Meditation and the Magic Diet Pill
You are probably wondering what meditation has to do with the magic diet pill. I’ll explain. You see, when I first started practicing meditation, I sort of had the idea that it would be a magical elixir to my anxiety, fear, frustration, and anger. Even though I logically understood that it wasn’t meant to be that, in my heart of hearts I couldn’t help but long for an easy way out from these less-than-desirable emotions.
And that deep longing colored my vision. Lo and behold, I was fooled into the Magic Diet Pill thinking.
There’s a reason why companies that sell the all-promising diet pills make millions of dollars per year. They are using our human nature against us. That desire for a quick fix, easy solution, no-brain decision, minimum effort is so alluring. Convenience and the fact that very little personal or lifestyle change is needed greatly adds to the appeal. Who hasn’t wished for such a path before. It’s in our nature to want shortcuts (our brains are constantly creating mental shortcuts - check out this fun video to see how these shortcuts can trick us).
But as a furniture salesman once told me, there’s a big difference between “cheap” and “inexpensive. The magic diet pills might not be monetarily cheap but they are cheap in the quality of change they offer. And while lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise can be made monetarily inexpensive (think walking in park vs gym membership), they have the power to transform our lives.
Same goes with meditation. If on any level, you are looking for meditation to erase any inkling of anxiety or fear in your life, to make you untouchable by grief, anger, pain or heartbreak, or you hope that it will make the challenges you are facing disappear, I am here to offer you something better. Because that something is not an illusion or false hope. That something is real and within your reach.
And it begins with this mentality: Just like learning to play an instrument, learning to cook, learning to play a sport, learning anything - meditation will take practice. And not an intense 10-day silent retreat in the desert type practice. Just a simple, consistent practice at home and/or in a local studio like Reset.
You might have been the type of person who felt a relaxation response after doing just one or two meditations, leaving you with a feeling of “wow meditation really works.” That’s fantastic. But as much as you can, shifting your mindset from “meditation is something that happens to me” to “meditation is a skill that I gain through simple, consistent practice” is important. Taking away the mystic surrounding meditation via the latter mindset does not take away the incredible and awesome power it has to change our inner landscapes and outer lives. Consistency is also significant since doing a meditation every once in a while is like putting down a few bricks on the ground and calling it a house. It’s not going to be much help to you when it starts to rain.
Here’s the good news! Unlike learning a sport, music instrument, etc, you don’t need to have special talent, equipment or circumstance to practice meditation. Spoiler alert: You don’t even have to sit or lay down a certain way! (Tune in next week as we talk about how to start a meditation practice).
So now that we are on the same page about meditation = a realistic and attainable skill for the average person, here’s some truly incredible things you can look forward to as you build a practice:
What Meditation Can Help You With:
The ability to change your relationship with difficult emotions. No longer focusing on your anxiety, and instead focusing of your relationship to anxiety.
The ability to cut the intensity of emotions. Not erase the emotions, but lower their intensity.
Being able to recover from falling into an emotional pit more quickly. Maybe it took you months or weeks to recover from a slipback. Now takes you a week or a few days.
Having the ability to notice when you’re caught up in thinking or feeling, and having the skills to do something about it.
Having a way to access a relaxation response in your body, regardless of what emotion you are currently experiencing.
Ability to observe difficult emotions such as sadness, grief, anger without as much resistance to them as before, allowing them to pass through you and complete their journey in less time than before.
Ability to be present with difficult emotions and pain, without them consuming you, allowing you to make better decisions for yourself and to see more options in difficult situations.
Notice how none of these items erase challenges, or make you untouchable to difficult emotions, or remove anxiety from your life completely. That’s because those types of desires are wishing away your humanness. To be human is to experience both ease and challenges and to be touched by the full range of emotions such as anxiety, grief, anger, joy, hope, compassion, relief, fear, worry, happiness, relaxation, disappointment, dread, confusion, excitement, awe, gratefulness. To resist this or wish it away is counterproductive and gets in the way to having a more optimal state of well-being.
So take a moment to check in with your intentions for meditation and your expectations of meditations. See if or how the above table impacts your mindset. It may be a subtle difference in thinking but I’ve found it to be the key to the wonderful benefits of meditation.
Before we move on to the next thing in our day, let’s take a moment to experience a relaxation response in our bodies by tightening all of our muscles in our body for three seconds ..1..2..3.. And relax, letting go all of all the tension in your muscles, sinking into your chair, breathing out of your mouth. Inhale and repeat. Good job.
Till next time.
Wishing you joy, safety and ease.
Anna is a blog contributor, meditation leader and teacher, and photographer. You can follow her on Instagram @skillsforwellness and find her blogging away at reset brain + body.reset brain + body is a mental wellness practice where traditional talk therapy is elevated through the integration of meditation, nutrition, yoga and mindfulness. Connect with reset brain + body onInstagram & Facebook,check out the class schedule, orcontact us to book an appointment.