Celebrating World Mental Health Day with mindfulness & self-compassion

While updating apps on my phone, I learned via Google Play that today is World Mental Health Day. Appropriate then that I already had started the day with continuing a course I started earlier in the week, “Coping With Anxiety in Times of Coronavirus” with Dr. Lillian Nejad on the Insight Timer app.  I also have been reading Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn and plan on continuing that today.

I thought throughout the day, I’d share highlights from each, starting with Dr. Nejad’s course:

Mindfulness does not remove the stresses and demands of your job or life. It does not change your difficult circumstances. It does change how difficulties, challenges, failures, and painful experiences affect you and how you respond to these experiences. Ultimately mindfulness changes your relationship to the realities of life so you can live it how it really is right now.

Here is what I’m listening to as I start my day:

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that in addition to starting Dr. Nejad’s course on Tuesday morning, that I started another course on Tuesday night, an online six-week introductory course for Christian Meditation that is being hosted by a group in Houston, Texas and to which I was invited by Deb Nance of the blog, Readerbuzz, and host of the weekly Sunday Salon. The group is part of The World Community for Christian Meditation. The first week was on what Christian meditation is, with the course continuing for five more weeks. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was with a group of about 30 people, including Deb, on Zoom.

While I thought it was good, as it was after work and dinner, I was distracted primarily by myself, not realizing the hour would include a 20-minute meditation on a mantra, in this case, “Maranatha” (an Aramaic word meaning, “Come Lord Jesus”).  I also was distracted to a lesser degree by the group leader, whom it sounded like had a baseball game on the radio in the background. Luckily, during the meditation portion of the course, he had his sound muted, but I still had a hard time focusing as I still was distracting myself. I did let the host know about the background sound issue, so hopefully next time, it will be corrected. As for me distracting myself, I’ll work on that.

It is now early evening and I haven’t read as much as I’d like, thanks to distractions and a nap. The distractions included my wife stepping on my glasses, that I accidentally left on the floor, my getting an eyeglass repair kit at Rite Aid, and then trying to fix them. However, we couldn’t get a screw out so I’ll have to take it Monday to the optician to repair. In the meantime, I popped the glass on the right side in enough to hold for the weekend.

Now after the nap, I had dinner with Kim before she goes to work and am beginning to read again. Here is one of the highlights so far tonight from my reading in Wherever You Go, There You Are:

We have precious few occasions nowadays for the mind to settle itself in stillness by a fire. Instead, we watch television at the end of the day, a pale electronic fire energy, and pale in comparison. We submit ourselves to constant bombardment by sounds and images that come from minds other than our own, that fill our heads with information and trivia, other people’s adventures and excitement and desires. Watching television leaves even less room in the day for experiencing stillness. It soaks up time, space, and silence, a soporific, lulling us into mindless passivity. “Bubble gum for the eyes,” Steve Allen called it. Newspapers do much the same. They are not bad in themselves, but we frequently conspire to use them to rob ourselves of many precious moments in which we might be living more fully.

This explains fairly well why since mid-May this year, I have been taking a break every Sunday (and some Saturdays too like this weekend) from news and work to focus on reading, journaling, listening to music, and watching TV in what I have called “My Own Personal Sabbath,” of which this post is a part.  As for what I’m listening to tonight, it’s mostly disco-themed, with Róisín Murphy and Tracey Thorn.

It is 10:48 p.m. and I have finished Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Overall, I liked the book, although I admit I found myself skimming some as I really couldn’t relate or I didn’t find some of it applicable.

Update, Sunday morning, 9:30 a.m.: Initially, I had planned to celebrate World Mental Health Day on just one day, then changed my mind to celebrate both Saturday and Sunday. I was going to include reading the book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself by Dr. Kristin Neff. This morning, I changed my mind back to only celebrating it for one day, yesterday, and gave myself compassion to not think I “had to” extend it for two days for you or anyone else.

My Own Personal Sabbath #22

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. This past weekend, I tuned out for two days and participated in a readathon on Instagram, #october8in2, to read 8 hours in two days. What follows is what I read for the readathon:

I only finished one book: Cocaine Blues, the first Phryne Fisher mystery, by Kerry Greenwood. But I started a second, Flying Too High, the second Phryne Fisher mystery, also by Greenwood, and continued another, Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn. By the end of Sunday, I was about halfway through the former and I am about two-thirds through the latter, which I started last week.

I tried restarting where I left off this morning in Flying Too High and decided to parachute out of it after I decided I didn’t care for the flight path it was taking.

It was time for Phryne to call in the debts that were owed her after the affair of the Cocaine Blues.

That opening sentence at the beginning of Chapter 8 was the place I finally decided to deploy the parachute,o since nowhere in the previous book did any of the characters refer to the case as “the Cocaine Blues.” I even did a search on the ebook to see if the phrase appeared anywhere beyond titles or an epigraph, and it didn’t. To me, that is laziness by the author referring to the title she gave the case.

The first one held my interest mainly because I recognized characters from the TV series as they were introduced. In both books, I didn’t like the way Greenwood was jumping back and forth between two cases that were unrelated. I just want one case and didn’t, and don’t, appreciate the distraction of a minor case.

I had a lot of other issues with the second one, but since I am moving on to read something else, I don’t feel like hashing over those issues. I’d rather just move on to another book and not waste any more thoughts on a series I won’t be continuing.

A series that I wish I could continue is Cold Case, which has been available for free with commercials on The Roku Channel. I only learned yesterday that the show from the 2000s will no longer be available on the channel after the end of the month. Earlier this year, I just rediscovered it after not having seen it in years. I’m only in the third season and with seven seasons and more than 100 episodes left to watch, I’m not going to make it through them by the end of the month.

Instead, I’ve decided I’ll try to watch most of the episodes with higher than a rating of 8 on IMDb. It still leaves a lot, but I also have searched on Reddit and found lists of favorite episodes by other fans to help me narrow down what I choose to watch. Unfortunately, because the show used a lot of popular music, it never has come out on DVD because of licensing issues and probably never will.

Aside: I wish other shows like Northern Exposure were available on DVD with the original soundtrack too. Years ago, we bought a collection only to discover the music, which was a huge part of the show was missing.

I’ll leave you with a song from the recently released Super Deluxe Edition of Sign o’ The Times by Prince, which I just am beginning to delve into:

My Own Personal Sabbath #20

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phoneThis past weekend, I started my Sabbath early on Saturday.

I began the weekend by continuing The Moving Target, the first Lew Archer, by Ross Macdonald, which I started earlier in the week. I decided to get out of the house and drove to a local ballfield where I finished it. It was good, but I’ve heard the series gets better as it goes.

Then on Sunday, I decided to take a break from the crime noir in California and classic crime, mostly from England, I have been reading over my last few own personal Sabbaths and went to Florida with Tim Dorsey for the sixth in his Serge Storms series, Cadillac Beach. I think it is just what I needed, a hyperkinetic romp through the streets of Miami with Serge at the wheel as opposed to the slow drive along the coast of California with Lew steering. Maybe with as crazy as the world as is right now, I needed the craziness that Dorsey depicts in the late 1990s and early 2000s as a counterbalance.

Later in the afternoon, I went for a walk in a park near where we live. I ended the night by starting Last Bus to Woodstock, the first in the Inspector Morse series, by Colin Dexter, part of a collection of the first three novels in the series. My wife and I have watched much, if not all, of the original TV series and now are making our way through Endeavour on Amazon Prime. I picked up the collection on Google Play Books as part of a deal that wasn’t available on Kindle at the time, but as such, I only can read the collection on my phone. It’s not my first choice of format, but sometimes a reader has to do what a reader has to do.

My Own Personal Sabbath #19

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. This Sunday, I try something new, checking in here on the blog every few hours during the day.

Today began with dishes. Not the most glamorous thing, but there you go. That’s how it started. It is now 10:45 a.m. and I’ve had a bowl of Special K Red Berries with with added fresh strawberries and a hint of cane sugar with soy milk. I’m drinking an iced coffee and listening to this, a show I often listen to on Sunday mornings:

Today, I plan on reading The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett after a friend mentioned the movie series and I realized I never had read any of the books. I was on hold for an ebook version at the Free Library of Philadelphia, but the wait was a few weeks. Then I remembered that our library probably had a copy. We didn’t, but it is in a Library of America Collection of Hammett’s novels we have. The print is small, but not as small as I thought so hopefully I’ll be okay.

Other than that, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. It’s supposed to be rainy all day so I’m glad I got a walk in yesterday. Actually I went on two walks: the first, a meditative walk using an app called Insight Timer; the second, a walk to Dollar General down the street to get new sponges and cat litter (I know, my life IS exciting!). I might watch something fun later with Kim once she gets up. As a 911 dispatcher, she normally works a 12-hour shift from Saturday into Sunday and then another one tonight into tomorrow, so she’s sleeping now. Check in with y’all later this afternoon. Until then….

It’s now about 1:45 p.m. and I’m about halfway through The Thin Man. Overall, it’s good so far, except one strange diversion to an encyclopedia-like entry about cannibalism in the Old West in the late 1800s. Otherwise, I’m enjoying it. I’m about to have an omelette on a tortilla wrap and a glass of wine (hey, don’t judge me, it’s the weekend).

6 p.m., and I just finished The Thin Man, which was good if not great, after a short nap. In the notes to the collection, I learned, among other things, that the book wasn’t the first in a series and actually was the last novel he wrote. I’m now signing off to eat dinner with Kim before she goes to work.

It’s almost 9 p.m. and I’m now watching Eureka. I think I remember where I left off years ago, in Season 3, so I’m picking up there…or about there.