Painfully Present

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Pain is a kind of shortcut to mindfulness.

-Brock Bastian

I spent the greater part of this week violently ill.  Exhausted, green, and drenched in sweat- my kidneys were getting the better of me. In order to process the pain I began focusing on the rhythmic pull of my breath. And then came the popularized yoga mantra- “It all comes back to the breath.”  On a grueling loop, this mantra brutalized my mind for hours while I prayed for relief.

I promised to be more grateful for my health, more present in my practices and more conscientious of my kidneys if all the pain promised to surrender itself. And then it hit me- this is the opportunity right now. This is the meditation. Not when I’m all cozy and copacetic. But right now.

What does pain have to do with meditation?

Pain has the ability to force acknowledgement of the present moment.  In a moment of pain, all that exists is your situation, your feeling, and your physical being.  Pain is the persistent reminder, demanding absolute attention.

What is meditation?

Meditation is the art of consciously and peacefully living the present moment.   Mindful meditation allows thoughts to flow in and out, without attachment or judgement. The present mind is a calm, balanced state of mind unattached to both past and future experiences.

But this experience was not calm, or peaceful, or balanced. It was a shit-storm of epic proportions. And I already knew the answer- more meditation. I should have been more prepared (smh).

Why meditate?

Meditate to keep from pulling your hair out when your kids drive you bonkers. Meditate to keep from telling your boss where to shove it. Meditate to remain calm when some hoity-toity soccer mom steals your Whole Foods parking spot. Meditate for productivity, for pain or for purpose. Just meditate. Trust that when you least expect it, you’ll call upon your meditation practice.

How do I get started?

By living the present moment. By letting go of things you cannot control. By assuming a warrior over worrier mentality.

Here are a few tips to help you on your way:

  • When you catch yourself making plans while in the midst of a plan, remind yourself, “be here now.”
  • Prioritize 5 minutes a day to sit in undisturbed silence. Close your eyes and allow thoughts and feelings to pass without attachment.
  • Resist the urge to lay down during meditation- this will likely end in sleep- which is not the end goal.
  • Locate a peaceful spot to conduct your meditation and experiment with your practice at dawn and/or dusk.
  • Be consistent.

If you have no idea where to begin, I highly recommend downloading the app Headspace.  Headspace is a quality tutorial developed to help guide you through your practice.  They even offer a free trial period so you can test the waters.  No excuses!

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