A Crowded Party - Listening and OCPD

Last night I went to a party at a art gallery for a new artist opening their work. I met my friend Sarah there who I hadn't seen in about a month because of travel and the general hectic nature of life. The place was packed with people sipping wine and talking loudly while surrounded by neon sculptures -  hardly the place to catch up!

 But as we updated eachother on the drama and events of out lives, we managed to connect and have a fun time looking at art. Sometimes connections unfold in places that are hectic and crowded, and you simply have to make a effort to tune in.

I feel like my inner world can be like that crowded art party- full of noise and beautiful distraction. Instead to straining to hear my friend, I find myself straining to hear my own inner voice. Small and quiet, its easy to miss. The more crazy life gets, the more busy the party, the harder it is to hear. And lets not even talk about when wine is added to the mix!

But I tune in- through medatation, or just breathing and pausing. It may not easy. I sometimes wish my mental state could always be serene as sitting down to a quiet cup of coffee, but i don't get to choose the venue. But we can choose how hard we listen.

So if you want that connection  - and sometimes you would rather mindless drink wine and look at paintings- you can make the choice, no matter how loud the racket of voices are.


Negativity Bias- Positivity and OCPD

A recent article in Huffington Post talks about how the brain is wired  for negativity.
"Scientists believe that your brain has a built in "negativity bias." In other words, as we evolved over millions of years, dodging sticks and chasing carrots, it was a lot more important to notice, react to and remember sticks than it was for carrots."
So we evolved to be worried? Makes sense. Some interesting notes from psychological studies:

  • In a relationship, it typically takes five good interactions to make up for a single bad one.
  • People will work much harder to avoid losing $100 than they will work to gain the same amount of money.
  • Painful experiences are much more memorable than pleasurable ones.

But as many people know, biological disposition doesn't have to be a life sentence! The doctor in the article offered some tips, which mostly come down to one theme: Take time to be in the moment and make a effort to see the positive. Your positivity is like a muscle - you have to work it out to keep it in shape!

You can read all the tips here.


Remembering Why I'm Running - Stress and OCPD

When I feel the mot stressed, like everything I do is wrong, like life itself is spinning out of control, like I will never ever be able to do what I want to do... then I have to put in some effort to stop myself.

That is when I know I am not being true to me. And I am wasting my own energy and life on pure negatively. I am making rules I can't follow, and its just hurting myself.  I may have OCPD, but that doesn't mean I have to act like it.

Life was given to me. No matter what you believe, if you are reading this, you have life to. And no matter what the world or our own mind says, we are not in a race. We are not in some kind of "Life Accomplishment Olympics of Perfection". We are existing. And that means we get a prize just for showing up.

That doesn't make it easy to live inside myself when I feel the most downtrodden by my own perceived failures. But it makes it better to remember the hurdles I'm jumping over aren't real, and I can sit down and stop anytime I want, watching others as they run and jump by, always remembering that I have a choice to run in this rat race or not. And although I love to get my heart rate up, everyone needs to stop on the sidelines for a bit. And that's ok. Because existing is only fun if you stop and catch your breath once and awhile.


The Calm of the Breath - Breathing, Relaxation and OCPD

This weekend, I went out into nature for a yoga festival, where I spent a lot of days relaxing and breathing.

Now that I'm back into my hectic life, I've found one of the best ways to keep some of that serenity going to simply tuning into my breath. No need to close eyes, meditate fully on a cushion. Simly taking a momment for a few deep inhales and exhales can really center my mind.

Sometimes my inner skeptic doesn't want to take the time or the mental effort to simply breathe. But we are doing it anyway, all the time! What harm can come from a few seconds of pause?

Then when I do tune in, and I feel the settling of my monkey mind, I remember. "Ahh yes". This is why I do breathing exercises!

It takes some trust and an open mind, but its the simple everyday things that become habits, that become our daily lives. So cut yourself a break, and give it a try.

Deeply in... slowly out...

For the advanced, here is a exercise from Dr. Weil :

Breath Counting

If you want to get a feel for this challenging work, try your hand at breath counting, a deceptively simple technique much used in Zen practice.

Sit in a comfortable position with the spine straight and head inclined slightly forward. Gently close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Then let the breath come naturally without trying to influence it. Ideally it will be quiet and slow, but depth and rhythm may vary.

  • To begin the exercise, count "one" to yourself as you exhale.
  • The next time you exhale, count "two," and so on up to "five."
  • Then begin a new cycle, counting "one" on the next exhalation.
  • Never count higher than "five," and count only when you exhale. You will know your attention has wandered when you find yourself up to "eight," "12," even "19."

Try to do 10 minutes of this form of meditation.