The past year or two have taught me that “stuff happens”. Sometimes good stuff happens. Occasionally bad stuff happens. There are also times when random stuff happens that you have no control over, and then you’ve just got to be able to roll with it and come out the other side.
“How ridiculous and how strange to be surprised at anything which happens in life”. ~ Marcus Aurelius
Learning to Meditate
Meditation helps prepare your mind so that it’s easier (and perhaps more natural) to just roll with it when “stuff happens”, rather than obsess over it and turn a mountain into a molehill. (Or turn sadness into depression.)
Over the years I tried meditation so many times, and each time I managed to get it completely wrong. Yes, I’m special that way – I can even do meditation wrong if I try hard enough! I ended up “letting my emotions float by” so thoroughly that they floated all the way down stream until I had nothing left to feel. Clearly I was doing it wrong, but I couldn’t work it out.
Fast forward a couple of years, I’d started my own business, and in trying to learn how to be a better boss, I found myself reading The Charisma Myth by Olivia Fox Cabane. Her chapter on Self Compassion made me realise that of all the things I do, I was completely and utterly rubbish at being nice to myself.
So, in order to exercise my inner charisma (who wouldn’t want to?) I needed to work out how to be nice to myself. The Mindful Path to Self Compassion by Christopher Germer, started the process, with strategic input from stoic-type quotes. And slowly I started learning for the first time what meditation’s really supposed to be like, and why the skill of self-compassion helps.
How Meditation Helps
Meditation is about learning how to observe to your feelings (or anything really)without judgement. This is where I got it wrong all those years ago – I was trying to remove the feelings, rather than the judgements. This is also a major element of stoicism – to observe life and events as they are, rather than place interpretations on them about what they mean.
“One of the main reasons we’re so affected by our negative thoughts is that we think our mind has an accurate grasp on reality, and that its conclusions are generally valid. This, however, is a fallacy. Our mind’s view of reality can be, and often is, completely distorted.” ~ Olivia Fox Cabane
The idea behind meditation is that you’re honest with yourself about what you’re actually feeling. It’s about taking the time to be honest with yourself. And then not judging what you discover. Just let it be.
Once you have accepted what you’re really feeling, you can then decide what your next step is. If you need a little TLC, then then self compassion is about looking after yourself, rather than beating yourself up. This is where the magic comes in – once you start with self compassion, the self-criticism tends to fade just a little. Keep it up, and it has a ripple effect in that you also stop interpreting quite so much criticism from your boss, your significant other, your parents, and your kids.
“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.” ~ Christopher Germer
Life becomes just a little easier.