Today Has Been One of Those Days.
This morning I woke and sat for about an hour to practice some meditation, breath work and affirmation as I usually do. I’ve managed to keep this morning practice up consistently for four months or so. It’s going well and I’ll continue to include this as an integral part of my day. I feel that beginning each day like this has provided more clarity in most aspects of my life. Following this I was feeling good about getting to work on various creative projects throughout the day.
Thus far I have spent several hours attempting to work on some music production - I recorded 20 or so vocal takes, then decided I wasn’t going to include that part in the song anymore. I clicked around on a few other audio projects, with no actual clue what I was aiming to do. I unconsciously do this because on some level I feel the need to always be doing something, even when I don’t presently have the capacity to do it. I’m so focused on making it seem like I’m working, and while I exert energy, I don’t get to make any actual progress. As a result, I am frustrated, anxious, angry… you get the picture.
In my experience, making solid plans as to how I’m going to tackle the tasks in my day tends to be counter-productive. I’ve found it’s important to realize that your “plan” for the day is nothing more than that; a plan. That’s right - the world will probably not end if you don’t finish your to-do list. I have a tendency to try to follow plans that were drawn up the night before only to find that when the day comes around I had zero energy to offer the items on the agenda. Part of me feels I should just suck it up and get to work, but I’ve realized that this approach simply leads to no progress, and eventually burnout. Especially when it comes to creative work! So rather than a “plan”, I prefer to set an intention for my day. It’s a loose plan that is headed in the direction of my goals. By not having too rigid a structure in place, it allows me to allocate my effort on a more flexible basis, which I find to be more calming and efficient.
Another source of conflict on days like today is that I try to make my life look a certain way, based on comparison. I’ve spent a lot of time hearing and reading about successful people “working their ass off” as if it is the only way that we can achieve things. I think this expression is taken far too literally, at least by me. It’s as though we accept that we must inflict hardship upon ourselves in order to get anywhere in this life. There are a lot of things that we can learn from the people around us. However when we try to mimic others or dictate exactly what happens in our life, there are limitations. For one, it almost makes you blind to seeing anything else that might be calling your attention because it doesn’t fit inside the “frame” that you’d decided your life ought to fit in. There are a lot of great things that you don’t know about that won’t be able to stumble upon you if your mind is closed to seeing them.
I’ve written about practices that I use in order to ground myself, although on a day like today, these tactics don’t get much of a look in.
“Meditation?! You don’t have time to sit and do nothing! You have to do things! Work..! Or at least make it look like you are!” - My Mind, February 8th 2019.
A part of what drives me to behave in this way is the fear of reaching the end of my day (and eventually, life) and looking back only to see I haven’t actually done anything tangible. It’s ironic really, I’m so focused on doing things that I just don’t get anything done, and I think a lot of people are in the same boat.
I won’t lie, I don’t like feeling this way. It sucks. Having said that, I know there are lessons to be learned from the experience of a day like today, however often they might occur. I am also grateful for the fact that I’m more aware of what’s happening in my mind and body, compared to previous years. I owe this perhaps entirely to my mindfulness practice.
And hey, at least I have this article to show for the day.