My plan was to go to the gym and then come home and spend the day working. I had shot some video for the book - Yes, there are big things coming. And no, 'video for the book' isn't a mistake - and my plan was to do the appropriate editing this morning. When I got the footage loaded onto my computer I found that the two sources of footage were inadvertently shooting at different resolutions. So I need to convert them. Which led me to realize that my hard drive was almost full. Which led me to also realize that my external drive was also almost full. It took several hours to get the appropriate space cleared out, and the files are converting now, a process that will take several hours. Which means no editing. It also means if I want to do anything else on my computer it will run very slowly. When all your work is performed on a computer, to have your computer forced to do something very intensive for several hours can be mind numbing. I could have allowed myself to get frustrated. But I chose to do this instead:
I made myself a cup of miso soup. I listened to the rain softly falling on the skylight. I put a blanket over my old dog, and let her sleep. I then chose to sit and meditate for 30 minutes. I could have gotten frustrated at the lack of apparent work being accomplished. But I chose not to.
Meditation gives me the ability to sit back and think of nothing. Currently in our world that is a very difficult thing to do. We are overwhelmed with data throughout the day. Our phones and computers constantly update us with however much information we are willing to let them. I see people at the gym on their cell phones while watching TV. We are inundated with literally thousands of advertisements a day. Then when I talk to people and they tell me "when I lie in bed to go to sleep, I can't turn my brain off! I lie there for hours thinking of a million things!" And of course we can't turn our brain off, it has been going at two thousand miles an hour since the moment we have lifted our head off our pillow. In my opinion the answer isn't medication, it is unplugging, and slowing down.
I get a lot of questions about Buddhism, and mindfulness. Of course the people asking don't know they are asking about mindfulness, but they are. The simplest description I can give for mindfulness is an attentive awareness of the reality of things, especially the present moment (thought the description A dear friend recently asked about mindfulness 'When I am studying, is it all right if I listen to music, or when I am doing the dishes?' This is the way our minds work now. We need filler. Our own thoughts somehow don't seem fulfilling enough, or even worse, the thought of no thoughts is frightening.
I offered up meditation to a friend who is going through some difficult times, he can't seem to sleep. His immediate response was 'I could never do that'. For some reason the thought of meditation seemed impossible. I sometimes struggle to quiet my mind when I meditate. It is very difficult. But oddly when I kayak I have no trouble. No trouble at all quieting my mind, and sliding into the present. It isn't exactly the same. I am not thinking of nothing, I am thinking about the present. I am focused on the wind and the water, and my kayak and myself. But it is a meditation none the less.