“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”― T.S. EliotHere is the truth: I hate the idea of meditation because I hate the idea of sitting still. I was an active kid who was always running around. If I sat down, I was sleeping. Maybe a little TV could convince me to sit still, but not for too long.But I want to meditate more because it feels sooo good and the benefits are very useful in my life. I feel better. I am more focused. I worry less. I reflect upon the benefits daily, yet the idea of sitting still squelches my desire to create a daily practice.Days pass and I skip my meditations, despite my deep desire to add it to my life. In my mind, the discomfort I envision outweighs the benefits.Eventually, I remember that meditation has been the fastest way to reconnect to my authentic self. I enjoy this enough that I suddenly seem to find the time and motivation.Yesterday was one of those days where I needed to reconnect. Meditation was my portal to the real me.I did some yoga. Afterwards, I grabbed a comfy pillow. I sat on the edge of it with my legs crossed and my hands placed gently on my inner legs by my knees, palms up. I closed my eyes, relaxed my body as much as possible while I maintained an extremely upright posture.Once my body was properly aligned, I tuned into my mind, which was filled with thousands of conversations about everything from parenting to my next blog post.My goal was to sort out my thoughts. By sorting, I mean I had to distinguish between useful, authentic thoughts and the needless rambling that only clutters my mind.My first step was to remember that many of the thoughts filling my mind were nothing more than clouds covering a blue sky.Although I know that the sky is always blue behind the clouds, I don’t think about that on a cloudy day. The sky is always blue and sometimes there are clouds passing by. I am the blue sky; I am always the same and my thoughts are the clouds passing by.Some days the clouds are so dense that the sky feels out of reach. Some days my thoughts feel so dense that my true voice feels out of reach.As I sat there yesterday, I had a lot of clearing out to do. I began by noticing each time I thought something. Then, I would interrupt myself by labeling my thoughts. The more I interrupted my thoughts, the quicker I could get to myself, my blue sky.The thoughts slowly cleared out, exposing their useless nature. The endless rambling from one subject to another does not help me get more done; it hinders my ability because I am filled with clutter that I have unintentionally accumulated without questioning its value or origin.Releasing one thought after another feels as amazing as a summer day clearing from rain to sunshine.And then, there I was. My blue sky showed itself to me in its true nature: calm, focused, receptive, and open. Without the distraction of endless small fragments of thoughts passing through my mind, I entered into a dream-like state; my mind was not empty, but it was filled with ideas, feelings, and images from my true self.The tension in my body faded as I released thought after thought. Although I constantly forget, the thoughts cause tension in my body. Meditation not only clears my mind of unwanted and unhelpful thoughts – it removes layers of unwanted stress from my body.All of these benefits and still, I struggle with the idea of sitting still for a few moments to clear my mind.Why?One sentence stands between me and the benefits I so deeply desire. “I hate sitting still.” This sentence is my perceived pain point. This sentence creates the belief that the pain of sitting still outweighs the pleasure I will gain.Until I remove the perceived pain, I will never make a long-term habit. We are designed to avoid pain and seek pleasure. The good news is that the world is not static. You can flip the pain you perceive into pleasure points with some simple steps and the create new habits you desire.
Pain and Pleasure
I have my pain/pleasure relationship backwards.I see pain in sitting still because I have always seen myself as active. Sitting, without doing anything, feels boring, useless, wasteful. This view convinces me to avoid meditation.We won’t do most things when we focus on pain points. I meditate, but I cannot turn it into a daily practice because of one simple sentence that creates the sensation of “pain is coming.”Most often, people cannot make the change they so deeply desire because they have reversed the pain/pleasure map in their minds. The solution is to reverse this pattern of thinking.
Steps to remove pain points and make a new habit stick
First, I must test the validity of my thought.“I hate sitting still.” Well, that is not really true. I sit still all the time: writing, movies, snuggling with my son, drinking a morning coffee.Next, I admit my thought is a “junk food thought” and I have to remove it from my life because it is unhealthy – it destroys my ability to design the life I desire.Then, I need to add in some “nutritional thoughts.”“I love sitting still and I do it all the time. 10-20 minutes is really nothing considering I sit still for hours writing. Mediation will be easy to sit still for.”Finally, I rehearse this thought as many times as I can. As I see the old thought attempting to creep in, I am ready to combat it with something that supports to my real goals.Join me this week. I am going to meditate every day. What do you want more of in your life? What sentence stands in your way? Is it true? Write it down. Replace it with a few sentences that are aligned with your goals. Oh, and then take action.Nothing happens unless you work at it! Love to hear how it went for you. Leave a note.“The soul becomes dyed with the colour of its thoughts.”― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations