My 16 year old daughter was diagnosed as Attention Deficit Disorder and then, at the age of 57, so was I. A lifetime of struggle was placed into a context that made sense of a lot of failure and frustration. This blog documents and celebrates what has happened to me since.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

why not then?

When I sit in meditation, following the breath, my mind floods with thinking.

I plan the future. I write pieces like this one in my head. I analyze things that have happened, processing what I've done, what people have said, things that have gone on around me. I fantasize and rehearse.

I do everything except follow the breath.

I know this because I name all these things as I do them.

"Planning," I say to myself, "planning, planning, planning," and then I return my attention to the feeling in my stomach as the breath comes in.

Often I stay there for a breath or two than then it's off to what was said at dinner last night, or some project I have to work on.

"Analyzing, analyzing, analyzing."

All normal and common for people beginning to meditate. Beginning is a term of art, here, as I have been sitting on the pillow on and off for a number of years. And it is the "on and off" that is the operative term. I am led to believe, and I have confidence that, a more steady discipline would have me better able to stay with the breath for longer.

Steady discipline? And ADD?

Just sitting on the pillow for twenty minutes without moving is...I digress.

But the point of this writing (which I did on the pillow, pretty much) is not the difficulty and slow "progress" of meditation.

The point is that when I can do this planning, analyzing, fantasizing (visualizing the future or playing "I should have said/done"), processing and such I don't do it. All this stuff seems very important when I am on the pillow, it's stuff I should be writing down or following up on when I am "done" meditating. It is important, too. Some of it is very important and it is stuff I need to get done.

I am going to be on an airplane today for seven hours or so today. And if today is like the day before yesterday, when I flew down here, I will read, play solitaire, listen to pod casts or music--I will do anything except engage in that free flow of thinking that wants to go on, that "intrudes into," my meditation, my concentration, such as it is, on the breath.

So, I will try an experiment. On the plane today I will take out my spiral notebook and I will close my eyes and I will think. I'll let my mind go where it will, thinking all those thoughts that "I" (and just who is this "I" that wants to think these thoughts and how is it that this "I" intrudes and pushes aside the "I" that wants to sit following the breath...I digress. ADD, you know.)

I will not get hooked on on particular thought, at least not at first. I will make a list of the things I am planning, the things I am analyzing, the things I am fantasizing and visualizing, the things I am writing in my head.

Perhaps, from there...ah, don't out-drive your headlights, Timothy. When you are on the pillow you think that you should be keeping track of these things. OK.

Keep track of them.

Then, after you have kept track, see what happens.

About Me

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I am a convinced Beanite Friend, a member of Bridge City Friends Meeting, Willamette Quarterly Meeting and North Pacific Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Notwithstanding the doubts of some who claim the name, I am a Christian who does a Buddhist practice and believes that God talks to everyone, all the time. I have worked in the judicial branch of government, as well as being a trial lawyer, a public school teacher (counselor and coach), a kite merchant, and a Marine Corp Sergeant. I am currently working as a consultant to public and private agencies on issues of child welfare, juvenile justice, and substance abuse treatment courts.