With the start of a new year, I think we all take the time to reflect on how things are going. We tend to take the time to sit down, consider our shortcomings and failures, and contemplate what we can do differently to improve ourselves. We seem to constantly be striving for better. If there is anything that my meditation practice has taught me, its that this alone is one of our major problems in life. We need to live in the moment and appreciate everything that we have going for us right now.
I’ve spent a disgusting amount of time in my life worrying about both the past and the future. I find that my brain will manage to conjure up the worst possible situation that could ever happen and then manage to convince me that it is 99.9% on the cards for me. Its called catastrophizing. There’s a teeny tiny part of my brain that remains logical, and tries its hardest to make itself heard but it rarely, if ever, succeeds. I also worry way too much about what people think of me. I have an irrational fear of authority. I’m always afraid that I have done something wrong and, much like the mindset of a 7 year old child, I worry that someone will “get angry” with me. There is an innate fear of disappointing someone – even if it doesn’t even matter. I’ll find myself waking in a cold sweat terrified about how a situation might play out, or if I think I might have said something that may have come across the wrong way.
Meditation has taught me how to focus on now. Living in the present moment, for me, means that I don’t give my time or energy to the “what ifs” and “if onlys.” It means that I focus on whatever is happening in this moment – and in this moment in time, everything is fine, I am safe, and nothing is wrong right now. This method of “pressing pause” on my thinking can really help me when my thoughts start to get chaotic. I find that it helps my logical brain speak louder. It is one of the few ways that I can show myself kindness.
At a time when the world feels like it is falling apart, and when we’ve all been forced to press pause on most of our hopes, plans, and dreams, I think that we can take this time to consider the pace of the lives we were living. I’d like to clarify that I’m not for a second trying to take away from the pain and devastation that Covid-19 has caused to millions of lives. I think that there was a bit of a movement in the last five or six years. People started to recognise that the pace of our lives had changed drastically and was proving to be detrimental to both our physical and mental health. We were constantly looking for more, to have the latest things, to wear the best clothes, to lose more weight, to go on the fanciest holidays… essentially it was like we were living for the ‘gram. Our lives became a showcase. Being busy was glorified, and mostly still is. But, I do believe that an awakening is happening. Being forced to stay at home and “simply be” is causing many of us to pause and reevaluate. Yes we need money coming in to keep the roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and bills at bay; but were we really put on this earth to make money, pay bills, and die?
I think that I’ve learned that I want, and now intend, to live life in a more meaningful way, in a more mindful way. I intend to cherish the little things and stop getting consumed by the “bigger picture.” I intend to stop thinking of what could go wrong and trust in the here and now, and that everything will unfold just as it is meant to. I intend to be kinder. I intend to be more loving. I intend to let more love in. I intend to live and embrace life, and not to merely exist.