All this emotion.

When I first started meditating, I thought the goal was to not feel anger, impatience, or deep sadness ever again.  And at first, it seemed to kind of work.  I became more present to beauty and joy in the moment, and being mindful made them more vivid.  It was great.

But what also began to happen was that all of my emotions became brighter.  Anxiety, insecurity, anger. . . all of those became more intense.

I thought I must be doing it wrong.  Meditation is supposed to make you peaceful, right? I thought that if I meditated hard enough, often enough, and did it just right, I would be able to live in a happy place all the time. I wasn’t quite sure what to do with all of those other emotions.

Now I know, and I want to tell you, that what actually happens once you begin to notice your emotions, and you allow yourself to feel them as they are, is that they all become more vivid. Continue reading “All this emotion.”

I was afraid meditation would make me a slacker.

For most of my life I thought meditation was about checking out from reality, and living in this fantasy, floaty, blissed-out state where you lost all your drive and ambition to succeed. Where you become lazy and useless, staring at the sky, doing nothing.

All of which repulsed me.  As the descendant of German Lutheran farmers and Filipino plantation workers, there’s something in the core of my being that finds any wastefulness or idleness distasteful.  Even offensive.  Who’s going to get all this work done, while you’re sitting on a hill meditating?

I thought it was like that story in the Odyssey, about the island of the Lotus Eaters. These people lived on an island and ate Lotus and it sent them into this lovely, apathetic sleep. They lost all desire to do anything. When Odysseus’s crew come upon this island, they drifted into such a state that they no longer wished to continue their journey. They simply wanted to remain on the island, eating Lotus, and chilling. Odysseus had to forcibly remove them from the island, and bring them back to the ship. So they could get back to the hard work of making their way home.

If that’s what meditation is, then thanks, but I’m good.  I have work to do.

So I really appreciate when someone asks me if meditation will make them lose their edge.  Or turn them into a head-in-the-clouds, “everything’s cool, man” slacker.  I get it. Continue reading “I was afraid meditation would make me a slacker.”

Meditation loves metrics.

I love introducing people to meditation, and helping them get their own personal practice off the ground.  Yesterday I received this message and it was so great — it’s a question that comes up a lot when you start meditating — I asked and got the ok to share it here:

I wanted to reach out and say thank you for the advice and link to some of your material, I have been working to incorporate this every morning before I start my day (either pre-shower or in car before I step into work).

This has helped make some improvements to set my day off right (I am classic ADHD and very busy schedule). Some days it helps more than others, I am just trying to set the habit.

Can you suggest what the next beginner steps would be to do more here? I am assuming just spending more time doing the same exercise. What metrics do you use for a beginner to measure progress?

Before I share my reply, I want to point out that meditation loves metrics. Continue reading “Meditation loves metrics.”

Mindful goal setting.

Last year, when I decided to resign from my “safe” corporate job, I knew that I would need community and structure to help me move forward into my new life.  I’ve stumbled through enough clumsy transitions in my life to know that some kind of plan was critical for me — even if my plan was “no plan”, I still needed framework and feedback to thrive.  That’s why the timing was perfect for my InnerYoga teacher training.  It was 13-months of study and practice.  It was the perfect community and support system for me.

And now, as 2013 draws towards a close, I want to share more of what I know about mindful change.  Continue reading “Mindful goal setting.”

Courage, love.

Because meditation slows you down, it lets whatever is inside become very vivid, very present.  It amplifies your existing joy, love, happiness. But it also brings the uncomfortable parts — fear, self-doubt, exhaustion — right up in your face.

This can be terrifying.  Especially if you’re in the habit of numbing, distancing, or distracting yourself by being super busy, over eating,  drinking too much, creating drama in your life and relationships, or losing yourself in TV or online (“there’s so much internet to read!”).

I know something about this. Continue reading “Courage, love.”

Let the pain move through you.

Stay, love, and be willing to breathe in the storm.  Stay, love, and let the tears come.  Sometimes pain comes like a wave.  It builds into a terrible peak and then crashes, threatening to drown you, over and over again.  Sometimes pain gathers and moves in like thick clouds.  Pain can be sharp and bright, achey and dull, immediate like lightning or creeping like fog.  It can be sticky, heavy, and thick.  Or so thin and cold that it burns.

Feel the pain move through you.  Breathe deeply, let your mind, heart, body, and soul be easy.

The impulse is to run. Continue reading “Let the pain move through you.”

Meditation and intimacy.

There is a longing for connection that is part of being a human.  A desire to be seen, heard, and accepted just as you are.  To be welcomed and loved unconditionally.  No masks, no hiding, no posturing.  No matter where you are on your career path, and no matter what status symbols you’ve acquired.  Even if you don’t feel your best (especially then).  Even when you feel far from perfect.  When you’re confused, or frustrated, or just terribly sad.  Yet also:  when you feel radiantly beautiful and strong.  When you feel happy and attractive, and excited for your life.  We wish to connect and be accepted then, too. Continue reading “Meditation and intimacy.”

A gift, with love, on my birthday.

There was a day you emerged into this world, and you were tiny, perfect, and loved.  You were perfect not because of your accomplishments.  You were loved not for your achievements.  You were perfect, because you were here now, brand new to this world and so full of life.  You were loved simply because you were alive.

There were no conditions upon your arrival.  You simply were.  Loved.  So sweetly and powerfully beloved.

No matter what came later.  Continue reading “A gift, with love, on my birthday.”

Prayer for relief.

Lawyers are on my mind and in my heart today.  I was in law school when a light-bulb went off for me about praying.  I went to a Jesuit university, though I’m not Catholic and wasn’t raised in church.  Praying wasn’t part of my regular life.  But working as an extern for a Federal District Court judge, I read a lot of motions.  I often came upon this phrase:  prayer for relief.

And I realized:  Oh!  To pray means to ask.  Continue reading “Prayer for relief.”

Listen to the deep inside.

I lead a Savor Meditation every week, and it’s awesome.  We explore a different theme each time, and the whole practice is about dropping in and noticing how it feels, what it tastes like, where in the body it rests and stirs.

If you’re in San Francisco, you’re welcome to join us.  But I know you might not be able to come in person, and I still wanted to share this work with you.  So I made this: Continue reading “Listen to the deep inside.”