Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Retreat Countdown...45 minutes...

Leaving in 45 minutes.  Telling Troy goodbye was one of the hardest things I ever had to do.  I couldn't fight back the tears that rolled down my face as he drove away headed to work.  Below is my good bye video for you, my faithful audience, and to my friends and family.  I love you and will miss you all.  And music.  And books.  And my kitties.  And my iPhone.  And the Internet.  Pepsi and chocolate milk.  And food.  :)

Good bye!  Signing off.  Metta, Karen

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Retreat Countdown: 22 hours...

Time seems to be flying by now.  I keep thinking of everything in terms of "this time tomorrow..."  I am looking forward to this inner journey I am embarking upon.

This morning I sat for 45 minutes.  Some back pain this morning, but nothing I couldn't acknowledge and release.

Read an interesting quote this morning that I thought was perfect for the trouble I had with engaging thoughts this morning.  It can apply to more than the thoughts during meditation, but anything.  A disagreement with someone, anger, sadness, etc.

"Wherever and whenever the mind is found attached to anything
Make haste to detach yourself from it.
When you tarry for any length of time
It will turn again into your old hometown."
A Samurai verse

The iPhone did not revive as hoped this morning.  Will give it one more try this evening when I get off work.  Otherwise, will have to make alternate mobile conversation plans.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Retreat Countdown: 1 more day!!!

In the famous words of Kermit, "Yaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!!"

I get little butterflies in my stomach each time I think about leaving.  Nervousness, slightly anxious, and I hate leaving Troy behind for so long without any contact.  Work, well, not so much.  :)

I finally got the results back on my MRI.  I was fortunate (or all the Reiki all those loving people did on my knee for me) the injury is not permanent and was not a torn miniscus.  I injured something under my knee cap and it should heal in time.  My boss gave me a hard time for not remembering the name of what is injured.  What does it matter if I remember what the name is?  It is injured.  It will heal.  My remembering the name doesn't change anything.  :)

The doctor said that I can sit Burmese style, just taking note to stretch my knee out if it begins to hurt.  He also advised me when standing to roll over and push up using my hands and leg muscles to reduce strain on my knee cap and to preclude any further injury.  He also advised me to lose weight.  Imagine that!  Did you know, however, that for every 1 pound you are overweight, you add 7 pounds of pressure to your knee cap?  I did the math of how much I'm overweight and I must admit it was quite sobering calculation.  Hopefully I will be able to use the technique I learn during the course to be more in tune with my body.  Then I can be more alert to the signal my body sends when I've had enough to eat.  I also expect after 10 days of vegetarian food with no sugar or caffiene, it would be a darn shame to come back and return to my old habits. 

I have refined my packing list to things I can pack today and things I will have to wait until Wednesday morning.  Since I can pack the majority of my things today, it will reduce packing time Wednesday morning.  My goal is to leave Orlando NLT 9 AM.  It's a four hour drive and straight shot up I-95.  Adding bathroom breaks ('because I usually need a few) I'm expecting to arrive at the center around 2 PM.  Registration is from 2-5 PM, so that should give me plenty of spare time in case I end up caught up in traffic along the way.  I'm expecting traffic to be light since I'm traveling during a week morning.

Bills are paid.  Money is in the bank.  I have to run out at lunch today to get cash out of the ATM, try to find a spare battery for my camcorder, and get some of this great lotion I love from Dollar Tree.  They have it for, obviously, $1.  In other fine retail stores, you would pay at least $2.50 for it!

I have increased my morning sitting time to 40 minutes. We had a great meditation this past Saturday night (as we always do) and I found I could sit in a chair and have much less back ache. This is not because I am leaning against the chair back, because I am not. Perhaps the chair gives me more support which reduces strain on my spine. Will be interesting to experiment with sitting positions and if the meditative experience is different for one position versus another.

Troy and I are enjoying the last of our time together.  We are laughing a lot.  I guess those are memories to help get us through the 10 days.  I'm asking Troy and Steven to write me a note every night about their day so I don't miss out on anything while I'm gone.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Retreat Countdown: 9 more days ... our first YouTube meditation video!!

9 days!  Before you know it the day will be here.  Isn't it interesting how when you anticipate something months away it seems like it will never get here; yet, when it's only a few weeks away, all of a sudden it seems like time is flying!

No meditation so far today.  I banged my knee on the dashboard in my car this afternoon.  *ouch*  Definitely will be sitting in a chair to meditate today!  (oh, and, um, yeah, you can see i am totally sitting the way i'm not supposed to be sitting in the video.  busted!)

Troy and I were playing around with the video camera last night between meditation sessions and recorded a video of him playing the crown and root chakra crystal bowls accompanied by Healing Meditation One by Randon Myles.  Comment and let us know what you think of our very first video!!

You can also join our YouTube channel and be notified when new videos have been posted.  Go here to subscribe:

Retreat Countdown: 10 more days ...

Tonight we had our meditation practice group meeting.  Saturday is when I get in my longest sit time each week.  Our 6 PM meditation was a different type of music for our group.  There was a basic sound that continued throughout the track that was what took you away.  However, there were tones and other sounds that rang intermittently throughout or where a sound would suddenly cut in and out, that could bring you out of your deep state.  As Lorena said, however, it's nice when the sound suddenly brings you back to awareness because that is when you realize just how deep you were.

During that meditation I had a brief experience where I had completely zoned out.  When I became aware again I felt as if I were out of my body, and yet not.  I could not feel my physical body at all, yet I was aware of everything.  It frightened me at first because I couldn't sense myself and yet was aware of myself.  It was so unexpected and I have only briefly had experiences like this before.  Once I had settled back into full awareness of myself, all I could think was, "Cool!"  It was very relaxing meditation.

Only 2 people came for our 8 PM meditation, which wasn't surprising.  Until the last few minutes, we didn't think anyone was going to show at all!  We knew with the extreme cold tonight (extreme for Floridians, anyway) and it being a Saturday evening before Valentine's Day, we didn't really expect a lot of people.

It was a nice, intimate, and relaxing meditation.  The music was of a higher frequency than the 6 PM meditation was and I found myself reaching brief states of high awareness and being able to watch my thoughts without engaging them.

Overall, this evening was extremely encouraging for the retreat and I am looking forward to the challenge.  I am curious to find out what will happen when I am able to devote multiple, full days to meditation!

The only down side to the evening is that I did do a little bit of cross-legged sitting and as a result, my knee is a little swollen and feels slightly unstable again.  I will have to stick to chair sitting for the retreat, I'm afraid.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Retreat Countdown: 11 Days ... success continues!

This morning I increased my meditation period from 25-minutes to 30, with success!!  Monkey mind is always there and the time is spent constantly trying to disengage from thoughts and return to the breath.  Good practice, no?  The good news is I did sit upright as if in a chair and my back only began to ache a little during the last 5 minutes.  Even though, it wasn't excruciating, so that's progress as well.

Quitting Pepsi cold turkey was a bad idea.  Around 6 PM last night I started getting the dreaded caffeine-withdrawal headache.  I expected it and popped a couple of Tylenol.  A few hours later I started feeling sick to my stomach.  Troy suggested maybe cold turkey is a bad idea, so I caved and drank 1/2 a Pepsi, then went straight to bed.   I was asleep by 10 PM.

I have set my alarm to 4 AM and do my best to turn it off before it can wake Troy.  So far, so good, I think.  The biggest problem is my kitty alarm, Groucho.  He starts meowing (more like whining) for me to get up when the alarm does...or if he sees me open my eyes, whichever comes first.  Usually, the alarm goes off and I lie in bed for 30 minutes before getting up.  This morning I woke up at 3:59, a minute before the alarm would go off.  I turned it off and only laid in bed another 15 minutes.  I have to admit, when you get up at 4 AM it makes for a much, much more leisurely start to your day, especially when you don't have to be at work until 8.

Last night Troy and I made a run to WalMart to pick up the last of my toiletries and other needed items.  He remarked that it's getting to be an awfully expensive free retreat.  I must admit, though, I am having fun!  I'm fortunate that he allows and encourages me to have fun, within reason, of course.  LOL

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Retreat Countdown: 12 Days ... Success continues!

This morning I accomplished another 25-minute sit in an upright, sitting position (as if in a chair).  I've been very careful and taking it easy with my knee so it's not bothering me as much, but I still don't feel safe sitting with my legs bent.  I have my MRI today and follow-up next week, so hopefully I will find out if the damage is permanent or self-healing.

I also drank my last Pepsi last night.  *gasp*  I do not drink coffee, so that is not an issue for me, thank goodness!  I am drinking Vitamin Water and regular water now in preparation for the retreat.  I'm concerned that a sudden stop in Pepsi intake can result in severe headaches for a couple of days.  The first few days of the retreat will be challenging enough, so I don't need headaches to add to it.

Yesterday I went shopping for the basic toiletries that I will need.  We got more sweat pants and sweat shirts for the retreat while we were in St Augustine, so I'm all set there.  Just a few more things to pick up and I should have all that I need and ready to start packing!  Not to mention, multiple list-making!!! Yaaahhh!

I'm feeling more focused and am ready to start this retreat!  Still slightly anxious, but have no expectations and look forward to what will unfold.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Another Vipassana experience....

A great video that gives a lot more information about the Vipassana retreat...

Retreat Countdown: 13 Days ... and SUCCESS!

I successfully managed a 25-minute sit this morning sitting in an upright position as I will in a chair while on the retreat.  Now to stay focused!!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Retreat Countdown: 14 Days...and my practice sucks!

In two weeks I'll be packing the last of my bags, loading what I can in the car and finishing up that last load of laundry before going to bed and preparing for my trip to Georgia.

I'm somewhat dismayed at this time.  My meditation practice has been almost non-existent.  This knee-thing has been a much larger obstacle than it should be.  Perhaps I'm clinging to it as an excuse to not sit?  Maybe I've gotten back into a morning pattern which does not support my practice?  That seems more likely.  It always seems like I'm running late when I'm not getting up any later. 

I had all these lofty ideas and goals to "prepare" for this retreat.  I was going to keep losing weight.  I was going to stop drinking sodas and eating sugar.  I was going to sit for 45-minutes each morning and each night.

As I take another slug of my Pepsi and finish off that last cookie, I realize I've been sitting for at least 45-minutes each night - just in front of my computer!

There's never a better time to start than now...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Retreat Countdown: 18 Days - an unexpected lesson in mindfulness

Last night I received my final confirmation email for the retreat and I am now all set and on-course...for the course!!

I am scheduled for the MRI of my knee next Thursday.  The following Thursday is my follow-up visit to get the results.  Obviously, we won't be doing anything until I return from the retreat, but at least this way I will know specifically what the damage is and what my true limitations are for sitting.

One thing I came to realize this whole knee-experience is teaching me is mindfulness!  The doctor discouraged me from wearing the knee stabilizing brace as it could actually make it worse.  The brace was good because it helped me keep from twisting my leg the wrong way when I walk.  In other words, I didn't have to think about walking, the brace protected me from my own actions.

Since I can't wear the brace, I am now having to be much more aware and mindful of my steps, walking, and movement in general to ensure I don't step or twist the wrong way and injure my knee more.

Being mindful of walking, something we take for granted and do without thought, is an interesting experience and excellent practice for mindfulness!!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Retreat Countdown: 20 Days

I went to Jewett Orthopaedic Clinic yesterday about my knee.  The initial diagnosis based on symptoms is I've torn the meniscus.  The meniscus is the cushion (shock absorber, if you will) between the upper and lower leg bones.  MRI is the only way to properly diagnose a meniscus tear and determine the extent of injury.  Treatment can be as simple as physical therapy and as serious as surgery.  Since the majority of the pain is in the front of me knee, I'm hoping it's a horizontal tear in the front which is easier to repair if surgery is required.  Only I can injury my knee sitting.  LOL

I also found out I've been doing things wrong in caring for it to this point.  I've been applying heat, when I should have been applying cold.  The knee brace I've been wearing doesn't help this type of injury at all.  It actually can hurt because it can cause more swelling due to the heat that is retained in the area around the knee.

Bottom line, I will be spending the majority of the meditation retreat sitting in a chair.  While still slightly disappointing, I have accepted the way things are.  The doctor said I can still sit on the floor, but without bending and pulling my leg as close to my body, leaving it partially extended.  I tried sitting like that this morning and no go.  It's uncomfortable and it's difficult to attain a balance that does not cause my back to start hurting. 

Between now and when I leave for the retreat, I will be sitting upright in a chair or with my leg elevated for meditation.  Hopefully this will help with healing and I can maybe get in a few days of floor sitting during the retreat!

Now - to convince Troy to buy me a video camera so I can do a recording of myself the day we are allowed to start speaking after the 10 days of silence.  I've seen a couple of people post videos that day and it's interesting to watch them as they try to reintegrate verbal speech.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Retreat Countdown: 21 Days

Saw the doctor this afternoon about my knee. Frankly, it was a waste of my time.  Yes, I know my knee will bend, but it hurts here and here when you press on the sides of my knee.  Also, I have had a lifetime of experienced with my right knee slipping out of joint, so I am extremely familiar with how it feels when a joint is slipping and that's how the left knee feels!

Instead, he just told me it was swollen and not to sit with my legs bent or crossed.  Um, yeah.  Already knew THAT and already not doing THAT but after two weeks of being swollen and not doing THAT, just MAYBE someone should examine it?

For that, he spent how many years in medical school?

I kept trying to describe the symptoms to him and didn't even finish before he pronounced my knee swollen.  Um, yeah.  But the million dollar question is..... why?

All he did was straighten my leg and bend it.  Okay, so we've proven that works, but that's not the issue.  The issue is the standing up straight and walking on it part.  The sharp, shooting pain that randomly pierces my knee cap when I walk.  Or the way when I don't walk carefully and I lift my foot that my left knee feels as if it's slipping out of joint.

Once I realized he was in too big of a hurry to leave the room than to listen to what I had to say, I resigned myself to seeing the specialist (which is what I should have just gone ahead and done) AND finding a new family doctor.

It's now less than three weeks until the retreat, so my chances of seeing a specialist and doing any kind of real recovery before the retreat are zero.

I am disappointed that I may have to spend the retreat sitting in a chair.  I'm seriously, hugely disappointed.  (Yes, hugely, really is a word.  It's an adverb, to be exact.  My second favorite web site (next to says so!)

Because of my knee, my morning routine has been disrupted and I have not been meditating every day like I was.  Faithfully.  This is a good lesson for me in accepting what is without judgement.

Instead, I should just focus on my appreciation and gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this retreat.  Appreciation for co-workers and a company which allows me to take 2-1/2 weeks off from work to pursue my craziness

Gratitude for a husband who encourages me to go without him when we finally determine it is best if someone stays home.  I love you.

For S.N. Goenke who sought, learned, and now shares this practice with others, thank you.

On the weather front, I have been comparing temps between Orlando and Jesup, GA for a few weeks now.  Running average appears to be about a 10 degree variance.  Not too bad.  I'm expecting lows in the 30s and highs in the 60s.  I told Troy we need to go shopping for clothes.  He told me no.  I told him I at least want to get some long johns!!