There’s no shame in searching for self-help, not even when it comes to meditation.
In fact, resistance to such is simply ego, whether we feel embarrassed ourselves or some supposed yogi is giving us the sideways glance. Tsk tsk.
Though it’s true that diligent practice can lead even the most scatter-brained Zen-heathen human to mindfulness, some of us prefer to hop on the fast track to stillness.
And for those who’ve never tried it and wonder, “What’s the point of meditation, anyway?”
Well, because meditation is good for our health and well-being.
It helps us overcome stress like when we lose it with our kids, it improves digestion and blood pressure for when our boss loses it with us, it adds creativity so we can figure out how to avoid both these situations again, and it up sex drive so we can take it out in the bedroom, amongst other wonderbar effects. So, yeah, meditation is a super life-saver add-on.
A Short Story:
The other day My Little Mom (MLM) was over for a visit. I’d given her a slice of my latest baking experiment that I was more than a whiff proud of: chocolate-nib-chickpea-cookie pie. I’d saved the last slice for MLM. (My roomie and I had eaten the rest without delay). MLM was so busy venting out her woes of family issues and meaningless stresses, she’d gobbled it down without tasting it.
I’d mindfully watched our interaction as though a third party, only half mindful of the conversation we were having.
“Can you guess what the surprise ingredient was?” I asked her afterwards.
“Oh.” It took her awhile to shift mental gears as she gazed at the crumbs on her plate. “Oh.” She repeated. “Sorry, Dolly. I’m sure it was delicious.”
Even though I quit my day job (actually, I quit a lucrative career) to follow my passion—you’re reading it—and my days now seem a haze of unscheduled, unnecessary and sometimes unproductive tasks, there remains strain.
Such is life.
I have writing projects with self-imposed deadlines, health issues with self-administered treatments and credit cards with institution-imposed interest. Plus, I live like a gypsy flitting from one cozy abode to another with nary a fortnight’s notice of where I’ll be next. Note: I’ve come to accept this uncertainty.
But there is always stress. (Self-imposed or not.)
And there is never stress. As in, the anxiety we feel is based only in our minds. “Only” because of course all we have is this moment. This moment. This. Moment. And now it is gone and all we have is this moment. That cookie-pie moment is gone forever. Our mistakes are behind us and our taxes due ahead of us. But right now is right now.
But even when we grasp this concept, this reality, we are conditioned to be concerned. And remembering that although we can make plans and have strategies and arrange schedules and take actions—life is unpredictable and sometimes catches us off guard.
This is why we need to reset.
Some days my ego longs to be a well-practiced, enlightened and impressive Yogini.
But I’m just a regular redneck-roots copper-top woman-child with a history in logging camps and small, industry towns raised by a foul-mouthed father and ethnic-insecure mother, both kind-hearted and loving if not Buddha-aware.
I don’t use that as an excuse. Not at all. No excuses needed. I’m proud of my past. It’s made me who I am today. And I like me. In a non-egoic way.
So perhaps I have a level of enlightenment after all—though thinking so boots me back to ego, do not pass Go.
So I re-center.
Since I haven’t mastered sitting in Lotus position or even doing a daily downward-dog, I get my Zen on in other ways. Easier-for-me ways that still work, and count.
I cook, I bake, I write, I hike, I bike. And I fully absorb these moments of bliss. Foreign thoughts slip away and only the beauty of what is remains.
And sometimes, when I’m particularly challenged to let go and let God-Within, I grab my go-to: Self-hypnosis. YouTube has an array of anxiety-reducing audio and visual videos that work like mama telling a bed-time story. (Actually, some are bed-time stories.) Some are way out there in awesome astral otherworldliness, but one step at a time. This is the beginner workshop!
Other suggestions: Gardening, knitting, chopping firewood, cleaning the house, doing laundry, tinkering in the garage, playing sports, kayaking, shooting pool, listening to music, dancing, surfing, rock climbing, spice-cupboard organizing, having sex (or solo-self-soothing), heck, even playing poker (some restrictions apply)—whatever floats your Chinese candle lantern.
The point is to get out of mind-filled thoughts about the future or past and into whatever it is we’re doing right now. Mindfulness is being present and conscious and finding that God-spirit within us that radiates from our hearts when we’re doing whatever that is that gets us there. There to that overflowing feeling of contentment right now.
Whether it’s a Lotus pose or a yoga session or an oh-my-god-this-chocolate-chip-cookie-pie-is-so-nummy-delish-what’s-in-it?? moment. That’s all that counts.
Hope this has given us all something not to think about.
Music Only (30 min):
Guided Healing Meditation for Bedtime (1hr):
Guided Chakra Balancing Meditation for Wakeful Relaxation (1hr 45min):
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Martinak15/Created for elephant journal.