Skip to main content

Waking up isn’t something that happens once

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I’ve been very focused on myself (I’m so selfish!) and have been diligently practicing being present, meditating and making mindful life decisions. Waking up is harder than I thought.

Waking up isn’t a singular event.

In my guided meditation practice (Tara Brach), something that comes up often is the idea that when you brain drifts into thoughts, all you need to do is “come back” and that act is in fact, “waking up.” What’s incredible about that is that it means that the act of waking up isn’t a singular, massive, black and white event.

Waking up isn’t binary.

Waking up is a constant battle. It’s a war that is waged in micro-moments, minute by minute. Day by day.

I journaled recently that “being present is a verb” and that it requires energy and focus. It’s not a natural act. For some it may be easier, but not for me. My natural tendency is to zone out, live in virtual reality, tune the world out and retreat into my own thoughts.

I think I see where I got off track. I had been looking to attain a sort of “god-like” presence, some moment in time when I can proclaim that I am “living in the moment!” And in that fantasy I would leave my present, unhappy existence and enter my dream world. A dream world where I get to sing and dance and skip off into the future a happy, fulfilled human being.

But it’s not like that at all.

Waking up is more like slogging through the Fire Swamp in the Princess Bride. It’s a step by step realization that I am either present or not. Awake or asleep. In control or on auto-pilot.

Waking up and being present is a battle, waged every second of every day – in every big and little moment of our lives.

NYC at night New York City

Why Did I Stop Writing?

I got an email a few days ago with the subject line “Why Did you stop writing?”

I thought maybe I had emailed this to myself, but on further inspection, it was from a friend who found my post on Highexistence and stumbled onto this blog. Like many people who find their way here, they express a shared frustration and loneliness – looking for that elusive “missing thing.”

I relate deeply to that and it’s why I started this blog. It’s also why I started meditating. Speaking of which, I’m currently on an 18 day streak, and after some 260 sessions, have started having somewhat regular Lucid dreams. Those are freaky as hell if you haven’t experienced them yet. I’ll try to write more about them soon.

Meanwhile, I need to answer the question “Why Did I stop writing.” I have been obsessing about it since I got that email. Earlier today, I went out to get some groceries after a busy morning of phone calls and work and it hit me. I’m afraid.

You read that right. I’m afraid. Scared. Terrified to continue to write on this blog. I’m scared because I don’t know where it might lead. I’ve no idea what doors it may open, and for some reason, that scares the hell out of me. I know that may sound silly, and that I should be embracing the journey and reveling in the notion of self-discovery and new opportunities. Except apparently, I’m scared shitless.

I haven’t felt this way in a long time – in fact, I can remember a similar feeling when I embarked on my journey to college 20+ years ago. I headed out into the unknown and was excited but terrified. I put myself into a situation where there was no turning back at a school some 1,500+ miles from him in a different part of the country – far from friends and family – and for the first time truly on my own.

And now, I am faced with more than a year of hard work – self-inspection and reflection, journaling and meditating daily. I’ve left behind high pressure and high paying jobs for an opportunity to work from home and to explore art, writing, and physical fitness.

doorAnd yet, despite that progress I’m scared to keep writing this blog because I don’t know what comes next. I feel as if I’m standing in front of a door with a halo of light around it – sure that what’s behind it is good and true and beautiful. And yet I hesitate to open it.

And now I know it’s because I’m afraid.

I attended an event in NYC earlier this week and met strangers who asked me what projects I had been working. I talked about this blog over and over again. Apologizing for it, making excuses for not writing enough, or for making it anonymous. All excuses.

I’m scared to keep writing this blog because I don’t know what comes next.

The real reason is that I’m afraid to see what comes next.

That random email I got may have shaken me out of it. Now that I can name what’s wrong and why I’m not writing I think I can make some progress. I don’t feel as afraid anymore. I still have some reservations and trepidation – my goal was never to become some sort of hippy dippy meditation guy, or some sort of personal coach. I simply wanted to connect with other who felt like I did – like a fucking zombie sleepwalking through life.

I think that’s what I’m starting to figure out. I’m dense. It takes me a few tries to get shit right. The first step is realizing you are asleep and a zombie in your own horror story. The second and harder part is actually waking the fuck up and doing something about it.

Writing was supposed to be my way through the darkness but instead, I got scared like a baby and just stopped writing and exploring. Actually, to be honest, that’s not exactly fair. I just haven’t shared it on this blog as I had planned. In addition to meditating and journaling, I started drawing and painting for the first time in forever. I spend the month of November writing a Nanowrimo novel. I opened up to my family and shared how I feel more than ever. I started writing a screenplay for a super funny idea I had.

So I am making progress. I’m not a zombie like I was a year or so ago – I’m partially awake and am slowly acquiring and learning how to use the different tools I need to wake the fuck up for real. Not being scared is one of those tools.

It feels good to be back and a little less afraid than before.

Here’s my question to you… what scares you?

The Meditation Diaries – Questions Volume 1

QuestionsIn a previous post, I mentioned a bunch of questions I had during my first 30 days of meditating. I had never committed to actually meditating before, and while I’m still new at it, I learned a lot about myself and about the practice and art of meditating.

If you have questions, please let me know your thoughts me at or post them below and let’s talk about them!

Without further adieu, here is Meditation Questions, Volume I

Am I meditating or am I just sitting here talking to myself?

I hadn’t thought much about this until I was listening to Sam Harris on a podcast talk about his early days of meditating. I had never thought about it this way – and started thinking about this a lot. I’m not sure how to answer the question because clearly, some (most?) of my time meditating was spent lost in thought, or sound asleep. As a novice, it’s good to simply remember to keep coming back to focus and to not give up. For me, the answer is both – sometimes I am literally just sitting there talking to myself. Other times, I can say happily that I was deeply meditating

Do I have to sit crosslegged on the ground?

I fought this for a few days and got tons of advice from friends and people on Reddit. Tilt this way or tilt that way, sit on a pillow, sit up straight, use a chair. You name it and I was told to try it. In the end, I made the decision to sit however the hell I want to, close my eyes and focus. That’s it. Simple. Maybe one day I will be ready for some sort of advanced meditation techniques, but for now all that matters is that I actually meditate. So the answer is for me, I sit how I want. That said, I can’t lay down while meditating because that’s called sleeping.

Why does my back hurt so much when I meditate and why can’t I just sit in my comfy chair?

I have no idea, see the question above. Some people are built for sitting cross legged on hard floors with a straight back. I am clearly, not. Yes, sit in your comfy chair, close your eyes and meditate. No points off.

Why is it so hard to stay focused?

You tell me! For me, I can’t stop thinking about the past and the future. I spend so much time living in the past and the future that I am hardly present in my life. It’s hard to stay focused because I’ve managed to not be focused on anything except multi-tasking for years. Thanks to my smartphone, the Internet, Youtube, Netflix and a pile of books, I am a poster boy for distraction. Meditating has helped a little, but even as I write this I’m checking my Twitter and email. What should have taken an hour is taking two because I can’t focus. The more I meditate, the calmer I get and the more I can focus. It’s like doing curls or sit-ups, I need to train my focus muscles.

Do I need incense?

No. Stop it. Same goes for crystals or goofy music.

Can I meditate while exercising?

I’m not entirely sure of the official answer to this one, but I did try to walk on the treadmill one day while staying completely focused on my breath, and then on my arms swinging. It was an interesting experience for sure. Not sure it counted as meditating, but I did 20 minutes of walking this way in any case. I’m going to say yes, you can meditate while exercising, but it’s an intermediate or advanced power move. I’m sticking to sitting for now.

What questions do you have about meditating? Have started the 30 day challenge? Let me know how it’s going by contacting me or leaving a comment below!

The Meditation Diaries: 30 Days Later, Can you #win Meditation?

Constant low-grade panic

This post is all about the last 30+ days, my trials, tribulations, insights and challenges through my experiment in meditation.

As you may have read, I took a self-imposed 30 day meditation challenge in an attempt to find focus, allow myself to hear myself thing and because it has some noted health benefits. As I outlined in my challenge, I gave myself some rules to follow:

  1. I must meditate every day for at least 5 minutes, 10 is better, 20-30 is best
  2. I am allowed to use any guided meditation I want, or none at all. But no music or other sounds.
  3. I must follow the directions of the guided meditation at all times
  4. I must do this for 30 days in a row, if I miss a day, I must start over!

Before I go into detail, let me summarize by saying that I have a completely new outlook on meditation. I had resisted for years because I thought it required special gear, or the ability to sit cross-legged on a hard floor. Or that it was for religious people. Or Monks. I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about, and had never bothered to really look into it. I’d have to say, I didn’t think I was going to love it as much as I do. You mileage may vary.

I’ll be publishing a follow up blog to this that starts to answer some of my own common questions about meditating, stuff I didn’t know about before I started, along with some additional insights I gained while talking to people who meditate, and from some articles and papers that have been written.

First and foremost though, I really love it. I love taking a moment, in the middle of my day, or in the morning and literally just shutting it all down in favor of being quiet and breathing. For the pat 30 days or so, I’ve done guided meditations that I’ve downloaded from iTunes. I’ll post the two different podcasts at the bottom of the post. These guided meditation “tours” really helped me a lot in keeping me focused and because they are so well done, often gently reminded me to “come back” to focus when I drifted off into the past, or the future. Or when I fell asleep, which happens frequently. I plan on continuing to meditate daily and have already experienced missing a day and feeling like I was missing something important.

As for the experience, I’d classify myself as a drifter. What I mean by that is even after 30 days of meditating, I can still only really focus for a few minutes without my brain taking me places, back to odd memories, or to my task list for the day. However, within just a few sessions I was starting to see how fast my brain was racing and doing everything but staying focused. I’d be happily focused on the guided meditation and suddenly have a vivid memory of a childhood experience, or start thinking about an upcoming meeting or e-mail I needed to send. Thankfully, the guided meditations always remembered to remind me to come back, to focus on my breath, or on a specific part of my body – my shoulders, arms, legs or fingers.

Apparently, that’s the key – it doesn’t matter much what you focus on, but you have to focus singularly. It’s freaking hard. And can be frustrating. And I fall asleep. A lot. I don’t know why, but the sleep sometimes literally overcomes me in a wave and bam, I’m sleeping just like that. I think that I’ve fallen asleep at least 60% of the time while meditating, usually for just a moment or two.

One of the most important discoveries I made happened about a week or so into the 30 days. I started to focus on my body parts, looking, scanning for tension or any sort of sign of pain. After a few minutes of this deep body discovery, I realized I had what I call a “headband” across the top of my head – a sense of pressure covering my skull. As I focused on it, it would literally go away, I could feel it dissolve as I focused on it and it felt amazing. I can’t explain it exactly, but I am pretty sure it’s important.

Sometimes, while mediating I’d get super itchy and try to focus on the itch. Sometimes the itch would go away, but other times, it would be so frustrating that it would break my ability to focus. So I’d just freaking scratch. And then try to refocus.

“I feel like most of my time meditating was in fact, me realizing that I was in my own virtual world, and then trying to refocus.”

I almost quit after just 3 days because I was in so much physical pain. For the first 3 days, I sat on the floor, legs crossed sitting up straight. After a minute (it may have been 30 seconds), I’d be unable to sit up straight. I figured maybe I needed to do some stomach crunches or somehow get into shape for meditating and googled around a bit to see what I was doing wrong. I didn’t find anything useful to help me and finally talked to some friends about my problem. I found out that it doesn’t matter much if you are on a comfy couch, your favorite chair or hell, lying down in bed. The point is focus, not good posture. That was a huge, massive relief for me for some odd reason. I believe that I’d have quit because of the discomfort, but instead, now I grab my comfy chair, or just sit on the couch and get to it.

So now that the challenge is over, I am really pleased that I did it, and that I stuck with it. There were even days when I did 2 sessions! I felt consistently like I had a burst of energy after a session, and that I was much more focused, and creative in thinking for the few hours following meditating.

I’ve also been able to tap into this ability to “feel” my body at some new level. The “headband” thing was just the beginning, my latest efforts have me focused on my shoulders and letting them “release” tension by just focusing on them. It’s an odd feeling, I feel like Magneto or some superhero – simply focusing on a body part makes it somehow, come alive. Hard to explain, but easy to feel.

I also get this sense of my breath that I never had before. I can feel that I am breathing differently, deeper, somehow fuller on a regular basis. I’ve even been able to self regulate my breathing during stressful times at work which can be super helpful in terms of maintaining my composure in stressful situations.

One misconception I had about meditating was that it was a way to tap into big ideas and that I’d emerge from these session with big, or new ideas about things. But instead, what I emerge with is a sense of calm and a feeling of being centered.

I captured my meditation notes and thoughts on and wanted to share the full log here with you to get a sense of how I was feeling during the 30 days. Excuse the crappy grammar, spelling and any confusing remarks.

2/10/15 1
2/11/15 2
2/12/15 Accepting sometimes my practice stinks, fell asleep twice and was unable to relax today. Meditation on a commuter train can be hard. 3
2/13/15 4
2/14/15 5
2/15/15 Very short 10 min guided by Sam Harris from his podcast 6
2/16/15 7
2/17/15 Stop falling asleep but love this 8
2/18/15 9
2/19/15 Was doing well until the last 5 min of a 35 guided session when I either fell asleep or got caught in the future 10
2/20/15 Today was ok. Fell asleep shortly while meditating. Guy behind me laughing like a schmuck. Wondered what to do with it and just tried to hear him and let him go. It was annoying. What is he watching anyway? 11
2/21/15 Really good session despite falling asleep for a moment. 12
2/22/15 Short and so sweet. This felt so good. Don’t know what if anything change but, I really enjoyed that session. 13
2/23/15 Hard time staying focused but had a few really good moments today. My breathing is shallow, stressed. 14
2/24/15 10 excellent minutes- was having a really really negative self hating day and was surprised I was able to stay mostly focused on my breath. 15
2/25/15 On the train and really got into it. I opened my eyes and someone I knew was starting at me! I sensed that I was being looked at. Odd. 16
2/26/15 Meditation on a commuter train can’t be ideal. Got smacked in the head today by the arm of a coat. 10 minute Sam Harris guided meditation. 17
2/27/15 Awesome session even though I slept a little bit in the middle part. Feel like this is really making a subtle difference in my daily life. Calmer. Feel like I can step back and look at life with some perspective. Maybe. Let’s see what happens next time something bad happens 🙂 18
2/28/15 19
3/1/15 Literally cannot believe it has been 20 days. Wow. 20
3/2/15 Short and sweet. Too much caffeine. Mind and heart racing. 21
3/3/15 Awesome, almost fell asleep but had a really peaceful, quiet moment and felt some how transported. Was odd and different. Like. 22
3/4/15 Double meditation today. Just did another 10 min and loved it. Focused on a heavy feeling in my head and really felt calm. Odd feeling. Almost fell asleep but didn’t. 23
3/5/15 Sminreally love the Tara brach guided meditations. 20-25 min and themed. Great today on happiness. 24
3/6/15 Wow great until then end of 25 min and I got lost in some thoughts about work. Resized it just as the end of the session bells went off and realized I was half meditating and half nappingz 25
3/7/15 Tried to meditate while jogging today by focusing on my breath and arms moving, was interesting. Followed up with 25m guided and really invited the moment. The more I do this the more I like it. 26
3/8/15 Gentle 10 minutes mid day got me feeling less stressed. Ok, now I am good. 27
3/9/15 Fell asleep a few times. 28
3/10/15 Really good, found space to meditate on the question of my purpose. Something I have been sorely lacking. No real answer other than… I want to make the world a better place. 29
3/11/15 Double shot today 2x meditation and feel good after a very lousy night sleep 30
3/12/15 Woke up at 3:30 am so I knew I was gonna sleep for part of today’s mediation… And I did! About half. The em rest was really pleasant. 31
3/13/15 First time meditating on a flight. Had to do it. Great session all alone in my little world 30k feet up. 32
3/14/15 Guided + 2 minutes of affirmations on my own 33

So mark the challenge as complete! And a new habit is formed…

Do you mediate regularly? For how long? What kind? How do you sit? Leave a comment here, or email me at


  • Tara Brach has some incredible guided meditations that range from about 20-30 minutes.
  • Sam Harris has a great 9 minute, short meditation, and a longer 25 minute one that are excellent.

The Meditation Diaries – My 30 Day Meditation Challenge

I resisted meditation for years. I had tried it a few times on my own or with different apps, books and tutorials but I guess I wasn’t ready for it. A few months ago, I used “Headspace” an app on my iPhone after reading about the benefits of mindfulness. The benefits seem too good to be true, and I really thought there was either a catch or it was bullshit. You can read a great article about the benefits of Meditation on here.

I guess my earlier efforts weren’t serious, because I did try. Last summer I meditated using the Headspace app for 10 days straight and felt good about it. But for some reason, I was also hating it. I found that I was unable to be quiet and focus at all. I struggled to keep doing it on a regular basis and always found excuses, or reasons to not meditate. I was too tired, or thought that exercise, or reading was a more important activity. I also felt weird about when and where to meditate. I wasn’t ready to tell anyone, and didn’t want my family to have a laugh at me as well. Needless to say, I dropped the idea.

About 3 months ago as of this writing I started a course called “The Artist’s Way” to help me regain a sense of my creativity. Part of that course was something called “Morning Pages” which are 3 pages of writing first thing in the morning. Morning Pages themselves are a of meditation. I’ve been doing them since December 30th, 2014 and haven’t yet missed a day. I set eggtimer for 20 minutes and write down literally whatever comes to my mind. I focus on the thoughts themselves and write. No filter. No editing. Just writing. Whatever comes out. And sometimes it’s odd. Sometimes it is inspiring. Sometimes it’s cringeworthy. Sometimes I just complain and other times I’m a poet.

Focusing on my thoughts… hey – isn’t that meditation?

So I was sort of meditating but wanted to try the real thing again. Increasingly, I was feeling like my internal voice was trying to tell me something important. I was hating my job and hating my life. And didn’t know why or what was bothering me. My coach told me one day that part of my problem is that my brain never shuts up. That I literally am never being quiet. I thought about it and after reading yet more articles about meditation, I decided it was time to give it a real go. But I had to make it into a game or I know I’d give up too easily.

The rules of the meditation game I set up for myself were:

  1. I must meditate every day for at least 5 minutes, 10 is better, 20-30 is best
  2. I am allowed to use any guided meditation I want, or none at all. But no music is allowed.
  3. I must follow the directions of the guided meditation at all times
  4. I must do this for 30 days in a row, if I miss a day, I must start over!

I’ll be posting the results of the challenge next week. If you’d like to follow the journey, or read my daily specific comments, join and add me as a friend “Searchingforsumthin

So how did it go? I can’t share yet because I’m not quite done… But here’s a sneak peek:

  • March 9th: “Fell asleep a few times.”
  • March 2nd: “Short and sweet. Too much caffeine. Mind and heart racing.”
  • February 19th: “Was doing well until the last 5 minutes of a 35 minute guided session when I either fell asleep or got caught in the future.”

As I’ve started to meditate regularly, I’ve also realized I have a ton of questions about the practice. Some of which maybe you’ve asked yourself as well…

  • Is this meditating or am I just sitting here talking to myself?
  • Do I have to sit crosslegged on the ground?
  • Why does my back hurt so much when I meditate and why can’t I just sit in my comfy chair?
  • Why is it so hard to stay focused?
  • Do I need incense?
  • Can I meditate while exercising?
  • What counts and what doesn’t count as meditation?

The Meditation Diaries posts will feature my meditation journey. I will also be writing a Meditation FAQ for noobs like us that include answers all my own questions, and any you send in as well. I’m writing it now, send in your tips!

Do you meditate? How do you like it? How do you do it? Leave some thoughts in the comments or email me at