I try to avoid Facebook at all costs.
I can’t afford to get sucked into the Newsfeed vortex. Last time that happened, I ended up feeling like the world was ending.
Which problem was I supposed to tackle first? Should I share posts? Should I donate? Should I protest? I was overwhelmed, so you know what I did? I shut down my laptop and went off to find something that was a little more up-lifting.
But this didn’t help me make sense of the emotions I was feeling or the issues I felt concerned about.
You see, making decisions on an emotional high doesn’t end well. We either give up or try too hard—both of which just make things worse.
I used to do this on a regular basis. I would get in situations that would make me anxious and I would completely shut down or try to escape, which obviously kept fueling my anxiety. Where’s the logic in that?
I eventually started looking for ways to get rid of my anxiety. I found books and practices that worked to a certain extent, but it still felt like I was fighting off a portion of my life rather than coming to an understanding.
After a few months of trying random things, I stumbled on something that started to free me of my anxiety: meditation.
Meditation has allowed me to see my feelings, emotions, and thoughts arise, sit with them and let them pass.
There’s nowhere to hide when you’re sitting still on a cushion. And as I’ve continued to practice, the benefits of meditation have permeated my life off the cushion as well.
But let me be clear, it did not eliminate my anxiety. It isn’t a miracle cure, regardless of what you might read online. I don’t think that’s what it was created for, anyway.
I think the point of meditation is that it teaches us how to be with things rather than resist them or add to them. Like when you have crazy thoughts, you don’t have to push them away or keep thinking about how crazy you are. You just let them come and go, like breeze through an open window.
You begin to see what is useful and what isn’t.
The biggest benefit for me has been that I’m finally learning how to shut up, settle down and reassess. And trust me, that’s exactly what I need.
Over time, my anxiety has lessened. Since I started sitting, I’m seeing and interacting with life in a new way. Everything changed, even though nothing really changed. It’s hard to put into words. Basically, there’s less crap between me and my life. And by crap, I mean resistance, avoidance, frustration, overthinking, overanalyzing—those kinds of things.
I still have problems, I just don’t get as wrapped up in them. I still take things seriously—just not “this is the end of the world” serious. I’m able to live in the present, rather than wish I was somewhere else.
Now more than ever, I’m slowly starting to accept my life, myself and this world just as they are. This doesn’t mean that we have to sit on our butts and do nothing because we are okay with things as they are. It’s more like clearing the slate and creating a new baseline from which to start our work. With this mindset, we can see where we stand and determine what actions we should take—if we need to take any at all.
It only takes a few minutes, twice a day. Anyone can do it. I started small (5-10 minutes) and eventually worked my way up to 30-minute sessions.
As human beings, we need skillful ways of understanding our confusing and complicated lives. Meditation helps shed the confusion and complication. It’s a key part of uncovering the peace that’s buried within each one of us.
Meditate. Try it and be consistent. You owe it to yourself.
Author: Nick G. Mason
Image: Tareck Raffoul
Editor: Callie Rushton