The latest. by Vanessa Fiola

A month or two after I started Psych-K balancing (an activity which brings both hemispheres of the cerebral cortex into a state of communication with one another, thus supporting subconscious changes), it occurred to me that I hadn’t had a panic attack or anxiety spiral since I started.

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How to (re)start a meditation practice by vanessa


Ever wonder how to start a meditation practice? Or maybe rekindle one?

Since I have an 8-year history of doing both, I consider myself an expert. I'd like to offer you these really simple steps towards building your own practice.

1. Go to a new acupuncturist who asks you if you meditate. 2. Say yes. 3. Feel guilty that you either a) don't or b) haven't for at least three months. 4. Forget that conversation. 5. Remember it about a week later. 6. Check Twitter. 7. Check Facebook. 8. F*ck it, check Google+. 9. Look at your iPhone and decide to set your timer.  7 minutes seems good 'cause it's longer than you can hold your breath underwater. 10. Close your eyes.  Some say you should keep your eyes slightly open but I find that too distracting. 11. Think of something you can repeat over and over an over so you don't freak out.  I like to think of the words clear or God, but Justin Bieber will work too. 12. Marvel at your fortitude and decide you should write a blog about this. 13. Think, Ahh, this is nice.  And then wonder if you should get your hair cut. 14. Get excited when your timer goes off. You did it! 15. Repeat.

Bliss of the Anointed One by vanessa

I started out tonight thinking I was going to write about jumping back on the meditation horse.  You see, I've taken a sort of hiatus from it on account of losing weight and all.  For the past six-ish years, I've had an almost daily meditation practice, some days five minutes, some days thirty, until the last few months, where I've eschewed sitting in favor of reading Twitter and Huff Post in the morning.  Anyway, I wanted to tell the story of how at first, it didn't really feel like anything was missing or different, until months later when I suddenly noticed how snappish I'd become, how much more ADD I'd become, how I'd forgotten the art of listening altogether. But then in lovely irony, while sitting down to type I opened the new issue of The Sun, read the writers' bios, two short stories, and then happened upon the column, The Dog-Eared Page, where this month's article was written (decades ago) by some guy named Abhishiktananda.  I rolled my eyes.  Please.  No one names their baby Abhishiktananda.

I continued.  "It is the worst possible illusion to imagine that we have to struggle to find liberation or mukti..." he writes. Yawn.  I skimmed a sentence from each paragraph then skipped to the last line.  I found myself thinking that I couldn't bear to read another article, another book, listen to another speech, whatever, about finding the Self and that there really is no finding, 'cause duh, it's inside of us all along.

And then it hit me -- well, when did this happen?  I've read countless texts on actualization, the meaning of the Self, and finding freedom.  I've devoured allegories and philosophies and whole schools of thought on these subjects.  I wanted to write my own brilliant guide for crissakes.  That's interest.

Yet somewhere between then and now I developed an aversion for the thing I once loved to read about.  [Aside:  See, there are times when ending in a preposition just makes sense.]  Upon recoiling from Abhishiketc's article, I immediately had the sense that at least for right now, reading about awakening can only be a (really boring) academic exercise.  That the act of reading about realizing your own mukti-ness is not entirely different from struggling to find it.  And I don't want to.

Instead, I'd rather keep doing things that are fun, like reading fiction or Twitter (yeah, it's both), dreaming of super cute outfits, practicing guitar, and running, and getting reacquainted with meditation.  Which, come to think of it, is probably A's point.

It is the virtues, not the faults...which constitute one's true legacy. -- Gandhi

fitness for your inner witness by vanessa

I got a wristband. Normally this occasion would call for an exclamation point, at least, but I'm suspicious. Yeah, I got one, (actually, April got me one) and so did everyone else I know. Which means either less than 4000 people signed up, OR, me and all my Austin friends are just incredibly lucky. I suppose it could also mean that they awarded more than 4000. Either way, the countdown's begun and I'm happy as a shark in a kiddie pool. Thank you to April for entering on my behalf. If you end up getting a badge, consider sleeping with one eye open.


My friend Ricky is in Marrakesh right now chillin' like Dylan. He took a 3 month leave of absence to travel: the first month he's trekking Morocco, then he'll head to India where the remaining two will be spent volunteering. Something in him has shifted, he says. He's spent mornings watching the sun come up over the Sahara. He's met a ton of cool people in between hostels and excursions. In spending time amongst Moroccans, he's realized that happiness is independent of money. I'm caught halfway between inspired and jealous.

His IM today came at a curious time. This very morning (before I heard from him) I was thinking about how I always said I would live in a foreign country before 30. Kansas, foreign as it was to me, doesn't count, so I'm back to wondering when the heck I'm gonna make good on that.

This morning in teacher training Tara said something that I'd like to pass on: There is no such thing as BAD meditation. So true, so true. I hear people say that they are frustrated when they can't stop thinking or that they don't have enough time. To those concerns I say, first, you wouldn't be human if you didn't think. Sit anyway. Eventually the thinking gets quieter. Second, anything, and I do mean ANYTHING is better than nothing. For example, I woke up late this morning and didn't have a lot of time before training so I only meditated for 3 minutes. That's it - just 3. And yet I walked out my front door and balanced a Chevy Pickup on my right index finger, spun it around a little, too. All from those 3 measley minutes. Just kidding. But serious, it's really is good for you, and any amount of time "counts".

Speaking of counts and then counting, I told my roommate I'd get up at 6 and run with her tomorrow, which means the only counting I should be doing is some sheep.