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here’s why i believe that if i can meditate, so can you.

21 Oct 2015

i love meditating. and i hate it too.

i love it when it feels good. when i feel like i get up from my mat + have had some amazing experience. i hate it when my mind goes crazy and i can’t focus. when all i think about is my grocery list or the traffic outside, and then i start dreaming about my next trip somewhere, suddenly realizing that i am in daydream land and nowhere near the present moment. i silently scold myself, take a deep breath, focus, breathe again, and the start the whole freaking circle over.

i hate meditating when it’s like that.

and guess what? lately that is exactly how my meditation has been going.

now, i know better than to scold myself for “getting off track”, but it just feels so bad. and when my meditation time is up (or when i decide to just give up after 10 minutes of this cycle), i sometimes feel even less inspired that i did before.

but, i still do it. every damn day. and i do it because i know that, ultimately, it’s not about that euphoric feeling that i am so disappointed to not feel every day. i continue my practice because it is just that – practice. and, if life isn’t all daisies and rainbows, why would my meditation practice be?

the thing is, the process of meditation, the commitment to it, the dedication to being still for a little bit every single day,  is exactly where the magic happens.

me leaves feet

that’s right. the magic comes from the routine + the ritual. some days it feels like you’ve reached a new stage of enlightenment. and some days (or weeks) it just feels like another thing you have to suffer through.

but, i guarantee… i promise… sticking with it is what makes all of the difference. that is where the growth occurs. and, instead of chasing a high, it becomes more about being a person grounded with a sense of stability, calm, and peace. come what may.

that’s what i am learning right now. i’ve been meditating pretty regularly (like everyday-ish) for the past 2 years. and right now i am coming into a whole new understanding of my meditation practice. one, where i am just barely beginning to not give two fucks about how my meditation time feels, but instead, simply practicing it. letting it be whatever it is. letting things come and go, both during my meditation time and during my everyday life.

because that’s what meditation, for me, is all about. it’s about learning to live an intentional + grounded life. to be like a tree rooted in the ground, swaying with the breeze, staying secure during the storms, soaking up the sunshine, and surrendering to the cycle of life.

trees sodermalm

so, screw the perfect idea of being this amazing guru on a mat reaching new levels of enlightenment every day. screw the thought of having the perfectly inspired meditation experience every damn day. screw that, my friends.

mediation is simply a time to let ourselves be ourselves. to see, admit, embrace, and allow everything that comes to us just come. to surrender to the moment and know that every single moment is important. there is no goal. there is only being. and allowing. and accepting. and expanding.

there is nothing to do. no magic thing that needs to happen.

but, in doing nothing, day after day, somehow something magical does happen.

let me tell you what happened when i embraced my obvious un-perfectness yesterday.

yesterday i went to my third sat nam rasayan training class. sat nam rasayan is a specific part of kundalnin yoga. it is a healing meditation practice. it is something that is useful in any person’s life, but also really great for yoga teachers or spiritual guides/coaches (like myself) to learn in working with clients, friends, family, anyone. it is a very specific way of meditating which begins by opening up space, space big enough to allow everything to equally exist. within that space, there is acceptance, equality, allowance, it is the perfect way to learn how i can meditate and become a stable, safe, healing presence for others. (that’s it in a very short nutshell).

anyway, we started our day yesterday with a meditation my teachers called a “jump start kriya”. for me, it turned out to be about 15 minutes of hell.

with our eyes closed, we rolled our arms around one another (like old 70s dancing) for a god awful amount of time. i got frustrated because my arms got tired really fast. and then, i lost concentration constantly, which meant that my arms slapped into each other. the rest of the room was totally silent, arms rolling fast, except for the noise of one of my arms running into my other arm, causing an obvious break in the silence. at one point, i even wondered if i was rolling my left arm, or if it was stationary and my right arm was rolling around it. so i opened my eyes. i couldn’t tell. and then i literally couldn’t get started rolling again.

i was pretty sure my teachers were watching me thinking that i was a miserable failure (which of course, they weren’t). i was pissed now. unable to get a rhythm. and finally decided to roll my arms in slow motion to at least do something. mind you, i never stopped rolling my arms. i had kept it going, mistakes and all, the whole time, even though my arms were also feeling numb and throbbing with pain. let me assure you, there was nothing enlightening or even remotely good about this experience. honestly,i was freaked out. but i kept rolling (and slapping).

just then, one teacher said, “three minutes left. now, faster! push it hard to the end.”

i was literally about to scream. i was panicking, going out of my mind, -roll, roll, slap – tired, – roll, slap – angry, and -slap – piiiiiiissed. i hated it. my heart is racing just writing about it now.

and suddenly it was over. and we were told to stretch our arms (even though i couldn’t feel mine) high into the sky. over our heads. straight up. fingers stretched out and apart. and hold it. tight. tight. tight. squeeze. my arms were shaking. and then, i just burst. arms in the air, fingers spread wide apart, stretching + holding + tightening, i burst into tears. the they just exploded from my eyes and silently ran down my cheeks. and i let them come and go.

it was like a release. a cleansing. and then it was all over.

the rest of the day, i was so connected. so grounded. so free.

oh, the meditation we did sucked. i do not want to do it again. ever. (but i probably will) and my arms ache as i type on this keyboard. but, it was so worth it. i felt nothing great, inspiring, and euphoric as i rolled my damn arms for 15 minutes. but, i stuck with it. and, in the end, i understood what all of that repetition and commitment did for me.

going through the mundane act of rolling my arms in pain led me to a magical, euphoric, liberating moment of clarity and complete release. what i released i don’t know. and i don’t care.  but after that,  then, i could get down to the task at hand.

me yoga

so, what i am saying is this:

all of life, every single moment, can be a glimpse of the sacred, the holy, the mysterious. everything from making our beds to cooking dinner to taking a walk to cleaning the toilets to rolling our freaking arms for 15 minutes in an insane meditation. somehow, daily, mundane, meditation seeps out into our lives making everything way more sacred than we ever realized that it was.

because life, every day life, is the miracle. that is the magic.

not just the mountaintop experience or the holy meditation moment. not just the amazing adventure or the breathtaking view.

meditation teaches us that every single thing is it. and every single thing, person, place, moment, feeling, and thought is what makes up the magic that we call life.

so, my friends, if i can get on the floor and mediate every day and fight through the days that i feel the furthest from guru-status, then so can you if you feel called to.

give it a whirl. and let me know how it goes. and, please, let me know if i can help in anyway. love and peace to you all.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

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5 Comments

  • Reply carissalick 21 Oct 2015 at 23:18

    I must say, I appreciate your brutal honesty about meditation, especially in this post! For those of us who have tried it at various points, I think we can all relate to the frustration, even if it (thankfully) wasn’t as extreme as having to roll your arms for 15 minutes. 🙂 While meditation still isn’t really my thing, I definitely agree with your statements about ritual and practice–DOING the thing over and over again, even on days when it doesn’t feel useful or happy or anything. David and I have been doing a daily reading practice in 2015 where we go through the entire Bible in a year, and BOY do some days’ readings seem pointless or hard to focus on! And yet, when I commit myself to actually pushing through on those days, or on days when I feel too tired to read, I often find that I did actually get something out of the process (admittedly, that “something” can be as simple as a “Wow, I disagree with this passage a TON because ________.”). But still, it’s been a really cool, life-giving practice to have that time every day spent reading and pondering. I also try to intentionally write down a few things I’m thankful for each day, and that’s been so helpful in reminding me of the positives even on blah, not-so-great days.

    • Reply Liz 23 Oct 2015 at 18:46

      Thank you so much, Carissa, for sharing your deep and thoughtful experiences with this spiritual difficulty. My tough time with meditation lately, and deciding to stick with it no matter what, has only been made possible by some experiences that I have had which are very similar to yours. the other pastor that I worked with in NC gave me an Oswald Chambers devotional with readings every every day of the year. I faithfully read each one, every morning, an down down my thoughts and ponderings. I did it again the next year, and the next as well. Each time finding days that inspired me and spoke to me in exactly the way that I needed them to. But many, many, many days were dry and empty. But, that discipline, that devotional discipline was so very important to me. By sticking through it, those years turned out to be the formational years that included huge turning points in my life. Perhaps I’ll re-add some devotional and writing time to my daily meditation time too…

  • Reply Meghan 22 Oct 2015 at 05:10

    Wow, Liz. Reading this just brought a whole lot of things together for me and I need to thank you – so much. To use a metaphor, it’s as if what I’ve been reading in your posts for the last week in addition to other things I’ve been thinking about and reading elsewhere were given a keystone which suddenly unified the individual (related but disordered) blocks(=lessons) into an arch (=theme). From the discussion on week 41 with regards to feeling disconnected and distracted when dealing the new daily realities that are the result of a dramatic change or event, to your post on ritual and the importance of making time for awareness and reflection so that you can review and continue to actively make choices instead of living through actions unconsciously, to this post on the *power* that comes from making the choice to sit/meditate – the liberation from the need for highs and excitement and the acceptance of everyday life for what it is, *as it is* …. It seems like all of this is reinforcement of my recent consideration about the need to take greater responsibility and the necessity of doing all the not-so-exciting/fun-stuff. To persevere and sustain practice as a form of maintenance that is so obviously required to avoid regressing. Because it has been proven to me again that if the choice is not made (by me/us all) to maintain, then deterioration and destruction will occur. And that part of maintaining is bringing awareness into all the daily actions that are performed.
    Anyway, this is all about me and what I’ve gotten from your writing but I’m attempting to explain all this in an attempt to relay how important it was for me to read this today and how thankful I am to you for providing what I needed in order to figure out what I should be directing my energy towards (literally hours before I’ll be without internet service). Thank you, thank you.
    p.s. I just scrolled back up to your post on a whim before hitting the send button and I read your last line again about letting you know if you could help in anyway and I almost laughed out loud because you (so) already did(!). Also, sorry for the long rambling comment. Peace and strength to you both. xoxo

    • Reply Liz 23 Oct 2015 at 18:42

      Dearest Meghan,
      I am so glad that this post came at just the perfect time for you. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your thoughts through your process of coming to understand where you are and where you need/want to be. It’s amazing that you have been so aware, reading the signs and seeing the connections in your life. It sounds like you are in a great place of alignment with your soul – and for that, I am so happy. I send you even more thoughts and love and support as you further clarify that which you feel called to do and be at this point in your life. All of my love and all the best to you, my dear dear friend. And, please, hurry up and come to Sweden so we can meet face to face. xoxo

  • Reply Aura Eadon 24 Oct 2015 at 11:51

    Okay so I love this post for many reasons, your brutal honesty about everything the biggest – I think that is a refreshing change compared to always trying to be politically correct (which is again a lie). On the subject of meditation I spent an awful amount of time hating the fact that sitting on a meditation mat didn’t bring enlightenment, change, and whatnot. And the thing with hate is that it acts as a negativity magnet and worse what I hated I got back threefold (to say the least).

    Eventually, I had to admit consciously that what I was expecting from my meditation is to (a) conform rigidly to a form, (b) have a specific set of effects, and (c) act the the main catalyst for solving ALL my problems. No actually, not catalyst, that’s not correct. I was expecting it to actually solve ALL my problems. On the spot. Without me doing anything other than be silent. Hah, get real Aura.

    And I did. I had to let go of the idea that there is a form. I had to let go of the idea of enlightenment and nirvana like states. I had to let go of the idea that nothing other than my own internal and constant work, can solve my problems. I had to let go of the idea that words damage meditation and I had to accept the idea that words are the magic glue that make things happen (how ironic is it, I am a wordsmith and I used to hated words – now tell me how good was that for my writing?). I had to stop hiding from myself and accept that when my mind was unrolling during meditation, it was initiating the necessary reflection and processing of the recent events. Then I had to accept that I felt toxic shame about everything, myself included, and as a result I couldn’t face reflection about anything that has been happening. Then I had to learn to squash the toxic shame and oh what a magical moment when reflection becomes what it’s meant to be: observation of lessons and realignment of future actions. Finally, I had to admit that meditation sitting on a mat is just one of the ways to meditate. Not my favourite as it turned out, walking, taking a looooong shower, and driving, are my top three favourite ways to meditate.

    Words are magical and so is inner silence. But I think that unless I let my mind speak what it needs to speak, inner silence will have to wait. Or maybe inner silence is not how I imagine it to be, much like meditation, I am clinging to the wrong idea about it. We’ll see. 😀

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