I just got back celebrating my birthday with some serious outdoor time in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and then the east side of the Sierra Nevada in California (my absolute favorite place in the world). Can you say Endless Seas of Granite? My idea of HEAVEN <3
I meditated daily during this break, and I tell you – when I got back, I was a hell of a lot more patient with the world. Way more than I would have been had I just been hiking but not meditating.
Those of you who’ve worked with me know I incorporate mindfulness and meditation into my coaching programs.
Why is it that on top of encouraging my clients to have daily (and epic) adventures and to live unconventional + unapologetically authentic lives would I incorporate something as seemingly…”boring” as meditation?
The Power of the Pause.
Here’s the deal: once you start doing the hard work and pushing yourself to grow and evolve and shed the bullshit so you can be the most authentic version of you, you start to pay attention to how you think and how you feel.
On this path, we need to get curious about our thoughts and feelings because it is precisely these thoughts and feelings that get in the way of our evolution, of making the best choices for ourselves and taking a new path instead of the old ones that keep taking us down the same boring lane we are so sick of.
The hard truth is that most of us will find that many of our thoughts are about how inadequate or undeserving we are. We find that our feelings are often…shitty ones. Boredom. Anxiety. Loneliness. Anxiety. Anger. Anxiety. (can you tell which one I most struggle with?)
So why would we want to do something like meditate and intentionally spend time noticing and experiencing those thoughts and emotions? Why would we ever want to do something that felt so…uncomfortable?
Becoming aware of these negative thoughts and feelings is not optional if you want to evolve. It is a necessity.
We may feel we don’t have any control over our thoughts and feelings. However, once we recognize them, we DO have more control over how we respond to them.
At first there is just a millisecond between a thought and feeling before we take an action. Often, we aren’t even aware of the thought or feeling we have before we react…which is why our actions are often inappropriate or not in our best interests.
When someone is rude to us, we think “what a jerk!” and we might yell or just be pissed for the rest of the morning. If only we knew they just found out the love of their life was leaving them for another person. If we chose to have a different thought about them instead – one that gave them the benefit of the doubt – we’d respond differently. We’d also feel differently about the situation.
So how do we lengthen that pause?
Mindfulness. And Meditation.
These are the ONLY things I have found that help me stretch the time between a shitty thought or feeling, and the way I respond.
The more I meditate, the more I notice, “Interesting. I wonder why I am choosing to interpret things this way?” and I remember that my response is based on how I am thinking about the situation, rather that what is actually going on.
Eventually, after practicing meditation regularly (even for only 10 minutes a day), we can add a few more milliseconds between our thoughts and feelings and our actions.
That can make all the difference.
We can make better choices about how we want to think about the situation, or at the very least, choose a healthier response. One that makes us proud about how we showed up in the world.
Let’s face it: the world needs more people who care about how they show up.
We really only just need a smidge of time between our thoughts and what we do. Enough time to have a Pause. Enough time to make a better choice.
Sometimes (or often) my insight comes after the event. I still give myself credit for that, because hey, life is hard enough. But the more I practice, the better I get.
The times I let my practice slide, the less compassionate I am in the world. I just don’t have as much ability to see the other person’s perspective, or the bigger picture of a hard situation I am in. No bueno.
If meditation isn’t your thing, start with just trying to be more mindful. Savor that mango. That glass of wine. That sunset.
Take pauses throughout the day and try to notice things with every sense available to your body – the weight of your body being pulled by the earth, the texture of the ground you are on or the clothes you are wearing, the sounds around you, don’t just see the tree but also see the individual leaves and their textures and how they move in the wind; take in the scent of the air (or your b.o. if you were stuck in a tent during a thunderstorm like I was ;).
Just noticing LIFE more will help you notice your mind more.
Pick something right now that you are going to notice every single detail about – even if only for 5 seconds. Your breath passing in and out of your nose? A kiss? Cuddling with your furry friend? It’s not too hard to start.