I have now had a dedicated meditation practice for about 4 months. And by “dedicated” I mean daily. And by “daily” I mean at least one 30 minute meditation session per day.
Prior to my trip to the Chopra Centre in April, I would have definitely fit well into the category of “crisis meditator”. I would experience a bit of upheaval in my life and would turn to meditation for a few days until things settled. Then, I would just become too “busy” again to maintain my practice. In retrospect, it was because I had no understanding of what I was doing-I was treating it more like prayer…or an outlet.
Ironically, meditation acts like the buffer for stressful situations…when you have a regular practice, you (obviously) still experience stress. The difference becomes how you perceive it and how your body reacts to it.
So I have had some really fantastic insights from becoming more regular with silencing my mind (almost sounds like a bit of an oxymoron). Yet the most powerful experiences are coming from the situations that are now appearing in my life like clockwork. It’s almost like the people/circumstances/issues that are my biggest pet peeves in life have now decided to launch a consistent campaign and are showing up to trigger me. I remember at one point thinking “really? Like, I’m trying really hard here to come at this from a different point of view. Why are these things still happening?”
It’s not what happens in meditation…it’s what happens in the other 23.5 hours in your day where you will see the benefit to what you are engaging in.
At times, though, it’s almost impossible to recall that because you are SO engrained in these patterns of having your buttons pushed. Interestingly, I have noticed that I’m able to now watch these interactions happen with more of a “bystander” point of view. The dialogue in my head is changing…and that is major success to me. Here’s an example:
I’m involved in a discussion with a woman I have known for years about a business matter. She is in my home, my youngest daughter is present and she seems to me to be extremely aggressive, condescending and engaged in “bullying” behaviours with regard to the subject matter. As the her volume and tone of voice increase, I immediately tune in to my increased heart rate and the frequency of the verbal chatter in my head about what I’m going to respond with. Then, my real trigger gets pulled when she uses the word “lying” referring to documentation my husband and I have signed.
I would like to say that the “meditating Amanda” reacted in a much different way than I have over the last 37 years when I perceive my character/morals are being attacked…but I didn’t. I still had the same physical reaction (fight or flight was triggered for sure and I was a sweaty, vibrating mess) and verbal reaction (I asked her to leave our home immediately-my usual “go-to” manoeuvre when I feel I am attacked). But I took serious pride in one thing-I was able to immediately pinpoint exactly where she pushed my button.
This woman said many things that day that could have been perceived as rude, inconsiderate, or inappropriate. Yet instead of lumping that whole situation into one gigantic mess, I could instantaneously become the objective observer and say to myself “the lying comment threw me over the edge because I felt she was attacking my character”. I have to say, being able to do this is one of the most freeing things in the world. Then, you can start to recognize the patterns of where these situations arise and how they are coming up in order to help you practice handling them differently. Not better…just differently. It was like I could momentarily jump to the other side of things, have a brief encounter with clarity, and then come back to the current moment. This primes me for my next encounter when I may (or may not) be able to interrupt my pattern a little bit more and actually be able to physically manage the situation in a different way.
For now, those little trips to the far side are enough to affirm that meditation is helping me in ways that I never thought possible. And it is really so awesome when things don’t have to be the way you think they are always going to be!