Why I Meditate
During my meditation this morning, my daughter called me as she was on the way to the Doctor with one sick 2 ½ year old and a newborn, both of whom were crying and in need of TLC last night. She said, “Mom, send some of that peace my way.” I remember those days well and did send her peace.
After I finished my meditation, I started thinking about why I carve out time almost every day to meditate and have done so for decades. I have never asked anything from my meditation practice. I always just sit, focus on my breath, practice one of the techniques I have learned over the years and allow whatever is in the present moment to arise. I have had moments of absolute peace and tranquility on my meditation cushion and others of intense discomfort. My practice is, and always has been, to be with what is.
The short answer to why I meditate, is it works. It has helped me overcome depression. It reminds me to be in the present moment. It helps me to be calmer and clearer in my daily life. My meditation practice helps me build a reserve of trust and peace on which I rely when my world is falling apart.
Recently I watched an interview with the actress Sandra Bullock. When asked how happy she was in her life on a scale of 1-10, she said, 9.2. The interviewer questioned her specific response and Sandra said, “Because the shoe always drops at some point.” She said this matter of factly based on a lifetime of experience. Challenges happen to all of us.
When asked about her plans for the future her answer was, ”I don’t know.” She spoke about her yearning to clean out the items she has relegated to the basement for years and about her desire to be with her family. It was so refreshing to hear her honest answer. How many of us have faced not knowing at times in our life? In a culture that values goals and the 5 point plan to get from A to Z, to say you don’t know is a radical and courageous act.
Meditation is especially helpful when we are in those points in life when the path is murky at best, when our lives have been turned upside down or when we have experienced pain. It gives us a potential point of refuge–just this breath, just this moment, right here and now. We cannot figure out the future from a future oriented mind. We can only figure it out by being present and taking the next right step.
On her podcast, The Gathering Pod, the brilliant Life Coach and Author, Martha Beck, spoke about how to achieve a breakthrough. She referenced the Count of Monte Cristo who spent years using a spoon to dig a path from his jail cell to the outside world. She spoke about the hard work of digging through the tunnel, the time and effort it takes before you literally break through to the other side. Breakthroughs don’t magically happen. There is time, effort and a lot of digging before they happen. There is no way out but through.
The practice of meditation gives us the persistence to keep showing up, to keep breathing, to keep being present so we have the doggedness to keep on digging.