I’ve been meditating (formally, daily) for 11 evenings so far. Sometimes it’s great–heat travels up my spine and my head feels like its floating and I experience something like an endorphin rush. Other times–more often than not–I’m antsy, my mind a monkey in a cage, my hips hurt. Twice, I have even fallen asleep while sitting up. Nope, I’m not enlightened, better than anyone, or noticeably different on the outside yet. But hey, I’ve been writing for 30+ years and I’m still learning how to do that. I’ve been mothering for five years, and you know what? Still totally figuring out this being in charge of someone’s life gig. Am I better at each of these things than I was years, months and days ago? Heck yes. Or at least, so I like to believe. Am I an expert? Not even close.
I noticed at first when I began blogging about meditating I received a lot of enthusiasm, commitments to join in, and curiosity. Quickly, after several posts, I noticed a change of heart: fewer of you showing up to read, some muttering about how you should meditate too, but don’t want to or can’t; self-deprecating statements about yourselves.
I thought about why my writing about meditation would provoke this turning away or self-judgment in others. Then it hit me: maybe it’s a little bit like religion. There’s something about standing up and proclaiming “I believe this!” that can inspire in others the opposite, a fear that therefore what you believe is (seen as) wrong/bad. Perhaps by saying “I’m meditating” it’s inspiring a feeling in some people that they are wrong/bad for not doing so.
I’m here to say: stop that, my friends! I’m not here to judge.
There are a lot of things I feel I “should” or “shouldn’t” be doing, too: Reducing my carbon footprint; boycotting all things made in China; renouncing anything that tastes good but is bad for me; not letting my child watch TV; volunteering more…not to mention reading, writing, and improving more as a writer. But I’m doing my best at my life and so are you.
What meditation is doing for me, if anything, is revealing the ways I am hard on myself, the ways I keep myself distracted from what means the most to me. Meditation is really like a shower for my spirit—it sloughs away the dirt to reveal, well, sometimes that there’s just more dirt. And sometimes that there are tiny, brittle moments of perfect clarity that open for tiny moments that I call “presence.” In those moments I am. I exist. Not in a good way or a bad way. I take this fact to mean that existence (consciousness) is, in and of itself, a purposeful or meaningful thing if you let it be.
If I have taken anything away at all, a little gift I can give back to those of you who don’t like to or can’t or don’t want to meditate it is this: Go easier on yourself. Be compassionate to yourself. Be kind. Cut yourself some slack. Take the time to BE, whatever you are. Wherever you are. Imperfectly, inexpertly.
When you treat yourself that way, I find, it rubs off everywhere else in your life.
So don’t berate yourself, or work so damn hard to be something/someone other than what you are. Do what makes you glad to be here in this body, on this planet.