I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Monkey mind

Years ago I heard of the concept of "monkey mind" when I was learning to meditate on a daily basis. I guess it would be a good thing to start the practice again, as my mind right now is all over the place. Scattered here and there with my thoughts. Last night I tossed and turned thinking about things and wondered what I would write about this morning. It will be a mishmash, for sure, because that's what my mind is doing. When I decided to take the word "mindfulness" for my New Year's Resolution, this was NOT what I was thinking about. Here goes:

For one thing, I can't meditate like I once did because I can no longer sit in lotus position, or even cross-legged with my back straight because my knees won't take it. At all. Maybe I should look for one of those kneeling stools so I can try sitting again. At one time I sat for an hour every day, a half hour morning and evening, and sometimes I would go into such an altered state that I would realize that more than an hour had passed and it seemed timeless, just very peaceful and calm. It carried over into the rest of my day, and if for some reason I missed a session I would look forward to the next one with anticipation.

On Wednesday I see a new doctor for my regular annual checkup. With the change in the Medicare Advantage plans this past year, the plan I was using was dropped by the Center for Senior Health where I was enrolled. So this year I am going to another part of PeaceHealth, the PeaceHealth Medical Center. In some ways I'm happy to be seen by a young doctor who is possibly more up to date on the latest medical advantages, rather than a geriatric specialist. In deciding which doctor to choose, I looked him up on the Internet and found that he's only been practicing for three years but had several rave reviews from previous patients. I didn't have the choice of a woman doctor, which is the only down side of this guy who looks to be fourteen or so in his picture.

In anticipation of the appointment, I had a liver and lipid profile taken from my blood. With the Peacehealth system, I can find the results of my tests on line almost immediately, and what I saw was both good and bad: my total cholesterol is up significantly since last year, which means I will need to take a higher dose of a statin drug. Hypercholesterolemia runs in my family. My parents both died in their sixties from heart disease, as did my son at forty, so I don't take these numbers lightly. After a short period of feeling depressed, I called my sister to commiserate with her. She reminded me that she has taken a powerful dose of a statin drug for more than half of her life, while it wasn't until I was in my mid-fifties that I had to start them. Every one of my siblings takes statins, which were not available to my parents.

The good news was that my "good" cholesterol had also gone up, making the totals still putting me at less-than-average risk for heart disease. And my triglycerides were way down on the low side of normal, so that was heartening. I wonder what he will say about all this, although I am prepared for an increase in dosage.

I have gone to see a couple of really good movies in the past few days. In fact, "The King's Speech" was so good that I will take Smart Guy to see it tomorrow, and I'm actually looking forward to a second viewing as I tend to get so involved in the story that I miss a lot of interesting parts. I awoke in the middle of the night after seeing it, thinking about it, and of course I went on line to see how historically accurate the movie was. I was pleased to find that the relationship between Prince Albert and his speech therapist was very accurate, and there were only a few issues dealing with other characters and their relationship to Hitler that were not entirely accurate. If you don't know the story, in the late 1930s, Prince Albert was forced to take the throne and become King George VI and had to deal with his debilitating stutter in order to lead Britain during wartime. It's the story of how he overcame it. I found the movie to be wonderful and inspiring.

Then yesterday, after finding nobody to go see "The Fighter" with me, I went alone. It's another historical movie, this time about Micky Ward, a prize fighter, and his relationship with his amazingly dysfunctional family. I had read about the performances of four people who will most likely receive a nomination for their parts: Mark Wahlberg, who plays Micky; Christian Bale, who plays his crack-addicted brother; Amy Adams as Micky's girlfriend; and Melissa Leo as his mother. They were all outstanding performances, and I'm glad I saw the movie, although I am not a fan of boxing. I also went online to find out the historical accuracy and learned that Micky Ward retired from boxing in 2003 and was very successful. If you can call having your brains knocked around in your cranium so often that you had to be hospitalized after some of your bouts being successful, that is.

So that's where my monkey mind has been scurrying and scampering around these days. Hopefully I will return to more serenity in the near future, once my fears about the new doctor have been laid to rest and I am able return to a more contemplative existence. I'll look into finding that kneeling stool. Until then, I hope you remain well and happy. Until next week...


Mel said...

I have struggled to meditate and clear my mind for years, but I have a streak of ADD or something, and my mind is never still. But I try. I have high Cholesterol but good ratios too, and am not yet on statins, despite a family history that makes me think I should be. I've noticed a shift in the ratios since menopause and think I'll be on them soon enough. I have had to change doctors several times in the last few years, as they have relocated, changed insurance carriers, and the latest one I had seen for a decade, my age, became too ill with mysterious symptoms to continue to see patients. Depressing. I have a new, high tech, highly efficient, young female no-nonsense doctor now, and I'm trying to be comfortable with her. I don't do change well, especially when it comes to doctors, so I commiserate.
I'm off to see the King's Speech in an hour with a friend and I can hardly wait. I expect it to be marvelous and your review makes me think it will be even more so. My daughter is still coughing, but maybe a tiny, tiny bit better, so hopefully I can relax and enjoy the movie and not think about her coughing. Doctor visit number four for her tomorrow. Yikes.
Hope you have a nice, quiet minded, happy day.

Whitney Lee said...

I have trouble with meditation because my mind tend to play leap frog. Have you considered just lying down to meditate. I imagine it doesn't much matter what position you're in if it's effective.

It sounds like you've done plenty of research on the doctor. I hope that the news is good. We are battling cholesterol here because my husband's diet has been atrocious and I have a family history of heart disease. I haven't had mine checked, but I'll be 30 in a few months and it wouldn't hurt to have things looked at.

I've not heard of the King's Speech, but I did wonder how The Fighter was. I saw the previews, and it looked interesting. I'm not a fan of boxing either, but Mark Wahlberg has played some pretty good roles in the past.

Have a happy Sunday!

Gigi said...

I hadn't heard of the King's Speech - but will have to look into it now. I've wanted to see The Fighter - although I'm not a boxing fan either. I imagine that's one movie my son will agree to go see with me.

Monkey mind - that's the way my mind works all the time!

Have a great week DJan and good luck at the doctor.

Anonymous said...

This is my 3rd attempt at posting a comment. For some reason, I am having a hard time getting through to your blog, but here goes:

Strange that with your fish diet, you still have high cholesterol. Do you eat many butter cookies?

David is a movie buff, while I am not. He says The Fighter and The Black Swan were excellent. He will wait for The King's Speech to win some awards before seeing it, as he says it sounds dull.

I rarely watch movies, preferring to sit at the computer, instead.

Happy days, DJan!

Robert the Skeptic said...

Like you I am unable to meditate, my mind wanders and worries and constructs remodeling projects and financially analyzes our future. I know that is EXACTLY what meditation is NOT about, still I have such trouble with that. I have decided that it is more stressful to worry about not being able to meditate than to meditate.

DJan said...

I know that meditation is something you learn through practice, and I just wanted to add that everyone starts with a wandering "monkey mind" and gradually, through practice, it begins to quiet and focus. That's what I am hoping to relearn, but anyone who is willing to breathe and allow one's thoughts to quiet through perseverance can meditate.

Leave a Legacy said...

I always look forward to your Sunday posts. It didn't sound monkey minded to me at all. You sounded very logical and orderly. I should try to meditate as I think I would be better at it at this older age than I would have been when I was younger. My mind was a scattered mess back then with work, young children, etc., etc. I tend to have a mind that works overtime, usually during the night about stupid unimportant stuff. My hubby meditates a lot and can't go a day without. I notice a big difference in him when he misses a day. He gets very agitated.
Anyway, I'm rambling. Good luck on Wed. I bet you will come away with a very good report and clean bill of health. With all your hiking and exercise ---! Let us know.

Lucy said...

Hi! I've sure missed being able to "read" you all every day! Happy New Year my friend! Glad to see you're still trying to figure it all out. I'd like to know the secret to life too and I work too much to figure it out myself so I'm relying on you! Don't ever lose your constant seeking. It makes you the very special person you are.

Donna B. said...

I agree with Grandma Nina...you did not sound Monkey Minded at all. I too used to meditate and have been contemplating taking it up again.

Again, I also have genetically high cholesterol and take 20mg Lovastatin and 2000 mg of Cardiostat Fish Oil. I need to exercise more to lower it more...but I am on the right track...

My sister told me about THE KING'S SPEECH and I will probably have to see it alone. Mr. Clean is not interested. He loves comedies. We saw THE LIL FOCKERS and although I enjoyed the first two...this one seemed a real stretch...I almost fell asleep. I also want to see THE FIGHTER as I like almost anything Mark Walberg is in.

I had to change health plans, but luckily, not my doctor. Good luck on your doctor appointment and I hope he is all the reviews say he is.

Arkansas Patti said...

I really like that you can get your own results so quickly. Good thing with your family history that we have all the wonder drugs today and better knowledge how to heal ourselves.
So glad you tried the rice and liked it. That will have to help as it is so good for us.
I have both of those movies saved on Netflix. We don't have a theater any closer than a three hour round trip. I really miss movie popcorn.

#1Nana said...

I saw The King's Speech over Christmas and it was wonderful. I went to the movie with my father who is English and had all sorts of additional information to share with us after the movie..."I'm probably the only one here who heard the speech live" he told us at the theater. We moved to the US in 1955.

I would have gone with you to see The Fighter...no one here was interested in going. Now it has left Hermiston so I'll have to wait for it on DVD.

Good luck on your medical exam.

Kathryn said...

Hi DJan!
I don't know what it's like to have to deal with changing doctors due to insurance plan changes. We don't have that situation here. It sounds unsettling!
I really want to see The Kin's Speech, but will wait until it comes out on DVD. I've had a crush on Colin Firth forever. He is looking a bit older these days, which is weird since he and I are exactly the same age and I haven't aged a bit, lol.
I would love to learn to take the time to meditate. Maybe this year....

Linda Reeder said...

I loved The King's Speech. Great movie!
On your recommendation I will see The Fighter. I had heard from another friend that it was very good.
I have never tried meditation, I guess having not felt the need for it. I have always been a "cerebral" person, with lots of thinking activity going on in my head. I just have not felt the need to turn it off.

Paul C said...

I came over from your other blog. Now there are two good reasons to make regular visits. I really like the format of your new blog too.

Nancy said...

I'm trying to meditate every day, too. Some days are more successful than others. I just stretch my legs out on an automan. Old knees and all. I'm currently obsessed with the Elizabethan Era in England with the Virgin Queen. That after being obsessed with Henry VIII and all his antics. It must have been horrible to worry about losing your head because of a rumor or for the religion you followed.

troutbirder said...

We went and saw The Kings Speech yesterday. Even though I knew some of the historical background I was blow away by the whole thing.
What a truely wonderful movie. They don't make many like that any more. A truly "adult" movie in the best sense of the word.

Far Side of Fifty said...

I hope you like your Dr WIF ( Who is fourteen) so far I like mine. Getting a new Doc is the pits. I like my old guy but he is 90 miles away..my Dr WIF is 14 miles away. So common sense won out. You will be ok..he will like you! You will like him and a new health partnership will be formed!
We rarely go to the movies..but I will put this one on my list of ones to look for once they get to TV.

Stella Jones said...

I love to meditate and do it quite often. Like you, I can't do the knee thing anymore but I can do it very well prone!
I don't like changing doctors much either. Last year I had to do it because my doctor died of pancreatic cancer! Where's God in that picture? My doctor was a lovely man who helped everybody else but he died too soon. R.I.P Dr. Pieter.

Linda Myers said...

Thanks for the two movie reviews - I'll put them in our Netflix queue. My husband doesn't like to sit in a large, dark room surrounded by strangers!

Changing doctors is a reasonable excuse for a wandering mind. By next week the monkey should have settled down.

Grandmother Mary said...

I wondered about The King's Speech and will see it when I go to the states. Meditation is such a worthwhile if difficult process. Good for you for pursuing it. I like to do walking meditation. Best of luck on your check up.

Jo said...

I'm looking forward to seeing "The King's Speech" too. My daughter, who is a speech therapist, said it is wonderful. It's a very interesting time in history, and I just finished reading the biography of the Queen Mother (King George VI's wife) and she was quite the feisty little thing.

How did you doctor's appointment go?

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

I saw both the Kings Speech and the Fighter recently. Loved them both. Hope all goes well with your doc appointment. X