One week into Basic Training and here is my report:
Waking up at 6:30 is (I think) helping me fall asleep more easily and makes the morning much smoother. The problem is, if I stay in bed until 7 the kids do too but if I wake up, they generally also wake up (we are in close, squeaky quarters). So getting up early isn’t buying me extra child-free time to, say, meditate. And they are exhausted so I’d prefer they get the extra sleep as we transition back to school. I think the solution is push my wake up time earlier (6:00, which is the eventual goal) but I’m not quite ready to rip that band-aid off just yet, we build to that. I feel good about the progress made so far, even though I have missed 6:30 for the past three days in a row (but only by 15 minutes).
Meditation. I’ve discovered that, as a beginner, I need the house to be empty to meditate. If I wait until after the kids are asleep, my other half will be running water, tapping at a keyboard, breathing, and I just can’t still my mind in the face of this. It is great practice, but we build to that. I’m enjoying Headspace (I am still in the free trial) but I remember doing one Deepak Chopra guided meditation over the summer where you have a mantra that you keep repeating in your mind and I actually felt a change in my body, like a different frequency, during that meditation. So I will continue with Headspace (very good for learning HOW to practice meditation) and then I will experiment with some reader suggestions (Calm and Insight Timer) and also look for some more mantras to chant. If you start with Headspace, you can almost not fail. You can begin with 3 minutes a day and it does not feel hard. If you have struggled to meditate in the past, I highly recommend giving Headspace a try.
Writing. Crossed this off the list. The first time I sat down to write as a 10-minute task I think I might have cried. I wasn’t sure what the point was, or how writing for 10 minutes was supposed to connect me to my soul — was I soul searching or ?? So I want to develop a more structured writing practice, but it is no longer one of my Basic Training tasks. And that’s the great thing about Basic Training — Fully adaptable to YOU and to what is working and what isn’t. Loving it. I still track days that I write, just out of interest.
Smoothie. Every morning. One of the most fundamental changes (practice-wise) that I have made in my life over the past two years and I honestly believe starting the day with a green smoothie has set the foundation for many other positive changes. Worth trying if you haven’t yet! I will post a recipe, but right now I just throw things in in approximate quantities.
Fermented foods. My doctor prescribed fermented foods to me when it was found that I have a depauperate gut flora. She said two tablespoons twice a day. I have found this simple to implement and a good way of getting an extra serving of veggies (sauerkraut). Do I occasionally recoil at the thought of my daily kraut, maybe. But gut bugs are good for your skin, good for your brain, good for your digestion, good for your mood. So I measure out my tablespoons and do my best to chew slowly and mindfully. Yum.
Outside time. I don’t know what to say about this one. Or there is so much to say that it can’t fit in a tiny update paragraph. Outside is my church and where I can feel closest to God (or the Universe), where I feel especially connected to something bigger than me. My body was made to spend most of its time outside, smelling the smells in a forest, feeling sunshine and wind. I have felt most alive in my life during the periods of time when I have lived exclusively outside, bug bites, camp food, dirty clothes, hand-washed underpants, and all. But my 10-minute task, while making sure I at least expose my body to the elements for a brief span each day, doesn’t quite help me connect to those feelings. Sometimes 10 minutes turns into an hour, and once this week I took a walk on a boardwalk through a wetland and saw two tortoises locked in conjugal embrace (“Mom, are they fighting? or hugging?”). I smelled the smell and felt that life is good and beautiful. So I’m keeping up the practice, but needing to refine it in some way.
Dancing turns out to be my toughest challenge (well, movement in general as I have yet to attend an exercise class). Here’s what I’ve found with the three days I actually danced during the week: the first couple of times were fun, I listened to the music and kept the children from climbing on me like a jungle gym. The third time, my body remembered how much pleasure it can be to move. I guess what I’m saying is that the first two times my mind had a nice time and by the third time my body remembered what it felt like to be awake. I missed my friend Sarah. I thought of all the dancing we did. I thought about planning a Dance-a-thon.
Playing an instrument. I remember more each day and it gets easier and more fun. This is pure joy for me and 10 minutes is achievable.
Screens off at 9 has been a positive change. I definitely think it has helped me sleep better because the one night I stayed on until around 10 I had a much worse night of sleep — i just didn’t wake up feeling refreshed. Yes, there could have been other factors. But for me less screen = more happier.
Exercise class. I just need to sign up for a class and put it in my calendar! I have struggled with this for my entire adult life. I love yoga and would love to take a dance class too. I think it is making the commitment to a particular time that feels so daunting. What if something? So I need to just do it. Like right now. This minute.
Ok, I did it. It took about 15 minutes because I had to read the class descriptions and decide whether to pay for a walk-in class or commit to the intro pack of four classes for $10 each (I committed). I’m doing gentle yoga rather than hot yoga or anything called bootcamp. I’ll try that out and then schedule the next. I did see they are having a yoga nidra workshop early next month so I will think about signing up for that because I’m interested.
So that’s my update. Overall I love my checklist and feel that it is a very positive presence in each day. It is just a tiny extra nudge from a good friend to do things that nurture me and build some healthy practices into each day.
If you’ve decided to try Basic Training, I’d love to hear how it is working for you in the comments!
Smoothie recipes and an update on alternative energy for your home coming soon. Also, of course, the constantly mentioned “Do More Good” Jenny Goodguts principle explained. Happy Friday!