How I Get Out of Meditation
If you don’t have enough time to meditate for one hour, meditate for two. That’s what they say, right? I always liked that saying. It reminds me about our relationship with time, and how we sometimes try to grab it and hold it like we own it. That never seems to work though. No matter what we do, how much we stress, worry, or schedule, time just goes.
Even though we can’t stop time, there is a way to become more aware of it. At least that’s why I meditate. Meditation is one of those things that has and seemingly will always be around. It is used in a large variety of different religions and practiced by many more. In a modern day use, there are not many people using meditation in a direct effort to reach Nirvana. Meditation has been adapted to many different purposes including reducing stress, increase focus, aid decision making, gaining mental well-being, improving sleep, and more. There are even studies that have shown strong correlations between meditation lowering blood pressure, decreasing aging of the brain, aiding in digestion, quicken the healing process, improving the immune system, and even chilling the fuck out. Crazy.
HOW I GET OUT OF MEDITATING
What’s my gripe with meditating? That I actually have to do it. I like the feeling of being productive, and to get that I usually have to actually be productive. While Piercey boy is doing that, the idea of sitting with my eyes closed doing nothing doesn’t make me gravitate towards the offer. So, let me tell you what I do to get out of meditating.
First, when I do meditate, it is often out of some kind of need. I might be feeling stressed, mentally blocked, foggy, overwhelmed, or just trying to organize my day. After I’m done, I usually feel better. After a while, I started remembering the feelings I would get after meditating. Then, instead of meditating, I would try to copy those feelings I remembered. I’d recognize the mental state I was in, imagine how I would feel if I meditated, and would just try to jump right into that feeling without the meditation. This never worked, and I have a feeling many more people do this than just me. It would actually cause more stress as to why I wasn’t good enough at altering my mental state of being at the drop of a hat. I thought I needed to get better, but I really just needed to do it right.
YOU CAN’T PREDICT MEDITATION
One of the points of meditation is for the experience to be unpredictable. You can go into meditation for any reason you want, and the great part about it is that you often come out of it with a new view, realization, or feeling. Trying to predict and jump straight to that feeling is like watching half of a movie, imagining a sad ending, and trying to make yourself cry. There is a disconnect. You need to go through the process to be able to experience what comes after.
If you don’t have time to meditate for 1 hour, meditate for 2? I don’t know about that, but there is something more to that statement than just the literal. We very often convince ourselves that we don’t have time to meditate because of everything we have to do, and that we will meditate in our rest when everything is done. Then, when that rest comes, we feel better because we aren’t stressing about work or errands and end up not meditating because we feel that we don’t need to anymore. The day was rough, but it’s over now. It’s fine.
Yes, you might be able to get through the day without meditation. You have for this long right? If you can get through the day anyway then what’s the point of it?
SHARPENING YOUR SAW
This concept comes from one of the first improvement books I’ve read, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. If you haven’t read it, do. It’s a classic.
Yes, you may get through your day without meditation, but you may be putting yourself through unneeded hardship doing so because you’re not sharpening your saw. Sharpening your saw is a discipline in self development. It is continuous in your habits, not something you can binge. Sharpening the saw is being proactive and exercising the dimensions of your life that are important in your growth.
Take going to the gym/exercising. To get in shape, you must exercise on a consistent basis and always push yourself to do better. You can’t go to the gym once, workout for 16 hours straight, and get the abs and lock-and-loaded biceps of your dreams. You have to go often. If you are already in shape, guess what, you still go to the gym just as often. You have to be proactive to stay in shape and not fall off the routine (Call it what you want, but I’m going to make an article about how gym is literally life). If you do skip the gym for a while you can still get back in, but it will be harder to lift the same weights and get back in the habit. It stays possible, but it becomes more difficult.
This is what sharpening your saw is about. You can still cut down a tree with a dull blade, but it will be tremendously easier if you sharpen the blade. My usual excuse is that sharpening the blade takes time, and that’s time I can spend on just cutting down the tree. Yes, but how much is it going to suck cutting down that tree? It will take longer than needed. Progress will be slow and discouraging. You will start to loathe cutting down trees because of the agony it takes during. Plus, not saying others opinions are super important, but to an outside eye it just looks like you suck at cutting down trees.
Sharpening your saw is Meditation, and the tree is your day. You can trudge through the day in irritation, impatience, melancholy, and exhaustion, or you can meditate and find a reason to make it better.
Yes, this was a long winded way of saying that I trick myself out of meditating, but I shouldn’t. The whole thing about predicting your future feelings after meditating doesn’t just happen there either. We predict how we will feel constantly.
Before we write a paper, we imagine how much it will suck to have to focus on something so boring. Before exercising, we think about how painful the whole thing will be, and that we have to do it for an hour. Before we talk to our crush, we get paralyzed by the possibility of rejection. Before we make most decisions, we predict. This prediction is what leads to procrastination, perfectionism, over-analyzation, over-expectation/disappointment, and the onset of fear.
As we know, the anticipation of pain is worse than the pain itself. That’s why we prolong and put off the important. We can get so caught up in t
he future that we become paralyzed. This takes form as us skipping meditation and trying to force a feeling of well-being. This is you not allowing yourself to experience what you are feeling. Your emotions should not be ignored. They say a lot. Meditation doesn’t help you extinguish feeling. It helps you understand and overcome. UNDERSTANDING is key. Otherwise, you are just acting. Speaking of acting, let’s talk about acting. Then, I’ll leave you with that.
Back when I lived in Los Angeles, I did a little acting. I might not have been the best actor, but I did my research. This is when I learned about method acting and the Meisner technique. Both are very similar in the fact that they both revolve around the idea of real emotion going into a scene. This is when I realized that acting takes a much bigger toll on the actor than most of us think.
In method acting, it can barely even be considered acting. These people get so into character, so attached to the role, that the emotions they exhibit on screen are real and true emotions that they experience on a very real level.
In Bryan Cranston’s autobiography A Life in Parts, he goes over a scene in Breaking Bad. The scene when Jane, his partner Jesse’s problematic girlfriend, is ODing in Jesse’s bed while they sleep. Walter White, Cranston’s character in the show, watches her choke on her own vomit and chooses not to save her because of earlier threats she had made. After the scene cuts, Bryan Cranston goes over how he broke down in tears. They has to halt filming. Walter White was a good man with a conscience (debatably). Jane was threatening to ruin his and his family’s lives and he had to make a decision. To show the pain in his decision, Cranston had the image of his own daughter on that bed slowly suffocating to death. He had to gain his composure to continue shooting the next day. That’s no longer acting. That is very real.
Cranston had to get himself into a very dark place, but the same can be done with a more positive spin. These actors are not acting. They are experiencing. They are in the moment with the emotion and letting it take them wherever it goes. Many actors report that they have trauma from certain roles they take on because of the psychological toll the roles have on them.
The point of this is not just to act, but to actually experience. Meditation is our tool to do that, among other things. Not in a way like, “I want to be happy, so I’m going to meditate on happiness”. Meditate as to why you should be happy. Look for what you have to be happy about whether it be your family, friends, dog, house, or whatever. Happy will happen as a symptom, not as to root. Bryan’s reason was his daughter, and his emotions in the scene where the result. He didn’t force the emotion, he felt them as a result of his reason. Find a reason.
FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT
Even if you still consider it acting, think of that phrase: Fake it til’ you make it. If you’re having a bad day, they say to fake a good one and a good one starts by your actions. If you are not confident, fake confidence and it will turn into the real thing. Think of meditating as getting into character. The type of day you want to have and person you want to be are the roles. It takes time and effort to get into these roles, but it gets easier with practice. Find a reason to get out of bed. Find a reason to talk to a new person. Find a good enough reason and you will not be faking anything.
I didn’t expect this post to be so long, twisty, and turny, but I had too much coffee. Drive safe. Meditate. See you late.