Right now, it’s 5:30 in the morning and I’m sitting in a dark office pounding away at my keyboard trying to get this article published for you and our wonderful community on time.
As many of you might remember from previous posts, my morning routine is a very important part of my day. Usually I’m up by 4:14am, hit the gym, journal, shower, and finally, meditate for 30 minutes before heading to work. If you ask my wife, this two hour routine in is one of the few things that helps me keep my sanity!
But today, and the last few days for that matter, have been different...
To start, I accidentally slept through my alarm this morning and I haven’t worked out since last Thursday. I’ve only journaled once during the same time and perhaps what’s most concerning about all this; I haven’t meditated since last Friday!!
Being the Type-A person that I am, missing so many goals and routines usually sends me in a spiral of self-hatred and negativity. I’ll be the first to admit, I am my own worst enemy because I hold myself to such a high standard.
In fact, even sitting here in this moment and writing down how I’ve fallen short brings up some negative emotions for me because it’s hard to admit I’ve missed the mark--let alone admit it to the world publicly!
As you can imagine, I’m a pretty tough critic on myself and missing a goal or falling behind in a task is not sometime that comes easy for me. I’ve always struggled with failure and even something as inconsequential as missing a day or two of meditation or skipping a few days of working out can cause me to beat myself up.
Growing up, I can remember playing sports and having excellent performances but getting no praise or accolades from my coaches and my father. But if I had a bad game, my dad and coaches were the first people to let me know that my failures were unacceptable.
As you can see, this kind “action and reaction” was easy to figure out and I quickly learned that I had to be successful if I wanted to be accepted by the people I admired most.
There is no doubt that the old voices of my father and coaches are still ingrained in my mind when I struggle. I can still hear my dad telling me that I’m “not good enough”, “you have to be better”, “you must not care” etc etc
These voices might never go away but you know what, that’s okay.
If I’ve learned anything over the last two and a half years of meditating it’s this:
“I don’t have to believe everything I think!”
This little nugget of insight cannot be understated...
The realization that you are not your thoughts and more importantly, that you don’t have to believe your thoughts is incredibly powerful!
Before I started meditating I would have let a day like today ruin my entire week. The old voices in my head would usually be turned up to 11 by now and I wouldn’t be able to find the energy or inspiration to continue striving towards my goals.
But with a few years of meditation under my belt, the old narratives from my coaches and father have been turned down to a whispering 2 or 3.
Those old tapes of “not being good enough” don’t grab me like they used to because I’ve created space. I’ve realized that I’m the thinker, not the thought.
I’ve realized that I have control over the thoughts I want to believe about myself. I’ve come to see the true nature of my mind and although it can be fucked up sometimes, I wouldn’t trade my experience in this life for anything!!
The true power of meditation lies in the space that it creates between you and your thoughts. As you can see, the benefits of meditation are not limited to the time you sit for your formal practice. The space that meditation creates, through time, tends to stick with you—even if it’s been 4 days since your last formal session.
I can confidently tell you that if I hadn’t found meditation back in December 2015, there is no way I would’ve been able to get up this morning and write this article. The old narratives and the suffering would’ve been too strong for me to summon the energy to write this post.
But, because I’ve made a commitment to sit in stillness, my mind paradoxically has
less control over me while at the same time is more resilient and stronger and then ever before.
I can see my thoughts clearly through the space meditation has created for me and I don’t get wrapped up in old negative mental mind patterns.
So, for those of you out there who are struggling this week, remember this: you don’t have to believe everything you think! You are not your thoughts, you are the thinker.
When you’re feeling down, or you notice you’re beating yourself up, hold yourself with compassion and take a moment to see the thought before it takes control of you.
Try noticing when your mind is starting to bully you and stop it in its tracks by stating out loud
“I see you”.
When you see the thought, don’t harbor any ill feelings towards it and instead, see the thought for what it is—just a thought.
When you hold your thoughts at arm’s length but with compassion, you will find that they don’t have the same power over you as they might have in the past. The less power you give to your thoughts, the more power you can then give back to yourself to help you get back on track!
Thank you as always for reading this week’s blog. We appreciate your time and commitment to our community of mindfulness. We would love to hear from you, so drop us a line and let us know how you are doing in your practice. Have you fallen off the wagon? Have you been good with your meditation practice? Either way, you’re doing great and we would love to hear about it!
Until next week,
Many many blessings!!