If I was a true pro, I would have outlined the steps in advance, but I am not so I didn’t.
Just a note on the prayer stuff before we move on–it doesn’t have to feel great. I think some of us get discouraged when prayer isn’t immediately invigorating or momentarily magical. Like everything else, most of the time it can feel rote or routine and that’s okay. You’ll never have your big fat radio epiphany if you don’t tune in for all the static.
Anyhoo, step one was Acknowledging Spirit so I hope we still have a couple of atheists on board for step two. For this step, we will transition between spirit and mind using meditation. Personally, I meditate between ten and thirty minutes in the morning. Sometimes if I’m ill I will fall asleep again, and really that’s fine too.
If you think you’ll drift off to sleep and you can’t allow time for that, sit up. If you fall asleep sitting up, you must really need that sleep.
I read that more people than ever are trying meditation during the pandemic. That is encouraging news. Meditation requires patience and if even the most impatient people can cultivate enough patience for it, we would have a better world.
Meditation isn’t magic. You won’t slip into a blissful sense of calm right away. You don’t have to have special incense or a particular pillow. Some mornings, my phone is dead, so I don’t even have my trusty guide’s voice to help me through the process. It’s all fine. Every session is just a practice session.
Bad things can bubble up while you are meditating, but like sleep, they are likely things you may want to give some attention. Bad thoughts are still just thoughts.
For me, morning meditation is not peaceful and pleasant. I would much prefer to clear my thoughts and feel like I have tidied it all up. Instead, I attempt to clear my mind and words and images barge in with muddy boots. “Lawnmower” was a guest this week, along with “Manuscript Editing” and “Everything You Love is Fragile and Held in the Air Like Bubbles.”
An evening meditation is more likely to lead to dozing off in the midst of that freshly swept mind porch, but for me, a morning meditation is messy. Dreams cling like cobwebs in the corners and the debris of a to-do list clutters the space.
Even with all the mess, after practicing meditation and relaxation for a good long while, I notice a very significant shift has occurred. Some thoughts (or memories) that used to cause an automatic clenching don’t have that power any longer.
Sorry, this is super woo-woo, but I’m not really sorry.
As a kid, my idea of meditation was that it was a gateway drug to levitation. I wasn’t comfortable with that, because I was certain that whenever I levitated I would not be able to keep it under control. I concluded it was better to skip the whole thing rather than risk floating into power lines or on into the atmosphere.
Meditation could have helped me with that anxiety too.
If we greet our “bad” feelings with loving, non-judgmental awareness often enough, those feelings just don’t have the juice to feel bad any longer. Fear and dishonesty will fuel the bad stuff and who wants that? We all deserve some portion of peace. The way through is accepting that some things suck and that’s just the way it is.
It might be tempting to quit practicing once you reach a comfortable level of calm, but I don’t recommend a meditation vacation. There is an infinite number of things vying to irk you. Whatever happens, you’re going to need that soft edge.
So, yeah, my favorite meditation guide these days has a free podcast and definitely did not pay me to mention her. I recommend Tara Brach for whatever ails you and whatever doesn’t ail you.
You’re never not thinking, but you can back up and see the outlines and catch your own drift, so to speak. It’s certainly better to catch your drift before it catches you. Or something.
Defective Pets, Inc.
Creatures who cannot entertain themselves, who yell at water and manage to smell terrible all at the same time--these are not fictional fur balls but entities that wait patiently in my home. They wait for something to happen. Something they can scoff at. They don't have jobs, but they have expensive problems even before we sign up for therapy.