It scared the shit out of me at first. Facing myself, facing silence, the unknown, yikes. I’d been going fast for a long, long time. Slowing down felt so wrong, almost unnatural. The thing in us that pushes us to go, go, go, that tight stream of thinking that tries to figure it all out, plan for every possibility, that gets in other people’s business or frets about the past… that part of us will have us running screaming for the hills when we consider slowing down to take a breath.
I have my tough times for sure but these days, meditation often feels like lowering myself into a warm bath on a cold day. Or like walking out of a dark-noisy-smoky-crowded room into a w i d e open sunny field on a fresh spring day. And I haven't smoked in 12 years. I might have a beer every few weeks, taken in with awareness and enjoyment. I still deal with symptoms of chronic illness, yet they don't crush or scare me in the way they used to. Meditation has helped me realize I am larger than the illness, and able to welcome the pain.
Meditation is super simple. I made it way difficult for a while by trying too hard, thinking there was something I was supposed to feel, and worst of all beating myself up for not getting it right. I thought I was supposed to have no thoughts. I thought I was supposed to feel at peace. When really, all that is required is to sit there and notice. It is the most natural thing in the world. Some people like to tell you that there’s a certain way you should meditate, but I disagree. There are wrong ways to meditate – like trying to escape your feelings or being all rigid about it or trying to be superior – but there’s no particular right way.
I like to think that meditation is something you relax into. Like, right now. As you read these words, just notice how you are sitting. Could you be more comfortable? Do you need a little stretch? What would a deep breath feel like? Usually it feels like a relief. Meditation can feel like a relief. Right now, can you feel your feet on the ground? Is the window open? Are the wild roses and the mock orange blossoms sending their scent in for you? Is the refrigerator running? What else can you hear? This is beginning to be present. The entire system starts to relax and function in a different way, one that is more conducive to general well-being. The cells function more efficiently, you receive more of life’s peace and vitality. Right now, as you take a deep breath in, and you know that you’re taking a deep breath in, you are meditating. When you exhale, let go of all of your responsibilities just for this exhale. See if the world falls apart.
So, after 15 years I still think “I suck at this” sometimes. I suck at life, at friendships, at trying to create abundance, at healing, at waking up. But I remember these are just thoughts, and not really true, and I can let them go. In any moment, I can notice what I’m thinking and how it makes me feel. I can choose to wake up to what’s always here, my true Good Nature that is always resting in this moment, and always welcomes me so happily, with open arms. This is true support. This is meditation.
I'll be writing more like this on my new site: https://www.patreon.com/innerdiamond