college student

Doing Dallas: Meditation Medication

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Not gonna lie, this past week has been stressful. As a college student, I’m entering into that wonderful time of the semester in which professors feel the need to assign a million papers, and then conspire together to make them all due on the same day. Higher education, man. To give you an idea of how it’s going, I’ve put together a brief storyboard:

Doing Dallas

When I found out that the Crow Collection of Asian Art offers hour-long meditation sessions every Sunday in its galleries, I knew I’d stumbled across this week’s Doing Dallas.* A chance to find inner peace and feng shui? Why not?! More important, a chance to procrastinate all my work in the name of stress relief? Heck yes! Unable to pass-up such an opportunity, I headed on down to the Crow for an afternoon of Zen and deep-breathing. Here’s what happened.

*The Crow also offers weekly Tai Chi classes, which I first read as "Chai Tea" classes and misunderstood to be weekly tea tastings. I was crestfallen to learn this is not the case, as I do love a good cup of chocolate chai.

Getting There

Never having meditated before, I had no idea what to expect. Well, that’s not true. I read Siddhartha in high-school and watched the Friends episode on Unagi, so I wasn’t going into this experience completely blind. Even though I knew this would only be a mental workout, for some reason I felt compelled to also dress in workout attire (perhaps, subconsciously, I was hoping that elements of the Tai Chi/Chai Tea would be incorporated). If you were wondering, this wardrobe choice led me to stick out like a sore thumb as I wandered through the museum’s sacred ancient artifacts.

As I set off toward downtown, I suddenly became aware of my gnawing hunger. Checking the clock, I knew I’d be cutting it close if I stopped to grab some grub. A mental war then ensued – boy, would this meditation be good for me – as I tried to decide what would be worse: arriving late to a mediation or having my stomach rumblings distract from others’ practice. I opted for food and grabbed a coffee, too; suddenly scared that keeping my eyes closed for longer than 10 seconds would have me out like a baby.

Please note the small, circular butt pillow stacked  atop the larger butt pillow. Mediation doesn’t really play around when it comes to the comfortableness of your butt.

Breathe in the Light

Thankfully, my insatiable hunger did not make me late, and upon arriving I sat down on one of the many floor pillows, ready to dive into my inner consciousness. Moments later, the teacher arrived and we started right into the practice.

“We’ll start with a simple opening mediation. Breathe in, and as you do so, visualize yourself inhaling light.”

Hmm…okay. As I tried to imagine this visualization, all I could think of was the scene in the first Harry Potter movie where Dumbledore uses a deluminator to collect light from streetlamps. Distracted, I couldn’t help but think of my nose as doing the same thing, and so I started chuckling to myself. Clearly I was off to a good start.

“Now, I want you to imagine that with every out-breath, you’re exhaling thick black smoke.”

Trying to get my brain back on track, I sincerely tried to imagine this image, too. But, as I did so, I kept thinking about blowing smoke rings. This got me thinking about smoke in general, and then fire, then chestnuts roasting over an open fire, and before I knew it I was crafting my Christmas wish-list. No! Focus, Chelsea, focus.

“…and so you now have your object, so let’s think about that for the next 10 minutes.”

Crap! Somewhere between dreaming of new boots and sweaters, I’d missed the explanation of this what this “object” I was supposed to be thinking about was. Oy vey. Well, I guess the next 10 minutes would be devoted to experimenting with the feasibility of sleeping while sitting upright.

Mental Olympics

Possible dresses for my next sorority formal y/n?

By the start of the next round of meditations, my mind was gone. Hummingbirds, The Great Gatsby, the thumbs-up emoji, popsicles, you name it, I thought about it. For a while, I was consumed with worry that we weren’t saying “ommmm” like in Siddhartha, but after a few minutes my mind moved on to the next topic, even as the teacher instructed us to “focus.”

Thirty-five minutes into the hour-long meditation, the coffee I’d drank on the way over hit my bladder, and I could think of nothing else. Knowing that my practice was doomed, I decided to silently stand and head toward the restroom. On my way, I wandered through the Crow’s special Japanese fashion exhibit, and sidetracked (obviously) I stopped to take pictures.

 

What I Learned

Sunday, I learned that it is possible to fall asleep sitting upright. And that it isn’t a good idea to consume a lot of liquids before meditating. And that I might have ADD, and that I am not cut out for meditation. All in all, I’d say a lot of great lessons were learned!

And, while I may be too mentally weak for meditation, the experience was relaxing and enjoyable. So now, I’m much less like:

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And a lot more like:

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Chelsea is a Level 5 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

(Photos from https://twitter.com/ColIegeStudent)

Doing Dallas: Wholey Moly

Each week, this Virginian will try a new Dallasite activity and blog about the experience. Confession: Saturday night was the first time I have ever set foot in a Whole Foods. I have lived with this secret for the past 21 years, always nodding along when friends mentioned their favorite soy crispettes or buckwheat variety, yet never actually knowing what these things were. As a college student on a budget and without kitchen facilities, I lived peaceably in my ignorance, until, leaving Brunch two weeks ago I overheard a hip young couple say, “Let’s drop by Whole Foods on our way home to grab some pomegranates and kale chips.” Yes, that is a direct quote. Struck by the realization that I’ve not embraced the Dallas lifestyle to the fullest, I decided to make a change.

My shirt matched a jug of agave nectar that was bigger than my head.

Living in Fear of a Fashion Faux Pas

In preparation for my journey, I scoured my closet for the most eco-friendly outfit I could find. I desperately wanted to look like I belonged and could think of nothing more embarrassing than giving-off non-organic vibes. Unfortunately, my wardrobe is severely lacking in hemp-based apparel, so I settled for the most hippie-esque outfit I own: a flowy little number with two wooden beads that I prayed screamed earthiness, paired with brown flats that hopefully suggested my desire to blend in with garden topsoil. Going against the Texan saying, “The bigger the hair, the closer to God,” I left my hair product-free to do my part in reducing humanity’s CFC and aerosol footprint. I was ready.

Katie was really drawn to our store’s personal touches. Thanks, Martin!

The Sights, The Smells, The Joy…

Walking through those sliding glass doors, I was instantly hit by a blast of cool air-conditioning and the smell of a victory garden. I knew I’d stumbled into something special. I mean, where else could I find fresh apple frangipane made by Martin? NO WHERE. Where else could I buy a lifetime supply of agave nectar? Not at Tom Thumb, that’s for sure. Where else could I buy both fermented probiotic coconut water and Toms shoes on the same aisle? I can’t think of any other establishment.

I wanted to skip up and down every aisle, to sift my fingers through all eight breeds of quinoa grains, to smell every imported coffee bean, to taste every beet juice, to wash with every artisanal handcrafted soap. Every aisle was a new adventure into organic taste bud bliss, every free sample a new love-affair.

Making Friends

After running around the store in a state of sheer ecstasy, it was time to get down to business. I had come to Whole Foods on a mission: to buy ingredients to make organic – and therefore healthy – chocolate chip cookies.

Any toddler-approved egg is good egg in my book.

My first stop was the egg aisle. Wanting to do this organic thing right, I voiced to my friends what I was looking for. “I just really want eggs that came from a happy chicken – one that had room to run and play on the range and that was a vegetarian and lived life to its fullest.” Yes, that is a direct quote. A woman shopping nearby overheard my qualifications and came to my aid.

“I really recommend those eggs there,” she said pointing to the expensive egg section. “I know they’re more costly, but they’re free range.”

“Thank you so much. I’ll definitely go with those. The chicken’s quality of life is what’s most important to me.”

Smiling, my helpful new friend walked away. As I went to pick up the eggs, I couldn’t help but notice the advertising on the carton.

Meeting a Challenge: Whole Foods or Hole in My Wallet?

Collecting the cookie ingredients, I was acutely aware of my final bill creeping higher and higher. I had entered the store with a mere $35 in my savings account and a generous $10 cookie budget. However, over half of my budget had already been spent on blissful chickens. Adding up the cost of all ingredients, I realized my little cookie endeavor would cost me $30.72 plus tax. Oh no. Concluding that leaving $2 for gas and the rest of the month’s expenses wouldn’t be wise, I retraced my once joy-filled steps to replace all of the items.

Katie and Rachael’s victorious reaction to finding the cheapest cookie ingredient: baking soda.

Lessons Learned

Leaving empty-handed and with cookie dreams shattered, we headed to a cheap ice cream shop, where for $2 I purchased a large scoop of coconut delight. As I was eating, however, I couldn’t help but wonder if the milk to make the ice cream had come from a happy cow, one that had room to run and play on the range and that was a vegetarian and lived life to the fullest…

Chelsea is a Level 4 improv student at the DCH Training Center. She is obsessed with music of the 60s & 70s and her vices include vanilla lattes and Swedish Fish. You can check out more of Chelsea’s thoughts and ponderings HERE!

 

Getting Stuff Done

Getting Stuff Done(?)  By Sarah Mowery

GSDWe've all heard of writer's block. It's that thing where you stare at a blank screen with your fingers all QWERTY'd for three hours, trying in vain to remember how to put words together in a sentence. You agonize over the perfect phrasing, hoping beyond hope that something - anything - will come to you. It doesn't. Of course, after all that stress and anxiety, the first full paragraph you manage to pound out earns you a nice 2-hour Netflix break.

Writer's block can rear its ugly head in the middle of all sorts of important writing endeavors. Papers. Emails. That murder mystery novel you've been working on. Texts to your housekeeper. Post-its reminding yourself to take out the trash. But writer's block is not the only type of "block" we experience on a day to day basis. No, not at all.

I'm talking about mild to moderately severe General Task Block, more commonly known as GTB.

Not sure if you or a loved one suffers from GTB? The following scenario was carefully crafted by real scientists to illustrate the horrifying effects of the newest illness sweeping the nation:

5:35 p.m. Get home, unbutton pants, and sit down to do some work. I'm going to be so productive tonight!

5:38 Turn on computer, check Facebook.

5:45 Read article on CNN. Something about Ukraine. Gotta stay up on those current affairs!

5:50 Take BuzzFeed quiz to determine what cereal I am. Rice Chex? Ha. No.

5:53 Take cereal quiz again. Lie about answers to get less boring cereal. Rice Chex again.

5:57 Pull up (insert project to be worked on).

5:57 Stare at computer screen.

6:03 Stare at computer screen.

6:14 Stare at computer screen.

6:15 Remember hilarious YouTube video that would really motivate you if you just watched it real quick for a good laugh.

4 Enrique Iglesias music videos later...

6:48 Oh, look, dinner time. I'll be more productive if I've eaten something. That's science!

8:02 Finish eating full meal prepared from scratch. Ready to take on anything.

8:06 Check Facebo -- NO! Time to get down to business.

8:18 Type one sentence. Time for dessert.

Does this sound like you? You might have chronic GTB.

In fact, you probably do. With all the distractions that are constantly thrown in our faces, it seems nearly impossible to get anything done. Heck, sometimes I sit in my car for a good ten minutes before I can even remember what I got in it to go do in the first place. Luckily, one of the defining symptoms of General Task Block is that you always manage to get stuff done eventually. Studies suggest that the light you soak up from all the staring at blank screens stimulates your brain to the point that everything eventually just happens effortlessly.

Ha! Ohhh.. If only that were true. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go start some laundry catch up on some reading play with my cat while I think of an ending for this blog post.

Sarah Mowery is a level 2 improv student at DCH as well as a student at SMU. You can read more of her comedy stylings HERE.