by Cheryl Richardson: I sat quietly in my office staring out the window at a red-tailed hawk sailing overhead.
The wind carried her far above the tree line and I imagined what it must be like to float so effortlessly. I gently closed my eyes to start the day with a meditation.
No sooner had I settled into my chair with a few slow breaths, than my mind grabbed hold of a conversation I had with a colleague the day before. While discussing a project, I’d been a bit impatient and distracted and I felt bad about it.
Now, in what was supposed to be a peaceful morning meditation, I was slowly becoming agitated and upset. My mind sunk its teeth into the memory and started chewing on it for dear life. I reimagined the discussion. I re-experienced being short, and anxious to get off the phone. I even pictured my colleague hanging up feeling upset and frustrated herself.
As these troublesome thoughts continued, I kept pulling my attention back to my breath in an effort to get centered, but my mind just dug deeper. It seemed convinced that if it thought about the situation from all angles it could somehow change the outcome.
Yes, I was searching for a solution using the very tool that had created the problem in the first place – my mind.
I’ve been meditating long enough to know that my job is to stick with the program. Keep breathing. Keep returning to center. Stay committed to getting off the crazy train. But for some reason, this morning’s meditation presented quite a challenge and I just couldn’t get myself to settle in. That’s when something interesting happened.
For a brief moment my perspective shifted. I was able to see myself meditating and from that vantage point, I could see what I was doing: Bothering myself with my mind.
For so many of us, the mind is not a very friendly and supportive companion on this journey we call life. On any given day negative thoughts far outweigh the helpful ones and it’s no wonder we spend so much time distracting ourselves with things like food, work, the news, or social media.
If I were locked in a room with someone who said even a tenth of what my mind says to me, I’d be desperately looking for the fastest way out, too!
The mind constantly looks for what doesn’t work, what went wrong (or could go wrong), and how we’ve not measured up. It recalls painful experiences and consistently tells us things like, “You’re fat, stupid, a failure, or never enough.”
Who would want to spend any time at all with someone like that?
When I realized that the one noticing my crazy mind was the true companion I could count on, my shoulders relaxed and I felt a wave of compassion wash over me. I’ve been doing this all my life, I thought to myself. Being mean to myself, weighing and measuring my thoughts, words, and actions, reviewing the past as if I could rewrite history.
Compassion is a powerful healing balm and the recognition that my mind was the problem, not me, freed me from the jaws of this crafty manipulator and I was finally able to breathe.
That’s the gift of meditation. It helps us to witness how unkind the mind can be and it makes it easier to return to love when we catch it bothering us during our daily lives.
Come home to yourself, sweetheart. That’s what I say to myself hundreds of times a day because it’s teaching me to stay present to the Voice that always loves me. Always.
How wonderful to have a companion like that.