‘I need to make sure I’m thinking positively and joyfully at all times. I have to avoid the negative, dark thoughts. I must remember all thinking is an illusion anyway. I’m not really seeing anything accurately. I need to picture my happy outcomes and keep imagining the wonderful possibilities. I must stop focusing on the dreadful, frightening possibilities…..’
Have you ever read books, gotten more into metaphysics and spirituality….
….and noticed your mind suddenly has a new voice full of little spiritual ideas and suggestions?
All kinds of new ideas. They sound great. They’ll get you to the kingdom.
This voice seems somehow familiar.
This voice sounds nicer than others. It sounds more genteel and open. It’s got a really sweet tenure and color.
Something smells fishy.
(Rip off the pink sweet mask)
Ah-ha! Dictator Self-Hater Strikes Again!
You see, that mind can take anything and begin to use it to stay on the self-improvement-is-the-goal path. To not truly relax with where you are, now.
I know, because I do it myself.
But I really did it with the project of meditation at one time.
I was so anxious, I knew that what I really needed was to meditate.
People are calm who meditate all the time, right? It’s proven that meditating is the right thing to do. Along with eating well, exercising, being kind, sleeping all night, and being self-less.
Yeah. That’s right!
So I decided after semi-meditating for a decade or so….
….I’m meditating an hour a day.
This will happen, rain or shine.
I’m very disciplined at times, when I set my mind to something. I started every single day with one hour of meditation. Even if I had a fever (which I did once). I sat up in my chair, took position (it didn’t count in a bed or in any other position, I must be sitting up very straight) and set my alarm so I wouldn’t peek at any clocks.
After one year I prided myself on 365 days of meditation, not missing one single day.
I was well into my second year of this when I went on a meditation retreat.
While there, it occurred to me I was “doing” the “right” thing.
Here I am, doing the right thing! See me, oh great universe? How ’bout this, God? You gonna bring me supreme awareness? Abundance and flow? An anxiety-free life?
Look at how good I am! I work sooooo hard. I read books, I watch videos, I meditate, I listen to spiritual teachers, I study, I correct my thinking, I’m practically obsessed with awakening and enlightenment and peace….
….it’s all I ever think about!
It suddenly hit me.
I was doing all these things in the name of Me. “I” will wake up. “I” will achieve the greatest achievement….self-realization. “I” will arrive and it will be fabulous.
The Universe will basically say “you look mahvellous.”
I’ll feel like a million bucks. And I’ll probably HAVE a million bucks, too!
Ouch. A subtle ouch, but nevertheless, an ouch.
Because this achievement that was going to happen was off in the distance, in the future, some day.
This isn’t quite it yet.
I remember a good friend who caught the same disease….
….er, I mean the same penchant for insight….
….said she was going to save up a lot of cash, because later, when she was enlightened, she probably wouldn’t care about cash.
So who would we all be without our beliefs that we absolutely must do things like meditate, think positively, save up for later, try harder, or improve?
This is not an invitation to the hopeless resigned place of despair.
It’s a reminder that what we really want has to ultimately be possible here and now, not later.
A reminder that we are not in absolute control. We are not isolated islands floating around with something missing.
It’s not an unfriendly messed up universe that sometimes spits out less-than-perfect people with faulty minds.
Who would you be without the belief that you’re going somewhere? Or that you NEED to go somewhere?
I find this astonishing (at least my mind does).
Really? Actually let go? Relax and give up (in a good way)?
Who would I be without the thought that I must improve my thought?
Not so discouraged. Not feeling like a failure. Not ping-ponging around with that dictator voice that’s got either a self-improvement whip or a doing-it-so-good-and-right whip.
I’d be meditating for the sheer joy of it, not because it’s the right thing to do for getting somewhere.
And if I had a fever….I’d probably stay in bed, lying flat and resting.
I’d be laughing!
“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are.” ~ Pema Chodron
“Conditioned mind is perpetually focused on something other than what is–another time or place, another something that must be done right now. When we don’t succumb to ego’s urgency, fear, and anxiety we can relax, breathe and be, right where we are, right where Life has place us in this very moment.” ~ Cheri Huber