Sometimes people imagine meditation is out of reach for them. In an already busy day, how and when will I find time to meditate? My good friend once said that meditation is as easy as brushing your teeth. Once you start doing it every day, it just feels natural to do it and feels kind of weird and uncomfortable if you stop for a while. I’ve found this to be true.
I had the fortune of loosing my job a few months after I started meditating. At the time, I didn’t think it was fortunate. I was pretty shocked. But not only did I learn the value of work in a new way, I also had a LOT of time to find regularity in my Heartfulness practice. For some time it was the only major pillar in my day. So I respect that I didn’t start my practice with the challenges of a 50-hour a week job and a family too feed, like some people learn to do.
During that period, I had a lot of space and time. That space and time became a clearing of a lot of anxious and sad existential feelings that I had harbored for some years prior. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I felt guilty going on a hike or to the beach because I wasn’t being “productive”. So I sat in front of my computer most of the day. But I didn’t have work and couldn’t bring myself to apply to a mediocre job. So I went on social media a lot and frittered away the day. Somehow that made sense in my millennially-oriented, pre-prefrontal cortexted mind. But, I was meditating. Every morning when I woke up, and every evening before I went to bed. And somehow it stuck.
And somehow, slowly, I began to feel better. I began to feel a new feeling of love and lightness and peace inside. It was a feeling I had known, however vaguely, for my whole lifetime was possible but yearned, in vain, to access. And it was becoming my reality. And so the meditation perpetuated itself. The effort was so minimal. I just decided to do it, and did it. I have never been a particularly disciplined person. But if something clicks, I don’t have to be disciplined. It becomes natural. It becomes a joyous part of my life.
Kamlesh Patel, a spiritual mentor of mine, asks rhetorically if we have to use willpower to eat an ice-cream? We enjoy it so much, there’s not a question. So too, meditation becomes enjoyable, a treat. Connecting to a settled state of calm and satisfaction is not only worth the trade-off of the time commitment. Over the years, I see the immense return on investment for the time every day I’ve put into the practice.
Just like an athlete does stretches and drills before a game, just like a musician does tuning and warm-ups before a concert, so too we meditate before the day starts. We are prepared. And we perform better. We find “the zone”. And that zone – where things flow with ease, where circumstances align with awe, where stressors become learning experiences and adventures – that zone is a beautiful place to live. That zone has become more and more of my experience. And the tensions and agitations and frustrations have gradually melted away.
Four years of meditating every day isn’t really that long. But every year I see how far I’ve come. Sometimes in a matter of months, I see how much my temperament has improved. How much more trusting I am, how much more open I feel. So, just like brushing my teeth or feeding myself, meditation has become a natural part of my daily routine.
I’m reminded of this great interview with Dan Harris. He is a news anchor who had a panic attack on air, started meditating, and became a reluctant proponent of meditation. He says:
Meditation is going to join the pantheon of no brainers like exercise, brushing your teeth and taking the meds that your doctor prescribes to you. These are all things that if you don’t do you feel guilty about. And that is where I think we’re heading with meditation because the science is so strongly suggestive that meditation can do really, really great things for your brain and for your body…Meditation suggests that happiness is actually a skill, something you can train just the way you can train your body in the gym. It’s a self-generated thing. And that’s a really radical notion.
I can't recommend more highly honing this skill. Putting in the hours, incorporating this attuning practice may become the best decision life makes for you. But, in the immortal words of Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton, “you don’t have to take my word for it.”
Photo: Mario Anthony Silvestri
Photo: Mario Anthony Silvestri