Give Me a List

Have you thought about the effectiveness of lists in writing? Take a moment and think of the famous lists that come to mind like My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music or the Ten Commandments from the Bible. Even when we can’t name them all, I bet we can name a few or most.

Lists can help us as writers be concise, ordered and on topic. They also let the reader draw their own inferences. The first post I read on this blog was Jack Canfora’s gratitude list, Dear Lord, Not Another Post on This Blog about Gratitude and I’m grateful it made me want to write for this blog. AP2 polled the readers of this blog and created 9 Pieces of Indispensable Life Advice From Your Future Self. And Dr. Gerald Stein’s list of How to Become Your Own Best Friend has so many nuggets of wisdom to mine. I can name those lists as impactful off the top of my head plus some items on them because I find lists are more memorable.

So, here’s a list I’ve written.

Why I Meditate

I meditate because it is the one thing that has improved the quality of my life the most.
The quality prior to meditation was only manageable if I drank a bottle of wine a day.

Meditation helps me live in my heart, not my head.
Because the voice in my head is an asshole.*
And I am sometimes an asshole when I listen to it.

Meditation has helped me to eat at the table of what IS and stopped begging at the table of what ISN’T.

I meditate to so that at least once I day I’m listening to the right things instead of the wrong things.
Right things include love, empathy, patience, wonder, awe, curiosity, grace, laughter.
Wrong things include judgment, self-flagellation, anxiety, comparison.

Meditation has helped me give up two key stories: that situations are win/lose and that choosiness leads to joy.

Instead I believe in bowing down to openness and creating porous boundaries where I try not to hang out to things as they come and go.

I meditate because it helps me exercise my grace muscle instead of my judgment reflex.

Sitting quietly in meditation helps me to hear the heartbeat of life and trust in its timing and flow.
I almost always get this wrong and push ahead of the envelope but I’ve learned to respect it, especially in hindsight.

Meditation helps me find internal quiet and be able to rest there.
When resting in that space, I can more easily find my way to others.

It takes repetition but meditation in five-fifteen minute daily increments has been the most gentle way of changing my life.
The other ways change comes to my life through loss, suffering and chaos are a lot less fun.

And when I get all of the above wrong, which I do all the time, meditation helps me not judge myself too harshly, breathe and begin again.

How’s that for a list? Do you use lists in your writing? How about meditation?

*I give credit to former newsman Dan Harris, a self-described cynical but committed proponent of meditation and mindfulness for the phrase “the voice in my head is an asshole.” His podcast, Ten Percent Happier has great guests who discuss the science of mindfulness and it also has free, short 8-10 minute guided meditations. And for anyone looking for an app, Healthy Minds has 5-minute meditations. I am not affiliated with either.

For more posts like this – a little story-telling mixed with philosophy, please visit my personal blog at https://wynneleon.wordpress.com or follow me on Instagram @wynneleon

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(featured photo from Pexels)


47 thoughts on “Give Me a List

  1. There aren’t enough ‘like’ buttons to push for this one, Wynne. Wow. You nailed it! I need to print this one out so that I can read it anytime I start to get meditation-lazy, or forget why I’m doing it! Thank you. I needed that!

    1. Ah, I love this comment from you, Julia. Because you are someone who shines so much light in the world and if you sometimes forget, I feel in good company when I do. Sending light and love.

  2. Great piece! I think I need to reconsider my priorities a bit. Meditation is by far the most neglected of my run/yoga/meditation plan. You make a great case for fixing that. The Dan Harris line is so good 😂

    1. I love that you included a list (run/yoga/meditation) in your comment, Todd! Yes, that line is right on, isn’t it? Thanks for the lovely comment!

      1. I’d like to take credit for consciously making a list, but I wouldn’t have noticed it if you hadn’t pointed it out 🙃

  3. Love this — I was noodling on meditation this morning…the ups, the downs, the why and wherefores, LOL – and two words from you – “grace muscle” described, expertly, what I’m struggling with. Thanks, Wynne. xo!❤

    1. Ah, I relate to the ups, the downs, the why and wherefores of meditation, Vicki! Thanks for helping me strengthen my grace muscle with your writing and stories about grace and growth!

  4. The last time I did any sort of meditative practice was years and years ago when I was teaching coping techniques for labor and birth, and subsequently using those techniques during my own childbirth experiences. I don’t suppose talking things over endlessly in ones own head can be considered meditative practice can it? I solve a lot of issues that way but I admit the calming aspect is truly lacking 😉 I know the ability is still there, especially when I have to force myself to simply stop thinking and just breathe, but the habit is no longer a habit. Thank you for a lovely reminder Wynne.

    1. Well, I think if you could count talking things over endlessly in one’s head as meditation, I’d have a lot of hours under my belt. 🙂 But I wonder given your history if the practices are closer than you realize. Thanks for reading and commenting, Deb!

      1. I know that they aren’t a regular part of my life, which is what I think you and others would define as a more mindful meditation practice? That setting aside time each day to calm and perhaps reflect a bit… I only pull out the tools when I feel my BP rising from overthinking!

  5. Wynne, I love lists…grocery list, to-do list, food diary, fun places I would like to visit, list of contact information…

    I have learned that I don’t have sufficient patience for meditation, but there are many activities that I find calming and relaxing…walking in nature, swimming in an ocean or a river, observing wildlife, listening to the songs of birds, frogs, and crickets, looking at the sky, listening to music…

    1. Those are good lists, Cheryl. And I’d argue that your list of calming and relaxing activities counts as a meditative practice, especially if done intentionally as I imagine you do!

  6. I like your point about lists, Wynne. What usually comes to mind, I think, is some version of “a list isn’t good writing,” which is of course sometimes true but crucially, as you point out so clearly, not always.

    I also like that you included some elaboration in list you shared with us. I think sometimes we don’t realize that lists can include explanation and inference within them.

    I’m also reminded of how thick with lists many canonical Buddhist writings are.

    1. Great points, SeekerFive! Yes, Buddha loved lists too, didn’t he? I bet that are more pervasive than we’ve (or I should say I have) noticed. Thanks for the great comment.

  7. Another wonderfully rich post, Wynne. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I wholeheartedly agree about the power of meditation to transform the quality of our life. A minimum of twenty minutes for me each day, with occasional practice of a couple of hours to go even deeper.

    I’ll be looking forward to your next post!

    1. Thank you for the shout-out, Wynne. You are very kind. Of course, my mother used to say about herself, “People say I’m kind but what I want to know is, what kind?”

    2. Wow, Art – that is a great meditation practice. Thank you for sharing how you find and raise that quality of life!! And thank you for your kind words!

  8. I love a good list. This is a great one Wynne. I too believe meditation has fundamentally changed my life for the better. I’ve read Dan Harris’s book 10 percent happier. It’s really good. And I think 10 percent is about right. It’s certainly not nothing, but it’s not everything either. A habit well worth adopting nonetheless – especially in the modern age of distraction we live. Happy meditating Wynne 🙂🙏

    1. Thank you, AP2. I love how you put it – meditating is not everything but it’s not nothing. I so appreciate this feedback from you, a fellow writer and meditator!!

  9. I’m a definite list writer – it helps me organise and sometimes establish some order. I dont have a specific meditation order, but I do practice and use it to calm and centre me.

  10. “the voice in my head is an asshole.” That, plus Stuart Danker’s recent post about our thoughts lying to us, both make me feel so much better. It’s not just me. And now I know I’m allowed to disagree with my head.
    Wedding this weekend, the people we drove with wanted to say goodbye to some people before we left. I waited patiently by the door because I didn’t think anyone would notice or care if I left without saying goodbye. I still think that’s true, well, maybe they’d notice. Would they be hurt? Doubtful. But when walking to the car, I told Hubby, I wish I were the type of person who DID believe people would care. Instead, the melancholic personality-type me, said, “Just leave. No one cares that much about you.” That voice in my head is most certainly an asshole. It’s just too bad that I don’t disagree with it.

    1. Oh wow – that is a profound observation! “It’s just too bad that I don’t disagree with it.” Oh my goodness, I’m bowled over and now see the same thing in me. Especially in the evening. Well, I suppose one day we might learn to talk to ourselves as we would to a friend. I can also aspire to get there! Love this comment that has really made me think! Thanks, my friend!

      1. And then we can change our minds, depending on our moods and situation, right? The night before the wedding I was certain I was NOT going to go to the reception. But with sleep, some perspective perhaps, I was okay with going after all. So, sometimes we’re just plain wrong.
        Though I didn’t think going to that last fateful jiu-jitsu class was wrong, the consequences make me wonder if maybe it was. :/ A month later, I seem to have not improved at all.

      2. Yes – I change my mind after I sleep a lot!

        What an interesting observation about that JJ class. I’m so sorry about your foot. Can’t believe a month in that it hasn’t improved. How frustrating!

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