.Meditation: what the eff.
Ummm... what am I going to make for dinner, maybe I should make a lis..- shit, I'm supposed to be meditating.
AUMM. AUMMM <<side note: AUM is aka OM... same, same>>
Aumm...hmm.. what day is it? Thursday, right. I can't forget to put in the product order for work tomorrow, plus I...- damnit, I'm thinking again! That's it. I can't meditate today, I don't have enough patience or concentration - I have too much to do!
Story. Of. My Life. Seriously.
This was me just a year or two ago - and this was a good day of meditation. A day when I wasn't so consumed with busy-ness that I actually made the effort to sit still without my phone, computer, or notepad; a day when my body wasn't fully riddled with anxiety and I wasn't so excruciatingly uncomfortable being still with my own thoughts.
Kind of dramatic sounding... but it was the real deal.
Fast forward a few years and I LOVE meditation!!! This love affair only began once I realized what meditation was and why I was practicing. Your entire life is based on how your mind interprets and responds to life. Your mental habits govern your perceptions and therefore your actions. Now, it's about to get real... your life doesn't suck because the people around you are idiots, or your boss is an ass, or you are an ass yourself. No, your life sucks because you have this pattern of perception that tells you these stories. (Side note: this is not an opportunity to blame yourself for your suffering, nor to excuse other people for abusive or hurtful behaviour. This is a long discussion... it'll have to wait for another post... just keep this in mind as you continuing reading. Yes your life sucks because of the way your mind works, BUT this does not mean you need to feel guilty or embarrassed or self-loathing).
The greatest game-changer in life is not in changing your environment rather, is in shifting your internal one.
That is what meditation does. It is mind training to take back your life. It's the solution to transforming that ghost inside you that throws tantrums when shit doesn't go your way, or the one that drinks a bottle of wine every night, orrrr the one that buys 4 chocolate bars (because they're on sale, buy 1 get 2 so, duhhh - can't miss a deal) and decides you have to eat them all in one night. All of those times when you regret what you've said or done, when you've made plans to make big changes in your life but you fall back into old habits; THAT is the result of an untrained mind. If you don't know how to use your mind, it will run on automatic and you'll continue to live your life based on feelings, reasons, and desires that remain in your subconscious. Meditation brings these to light. It is then that you can make change.
Everyone and their dog (my writing teacher would doc me -5 for using a cliche here but I love cliches) seem to be on the meditation train. As a practitioner of Eastern medicine, a lover of yoga, and a fierce educator and advocate for mental health, you'd think I would know how to god damn meditate; but I still feel new to this. It's no wonder really, meditation is a HUGE topic. You have an idea of how it can help you in life, but how do you do it - what the eff does meditating look like, what is it??!
Here's the truth, Meditation is not about stopping your thoughts. Meditation is not about being calm, being quiet, being still.... 'Say whaaaat... I don't have to sit in a weird posture with my legs twisted up like a pretzel, while burning incense and exerting every ounce of energy attempting to squash my urge to use every four letter word I know as I battle to shut the noise of my mind off for a few seconds..? What do I do then?!' Meditation is not about DOING anything in particular, it is not about striving to be anything other than what you are being right now. It is all about becoming aware of the present moment. Whatever you are doing, being, acting, thinking - it is about being aware of those things.
I spent so many days avoiding a meditation practice because I thought it meant I had to do something different - and I wasn't about to make time for that. I honestly had every excuse as to how I didn't have time or patience, concentration or energy, to sit down and just do nothing but breathe. Here's the truth: YOU DON'T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY. The 'what' you do in life doesn't have to change. Meditation is a 'how to do' of living your life, and can be practiced in any situation, any circumstance; regardless of 'what' you're doing.
Meditation is a mind strengthening practice. Just like there are many ways to strengthen the body, there are many ways to strengthen and train the mind. Mindfulness meditation in particular is straightforward and simple, I learned of it only two years ago after my teacher - Shi Hsin Yao Hai - saw me struggling with a practice. He recommended a book, 'Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy Of A Buddhist Master'. THIS BOOK CHANGED EVERYTHING. The book gives the most practical, basic meditation teachings throughout - plus Dipa Ma is the most fearless woman everrrrr. Check it out!
Essentially, this is the meditation:
Whatever you are doing, be aware of it. If you are walking, know that you are walking. If you are making a list, be aware that you are making a list. If you are stressed, you don't even have to change it, just notice it**. Become aware of your stress. Put your attention on your thoughts, actions, and emotions, as if you were watching the most interesting movie. This is the meditation practice.
If everything is noted, all your emotional difficulties will disappear. When you feel happy, don't get involved in the happiness. When you feel sad, don't get involved with it. Whatever comes, don't worry. Just be aware of it. -- Dipa Ma
This practice is the reason why my anxiety is no longer debilitating, why I'm able to make decisions that are in line with my long-term goals, and why I'm living an all around happier, sexier, healthier life.
By bringing your mind to the moment, to what IS, you automatically have more choice in your life. You can create the life you desire. Change is easier than you think. It just takes some awareness.
You can't stop a train that you don't see coming. Start making mindfulness a habit. Recognize where you're at, right now. Pick a moment every day where you commit to practicing more presence, ie. when you're brushing your teeth, when you're prepping breakfast, or when you're driving to work. Be aware. Get your mindfulness on.. welcome to meditation.
Just do it. (Nike has one of the most legit slogans ever).