Becoming friends with loneliness

What's Helping Today: JournalSpeak and Sarah Blondin meditations

Hi good morning,

I’ve been trying to meditate since I was a teenager. I say ‘trying’ because I was always lousy at it, or so I felt. Through these years of trying, I’ve attempted meditation in loads of contexts — group, solo, Buddhist-y, secular-y, so forth. Anyway, as of the last few weeks I have finally gotten a daily meditation habit going. Only took twenty years!

I’m especially grateful to the two resources that have made this most possible:

First, JournalSpeak by Nicole Sachs. IMO “JournalSpeak”is a sorta misleading name. So! If you are at all intrigued, read her whole post before judging, or even just give it a go, see for yourself. I’d initially been sorta dismissive of this idea because, as a writer (and sometime journal-keeper) I was like: Last thing I need is to write more.

But this practice is totally unlike ‘journaling,’ It’s more like ‘bitching’ — in the best way. You write all the thoughts, even the very unpleasant ones, for 20 minutes, and then you destroy what you wrote. The next day you come back and do it again. There’s a whole neuroscience basis for why it works, basically to do with using what we know about the mind/body connection to resolve pain signals that weren’t, often because of overwhelming emotion. I’ve long suffered from (occasionally debilitating) back pain and have diagnosed anxiety and eczema and IBS, conditions Western medicine has happily taken my money to investigate and never helped with. So this JournalSpeak practice, it’s exciting stuff, for me personally. And hard! (If you’re reading this and have experience with JournalSpeak/TMS that you want to share with me, feel free to send me a note; I’m curious.)

Second! Nicole recommends following those 20 minutes of JournalSpeaking with a self-compassion meditation. Perhaps it’s having that big dump of negative thoughts prior to starting meditation that has made the latter more attainable for me. I have found Sarah Blondin’s meditations on Insight Timer to be especially wonderful; I completed her 10-day “Coming Home to Yourself” course and it was what kickstarted this unprecedented run of morning meditations. I’ve now begun another course she has that is encouraging me to become friends with my loneliness. It’s hard and big and good. (Insight Timer is a free app with like a zillion meditations on it; to access the courses you have to pay for the premium version.) Anyway, this morning I meditated for 30 minutes, that’s for sure an all-time record.

These last few years, since top surgery especially, I’ve gotten way into yoga, as I’ve written about before. There’s no doubt I wouldn’t have gotten to this point with meditation were it not for all that moving meditation practice. Yoga remains invaluable; days I skip it, I pay a price. And yet! Regular meditation — the closing of the the eyes and being marooned in that cacophonous and frankly unpleasant place — always remained daunting.

Therefore I wanted to share these resources, especially in case any of you are ~struggling~.

I definitely am! Such times, I think, demand we fight even harder.

Sending love,

p.s. Thanks to those of you who’ve said nice stuff about my Britney piece!

p.p.s. Here is an exceedingly simple but very delicious vegetarian dinner, one of those recipes where the dish is way tastier than the sum of its ingredients, seemingly. (One to keep in mind perhaps for whenever tomatoes are ripe where you are…) Also, most of my cooking aspirations lately involve this glorious book.

p.p.p.s. My own garden (here at 2000 feet) is doing peas still…tomatoes still a ways off.