I’ve always been a thinker. As far back as I can recall, I was drawn to ideas, imagination, knowledge. I would read Trivial Pursuit cards for fun. I would read books on facts and trivia. (I still have one! “1001 Surprising Facts”). On the ranch, my favorite pastime was thinking. Feeding steers in sub-zero temperatures. Riding horseback amongst the junipers. Sitting on an open-cab tractor in 100+ degree weather. In class. In church. At home in the middle of the night. In all of it, I was thinking, dreaming, planning.
Almost 50 years in, I have a very well exercised thinking brain. It can absorb copious amounts of information. It can strategize and plan. It can problem solve. And it can be paranoid, delusional and anxiety-riddled. Conversely, I had until recent years, an under-developed feeling brain (heart). I was afraid of any emotion I couldn’t control. I felt like feelings were a distraction from getting things accomplished. I viewed emotional people as unstable and unreliable.
In essence, I was the mental version of the guy in the gym who only does upper body workouts. My thinking brain was all yoked up but my feeling brain had chicken legs. This imbalance came into stark awareness after a spiritual awakening in 2014 and the ensuing shifting, changing (and death) of old forms and structures. Then I felt EVERYTHING. And my thinking brain didn’t know how to handle it.
In 2017, I discovered the power of meditation. My curiosity was piqued when I read Mark Divine’s book “Unbeatable Mind.” If a Navy SEAL and martial artists practiced meditation, then it must be pretty badass! My prior perception of meditation was that it was for thinking. And I already did that. I also thought it was more for monks and Buddhists. It was fine for them, but I had shit to do.
I began practicing meditation in fits and spurts in 2018. My bias, at that point, was that meditation was a mind-control tool; that it was to calm racing thoughts, overthinking, anxiety. And it did. Sort of. I assumed that its lack of efficacy was due to my own inconsistencies with it. In 2019, I discovered Sam Harris’ app “Waking Up”. It was then that I established a regular practice. Sam’s sessions were simple, short and non-woo woo. Through those meditations, I learned that meditation isn’t about controlling thoughts. It’s about observing them; sitting in the witness chair. I did think differently, but I didn’t feel all that different.
Then this happened …
This past weekend, I discovered something new and beautiful about meditation. I made this discovery not by reading or thinking, but by meditating itself. I realized that I was now using meditation to do to my feelings what I used to do for my thoughts: control and/or change them. Sitting in a guided meditation on Sunday morning (30 minutes – the longest one I’d ever done!), this truth flashed to me: Meditation is about accepting feelings, not changing them. This was a game-changing discovery for me. Although I was slightly embarrassed that it took me so long to arrive at it.
Ultimately, all of meditation is about acceptance of and connecting with THIS; the hard-to-grasp presence, now, and oneness of being HERE. Observing thoughts and feelings without judgment, without trying to change them, is part of the process of connecting to THIS. And THIS is where God, Spirit, peace, love, joy, purpose are. THIS is where I am.
PS: I have read a number of books on this topic. Message me if you’d like a list of my favorites.