I had a major epiphany last week. You know those moments when you realize everything you thought was true is actually much, much different? I had one of those. And it’s turned my world upside down.
I thought I was loving what is. I thought I was accepting everything unconditionally. I’ve been meditating daily, noticing my thoughts, breathing into the moment, the whole deal. I thought I was doing a pretty decent job. After all, everyone says there is no such thing as a ‘bad meditation.’ You breathe, you notice that you’re getting carried away by your thoughts, and you pull yourself back into the moment. Pretty simple right? You may find your brain shooting out thoughts like crazy one day, while the next you may barely notice a ripple. It doesn’t really matter what you experience as long as you bring yourself back with gentleness each time you notice yourself drifting off. So, really, there is no such thing as ‘doing it wrong.’
I’ve been doing it wrong.
In the name of bringing myself back to the present moment, I wasn’t allowing myself to feel whatever it was that was pulling me away. In my day to day life, when I noticed something unpleasant, I would tell myself I was ‘bringing myself back’ when in reality what I was doing was running the heck away. I was sweeping everything under the rug, pretending it wasn’t there, all the while telling myself I was merely being mindful.
Here I am, writing posts for a blog I’ve named “loving what is,” which is based on the principle that everything is okay — that accepting and even embracing what’s going on is a more effective way to untangle oneself from life’s snares than struggling and fighting against it — and what have I been doing all this time? Fighting. Fighting like crazy.
I didn’t realize my avoidance at first because I had cleverly disguised it as mindfulness. And in my defense, technically I was being mindful. So mindful in fact that at the first hint of an anxious or worried thought, or anything that was even mildly uncomfortable, I sprinted in the opposite direction. I tried frantically to calm myself down or get rid of the anxious thoughts, thinking I was doing the mindful thing. But I wasn’t. And I most certainly wasn’t loving it. Not at all. I’m not going to lie: I hate feeling anxious. I will do almost anything to avoid it. There is no ‘loving what is’ if what ‘is’, is anxiety. (Too many is’s?)
So what to do?
And then it hit me: Accept it! Accept the fact that I hate feeling anxious. Don’t fight it, just notice it. Notice how fucking shitty it feels. And — and this is the key — DO NOT MAKE IT WRONG. It’s OKAY to feel anxious. It’s okay to feel shitty. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong, it’s just how I feel in the moment. Period.
And that, my friends, is my epiphany: That problems don’t exist except in our own minds. How awesome is that?
So now I’m starting over. Now that I’m aware of my clever escape strategy, I’ll be ready next time to more fully experience whatever it is that comes up without judgment.
Okay, fine. So there will probably be some judgment, but I can be with that too. At least I’ll know the judgment isn’t necessary. And that it’s not a problem.