2022.01.04 Journal

* Day seven of journaling about Shame/Humiliation/Misery
* Do another hour into the programming tutorial on smart contracts
* Walk to my office and work out of there
* Have the necessary conversations and do whatever reflecting is necessary to address whatever came up as a distraction in today’s meditation
Had some, but not all. Lined a few of those conversations up though.

* Meditation – Day 666
* Journaling – Day 9
* Yoga – Day 8

Reflections:: 5:59 AM. I woke up without an alarm at around 5am this morning and spent the past hour laying in bed reading articles on my phone thinking I might go back to sleep, before deciding to brush my teeth and get my day started. While brushing my teeth, I reflected on my meditation practice, that it’s my last day of journaling about shame, and a comment my housemate made after reading my posts.

My meditation practice: I was distracted yesterday during yoga/ meditation. The solution for this is to write down my meditation pre-work, so I’ll do that again starting today.

On it being the last day of journaling about shame for this go-round: I’m feeling really happy I did this, and feel more connected to others, as well as confident in social situations. It used to be that when others described their emotional state, all I could do was ask curious questions, but not relate. I was so good at compartmentalizing feelings that I couldn’t really understand how others were unable to control them. But after exploring shame, and seeing/ feeling deep shame, especially from yesterday’s journal, I feel more confident interacting with people since empathizing feels more natural with a wider range of emotions.

On a comment my housemate made: She noticed I hadn’t posted gratitude journaling, and was wondering if I still did that in the morning. Writing three things I was grateful for was a regular part of my journaling practice for years in notes that I kept private. The reason why, is it has been shown to make you happier for a period of time afterwards. At this point, accessing a feeling of gratefulness comes quite easily to me. Not to take it for granted, but I know I can get there at any point. As I’m writing these sentences, I feel gratitude for my health, mental discipline, being awake early enough to start my day journaling in a calm manner, and feel gratitude for myself to have stuck with the intention of being healthy long enough to create my own exercises for cultivating emotional and spiritual growth that follow my intuition. So while there was a version of me that needed to cultivate gratitude, that does not seem like my current struggle. On a meta-level, what’s relevant to this conversation about the studies on gratitude, is what they suggest about the malleability and plasticity of the human mind. No matter how old you are, and no matter what your brain has been trained to focus on, you can train it to focus on new things just by repeating it every morning for a few weeks. So if you and people in your environment have been telling yourself that something is wrong with you your entire life, you can train yourself to notice things to be grateful for via a simple exercise. And following from that, if you notice things to be grateful for, you’ll be in a happier state. Following from that, I’m experimenting to see if I can train myself to spend time noticing other things. It reminds me of a quote by James Shedd that was popularized by Grace Hopper, “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are made for.” A mind in gratitude is safe, but that is not what minds are built for. I want to accept all emotions as they come, observed them, and truly feel them. I want to feel connected to all humans, with all the extremes that can follow from love and sorrow when you open yourself up in that manner. And for that, I need to wire myself differently than primarily noticing things to be grateful for, though I am aware that it is easier for me to feel brave knowing that I can head back to port and rewire myself to feel gratitude whenever I need to.

It’s 6:25 and I’ve been journaling for the past 26 minutes. I’m feeling ready to do my meditation prep-work and am yoga.

* Motivations: I’m doing yoga and meditating because I want to feel enlightenment and meditation is a well-documented way to get there. I’m doing yoga because I want my physical body to stay as pliant as possible and have been curious about this book that I’m now going through.
* Goals: My goal for this practice is to be conscious of my breath as I’m doing the exercises and during the period of time when laying on my back. I’m training myself to be conscious while relaxed, as opposed to immediately falling asleep when I’m relaxed.
* Distractions: Potential distractions I can anticipate include thinking about work. Specifically, I tend to observe personnel decisions I am considering that could hurt others’ feelings. Also, thinking about unresolved interpersonal issues from various aspects of my life. The ones that often come up are ones that I haven’t let go of, where I have to choose between pressing charges for some large amount of money owed to me, vs just completely letting the matter drop. That will require some deeper journaling to unpack and explore my willingness to let go of those burdens and get free. In the meanwhile though, I can resolve that whenever these thoughts come to mind, I can acknowledge them and observe what effect they’re having on my breath and any related tension on various parts of my body. Especially my back, chest, shoulders, and forehead. 6:40am Yoga + Meditation start.

Post-Meditation-and-Yoga:: 7:23am. The items that ended up distracting me from a work perspective were: How to communicate with our attorneys about a legal matter I need to resolve; how to communicate with a couple of employees about an interpersonal matter it would be convenient for me (and also them) if they resolved between themselves; how to communicate with the company about actions I’d like to see, that I’m not seeing. And from a personal perspective, a matter that would be more harmonious if two people resolved between themselves. Then on the shame piece, I started reflecting on how experiencing shame more fully allows me to understand statements like “life is suffering” a lot better. As humans and all animals, we are all part of a lineage that has violence and deception at its core to some level or another, and getting to a point where we can feel the pain and joy of that as part of the feeling of compassion while ceasing to feel a need to fully understand is more accessible to me now that I’m aware of shame.

Reflections:: 7:32am. Jumping further into shame, it’s sad that it’s my last day focusing on shame. Now that I’ve spent a week thinking about it and feeling it, I’m glad this sense has been awakened. And “sense” is really what it feels like. I wonder how close this is to the real neurological mechanisms, but it feels like there was a sensor for shame that was previously unused, that I’ve been taking out, using, and upgrading. And now that I’m more comfortable with it, it’s easier to use and I can take it out more easily. I’m curious to see how often I dive into shame, but my guess is that it will come up quite often, as it’s something that all humans have in common. Indeed, from this perspective, I see some of the basic tenets of Catholicism in a whole new light. People often say that Catholicism focuses on guilt, but now I’m seeing an angle that’s is even more base, of speaking to the shame that people feel of being human. On some level, we all know that we’re born into, and integral parts of a system that dehumanizes and exploits others as well as ourselves. And all of us, to some extent, are victims and villains in this story. To the extent we try to be heroes in the story, we only perpetuate it. And then all the people who we love and love us, they’re the same thing. So there’s this fundamental feeling of things not being right. And I can see how speaking to that and saying, “Yes, you’re correct about that. You are broken. Now here’s a solution….” is set up to be extremely popular. About myself and my own feelings though, I keep feeling this lightbulb going off whenever I reflect on it. I’m getting strong positive-feedback chemicals around feeling shame now, because the uncomfortability of dwelling there is more than offset by the feeling of connection I’m getting to all humans around me. When I see someone walking down the street, I see their humanity more when I know that they very likely have some sort of shame. It’s an interesting view. I wonder if I’ll have similar thoughts around other emotions. I bet that for the higher ones, it’s going to be something along the lines of, “What unites us is that we all have potential to feel this way.” Or something along the lines of, “What unites us is that we are all part of a system that involves us feeling this way. The separation is an illusion.” But we’ll see. Staying in the moment, I can see that shame has morphed from being something I ignored, to a welcome guest.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll reflect on Guilt/Blame/Evil.

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