Meditation is an odd thing.
When I started getting my life together in summer 2017, I downloaded HeadSpace. Andy’s soothing voice introduced me to the simple concepts of mindfulness.
Following the breath. Focusing on each physical sensation. Noticing thoughts and images that appear and vanish.
Within a month of consistently doing three, five, or ten-minute meditations, I felt a shift in my emotional state. It wasn’t that I was less emotional per se, but the default response to my emotions became slowed down and lightened.
Someone does something shitty ➡️ I’m pissed off!
Someone does something shitty ➡️ Sensations of heat and tingling in my neck and face ➡️ Thoughts of me telling this person off ➡️ Noticing that all of that is just in my head ➡️ Deciding not to react in a shitty way.
The second process slowly became a habit.
By adding a simple and short mediation practice to my mornings, the rest of my days were drastically improved. I was kinder, more patient, and more appreciative.
Since I’ve been doing this almost every day for four years, one would expect me to be floating in the lotus position on the cusp of enlightenment.
But instead, I’m just a dude.
Half of my meditations consist of me forgetting I’m meditating. I’ll plan my day, get chaotically lost in thought, or worry about one of a thousand things coming up. Clearing my mind feels impossible.
Because it is impossible.
I now use the Waking Up app for my guided meditations. In it, Sam Harris provides a useful model:
“If someone had a gun to your head and told you not to think about anything for 15 seconds, or they would shoot you…you’d be dead in two seconds. If need be, you could probably keep your hand in fire for that long. But we can’t help but think.”
I hear people bash meditation all the time. “I’m not good at it…My mind is too jumbled…It doesn’t work for me…”
Welcome to the club.
Aside from severe mental health issues, every single person has something to gain by trying some kind of meditation practice. Even if it’s just three minutes of noticing what’s going on around them.
It’s not about doing more; it’s about doing less. Less reacting, more noticing.
My mentor often reminds me of a piece of advice he was given years ago:
“Don’t fit meditation into your life, fit your life into your meditation.”
For me, when I don’t have a ton of time in the morning, meditation is the first thing I skip in my routine. I regret it every time.
Conversely, when I don’t feel like doing it (which is most days) but do it anyway, I’m grateful 100% of the time.
Join me as I float to nirvana.