I am an escaper.
I have spent my life trying to figure out ways to escape when things get hard, when my emotions are heightened. If something appears in my life that feels difficult and overwhelming, my automatic response is to try to run away.
Ever wonder why running is such a popular exercise?
For a long time, I escaped through books, novels, especially. I didn’t like things about my life, so I dove into imaginary realms. I lived through characters instead of having to live in my own world. I took on their experiences as though they were mine. Later, I escaped through wine, or through pretty-colored cocktails, or by shopping for new things, or by eating a lot of candy.
But eventually, those small comforts passed away, and I had to start going into the depths of me, living my own life instead of getting lost in someone else’s story.
Because sooner or later, we have to stop playing the role of escape artists. We have to sit down and be brave and face our shit. Because if we don’t, and we ignore the patterns that keep coming up, the moments of discomfort, the pain of our wounds and worries and fears, we just deal with them all the more, and for longer. And we live our lives as though we’re buried under rubble, so suffocated we don’t know how to get out. We end up freaking out instead. On people who don’t deserve it. At inopportune times.
Why are we so afraid of being alone with ourselves, alone with our thoughts, alone with our aloneness? What is it we think we’re going to discover?
If someone tells me he doesn’t believe in God, I’d ask him to start a regular practice of sitting by himself in a quiet room for a while, with nothing to distract him, and see if he changes his mind.
It is a courageous act, to pray and to meditate. To tap into recognition of all that is unknown. It takes bravery to face the questions underneath it all. And almost always, you’ll find you are your most ardent accuser, your worst critic, the harshest judge of yourself.
And that silent time eventually leads you to another truth:
Your body is going to pass away. You, as you know you, will not always be here.
So what does that mean about who you actually are? What does that mean about the purpose of your life? What does that say about how you actually want to live, or what you’ve done, or what you plan to do?
This all might seem scary and overwhelming at first. But sitting with it does not make it more real—it only means you are waking up. You are a complicated being with all sorts of memories, all sorts of daydreams. You have an ocean of emotion, and sometimes quite a few come at the same time! You are a creature of infinite imagination, and you come up with so many stories! You also have flaws, because your capacities are limited, despite what you want to believe. You just do not, and cannot, know what you do not know. And you may never know it.
Do you want to tackle this stuff? Maybe not. I don’t blame you. But perhaps you get to a point in your life where you keep stumbling and coming back to the same place. Perhaps you notice yourself repeating old patterns. Perhaps you wonder why you keep having bad luck, or why everything you try is not working out. Perhaps you feel like a victim of your emotions, a person whose whole body seems like it’s going to burst into flame. Perhaps the answers no longer come through searches on the internet or the words of the people you looked up to.
So maybe that’s when you decide to try this meditation thing.
Sitting quietly and breathing is really simple, you know. It’s not easy, but it sure is simple.
If you want to start, sit down in a quiet, safe place, and breathe. Decide on a point of focus. If you want your eyes open, you can look at a candle’s flame. If you prefer your eyes closed, you can repeat a word, a phrase, or a prayer that brings you comfort. Notice when you begin to get locked in a thought, and return back to your mantra, or that candle’s flame. Keep going. Breathe. That’s all meditation is at first. It’s just turning your attention back to the focus. Over and over again. Notice what comes up in you. Say “oh, hello,” and turn back.
And as you do this, you’ll begin to get to know the person in there, the person who is never going anywhere, as long as you live. The person who wants to be your best friend. The person you ignore a lot of the time, or try to escape from.
That person is actually quite beautiful.
She is part of all things. She is, in her core, full of kindness, and compassion, and love. She has tenderness and sweetness in her. She’s kind of magical, actually.
She is part of an earthly symphony whose generosity and abundance knows no bounds.
Categories: spirituality and faith