.
- Use a paper planner and not Google calendar for the month of December
- Get off of all screens at least one hour before bedtime.
- No tech in the bathroom. Yes, it’s a thing that many of us do – admit it! 🙂
- Go on a walk and not bring any technology (cell phones, headphones) with me.
- Get off of all screens at least one hour before bedtime.
- Refrain from using Google to find the answer.
- Turn off all notifications on my cell phone.
- No tech for 2 hours before bed.
- For one day, keep phone on silent.
- Keep my cell phone in my backpack while at work.
- Drive to work without listening to any radio (1 hour round-trip).
- For 10 minutes, just do nothing: just sit and stare. Not meditate – just rest.
- Practice mindfully breathing while holding my phone several times to help get in the habit of taking breaths each time I use my phone.
- Install calm wallpapers on my lockscreen that asks the question, “why am I in your hand?”
- Streamline all my apps
- Make sure bedroom continues to be a tech-free zone (I already do this.)
- Turn off all technology for four hours.
- No technology and no television on (even in background) for three meals.
- Instead of sending an email, send a letter.
- Don’t check any email account for 24 hours.
- Take three 2-hour breaks from technology.
- No tech for two hour upon waking (this should be easy: I’m doing silent meditation for 1 hour)
- For one day, “forget” my phone (keep it at home, not in my pocket)
- For 8 hours, no technology: no screens, no phones
- For 1 day, do not check social media
- For 24 hours, no music (via the use of technology)
- For 12 hours, no technology: no screens, no phones
- For 24 hours, no technology: no screens, no phones (unless there’s an emergency, such as a medical event)
- Take hand-written notes instead of using the notes app on my phone/computer
My form of “donating to charity” is the idea that I intentionally give monies to the annual campaign to the school where I work to help create scholarships for students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. I also volunteer on that same committee to help look for grants, transportation and food sources for families who need it.
In addition, I have made the commitment to create a mandala painting each month and then donate it to someone who is subscribed to the blog.
These five things form the cornerstone of the LIFE Project. It goes without saying that I continue all of these.
I will continue writing flash fiction stories (which are 1000 words or less), and getting my daily steps in either by exercising at home in the mornings, or getting out with my doggie.
To be sure, mantras and affirmations continue to be a daily part of my routine.
This month I have two books I’m reading: The Stranger by Albert Camus. It’s a classic in which a “strange” man commits a crime and well…I don’t want to give the rest of it away. It’s a classic and I started it after I finished my November reading. It has to do with him facing his own demise and thought it another fitting book for reflecting on death and gratitude.
Then I will begin The Emissary of Light by James F. Twyman. From the blurb, it’s about a man who seeks peace in war-torn Bosnia and brings his guitar to sing prayers of peace in the Yugoslavian mountains. There’s love, mysticism, enlightenment and more.
I thought that seemed a fitting December LIFE Project book.
You may have noticed that I’m doing things a little differently here on the blog. Next week I’ll be back with another flash fiction story, followed by the mandala giveaway, then a poem or a guided meditation. I’ll continue to write posts on meditation and mindfulness, as well, but that will happen as the LIFE Project winds down.
Y’all, I have four months left on this project. Much writing fodder. I’ve walked and meditated staggering amounts of distance and time.
I am slowly but surely molding my life into the intentional existence I want it to be and I couldn’t have done this without being accountable to you all and to your support!