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At the close of a rich, rewarding month facilitating a 30-day online journey into meditation as a daily practice, this fundamental truth has never been more clear: There’s no way through but through.
Envisioning ourselves as daily meditators, we often project (hope like hell) that we’ll all of a sudden become peaceful, calm, and happy.
We think we’ll like ourselves and others more, because finally we’ll be getting it right. We’ll be the person we always wanted to be. The ugly bits will all just go away, and at last we’ll be worthy of love (our own, first and foremost).
For most, what actually happens is this:
Our commitment to being with ourselves more intimately and consistently brings us up close and much more personal with all of the stuff we were hoping to get rid of. Sometimes this happens during our actual meditation practice, but often it happens after, when we return to our life, work, kids, bills, and relationships.
By contrast to the inherent peace and spaciousness that we’ve remembered through our practice, our anger, impatience, fear, and doubt come as a less-than-welcome shock when they return.
But the very human fact is that they do return. Unfortunately, these pesky, contracted human emotions are part of the package.
We don’t get rid of anything.
But wait, it’s not all bad news. In owning that stuff—stopping the pretense that we don’t actually have any of it, projecting it onto others, blaming situations, or thinking ourselves bad and terrible people for feeling it—we start to get curious.
We ask good questions (“Is it true?” for example). We get really good at letting go of any thought that feels like tension (our body’s way of telling us that we’re believing a lie).
And when we can’t, we practice mercy (thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert, for your recent enlightened use of this wonderful word). We give ourselves a break. Until we find the eyes to see more clearly, we practice forgiveness, gentleness, and compassion for our own shortcomings. We stay on our own team.
But most of all, what we learn to do is choose.
Because the sh*t still comes up. As long as we have a body and karma to clear, we’ll keep finding ourselves in ever new and wonderful situations perfectly scripted to keep on showing us where we’re still a little tight.
The self-doubt/critical/I’m-such-a-loser/nobody-really-loves-me tape might still roll for a bit. We feel our forehead start to crinkle and our shoulders slump.
But then, because we have all this awareness because we’ve been meditating every goddamn day, we notice really quickly when something’s off.
We go, “Hang on! This is just that self-doubt tape!! This right here. I see you! And these things I’m thinking about are not even happening now! Oh my God. This track completely sucks. It always makes me feel like crap. I’m gonna skip it!”
And just like that, we shut it down. We turn it off. We choose a happier tune.
And the next time, and the next.
Might not sound like much—but I’ll tell you that when it happens, it’s nothing short of a miracle.
And that is how we become that peaceful, calm, and happy person we always wanted to be. One choice at a time.
Not by reading about it, or wishing for it, or pretending to be. But by staying alert and very, very curious to what trips us up. Taking each new opportunity as a chance to lighten up.
Through every trigger, every unique scenario, every sh*tstorm of stressful beliefs, disbelieving the lot as we go.
We find a willingness to inquire like water on a fire, our humour and tenderness a salve to any burns we might acquire along the way.