Originally Written: 19-Mar-2020
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Perhaps the greatest change I experience in how I label my thoughts before and after meditating is the degree to which I am examining the qualities of my experience over my judgments about those qualities.
When entrenched in meditation I find myself capable of looking at my breath with more interest than I do when I first settle into my practice. At first my breaths are categorized as good and bad, I am hard on myself for getting distracted, I quickly attempt to return on track and overdo it.
The same can be said about how I am navigating my experience of the world. I categorize my ways of being as good or bad in a moment, I am hard on myself for falling off track with my best intentions, and I over correct on my faults.
By the end of a meditation session, I find I am more interested in understanding more about my breath as I become more effective in guiding myself back from what trenches in thought I fall into for the day. I am more immersed in my experience as human. I can draw conclusions about how I am feeling.
Awareness is the first step in addressing something of concern, which sometimes includes our shortcomings. We are masters at performing trend analysis of other humans to find out theirs, but our egos make us near immune to catching sight of our own smells when we get the chance.
When stuck in a default plane of thinking, I find myself dwelling on something over having productive thoughts. It takes lots of self-care and activation energy on my part to shift the focus of my thoughts onto a growth mindset over one based in scarcity.
Meditation is what helps with gaining insight to when these patterns of thinking are happening. Meditation is taking a step back and looking at oneself in a compassionate manner by just listening to where the noise is coming from when we sit down to find an experience of calm.
Only by listening to where the disparaging self-talk comes from can you address the need that your body is telling you must be fulfilled. This is why checking in with yourself on a regular basis brings a sense of feeling centered when your wits are tested in a high stress situation.
The less you focus on the ‘goodness’ or ‘badness’ of a situation, the more you are able to categorize the qualities of your experience into different flavors that give you a more holistic perspective.
There is no perfect way to breathe.
Air goes in, it goes out, air goes in quickly, it goes in slowly, air can feel cold, it can feel hot. Practicing with the mindfulness muscle gains multiple angles to view the same thing from.
Translating this into walking practice. When our experience of life is not one we want, it does not make it bad. It is just different. There is no rightness to a moment or wrongness to a thought. There is just wrongness in execution, which is when we do not.
When we fail to act on our intentions, we fail to show a sense of agency.
No one can represent ourselves more than we can and dwelling on your mistakes or shortcomings serves you nothing in the context of getting over them. This is where meditation helps.
Showing yourself compassion by giving yourself permission to sit in the experiences of defeat, sadness, fear, and anguish allows you to better work with the human going through such feelings. It allows you some space to work with yourself as you would a person you care about.
Feel what you’re going through, feel what you’re feeling to be true. Marinate in it and recognize the feeling is only temporary, so qualify for yourself what it feels like so you can better recognize when those feelings come back. The more you suppress and repress, the more you are left with just feeling bad. Bad about how you feel rather than feeling good about what you can do about it.
No one wants to be a drag but we become a drag on life when we drag on with emotions unprocessed to completion. You need to immerse yourself in the feelings of incompetency, anxiety, or sadness to find what you need to truly pull yourself out of such emotions.
If the problem you’re experiencing is a nail and your emotional toolbox is a hammer, then meditation is what reduces the fog between your eyes and where to strike. Meditation may be what makes the difference between hitting a nail repeatedly and recognizing it for a screw and pulling out a different tool for managing the situation.
Qualify your experience of yourself so you can change the quality of your experience.