if you’ve hung out with anyone who meditates, you’ve probably heard the half-joke, “don’t just do something, sit there.”
my first reaction to the idea of sitting in meditation was “why? why would anyone who had extra time just want to sit around doing nothing?”
it took me a long run of failed attempts to finally understand what all the (not so fussy) fuss was about: getting still allows us to watch our patterns of thoughts and emotion, gain perspective on them…and stop the useless ones from running our show.
the more i learn about meditation and people who meditate, the more i realize we all have the ability to get lost in our thoughts and emotions to the degree that they run us. meditation helps us identify when that’s happening so that we can redirect our thinking (and our actions) before we end up in the vortex of worry, impatience, blame, self criticism, doubt, fear, resignation, anger, insert your favorite pattern here…
the kind of meditation we practice is known as mindfulness meditation: we sit, we notice our breath, we notice any thoughts/sensations/emotions that show up and get lightly curious about them, then we go back to our breath. over time, we learn to identify our most common patterns.
eventually, we start to notice how those patterns affect us throughout our day…and we’re better able to head them off before they take control.
the poet Percy Shelley in his poem Mutations said that “one stray thought can pollute the day.” anyone who has ever been down the spiral of thinking — “why is she scowling? she must be mad at me? what did i do? it must have been bad. i always mess things up. it’s just like that time in 4th grade.” — can relate.
mindfulness meditation, while it’s not a miracle cure, does help us step in before that thinking spiral takes us over. it’s training for our mental muscles that pays off in more ability to focus on what matters.
sounds intriguing? join us tomorrow (sunday 3.4) for a free beginner’s session from 10:30-11:00am at the studio, and we’ll donate $3 to March for Our Lives.