30 DAYS OF CALM: Day Four

Activities: Meditation, 24 hour lockdown on human contact.


Feelings: Pretty much all of them from angst to boredom.


Thoughts: This one took a bit of organisation. I arranged a 24 hour period where I had no appointments and sealed myself into the house alone. Em respected my experiment and vacated for the day – she didn’t have much on anyway, I mean, what’s the first day of uni really? Calm Mentor decreed that this solitude did not extend to dogs and I was allowed to spend time with the ones in my house. At first I didn’t agree because the dogs and I have plenty to talk about, but I soon realised that the dogs’ conversation with me tended to revolve around “I am a dog! What’s that you’re eating?” and mine to them focussed on asking who in the vicinity was a good dog.


My morning meditation started off on a very bad foot. I walked into the sunroom to find that one of the dogs (the bad one) had leapt onto the counter to dig up the miniature Zen Garden that I’m in the process of assembling. She’d thrown white sand everywhere and apparently eaten one of my smooth black rocks. I was very angry and foolishly chose that moment to meditate. It was all I could do to keep my eyes shut, let alone zone into tranquility, while every fibre of my being wanted to jump up and strangle the dog.


Cleaning up sand took all morning and I managed to make it through to about 3pm before I really started to get bored. I played a number of little games on my iPhone (which was on flight mode to evade calls and texts) and started a few projects I’d been putting off. The hours between 4 and 6 really dragged and I decided to meditate a bit more to pass the time. I tried a different type of meditation to my usual nose-fixated one. I lay on the floor and imagined that I was X-raying my whole body from skull to heel and examining how each bit felt. It worked really well! I was really focussed on my head, my face, my shoulders, my arms… then I got to my torso and there were a whole lot of organs in there. I got a bit mixed up trying to locate all my different parts and before I knew it I was waking up 20 minutes later to some grumpy barking. I had zoned in so far that I’d completely zoned out! It wasn’t a refreshed sleep either, more that groggy sort of sleep where your head feels fat and stupid. I had a drink and a stretch and tried again, to the exact same effect.


Around 6 o’clock I sat in the backyard and that was the time I felt the most calm. I’d pottered around doing things until I had nothing left to do but sit and look at the stars popping out into the sky. I watched the orange light fade slowly off the buildings and I realised I had completely run out of things to think about. I’d been over and over all the stuff I had to do tomorrow, I’d managed to complete most of the jobs I’d set aside for today. I just sat there and it was really nice. In the build up to the lockdown I’d been thinking about it as losing a day, but sitting in the backyard it felt like I’d gained a day. The day was literally mine and nothing could interfere.


After dark I had dinner, sang a bit, played more games and tried sitting-up meditation one last time. This time I switched off the timer and found that it was easier to relax. I wasn’t trying to smash all the relaxedness out in 10 minutes. My brain shut up a bit, or rather, I felt like the chatter was in the background rather than in the front of my mind. I think it was my most successful attempt but even so, my brain kept trying to throw literally anything in the way to distract me. At one point it was trying to sing me the theme from Family Ties while flashing a picture of a surfing spoon. Anything for attention.


Here’s a photo of my companion for the day. This is the good dog who didn’t destroy my rock garden. I asked Em why the bad dog would want to destroy such a peaceful little creation. She asked “were you showing it lots of attention?” I said, “Yes, I was building it and loving it.” She said “That’s why then.”

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