The quote of the week. A man fraught with self-induced pain and problems said the following sentence to me:
Meditation doesn't work. I sat and tried to meditate but then I got up
and went right back to all my problems.
So then the following must also be true:
- I bought a pair of running shoes and tried jogging but couldn't go 26.2 miles so a marathon is impossible.
- Accounting doesn't work, I took a math class in college, but I still can’t figure out my corporate tax structure.
- I think gyms are dumb. I went in there 3 days in a row and still couldn't bench press 200 pounds and I don't have 6 pack abs. It’s just impossible.
- Flossing isn’t worth anything. I flossed twice last year and still had a cavity.
- Sex doesn't work either. I have had sex three times with my wife and she still isn’t pregnant.
Did you really believe that meditation was going to make all perceived problems evaporate? Well, actually meditation can make problems evaporate but to do so you have to get good at meditation.
Maybe a better question is why do I have all of these problems? Let’s deconstruct that. If I choose to become a lawyer I am expecting a life full or arguments and problems. That's what lawyers do, argue and try to solve problems. If I become a corporate attorney, I add complexity and more problems. I asked for this. I created this life. If overwhelming, then I could quit and move deep into the hills of North Dakota and pitch a tent. No more corporate problems. Now I have new problems like finding food and staying warm. Without problems life would be boring and we would not grow or develop as humans. BUT . . . how we see, interpret and prioritize our problems makes all the difference. That's where meditation helps.
What we classically refer to as a problem is nothing more than a situation. You have 2 options when any situation arises: deal with it now, or ignore it and allow it to grow. We have to realize one simple truth which is, the NOW, this moment is all we have. The past is over and we can’t change it and the future will become the NOW when it arrives but it isn’t here yet so again we need to resign ourselves to THIS very solitary single present moment. The NOW. Fact #2 – I can only do ONE thing at a time. Despite the lady I saw on the highway applying makeup as she talked on the phone and drove her car (poorly I might add), we are only able to do ONE thing well at a time. Multitasking is the key to hell. People brag about their ability to do this but experts that study those things tell us that multitasking leads to many mistakes, poor quality work, increases stress and these folks actually get LESS done as they commonly don't complete the tasks they say they are doing. So back to the basics: One thing at a time done NOW.
Meditation allows me to relax into each and every moment and be truly present with all of my faculties. I am patient, focused, creative, attentive, joyous and in touch with who I am and what is important to me. In fact, people who meditate are able to shed a lot of “problems” as they have a truer sense of what is important and many things that SEEMED important or a “problem” cease to exist.
Here is the biggest “problem” people create for themselves – “I didn't complete my To Do list today”. News flash, you are NEVER going to complete your To Do list ever. It will grow infinitely over time. The bigger question is, did you enjoy the things you did today? I had a parent once tell me that it is a problem that they had to drive their 8 year old to a baseball game clear across town. Now wait a minute . . . didn’t you pray and hope to have that child? You’re saying it's a pain to watch your son run and play ball with friends? Of course not. The problem isn’t the child or the ball game or even the drive, it’s that you feel it is inconveniently taking you away from that damn To Do list that you find so precious. Why are you giving your life away to a To Do list rather than investing it in your son? Perception. Made up stress and problems that aren’t problems.
You cannot be all things to all people at all times. That's impossible and to attempt to be such will always drive pain. A sense of lack or want, a sense of time is what creates pain. So, decide what is important to you and attend to it one thing at a time and do so with a clear mind and a sense of flow. Trying to jam 18 things into one day is not enjoyable and will generate frustration. Decide what it is you want. Pain or joy? Both are available to you upon your request but you are the architect designing this experience. Meditation will allow you to build a life that is calm, enjoys flow and generates happiness. You don't get up from meditation, leave it in the chair, and attend to problems. You take that meditative mindset WITH YOU and carry it into your day.
If you desire greater joy, happiness and flow in your life then create it through a meditative practice that you design for yourself. It’s personal. Allow me to offer a solid starting point that is simple. Read The Art of Stillness article on this site. Learn to first sinply BE and then expand from there.