Meditation & The Inner Dialogue; Trust Me, You're Doing It Right

The short version.

The short version.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard people say over the years that they can’t meditate because their minds are too crazy and they can’t sit still.  Well, sure, that describes most everyone I know, including me for a long time, until I taught myself to sit still. When I first started practicing meditation, I twitched, fidgeted, sighed, peeked, got up to walk around and often wanted to leave group meditations moments after beginning.  I cried, got angry, blew it off, drank wine, quit altogether, then I would begin again.  My practice came and went for a few years, each time I’d return, I’d bring a bit more interest, patience and understanding of what I was doing there.  It is a practice, just that, a practice, and one that has taught me I can slow my thoughts down and even choose what I want to think about rather than ride the ferris wheel of worry and fret all day long.

I have had the privilege of working with some long time meditation practitioners, each trained from different lineages of the practice and I look forward to working with many more. One thing that each teacher I’ve worked with confirms is that the myriad of thoughts doesn’t go away. This is true for everyone.

Nor should our thoughts go away. Our brains are super active and that’s ultimately a good thing, right? But, you can learn to quiet the noisy, more aggressive thoughts that plague you.  You can learn to let them exist in the periphery and practice keeping focus on things of your choosing. Maybe you begin to rewrite some of your old stories of “I can’t” and “I shouldn’t” into something more hopeful and uplifting.  And maybe one day you notice you’re carrying the practice around with you and you’re beginning to look at your days as filled with possibility.

But it takes time, patience, desire and a little bit of faith that change will come, especially in the beginning because it can be frustrating at first. However, as you strengthen your practice, you will begin to look for little windows in your day to sit quietly and contemplate and breathe, you’ll find yourself craving these moments and you will begin to recognize a shift in how you look at the world around you.

So here’s an example of an average inner dialogue that goes on in my mind during any given 20-minute meditation.  I hope it offers some assurance whatever’s going on in your head is, most likely, pretty normal.

You will not experience immediate serenity, that’s not the goal.  You will get to know you’re own thoughts quite well, this is good.

And yes, sometimes it’s harder than hell to sit with your deeper, heavier thoughts, but in time, you’ll be able let those thoughts too exist with more calm, lightness and contentedness.

That’s when you begin to understand why you’re here.

So the first 1-20 minutes can easily go something like this-
Okay, here we go.  I’m meditating.  Wait, got to adjust my leg and foot, adjust the pillow.  There, it’s even.  No, wait…ok now it’s even.
Ok, go!  Breathe!  In, out, in, out.  Slow it down, in, out.
My God there’s a lot of traffic on our street today.  But that’s all part of the practice, being of this world.  Can’t change it, just how I perceive it, right?
Inhale…exhale…In, out, in, out.
Geez!  Was that a Harley Davidson?!  Holy crap those are loud and annoying.
Ok, but, the breeze is nice.  See? There we go, that’s a positive thought, nice warm breeze.
And lots of cars.
     Ok you, it’s time to start settling down.  Let yourself sink in.  Enjoy the stillness.
I am enjoying the stillness.  I’m totally calm.
     Really?
Yes, I’m breathing, enjoying the breeze, not letting the traffic jam outside ruin my mellow at all.  Not at all!
     Maybe don’t try so hard.
Ok, I’m breathing into my belly, fully, slowly…
Oh man, my belly feels really big today.  Like really bloated.  It feels like a beach ball.
     Inhale…exhale…relax…
Ya, but it’s like, resting on my thighs. Sigh…I ate too much pizza and ice cream this summer.
I need to get back to better food choices.
     Set it aside, inhale…exhale….
Well, it’s just been so busy and hot and take-out is so easy.
But then look what happens…big round belly.
Ok, be nicer.
     Shhhh…..yes, try to be sweet to yourself but right now let’s try just being quiet.
I am quiet! I mean, I am quiet.
I need to go grocery shopping tomorrow.
     Shhhh….yes, that’s tomorrow.  Now, begin again.
     Like right now. Inhale…
I know, I know…Inhale…exhale….
I just feel kind of…unkempt.
     You are human.  Be kind to yourself.
     Inhale…I am, exhale…peace.
Inhale…I am, exhale…peace…
I am peace?  Did you hear how I was just talking to myself?  That’s not very peaceful or loving.
Oye, I’m a mess up here.
     It’s ok, we’re working on it right now.  Shhhh…..
Begin again…Inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale…here we go, I can do this.  I know how to do this…
Oh my god. I need to move my foot right now!
     You don’t need to move your foot.
I do.  Just a little bit.  It’s so uncomfortable.
     You don’t need to move your foot.  Soften and focus on your breath.
No, I just need to move my little toe.
     It will pass.
I have to do it.  Then I’ll be perfect.
     Doubtful.
Ahhhh, there.  So much better…
Inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale…
…now my knee feels weird.
     I’m not going to say ‘I told you so’.
Try to forget about the knee, focus on the breath.

Sigh, I wish I could get to the calm part faster.
     You know this is the work right?  Practicing being “here”?  You won’t get “there” until you connect and find
contentedness with “here”.                              

But then “there” won’t be “there” anymore, it will be “here”.
     Exactly.
Huh?
     Don’t overthink it.  Breath….
I knooow, I knooow, now shush.  I’m trying to meditate.
Inhale…exhale…inhale…exhale…
Inhale…trailers for sale or rent
Exhale…rooms to let 50 cent
Inhale…no phone no pool no pets
Exhale…I ain’t got no cigarettes
Inhale…ah but 2 hours of pushing broom
     Hey!  Stop that.  Stop.  Stop.
Exhale…buys an 8 by 12 four-bit room
     Shhh…stop.
Inhale…I’m a man of means by no means
     Ok, go ahead and finish…
Exhale…I’m king of the road!
     Ok, seriously.  Put it aside.  Let’s settle in here….
Ok ok, I’m ready.

At some point this may happen-
Following the breath in…
Following the breath out…
     It’s like a wave….in…out…
In…out…I wonder how long I’ve been sitting here….in….out…
Could be 2 minutes….in…or 2 hours….out…I’m sooo relaxed…
Well wait, no seriously, I don’t want to be late for work.  I should look.
     Don’t look.  You’re fine.  It hasn’t been 2 hours, I promise.
     Your breath
     In…out…in…out
My foot…
     Is fine.  In…out…
Oh!  What about my…
     It will be there later.  In…out…here…now…here…now…
Ah geez, I need to call my mom.
     Shhh…call tonight.  Here…now…

 Or this-
Whoa, I just went somewhere else for a minute.
     No, you were just meditating.  That’s you, relaxed.  Did you feel your body soften?
Oh…yes I did!  That feels nice.
     Now you’re starting to get it.  Stay here.  Shhh… Here…now…

And then sometimes this happens, but it’s ok-
Filling up…letting go…filling up…letting go…
My life is pretty magical.
     Yes, it is.
I love so much.
     I know, isn’t it great?
Yes…and no.  I’m scared of losing people I love.
     I know.  But they’re here now so just love them.  Let go of the rest.
I’m scared not being part of the world anymore.
     What’s scary?
The unknown.  I’m scared I’ll be scared when it’s time.
     I know, tears help release those fears you know.  Let them come.
     You, my friend, need some loving-kindness. Say it with me-
Right…May I be happy….oh jeez, here they come.
     That’s good.
May I be strong…I don’t feel very strong sometimes.  It scares me to be alone.
     You are not alone.  You are loved.
May I be safe…I know I am.  I am truly blessed.
Oh but why do I worry so about leaving this world alone?
     You will not be alone.  I will be with you.
But you are me.
     Precisely.  And you…are me.
Now are you starting to get it?

May I live in ease…
…kind of…

Shhh…Be…here…now…

Be…here…now…

Be…here…now… 

Be kind to yourselves.
You’re doing a great job.

In loving-kindness,
Kate

Kate Sebelin