Losing Control

by Jessica Graham In mindfulness meditation we observe and explore our experience without trying to control, manipulate, or change it. One the first big insights for many of us is how much we try to control every aspect of our life. Everything from our relationships (and the people we have them with), to our bodily functions, to our meditation practice. …

Dying with Dad, Part 3

By Jessica Graham It was my dad’s birthday recently. He would have been 54 years old. Most people think that he died pretty young, but it’s amazing he lived that long, given his lifestyle. I could have easily died much earlier too. My Dad and I were very similar. I remember my aunt calling me when I was about 15, …

The Multitasking Quagmire

I enjoy thinking of myself as a present and mindful person. This week, however, I fell into a what Rita Schiano called a multitasking “quagmire,” and I have the dented bumper to prove it. Thursday was a busy day. Lots of texting, voice-texting, emailing, facebooking, acting class, and work. After squeezing in lunch at a popular spot, full of celebrities …

Slump Killers

by Jessica Graham Experiencing a slump in your practice? We all experience occasional downturns in the urge to practice, as I know from personal experience. This year has had a lot of slumps. For me a slump consists of a strong resistance to sitting my butt down and putting in the time on the cushion. This comes in the form …

Fingernails

by Jessica Graham I’m a little worried today. The usual stuff: money, relationships, time management. I caught myself biting my nails, which is usually a sign that I’m taking the worries personally. Nothing that I ever worry about is actually occurring in the moment; it’s always something that might happen in the future, or more likely, will never happen. The …

Dying with Dad, Part 2

by Jessica Graham My teacher Shinzen teaches that mindfulness meditation has three parts: concentration, sensory clarity, and equanimity, which all together lead to a reduction in suffering. But sometimes people have “freak-outs.” A freak-out is a state in which you lose the ability to concentrate and maintain sensory clarity. As a result, your equanimity falls apart, and you have a …

Dying With Dad

by Jessica Graham Part One My meditation practice has helped me with all kinds of things. I don’t lose my keys as often. I don’t have meaningless sex with strangers. I don’t wake up with bits of teeth in my mouth from grinding them. My sisters enjoy my company. I usually don’t eat foods that make me feel sick, even …

I’m Glad I Took the Red Pill

by Jessica Graham Pressure above the eyes and in the middle of my chest. An almost tickle in the center of my stomach. Squeezing around the shoulders. Acidic tastes rising from my throat and a choppy fuzzy undercurrent of mental talk. Some of the talk makes it to the surface: “I’m a Fake”, “I’m Undisciplined”, “I can’t do this.” This …