Why You Should Continue Meditating Even If You Think You’re Doing It Wrong
In Tokyo, you can buy anything from a vending machine. Anything. Whiskey, cigarettes, clothing, and of course, the ubiquitous Cup Noodle are all available with the push of a button.
When I lived in Japan as a kid, I lived on Cup Noodle. For the equivalent of a dollar fifty, I had myself a delicious, steaming bowl of noodles and dehydrated meat-like substances. Amazing. After years of enjoying these instant delicacies, my mom finally couldn’t take it anymore and snapped, “You might as well eat the Styrofoam cup, too, it’s got more nutrients than what’s inside.”
Bubble = burst. Thanks, Mom. Although she was right, at the time I had trouble comprehending how ingestion of something could take place without it also nourishing me in some way. I hadn’t yet bridged the gap as a fourteen-year-old that just because I was full in the stomach area, I may not necessarily be full in the nutrient area.
Yep, junk food was still considered food back then. These days you couldn’t pay me to eat a Cup Noodle, and I’d rather go without than eat anything that starts with “Mac.”
But junk food doesn’t just come in the edible form these days. It shows up in our lives in other areas, too. It can make its way into our relationships, our conversations, and most importantly into our thoughts. It may not be wrapped in a crappy Styrofoam cup, but it’s always wrapped in drama.
However, there is a surefire way to fuel your soul with nutrition and slowly extricate the drama from your thoughts and existence – meditation.
If It’s Difficult – It’s Working
After years of teaching meditation, one of the most common quips I hear from people who’ve given up on the practice is, “I wasn’t doing it right so I quit” or “I tried, but it didn’t work for me.”
What I, as a teacher, hear is, “My mind created a lot of drama around the practice and I was able to use that drama as a way out of doing something that otherwise would have been difficult and forced me to grow as a person.”
Yea, that’s what really happens.
Drama is junk food for the human experience. It takes our time, our energetic capital, our emotional capital, and our physical stamina, and in return leaves us energetically broke, exhausted, and emotionally spent. Like dating a stripper. Or a Kardashian.
In my experience, the best way to test both your capacity to tolerate drama and your ability to bypass it is – you know where – on the meditation cushion.
This is because the moment your ass hits the mat, your brain is going to find reasons to have you stand back up and do something more important than self-development – like check your email, text someone, watch television, or continue to live in distraction.
Want to know why? Guess what part of you loves drama?
Your ego. The part of you that thrives on the junk food of life. The “he said, she said.” The office drama. The “you’re never going to believe what I just heard.”
Silence is the sound that lets your ego know you’re moving beyond it to a place of pure presence and actualization. Silence is the egoic jab to the nose, and once the blood starts flowing, all bets are off. It’s time for your ego to scream, wail, throw well-orchestrated mental and emotional tantrums, and get you back up and living either in the past or freaked out about the future. Believe me when I say I am right there with you; nose bloody, thoughts racing, and that foreign experience of “emotions” bubbling over. This happens to even the most experienced of meditators, and the gurus of the gurus. No one is immune.
Silence is your main weapon against the junk food that fuels your ego. But trust me, this is indeed a fight – your ego will not go down easy.
Your Ego vs. Silence
You light some incense, get yourself comfy in a chair or on your meditation mat, turn your phone off, check to see if you have to poop, and bam, you’re all set.
You take your first three breaths sending your ego a quick cosmic email that states, “Guess what Mr. Fancypants?! You don’t rule me anymore. I’m now a meditator!”
And here is the reply you get in response:
“Hey there. Got your email. No worries. Glad you’re meditating. That stuff’s hard, though. FYI you’re probably not going to do it right. By the way, your nose doesn’t itch, does it? How about now? Legs hurting yet? What about now? I bet if you don’t move them, they may actually die and never work again. Only time will tell, but hey, you just keep sitting there. Don’t worry, lots of people find paraplegics attractive. Maybe John from accounting will. Can you believe he asked that trollop Suzy out last weekend knowing all along that you and she are besties and you’ve had a crush on him since the last holiday party? I know, me either. It’s probably got nothing to do with the fact she’s way thinner than you and has bigger boobs. I mean, honestly, who’s really into that look these days? I wonder what noises they make when they’re having sex? Here’s a mental movie of them sucking face in case you’re having trouble visualizing. Oh, you’re getting up? Oh, no. Not on my account, I hope. I know you weren’t really doing it right anyway, and plus, it doesn’t really work for most people.”
Sound familiar? Perhaps the players are a little different, or the circumstances, but a scenario like the above has ended more mediation practices in the early stages than anything else I know.
Drama is simply a way for us to keep ourselves stuck. Again, it gives us nothing.
All of the above is a training session, no different than showing up at the gym and finding only the heaviest of weights free for use. You have the choice of using what your brain gives you as a way to practice your breathing, deepen your “letting go” muscle, and sitting through whatever comes at you. If you stay in your seat, and stay present when life is hurling piles of wet shit at you, you can handle anything.
Sit still. Breathe more deeply. Stay down in your chair or on the cushion and BREATHE through this. Don’t give up. Don’t give in to the temptation to get up and let your ego win. Every second you stay is a win. Every time you have to stop, reset, and start the awareness of your breath again – you are winning – even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. Embrace the struggle, let is wash over you, but stay present.
Fifty Pounds Of Nothing
Sitting through drama untouched by it as a practice while meditating will translate directly into developing the ability to sit through it in your real life. That skill is worth its weight in gold.
Who doesn’t want to be able to stand and stay fully present, breathing through any situation rife with emotional triggers and attention stealers and let them all slide harmless past you?
As a general rule, if it can be purchased in a vending machine, it’s most likely not of the highest nutritional value, so don’t eat it. If a situation, conversation, or relationship is going to give you nothing in return and only take from you, then avoid it with the same gusto as you would a fifty-pound Cup Noodle.
One Day Stronger Action Steps:
1. If you’ve recently fallen off of the meditation wagon, climb back on! Commit, come hell or high-water, to five minutes a day for the next ten days. No matter how your ego decides to mess with you, sit through it.
2. Where else in your life is there currently needless drama? At work? In a relationship? At school? Commit for one day to not engage in any conversations that are not uplifting and directly benefiting to you and your goals. It’s only one day, you can do it.
3. Since we’re on the topic of nutrients, starting the day with a nutrient-rich breakfast is the best way to ensure the rest of the day follows in a similar fashion. You can literally power up your positive thinking with good nutrition. Post to comments your favorite breakfast or smoothie recipe!