A Love Letter to Meditation
from a constantly-questioning counselor
Some love is instantaneous. That first glance across the room. That first interaction that brought sparks. This love lightning can find us with people, activities, places, food, songs. I definitely fell in love with chicken parm at first sight. And the process of making pasta by hand. And with a raspberry macaroon I had at a fancy bakery. Okay, so maybe I fall in love fast with good food and food creation. This I know about myself, and is a love I have continued to foster over the years.
These loves were hard and fast and deep, but not all love is like this.
For me, my love with meditation did not come at first sight. Like many, I think at first sight, instead of love, I felt confusion, concern, worry about the activity.
“What if this doesn’t work for me?”
“Seemingly everyone is benefitting from meditation. What if I don’t?
"What if it makes things worse!?”
“I don’t have time for meditation.”
“I will need to be a total hippie in order to meditate.”
“I’m too practical to meditate.”
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar... ..?
While I don’t remember when or where I was when I first approached meditation, I think that lack of significant memory speaks volumes. Meditation had been insignificant. And yet, it has been labeled as SO valuable and significant by others. Time and again, I hear others talking around this tool like some kind of panacea or cure-all. The myth around meditation only served to enhance my fear, give it power and make it stronger.
“I want what they’re having!” I would think to myself, in an almost tantruming voice of a toddler.
“And if I can’t find clarity and achieve bliss when I do it, then I don’t want it at All!”
My apprehension about meditation kept me from exploring it for a long time. And I mean years. It wasn’t until much later that I realized it was Fear that was keeping me from trying meditation. You might think it was fear of meditation, fear of the tool being not helpful.
More accurately, I will own, I was afraid to sit with myself and notice the noise.
Meditation can be scary because it encourages us to sit with the Self, to learn the noise, and to see where the Mind can take us when we notice it.
In my therapeutic work, I often highlight this concept as “Thoughts are just thoughts.”
This means that thoughts can take whatever form they want, whether it is “I am the best.” “Today is awful.” “The sky is mashed potatoes.”
Noticing thoughts can be really scary because we put a lot of emphasis on the weight or value of our thinking.
“If I think this, then I must be an awful person.” Or conversely, “My kind thoughts are with them, so I must be a kind person.”
Well, I think there’s more to us than our thought noise, and in fact, I measure my worth based on what I DO rather than what I THINK I do, if you catch the distinction.
Thoughts can be sensible language or even purely nonsensical. Thoughts are the noise our minds make and then we interpret that noise as a direction to provide us with some kind of input. We tend to dispel the ones that are not helpful and respond to the ones we deem “helpful”. *Of course, which thoughts are helpful can change based on the context.
No wonder my love with meditation was not instantaneous. That first date was SO awkward. There we were, meditation and me. I’m trying to figure out how to sit with it and enjoy it, wondering what to think next to entertain meditation on our date and, wondering meanwhile if meditation is judging me. (Spoiler alert: meditation is not judging you.)
My mind, however, was also present on that date and had a lot of judgment about that first encounter. It judged Me for being a Bad Date for meditation. My mind loves to throw judgment and criticism. In fact, it’s almost as if my mind believes this part of its programming.
Maybe that last part resonates for some of you.
I didn’t realize this until I began to curiously wander through the Dark of my Mind and shine light on the noise by meditating. What was it that empowered me to face my fear?
Well, in 2020, I don’t know if you had heard...but the world entered a pandemic state. The fear became global. Fear no longer felt individual or unique to me. Strangely, perhaps, I found power in this universality. Globally and internationally, people were making room for and discussing their fears. They were finding ways to face them. They were inspiring me by how they took their fear with them into the situations they were afraid of. People were going into these veritable battlegrounds daily and facing fear of mortality, fear of security, safety, scarcity, fear of respect, fear of stigma. The list goes on. Suddenly, that awkward first date I had with meditation came back around.
“Maybe I could give Meditation another chance,” I thought to myself. “Maybe I had prejudged meditation.
Maybe I was the awkward one on the first date, not meditation…
Now is the time to try again and ask meditation out on another date. It’s okay if the first date was awkward or clunky. If you didn’t know how to do it, if it worked, or what you gained.
Meditation can be a really useful way of getting used to the noise first and then eventually, like a couple who have known each other for decades, it will be a date where you don’t have to talk at all.
counselor by day, creative-type by nite- exploring topics around mental health (of course), a fascination with most things food/in the kitchen, and musings. Accepting clients for Maryland-based teletherapy and expanding my writing community