The point of meditation is not for you to develop a passion for locking yourself in a dark room, so you can sit for hours on end contemplating your navel.
When we purposefully sit and breathe, we are preparing ourselves for something much bigger than just the act itself.
When I talk about the “practice of meditation”, I’m referring to the process that usually involves:
- Finding a quiet, comfortable space
- Setting a timer
- Meditating while seated or lying down (whether by simply watching the breath or listening to a guided meditation track) for the allotted period of time
Certainly, “practice” your meditation. But consider seeing it for what it is: Practice! When we set ourselves up as previously mentioned, we make create an environment that makes it EASY for us to reach a calm and focused state of mind.
Which is all well and good, but think of when you REALLY need yourself to be in a calm and focused state of mind – crisis! Chaos! Disorder! Stress!
Think about the last time you said something that you really regretted (whether because it simply wasn’t true, or it deeply hurt someone’s feelings). Where you thinking clearly when you said it? My point exactly.
We practice meditation in a controlled environment, so that when a stressful situation arises, we can maintain our clear-headedness so that we can act appropriately.
Think of teaching a child how to ride a bike: You give them training wheels, and you have them practice on flat ground, far away from motor vehicles and other dangers. You make it easy for them by setting them up for success and minimizing distractions.
In time, you remove the training wheels and start to introduce them to more exciting terrain. Ultimately, the goal is for them to grow up to be safe cyclists, who can confidently navigate through traffic while biking on the street, or unpredictable terrain if they choose to go off-road.
And (in keeping with this bike analogy), while you may never forget how to ride a bike, if you don’t practice riding regularly, you may never be confident enough to go beyond level bike paths. Trust me on that one!
Our lives are full of chaos and stressors and unpredictable emotional terrain. That’s a given. Taking the time to practice meditation gives you the strength to stand your ground and act from a place of clarity when you need it the most.
It’s a cruel irony that the decisions we make in the heat of the moment often have a huge impact on how the future unfolds for us from that point onward, if only because those are the times when we are least likely to be thinking straight… Just remember, that if you practice meditation regularly, you already have the skills you need to manage the situation.
The external environment might have changed, but the process is still the same: pause, breathe, notice everything WITHOUT judging, and act accordingly.
Happy meditating! In my next article, I’ll share some ways that you can ADVANCE your meditation practice so that you can easily transition from a state of panic to a state of calm.