Friday, March 28, 2014

Shaken to the core by another's presence: what does it mean?

This morning a man came into my office and asked to use the phone. I work at front desk so was the first person to greet him and asked him a few questions in order to help him find where he was going (he was lost).

We chatted for less than 5 minutes in total and I helped him use the phone and find where he needed to be going. By the time he left I was physically shaking and had to leave front desk and take 5 minutes to calm down. What happened?

I honestly don't know. I have had previous occasions in my life when I have felt overwhelmed by other people's emotions (if someone is very sad I can feel depressed even after they have left my presence, for example) however I always assumed that was natural. This felt very unnatural.

After he left I looked up the address he was headed to and it was to a Psychiatrist's Office, which really just confirmed the strong 'vibe' I received from him. Does anyone know what happened?

I googled 'sensitivity to others energy' which just brought back thousands of pages relating to crystals, chakras and spiritual healing. Not my bag baby. How do I find out what I experienced without losing my practical scientific self? Maybe I can't and it's down to the mysteries of life (cue sitar music), but maybe the wanting to know is just grasping/clinging (from a buddhist perspective) and I should let it go.

Have you experienced anything similar?
This is how it felt

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Fasting Fiasco?

When Mike and I decided to fast for one-day a week in March we assumed it would be easiest monthly challenge yet, however the opposite has turned out to be true! So far we have attempted to fast for the last three Sundays in a row, and we still have next Sunday to go, in order to complete the challenge.

The first Sunday went well, however since then we have not been 100% well. The second Sunday was right after my dad had returned home from hospital and I was completely emotionally fatigued; from both daily hospital visits and the difficulties that arose around his return home (cue second family crisis in the same week).

So I must admit I was pretty half-hearted about the fasting by Sunday. I had been fine preparing more juices for breakfast and lunch hunger pangs, but by dinner time the emotional NEED for a hot meal was nearly overwhelming. I definitely would have broken down in tears if I hadn't been able to eat dinner. So Mike and I opted for a light healthy dinner of steamed rice and vegies, with a little home-made satay sauce for taste. Simple and absolutely delicious.

Yesterday was the third Sunday of the month and again we failed in our attempt to fast for the day, this time because Mike is sick with the flu. He had been coughing, sneezing and sweating profusely with fever since Saturday afternoon so we agreed it might not be the best time to tax his system with a fast.

We still did our best and had juice and water for most of the day (he didn't have much of an appetite anyway) but by late afternoon he was hungry so I made us the comfort-food my mum always made me when I was sick, "boiled eggs and soldiers". If I had better will power I would have just made some for Mike and not myself, but I'm not that strong.

So next Sunday is our last chance to do the full 24-hour fast and attempt to find any physical, mental or emotional benefit. I'll report back once the month is finished!
Home-made juices

Friday, March 14, 2014

The first fast and facing crises with awareness

Last Sunday Mike and I completed our first weekly fast (one day of the week without eating solids) which went well. There were two times during the day when I definitely felt ravenous - after lunch and after dinner time. At these times I drank some vegetable juice which I had prepared in the morning, that way when I was hungry (and grumpy) then I didn't have to think about the effort involved in juicing, the hard work (and cleaning) was already done.

Luckily I didn't feel too hungry when I went to bed either, certainly not to the point that it kept me awake. A dose of beetroot and celery juice filled me up enough to stave off any hunger pains; Mike preferred the apple and carrot juice combination instead.

I can't report that I noticed any great change (in health) that day or the next, however I was largely distracted by my father going to hospital late Sunday night with a fever, so I wasn't focused on the fast at that point.

On a separate subject, lately I have been overwhelmed by distressing stories: in books, movies and on the news. Having recently finished reading a very disturbing book called Glamorama by Bret Easton Ellis (author of American Psycho, to give you some idea of the book's contents) and then watching movies such as Enter the Void and Oldboy as well as the always-depressing news, I was completely fed up with unpleasant stories.

There ARE good people in the world doing good things and I honestly believe there aren't enough stories being told about THEM. So with that in mind, on Sunday night Mike and I sat down to watch one of my favourite movies: Peaceful Warrior which is about facing adversity with awareness and being the best you can be. A truly inspiring movie based on an even more inspiring book (based on a true story).

Part way through the movie I had to hit 'pause' to take the call that my dad was in an ambulance on his way to hospital. After some discussion around what needed to be done immediately by the family (nothing by me that night, my duties started the next morning), I was able to finish watching the movie with a new level of awareness of the moment. My own crisis aided my attention to the moment and I was able to handle everything without being overwhelmed by the emotions I was feeling. I simply watched them rise and fall away in a wave-like pattern.

To paraphrase a line from the movie, "This is a scary time in your life, are you Paying Attention to it?" Well I was able to pay attention and the results of that experiment were far more enlightening than not eating food for a day.

Mike and I will fast again this Sunday (and each Sunday for the rest of March) to really give the fasting a proper try, so I will report back on any new findings. 

And if you are also fed up with all the torture-themed gore-fests labelled as entertainment out there. What stories (books/movies etc.) do you recommend for revulsion fatigue?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

March's Challenge: Fasting once a week

Mike and I have talked about fasting before so we have decided to incorporate it into one of our monthly challenges. I looked into a variety of options: 24 hour fasting, leangains and other shorter/regular fasting but since so many of them aim at weight loss I suggested to Mike we try to 24 hour fast once a week, and he agreed.

So from this Sunday, for each Sunday through the month of March we will not be eating any solids during the day or night. Since we are aiming at a health-cleanse rather than on losing weight we are allowing ourselves fruit/vegetable juice to ease any cravings, so I'm hoping it won't be too hard!

I do tend to have low blood-sugar so it won't surprise me if a get a bit grumpy, but the juice should help with that. I've planned to have a no-exercise day so we should be able to take it nice and easy too. If I do feel any negative side effects I'm hoping to be able to meditate on them to help me mentally.

I'll let you know how we go. Does anyone else fast for better health? What works for you?

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

February's Habit: Reading for an hour - reflection

Our monthly habit-changing list is now two months complete:

  • January - no alcohol - way easier than anticipated!
  • February - read for an hour each day (that should be easy, shouldn't it?)...

Soon after starting this challenge we introduced a proviso: read for an hour each day quickly turned into "... each weekday" as neither of us wanted to prioritise the time for reading during our weekends. We discovered that to each of us, weekend time was more precious than reading time, so we couldn't make ourselves sit down and read (not that we tried very hard).

So after that immediate scale-back we then piously turned off the TV at 8.30pm each night, in order to give us time for an hour of reading before bed. This was a habit I quickly came to enjoy, but Mike found that an hour of reading at night was too long for him (especially from no reading at all). Mike had to start with about 20 minutes of reading before increasing this length of time over the month.

I don't think Mike ever made it to reading for a whole hour but I've come to realise that isn't the point. The "hour" was arbitrary, it was the taking the time out of our day to read, to prioritise it as something important that was REALLY the purpose of the challenge, and that is something we succeeded in doing.

The real surprise that came out of this challenge was the large effect on the amount of TV we watched over the month. We expected to watch about an hour less television (while we read instead), however the habit of turning off the TV to read, lead us to turn off the TV at other times too!

When we wanted to talk, we would turn the TV off. When we were in the kitchen together, we would turn the TV off; instead of the television being on as background noise we found we would turn it ON to watch a program (usually during dinner), then turn it off again as it was time to read. Although I didn't specifically measure it, I would estimate our TV viewing time was reduced from about 3 hours per night to 1 hour per night (on average).

This was certainly an added bonus to the challenge and we have agreed to continue with reading-time before bed from now on, although the 1-hour time specificity has been dropped.