I’m about to tell you something about you. You’re probably going to deny it at first. You’ll think I’m wrong. Maybe it will even insult you? Or annoy the crap out of you? (In that case, sorry about your underwear in advance.)
Maybe it will make you resent me more than you do your mom/dad/sibling/husband/wife, or that arrogant jerk at the farmers market who took the last bok choy and didn’t even say “Namaste.”
Are you ready? Do you feel prepared to learn something about you that I know is true, even if you don’t think it?
Take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. Now do she same with your anus.
Okay… it’s time. You are emotionally prepared.
I hope you're sitting.
Here it comes.
95% of your thoughts do not serve you at all. They are adding no value to your life, or society -- and they are probably making you miserable.
You know that voice in your head -- your ego -- that persistent chatter that is with you all the time? If you actually listen to what you are saying, it’s really not that interesting. It’s cyclical, repetitive, repeating, recurring, and redundant.
How do I know this? Because I have spent 10 days of my life silently meditating, and forced to observe what was actually going on in my head. I sat for 14+ hours a day, hyper aware of how my mind worked, and what it was saying.
And let me tell you... it’s boring. Painfully so.
I would think about food. What I was going to wear. This email I had to write. Why this person didn’t call me back. Food. What that person over there was wearing. If I needed to take a shower? Food.
What was the next show I should binge watch? How I don’t like myself. The reasons why I’m a failure. Things from past that I can’t change. Anxiety about my future that hasn’t even happened. Food. If I should change my clothes. More about the past and future, and again with the food.
Just so you know, that’s probably a 10-minute picture of the doll drum in my mind.
Maybe you are thinking, “but that’s you Toni. You’re probably just a vacuous, dreary person. My thoughts are way more interesting.”
Well... I DARE YOU TO TRY!
Observing Your Own Thoughts
Observe your thoughts for one hour with the intensity of a courtroom stenographer. Take note of every single thought you have.
I guarantee you aren’t thinking about refugees in Syria, how women are treated in Afghanistan, how to save the oceans from becoming 80% plastic, or why when you take cells from bone marrow and put them in your heart, they magically transform into heart cells. You are not contemplating quantum physics, nor are you better understanding the space time continuum.
I’m not saying you don’t ever think about these things. Of course you do. You have LOTS of amazing, brilliant, meaningful, deep, creative, profound, thoughts! Yet the ratio of these thoughts to the meaningless thoughts that rule the majority of your headspace is probably a lot different than you suspect.
So what’s the solution?
Meditation is an anchor for your mind. It’s a harness that keeps your brain tethered. Just like you wash your hair and brush your teeth, we also have to clean our minds with meditation.
Getting started with a daily medication practice is the hardest part. There are a LOT of excuses we have to convince ourselves of why we can’t meditate.
- I’m not good at meditating: You wouldn’t expect yourself to one day wake up and be able to do a back flip would you? NO. You would practice. You would try. You would learn techniques. You would seek out a teacher. It would be a process. Just like training your body takes time, patience, mentoring, and commitment, so does training your mind.
- I have too many thoughts to meditate/I can’t shut off my mind: Yeah. So does everybody! The point of meditation isn’t to not think. The point is to show up and do your best to be conscious.
- I don’t have time to meditate: Everyone has time to meditate. You just have to make time.
Every morning and every night I meditate. Some days are longer than others, but no matter what, I make it happen. Most of the time, I’m just doing meditation. I’m going through the motions, distracted by my monkey mind, and waiting for it to be over.
Yet every once in a while I am being meditation. There are these extraordinary occasions when I am fully present, and melt into the eternal oneness of all things. Then I think about how amazing that is, and, whoops, I’m out of it.
You will never be able to know for sure what’s going to happen during your meditation process. Maybe something, maybe nothing? You just have to show up. Show up for the practice, and you might be surprised by the outcome. It could even change your life.
The more we can train our minds, the more control we will have over them. That means less time wasted on thoughts that are self-destructive and counterproductive. I promise you that the more you mediate and cultivate awareness, the more you will understand your emotional self.
You will better grasp the patterns you fall into, the impetus for certain personality traits, and the feelings that drive you to do things you later regret. You will have an easier time making decisions and finding clarity. Your psychic and spiritual state will improve more than you ever thought possible.
Now I don’t promise you that life isn’t going to suck. It may. Actually it probably will at times. But I will promise you that the way you react to life sucking will be infinitely better.