Meditation has gotten very challenging lately and I cannot help but wonder if it was always this hard, and I never realized it because I was so unaware.
Some people, when they meditate, are distracted by the present – by a pain in their back, by the cold of the room, the truck idling in the street outside, the sounds of other people in the room next door, the smell of their tea cooling beside them, a taste that reminds them to brush their teeth.
Others may be distracted by the past, by the weird dream they had last night, an argument or discussion they had before sitting to meditate, an old memory, the thing that was and then was lost.
I am distracted by the future. I find myself writing a blog post about how distracted I am. Thinking, I think, and sit my mind down to focus on my breath. Focusing on my breath, now I get what Pema Chodron wrote about when she likened the in-breath to waiting after pressing the doorbell, which means that the out-breath is pressing the doorbell, that makes it so much easier to meditate, gosh I’m a genius – oh. Thinking.
It feels good to feel so relaxed, to appreciate feeling so good to be relaxed. It feels so good not be living in the future, thinking about how to get a new job, because now I have a new job. I am so grateful. Hm. Thinking.
I must remember to stay mindful at work. I’m being exposed to so many new ideas and people. I wonder if I should get a meeting table for my new office or not? If I get a table, the office might feel crowded and there may not be room to write on my whiteboard. Thinking.
Today should be exciting because I will get to meet more people and start to learn about what they’re working on. That will allow me to – oh dang! Thinking.
This is a huge revelation to me, how much time I spend thinking about the future while I meditate. I should blog about that. Thinking about the future so much can be a bad thing – it leads to anxiety and sometimes it causes you not to do things, like not sending out my stories. I could talk about how I got my first rejection letter – well deserved – for a story I sent to Random House when I was five years old. I hope whoever had to read it at least thought it was cute, my little stapled together book with my hand-drawings and hand-scrawled text. Or maybe they get a lot of those… Thinking.
They say it doesn’t matter how often you catch yourself thinking. The important thing is that you catch yourself. Which is a good thing because I am catching myself over and over and over. Is it cheating to do guided meditation? Because I don’t get as distracted by the future then. Although I sometimes get mad at the voices that are guiding the meditation because I don’t like how they do it. Thinking.
You would think that after all these years of meditating every morning and sometimes in between that it would get easier not to get lost in my thoughts. It seemed easier when I first started, but perhaps that’s because I was so unaware of how much I actually was thinking. Or maybe the lives of distraction we are leading now, always with something to do, makes meditation more challenging, because our brains have gotten used to always being entertained.
I read a book once that said that one of the reasons that we are less creative now is because our phones have made it harder to be bored – instead of gazing out the bus window and watching people and making up stories about them in our heads; or noticing the light and shadows on a passing building and becoming intrigued by the interplay; or listening to the conversation of the strangers behind us, we fish out our phones and surf the net or read an eBook or play a game or review work email. So our brains never get bored, never make up stories. Creativity has stopped being the escape, replaced by content.