Meditation: Necessary, Uncomfortable
By: Lane Carrandi
The air is a crisp 38 degrees. Snow-capped evergreens are towering over you, protecting you from the outside world. It is dark, but the moon and stars illuminate the steam coming from the hot tub water. The heat permeates all the way to your sore muscles from a day full of hiking through Mother Nature’s landscape. You slide a little deeper into the tub just enough to cover your ears. You close your eyes and listen to what seems like nothingness. Life is perfect.
Then…the jets shut off. The water stills. Leaves and dirt begin to rise to the surface- the water is no longer white with foam. You begin to feel a little cold, and the water feels slimy on your skin. Then, you begin to consider the last time someone cleaned the tub and whose been in here since. Maybe a kid peed in here. You’re surrounded by unfamiliar dead bugs. You consider running out and switching the jets back on, but now you cannot un-see the dirt and bugs.
This is what meditation feels like to me.
My default is to always be moving.
I have found that motion is easy for me, whether it is traveling or exercising or checking off to-do lists. I get a “high” from being in motion. I feel productive and purposeful when I am busy. I feel ease and joy from movement, especially when I am in a state of flow. In my yoga practice, I love dropping out of my mind and into my body and allowing myself to be free to move in a way that feels good.
On June 1, I made a (half-way through the year) New Year’s resolution, which was to learn how to skateboard. I bought a skateboard at a yard-sale (thanks, Maggie), and immediately hopped on to “shred the gnar”. I began skateboarding at Sandy Creek Park, which was relatively flat except for hill, which I would carefully jump off my board instead of riding to my doom. I also began skateboarding to Shakti on Milledge, which is full of obstacles like cracks and rocks and catcalls. If I began going really fast or I saw an upcoming obstacle, I would hop off, pick up my board, and walk ahead of it to begin again. To this day, I still have not fallen. But in a weird twisted way, I want to fall. It feels like a rite of passage as a skateboarder. Because after falling, I expect that I will realize that falling really isn’t that bad. Then, I could learn new tricks and take more chances from a place of knowing what it would be like to fail. I could be more in the flow if I just allow myself to fall.
During yoga teacher training, part of our homework was to meditate every day. Originally, I thought it was thinking about “nothing” for 30 minutes, and my thoughts were an obstacle to be overcome. So, I would begin meditating and was afraid to fail by thinking too much. I would try so hard to sit for 30 minutes and judge myself for thinking about anything, but it was on my to-do list so I had to do “right”. I figured after a while of meditating, I would eventually “get it”.
Well, I was right…after a few months, I did “get it.” This realization did not come from not falling. It did not come from picking up my board and passing by the cracks and rocks. It did not come from being in control all of the time and skipping the hills. This realization came from falling, from failing, but staying in the work. I realized that meditation isn’t at all about doing or thinking nothing. It isn’t about ignoring or suppressing my feelings or attitudes or emotions. It is about being with myself and my current experience. It is acknowledging where I am at in order to move forward.
Meditation is recognizing what exists in my body, mind, and soul and deciding what I want to leave and what I want to take with me from a place of wholeness and acceptance.
When it comes time to begin a yoga class, I finally am able to sit long enough to find stillness- stillness is not a typical occurrence throughout my day. The teacher cues several movements to help me settle. Then, it becomes about awareness- awareness surrounding what my body feels like, what thoughts are there, what emotions are present, the pace of my breath. The stillness creates space for things to come up, then it can get very uncomfortable. The work begins when I am aware of my thoughts and can “be with” them. After being with myself, I can no longer ignore the awareness I attained. After turning all of the jets off, I am now aware of the dirt and debris that rose to the surface. Even after continuing through my day, I know what is present.
I am not saying that all motion is bad, but lately I have come across the idea of going back to my “why.”
Why am I moving? Is it to distract me from a relationship that needs addressing? Is it so that I do not feel the sadness that comes with moving across the world and leaving so many wonderful friendships behind? Am I moving because I am afraid what may come up if I am still?
I think movement can be a tool to help process through the dirt and debris that comes up after meditation turns all of the jets off. Movement is an access to clearing out and reorganizing and reprioritizing. Moving from a place of knowing leads to a more purposeful life.
Meditation can feel uncomfortable, just like when the jets turn off in the hot tub. And sometimes in order to come to realizations, failure can be a crucial part to the journey of acceptance and awareness.
The most important part about mediation, though, is knowing:
I am whole and complete just as I am and as I am not.
I am capable to sit still and be with whatever comes up.
I am worthy of healing and growth.
I am not stuck.
I am safe. I am free.