For years now, I have unsuccessfully maintained a consistent meditation practice. Like my exercise routines, diet improvements, and abstaining from alcohol and other bad habits, I have been guilty of doing really well for several days, weeks, or even months in any of these and other categories, only to slip back into old habits.
Every once and a while in my research and practice, I come across a paradigm shifter that allows me to upgrade my evolution in areas I was previously stagnating in.
Michael A. Singer’s wisdom has been the most recent eye-opener for me. He essentially breaks down our existence and life itself in a way that leaves you with no choice but to surrender to the beauty in the everyday.
One of his main points is that the odds of our existence are virtually impossible. The fact that we are allowed to breathe, think, love, and move is nothing short of a miracle. Why, then, would we waste a single moment being upset, angry, or frustrated?
A great point. It may not even require deep contemplation to wrap your head around if you are even close to content, but very difficult to grasp if you are in the throws of a rage-filled drive to work.
This is an example he used as an opportunity for us to practice mindfulness in our everyday experiences.
His point is you can sit and meditate for hours every morning, but if the moment you step out into the world, you find yourself engaged in battle with your thoughts and desires wanting things to be this way or that, you get overwhelmed with frustration.
So why not practice mindfulness in situations that you actually participate in? We are rarely free to sit and meditate during a meeting at work, on our commute, or when surrounded by our in-laws.
So in practicing mindfulness, forgiveness, love, compassion, and even joy in the moments throughout your day, you are flexing your mindful muscles in ways sitting on a pillow simply can’t.
He provides several examples of everyday experiences that are perfect for our mindful practice, including spending time with your family, who you may not get along with 100% of the time, time spent at work with coworkers or a boss that gets on your nerves, or the one that resonated with me the most; sitting in traffic.
Traffic has been my Achilles heel as I can be zen as fuck all day, but the moment I hit the road to run an errand and encounter the inevitable idiot on the road, I lose it.
My solution, inspired by Mr. Singer, was to place a post it note on the dash of my car that simply reads “ZEN AF”, and I look at it every time I sit in the driver’s seat and remind myself that every person that cuts me off, every person driving the speed limit in the fast lane, everyone looking down at their phones and waiting 4 seconds to go when the light turns green, is just another beautiful soul, that won the universal lottery.
They have a family, they have friends, they are in love, they have experienced heartbreak, they have a job, they face troubles and adversity oftentimes far worse than anything I have faced, and they deserve to be forgiven for their momentary lapse in reason.
I am far from a monk behind the wheel, but bringing my mindfulness practice into a realm where I was struggling the most was like jumping out of the kiddy pool and into a hurricane 100 miles offshore, but I am seeing progress like never before, and it is not just while driving.
I am seeing the results in just about everything that tends to trigger me on multiple levels, and I am just getting started.
What is your version of this? Is it traffic? Is it your annoying coworkers? Is it dinner with your family that may not agree with you politically and loves to bring that up?
I would find your version, and commit to reminding yourself before you step into the car, head to the in-laws, walk through the doors of your office building, to pause, reflect for a moment, and use a mantra (mine is ZEN AF), and strengthen your compassion in the everyday experiences that life throws your way.
Start with one category and move into others. What has worked for me is finding one I encounter every day or almost every day. This keeps the axe sharp.
Go get Zen as fuck.