Good morning from beautiful Southern California! It took close to nine hours of traveling, but I got home last night. I miss my mother and brother already, but I can’t say I miss Tampa weather in the slightest. Sleeping with my window open last night was a real pleasure.
My homecoming was awesome for three reasons: (1) I’d cleaned the holy hell out of my room before leaving, (2) in anticipation of a new roommate’s arrival, my apartment had been thoroughly cleaned and painted, (3) said roommate doesn’t arrive for a few days yet, so I was able to come home to total silence, and (4) I discovered I’d frozen an amazing dinner for myself before leaving, and as a result ate healthier than I have in days, despite having a completely empty fridge.
This is all really good news, very little of which I imagine is especially interesting. I mention it though, because it feels like a groundwork has been laid—partially by me, and partially by cosmic forces beyond my comprehension—for success in one of my newest adventures in self-improvement:
I’m upping my mindfulness game.
This is a big deal for me, because meditation’s never really been my bag. When I was preparing for my PhD advancement exam—coincidentally the first and only time I can remember experiencing panic attacks over schoolwork—I picked up guided meditation out of sheer desperation. Honestly, though, after a few weeks, guided meditation just became another kind of background noise in my quest to fall asleep at night. Once I got through my exams, I was pretty well done with it.
Thing is, I’ve always wanted to be the type of person who meditates on the daily. The type of person for whom it’s not a means to an end, but an end in itself. I want to be freakin’ serene, already!
So I’m giving it another shot. I downloaded an app called Headspace, which offers a free ten day training in meditation. I’ve already messed up, in that I’ve not been using it every day, as it was designed… but whatever, I’m going to finish strong. In addition to ten minutes of guided meditation, the app has these nifty little animations each day that explain meditation in an accessible way. None of the topics discussed as yet have been new to me, but they feel new because they lack the crunchy granola flavor to which I’ve become so accustomed.
This being my first morning back on the West Coast, I’m starting my day heavy—perhaps too heavy—with intention. Today is the day I begin a real meditation practice. Today is the day I set the sleep schedule to which I will adhere for the entire academic year. Today is the day I establish a writing routine, as opposed to the haphazard scribbling that’s characterized this blog (and all my other writing) up to now. Oh, did I mention I started journaling last night?
So yeah, I’m overdoing it, and I know some of these grandiose plans will fall away by, say, tomorrow, but, being a stubborn person by nature, I find setting my intentions to be deeply important. Even if the implementation is a bit on the wonky side, if the desire to be more mindful is firmly affixed, something good is going to come of it. I might not become the next Deepak Chopra, but serenity, even serenity lite, will work.
“The Six Million Dollar Scholar” is the personal blog of Andrea Milne, a Ph.D. candidate in modern U.S. History at the University of California, Irvine. To get the story behind the blog’s name, click here.