You’d think that after meditating for twenty years, I’d be on my way to some form of calm, peace and balance. And, while I have seen some lovely changes in my life, the truth is…I’m still a sometimes frantic, slightly cynical New Yorker at heart. Just yesterday, I snarled at someone who nearly stepped on my dog in the elevator (even though my dog is blind and crawled under her feet); I rushed passed someone on the street in NYC, knocking her cell phone out of her hand (and almost blamed it on her); I continue to hold a grudge against an old boyfriend (despite the fact that I don’t even like him); I rushed through Savasana in my yoga class, frustrated that the class wasn’t exactly what I’d wanted (first world problem); I (privately) judged an old friend for being neurotic.
Here’s the part that no one ever tells you. You can do yoga, learn to meditate, take personal growth courses and workshops and read the books, but… it’s still (and always) a practice.
Every new challenge, relationship, work situation…etc. etc. will continue to introduce new plot twists, good and bad, from time to time and/or often. Someone will surprise you, annoy you, provoke you, bully you or you’ll just plain be in a snarky mood from whatever.
The mind is complicated. Life throws curveballs. And even when it doesn’t, sometimes you just need to step away from the incessant chatter that comes with old habits.
The reason I think I shouldn’t be casting snarky glances at strangers who trip over my blind dog and that maybe I should be a little further along the “calm and forgiving” path is because I’m the co-founder of a meditation app and I host a meditation podcast called Untangle. On the podcast, I interview experts, authors and ‘real people’ who share how meditation and mindfulness have transformed them. The ‘real people’ include everyone from cancer survivors to anxious moms, stressed out fifth graders, frazzled caregivers and unfocused CEO’s. I learn so much from my guests and, truthfully, not only am I riveted by their stories, but I directly benefit from the wisdom of their experiences. I’m constantly humbled by the lessons they’ve learned and now share.
Then there are stories from the experts like Kristin Neff, the pioneering researcher and author in the field of Self Compassion who says we should be kinder to ourselves…treat ourselves as we might a best friend. I hold this wisdom very close, knowing that my sanity will be restored, most of the time, if I can just forgive myself for any misstep (like snarling at someone for no apparent reason) and gracefully move on. Stephen Batchelor, the author of Buddhism without Beliefs, reminds me that a simple pause could be the difference between a quick and thoughtless reaction and a kind response, the former a relationship zapper; the latter a relationship saver. Needless to say how many times I’ve wanted to quickly send a fiery email off, only to pause for a second and rethink the impact it will have on the bigger picture working relationship. Sharon Salzberg, best selling author and well-known mindfulness expert, tells us to invite all of our feelings ‘into our house’ as if they are guests and to become curious about even the most uncomfortable emotions. This, instead of pushing your most unlovable emotions away, is a winning piece of advice. Say hello, welcome and then say goodbye.
Say hello, welcome and then say goodbye to your unlovable emotions. @meditationsapp (Click to Tweet!)
So…I’m learning and practicing. And, that’s progress.
And that’s why I keep going back to my meditation cushion.
Patricia Karpas is the co-founder and head of content for Meditation Studio LLC, the home of Meditationstudioapp.com. This 5-star app includes 200 meditations, 16 collections, 3 courses and 27 teachers. The app focuses on stress, anxiety, pain, sleep, happiness, confidence, performance and so much more, providing tools for beginners and experienced meditators. It’s a must have! She’s also the host of Untangle, the podcast that showcases the stories of experts, authors and real people whose lives have been transformed by meditation or mindfulness practices.