Day 20 – I did my 10 minutes of sitting meditation before leaving the house this morning. I’ve been finding this online meditation timer really helpful: http://onlinemeditationtimer.com/ Since I’m on my laptop a lot when I’m at home the online timer gives me the flexibility to sit anywhere in the house and not just in the bedroom where my meditation clock/timer is.
I stumbled upon the quote above a couple of weeks ago and really resonate with its message. This saying is interwoven with what I often talk about in regards to having a small comfort zone and not being able to step outside of it. When we cultivate a security bubble, never challenging ourselves in different situations, places or around other people we generate a small comfort zone and then have difficulty engaging in anything outside of what we’re familiar with. In our attempt to avoid discomfort and suffering we often will create more discomfort and suffering simply by trying to control the parts of life that are out of our control.
In my experience when we are able to make friends with the things, places, people, and situations that create fear, stress, anxiety, sorrow, frustration, discomfort or difficulty we are then able to let go of the tension we create by trying to control and avoid those things.
This is one example I’ve heard a lot over the years from people in our meditation sharing circles – let’s say I’m afraid of spiders (we have a lot of them around the mindfulness center :). If whenever a spider appears I react by shrieking, shirking away, turning my head so I can’t see it, tensing up my whole body, and eventually fleeing the area I will never be able to make friends with the spider. In that moment I would be making friends with my fear and imagination instead. We have very active imaginations (and many of us have watched WAY too much tv/movies). We allow our minds to carry us far away from reality and what is happening in the present moment. When we are able to stop and come back to our breathing our breath will be our anchor to the here and now.
Of course with all things there is a balance and it will be different for each of us. I’m not saying we need to immerse ourselves in a tank of spiders or that we have to pick one up everyday and say, “Hello little friend, how are you today.” But I know for myself that when I am able to take small steps in the direction of making friends with whatever it is I am uncomfortable with I move in the direction of ease and joy and I then become more skillful when it comes to the next situation. And there is always a next situation to be encountered.