Posts in Mindfulness + Kindfulness
Meditation IRL

Why meditate? Seriously. I've been thinking about this a lot although I've covered some of my why, but I thought I could get down to business with you on how it helps in real life.

This isn't about reaching Nirvana or Enlightenment. That's cool if you think there is some "end", but in my world meditation is about real life situations and not some blissful state. In fact, I think about nirvana as the everyday state that we are in when we are mindful. What? Yes. Every time you listen to your spouse without thinking about something else or what you are going to say back; that is nirvana. And that is the place I want to be. I just want to be where my feet are; present.

If we are going to talk about meditation in real life here are the top ways that it actually helps. Not bogus, it might help, help, but real help.

  • To not be an asshole when I drive: This means not letting traffic bother me. Not getting stressed out if I'm late. Not worrying that the person in front of me is going 30 in a 50mph zone. Knowing that I'll get there safe.
  • To be kinder to customer service reps: I was known, and I'm not proud, of not taking any shit from customer service people. I get what I want to get no matter how clear (read mean) that I needed to be. Pity the poor person on the line at Verizon or American Airlines. Now, I work to be as kind and helpful in the situation as possible. My meditation practice helps me cultivate a patience and the ability to know what is the kind thing to say and the cruel thing. I still get what I want, usually, but I don't crush the poor person who happened to get my call.
  • To let go quicker: Stuff happens. There's a great zen story about two monks on the road and they come across a total prima donna who can't cross a creek without being carried. She is mean and rude to them, but one of the monk picks her up and helps her cross. The two monks trot ahead, but one of them is fuming. He asks the monk who picked up the lady why did you carry her when she was so awful to us? And the monk responds, "why haven't you put her down. I did when we crossed the river." This is what I mean about letting stuff go quicker. If I hold onto it I'm not hurting anyone else except myself. Meditation helps with this a lot.
  • To have compassion when I really don't understand why people do what they do: This was a big one after the 2016 US election. Why, oh why do people do what they do? Instead of trying to analyze or, worse, degrade them for their choices, I'm working to have compassion. People choose to do things for a variety of reasons and there aren't right ways... just your way and my way... and that is fine. Compassion is found over and over while meditating because I have to be kind to myself for drifting off into never never land and reminding myself to come back to the breath.
  • To forgive quickly and absolutely: I have held onto stuff. When people are mean to me I can have a hard time understanding and I often take it very personally. I'm learning that if I forgive or even just practice forgiving them in meditation I can start to actually forgive them. It just makes my life less heavy.

Those are a few reasons for meditation that work in my real life. See. It's not about sitting like some zen monk on a cushion in silence. It's about practicing with crappy things that come up in  our own minds and learning to work with it. Sitting quietly, lovingkindness meditation and all the stuff that happens in real life is mediation practice. It's all practice.

Why Do I Meditate?
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Often when I speak at an event or facilitate a group on branding, marketing or leadership development I talk briefly about meditation and I always have people who want to learn. I will, then, either do a quick session after I speak to those interested or schedule to come back to the group. I’m always happy to help people learn this tool that I have found so beneficial. What I get asked MOST often though is WHY do I meditate? What do I get out of it? Does it WORK? Let’s dive into my why:

Why Do I Meditate?

Not to be an Asshole: Literally. I meditate so I am less of an asshole. My first impulse, because I’m scrappy and the last child in my family bullied by older siblings, is to punch out with biting words or thoughts. I’m a jerk. I HATE this about myself and after years of therapy and countless self help books on how not to be so mean I realized that I could just calm that the fuck down. Seriously. I can chill out and if the thought arises I can just NOT SAY IT, but that takes the work of a jedi master and I needed a tool.

Hence, meditation. It gives me the second pause to not say the thing that will crush my opponent. Seriously, no one needs to live on a battlefield every damn day. Snarky isn’t funny and it isn’t cool. It usually is at the expense of someone else and I don’t want to hurt other people.

Destress the Hell Out: Life is stressful. Seriously stressful. In this month alone I have had a banking fiasco (digging out now), found out my daughter might have gestational diabetes – goodbye Lucky Charms, and they found a change in my left breast and I have to have more tests. Seriously. It’s only the 19th of January and life just keeps happening.

Mediation helps me breath past some of that and stay aware, but not panicked. I can sit with more anxiety and just let it pass then I ever have been able to do before. Life doesn’t stop coming at you when you start meditating, but your response can be a little less frantic and your clarity of thinking improves.

Be A Nicer Human: Ok, so we covered that I want to be less of an asshole, but I also want to be a better human. I want to say nicer things. Meditation, in real life, allows me to speak with more love and kindness because I am more aware of my words. Stuff isn’t just flying out of my mouth like a rapid fire crazy person.

Pre-meditation I would just say whatever. Now, although I am still clear and speak my mind I am choosing my words more carefully to consider the other person. We are all on this damn planet together and I don’t want to cause harm to any other person -we all have enough of our own shit going on that we don’t need to pile it on with each other. So words matter and if meditation can help me slow them from spewing out of my mouth carelessly that is a huge win.

Who Do You Want to Be When I Grow Up: I know that if I want to be a Ghandi or Martin Luther King type person (don’t worry, I know I am far far off) I have to do the things that create that foundation and, for me, that is meditation. The ongoing practice of sitting quietly with myself and not freaking out over what my silly mind brings up even for just 15 minutes brings a sense of strength and calm to my life.

I want to be that person who stands with competence, baddassery, and kindness in the midst of raging storms and meditation makes that even a little bit more possible. It’s a practice, like yoga or tae kwon do, you don’t master it in one sitting it takes time. Time spent practicing this is better then running around shopping needlessly, gossiping, panicking or running around like a chicken in the yard. I can’t BE like MLK unless I PRACTICE being like MLK every single day.

In short, I want to disrupt my natural tendencies to judge, react and panic. I want to bring calm and fluidity to my life with grace. The only way I have found that works for me is to meditate everyday. It isn’t a big thing. I’m not perfect… but I don’t expect to be. It’s a practice and every moment I’m off the cushion and life is shredding us up I get to practice over and over.

Ask me your meditation questions and I’m happy to answer. I’ve been doing it for over 25 years and have some really practical tips for busy working mom’s, stressed out partners, doing it anywhere, finding a practice that works… whatever you want to know I will answer. Until then, you can also friend me on Insight Timer and I’ll cheer your practice on.