I’ve been meditating regularly for ten years. That means fifteen minutes in the morning and, starting this year, a short session in the afternoon (I’m working up to fifteen minutes).
In a recent article, I outlined the beginning, middle, and end parts of my meditations as similar to a rocket’s flight into space. During blast-off is when my mind is most active, so I do a few things to settle in.
Then I devote the middle of my “flight” to calming down and going a little deeper by doing a body scan. Finally, I reach space, the capsule separates from the rocket, and I float in still awareness.
The early going is hardest
I’d be shocked if most meditators didn’t agree that the hardest part of any session is the early blast-off part. Why? Our minds like to race. And they DO NOT like to be coaxed into slowing down. Which is exactly what we do in that early phase of our sessions.
But how? There are all sorts of ways people use to ease into their sessions. Feeling our feet on the floor and bottom on the chair. Doing a few breathing exercises. Courtesy of Peter Russell, I tell myself I’m not trying to get to some deep, spiritual place; I’m just sitting in my chair, being in the moment.
But the one cue I use that helps me the most in the early going, when my mind is racing fastest, is to say this inside my head:
“Accepting everything going on in this moment EXACTLY as it is…”
I say this when I feel especially anxious, or my mind is racing out of control. Why? Why does this help so much?
Resistance is the problem
Because it strikes at the crux of the problem: Resistance, the main problem with anxiousness and unease is that we mostly unknowingly resist those feelings. On some level, what we’re doing is saying, “Ahh! I hate feeling like this! Go away!”
And THAT is what makes things markedly worse. The resisting.
So when I say the above, I eliminate the resistance. I focus on every atom of discomfort and mind activity inside my being and say, “You’re there. That’s fine. I accept you fully.”
This almost always has the effect of calming those feelings.
The primary objective of meditation
It also goes to the heart of what meditation is all about. Contrary to what most people think, the primary objective of meditation is not to achieve heavenly levels of spiritual bliss.
The objective is to be fully present and aware of, and accepting of, whatever is in the present moment. Sometimes that’s a plane flying overhead. Sometimes it’s feelings of profound bliss. And sometimes it’s anxiety and tension because you’ve got a super important presentation to make at work in two hours.
Use in daily life
Not surprisingly, this cue works wonders in daily life. Before getting to some examples, think about what this cue entails.
Anything that has happened in life, has happened. If it is part of your present, here’s what it becomes: REALITY.
So when we get annoyed, angered or upset during our day at something that has just become part of our present moment awareness, what we are doing is fighting with reality. And that is, and will always be, a losing fight.
Accept THEN respond
That doesn’t mean we have to like what just became part of our reality. It’s just that we need to accept that it is reality…And THEN respond accordingly.
When does this come in handy for me?
-When one of my kids has a Vesuvius-level meltdown. I hate when it happens, with the shouting, the crying and the heightened drama…but I just tell myself, that’s what is, which usually calms me down to a place where I can deal with it in a measured way.
-I lost in the finals of a tennis tournament a few months ago to a guy I really should have beaten. It was close. I had him beat several times. It was awful. But I lost. That’s the reality. So from the moment that happened until now when it comes up in my head every so often, I simply tell myself to accept what is. Exactly as it is.
-I also go to this when I’m late for an appointment. Punctuality has always been important to me so I hate being late. When it becomes inevitable that I am going to be late, I just surrender to it and accept that that’s what is. Odd as it may seem, the Earth keeps spinning on its axis and circling the sun in spite of my tardiness. Shocking…
The cue also comes in handy with the picayune annoyances littered through any day — like getting stuck at multiple red lights, waiting in long grocery store lines and waiting for my six year old to find that absolute perfect shirt to wear to school. I do my best to accept these realities exactly as they are.
If you meditate, definitely give this cue a try, especially early in your sessions. It’ll help you get off the launchpad and into the stratosphere.
And please think about using this during your everyday life. When something has happened, by definition it has happened. There’s nothing you can do about it. So accept what has happened exactly as it is…Then go ahead and respond from a place of presence.
The more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. And the better you’ll feel.