Many have always been in quarantine. But now that it is literally happening, let’s talk about it.
Because I am a little curious, I ask people questions about their life all the time. One question I ask people frequently is whether or not they meditate and most have proudly told me “they could never sit quietly for more than a few minutes, no way”. Now, if you are one of these people and you can relate to that answer, with the utmost respect, I want to let you know that I am fairly certain that you have a problem or you’re destined to start having some soon. Albeit extraordinarily fixable problems. Yes, like you can fix it today, or now, after you read this. Keep reading.
Basically, if you can’t hangout with yourself, why would you expect anyone to want to hang out with you? Seems kinda hypocritical. It is evident that many of us do not like what we think, can’t seem to bear the thoughts, but we expect others to listen, be receptive, and even agree!
If you are like me and want your life to be and appear honest, calmer and a little happier than it is right now, indulge me.
Not to brag, but I am very conscientious of my health overall. Let me rephrase: The whole “dying early” thing doesn’t turn me on. I don’t smoke or vape, hardly drink, take drugs, or any of it. Reese’s cups on the other hand… I’m listening. On a serious note, personally, I think that health starts with the physical, moves to mental and then up to spiritual. In that order. Or at least I used to but it definitely goes both ways. Sound mind and body are sort of yin-yang.
Anyways, I do a lot of lifting and running and exercise activity. I have a pull up bar on my door, a weight vest next to my bed, bands, nice clothes and shoes to workout in different ways, even ice packs. I care A LOT about how I feel and how I look. Easy to measure those things though. Just post a pic on instagram to measure likes or reluctantly take a look at your poop when you’re done in there. My point is, physical things are easy to keep in line cause we can easily see them and measure them with an abundance of tools. And stools. Ha ha.
But am I able to give my mind the same attention? The same time, diligence & structure? LOL. No way. I know first hand that it is much harder to do the same amount of reps in my head.
Flashback time. Earlier this year when I first got a meditation pillow, when I dedicated time in my morning and evening to spend 30 minutes meditating. As my big new year’s resolution, I knew I wanted to master this skill so many great leaders over time have become accustomed and to which they dedicated their success and peace of mind. How hard can it be, right? Sit on a pillow for 30 minutes… I mean we sit at desks, in the car, at class, at work, at some boring talk for WAY more than that. The path to success was mine to have, I thought. Just sit & think, simple.
Well, I can say, it is harder than any amount of physical weight I have ever attempted. As someone that pushes myself in the gym quite a bit and on long runs, I can honestly say this meditation thing is a killer workout. I mean WOW. At the start, I thought I would rather pull a truck behind me to work everyday than sit for an hour a day attempting to think of nothing. It is hard to explain. It is analogous to one of those smooth edged two thousand piece puzzles or a Sistine-Chapel-sized “Where’s Waldo”. Where Waldo, for the sake of the example, is the mind, that I have started to lose.
I am being appropriately dramatic. The hardest part, really, is the fact most of us have never done it before. Unloaded our thoughts to ourselves. Just backed that amygdala dump truck right into the prefrontal part of our brain. Never even tried or we just quit before we even start. We have all these stories, that we are told and that we tell ourselves. All we have are those stories and we become these stories. You may call them facts, and opinions, and ideas and a convenient plethora of other names, but they are all just stories. Narratives that run our lives.
Stories. All we have in our heads to make decisions, determine our relationships, how much money we make, how much love we feel. And most of us? Not even trying to quality-check these stories that consume our minds and the moves we make on a daily basis. For most, there is no more than a quick, vague glance before unskillful words leave our mouths, unskillful actions hurt people around us, and unskillful work leaves us lonely and unsatisfied. Boo to that.
Most people I interact with have no idea why they do anything. They have reasons, sure, on the surface. We all know somewhere deep down who we are supposed to be but what good is it for you if it remains unarticulated. Hidden even for the rest of your life? You have to give yourself permission to go and be you.
So… how do you uncover, unleash, empower–you? Like all these corny inspirational meme accounts are out here saying? It starts with questions that make our brain hurt, turn our stomachs and tie a knot (yeah, no, not the other questions, those ones, yep, the hard ones)…These are the questions we would rather suppress with our favorite TV shows, a glass of wine, or a big plate of our most tempting snacks.
I think we are deathly afraid to meet ourselves. Causes a lot of thinking pain. Look at it like this: All the thinking pains are just squirrels in your attic, waiting for you to go up there and beat them out with your mom’s old broom. And no amount of TV, wine, or snacks is going to drive them away. In fact, your attempts at avoiding are just as detrimental, and will keep them living comfortably with all the crumbs your insecurity continues leaving for them. If you choose that.
My fear is that many never figure out what it feels like to clear their mind and take back control of their lives. To free themselves from the chains that they themselves have allowed other people, society, past stories, present lies, and future fears to place over them. We are the tyranny we fear in our government, the panic we feel outside in our world, we are each other. And we are doomed to rot as much in a jail cell just as if we were a convicted murderer, if we choose to kill the only part of us that makes us feel alive.
My dream is that, at the very least, you take a long look in the mirror at some point during this time and you ask yourself who is really looking back at you. Without your routine, without your safety, without your previous certainty about what each day will bring. Now that we don’t interact, express ourselves with our clothing, and project all of this social ornamentation. No peer pressure at the gym to get us through another repetition, another mile, to quit goofing around. Now that it is just you, maybe your family, and you can’t just show everyone what you do? What actually makes you a leader and someone capable of seeing that potential.
So, are you going to go off and make another post about how shitty this all is, tweet another unoriginal joke about the struggles we are all facing, average out with everyone else’s mediocrity? Or step up and lead from wherever you are, and get an answer to the question that keeps you getting out of bed and going on with this chaos? Now close your eyes, take a look at where the world really starts.