I came across an Alan Watts lecture through a gaming channel I watch on YouTube. I didn’t understand it, and I still don’t fully understand everything, but I was intrigued by this guy. I went on Audible to buy an audiobook on Zen by Watts: “The way of Zen”. I think I grasp that concept much better now.
In the Western world what is commonly known about meditation is that you sit down and want nothing. That’s a picture a lot of people have in mind. But what gets you there is actually the more important part.
See, we all want things. Of course we want things. We want love, we want a house, we want a family, we want to meditate. But if you desire something, it “de-centers” yourself. Suddenly you are drawn towards that thing you desire. It attracts yourself like a magnet. You desire it until you have it, and then, all of a sudden, you can return to your middle. It’s like a pendulum that starts swinging in different directions for everything you want.
When you meditate you create a space where you can have nothing. Actually you create a space where you don’t need anything. When you meditate for 15 minutes, you sit down and you don’t need anything for that timeframe. No food, no phone, no computer. You know that once you get to that place that you can be truly by yourself. And let’s face it, just 15 minutes to sit down and think of nothing that you want or desire? Doesn’t that sound like a manageable task?
This is how I have been taught to meditate:
Because I’m hyperactive, sitting down for just a minute sounded insanely crazy to me. Before I got into PMR, I tried to meditate already. Like many I just downloaded a CD and put it on my iPod. The instructor’s voice was so calm and slow that I sheerly freaked out. Because this is what most Western people want. They want something and they want it now. “Come on, just relax me already, goddammit!”
My coach said: “Look, this is going to help. It is scientifically proven that it does. You can decide to get this tool or you can fight it, like you did. I would recommend that you at least give it a try. Your body wants to move, I know that. Can you tell your body to shut down for 15 minutes? Because this is what this is all about. The entire purpose is that you can have 15 minutes to sit still and relax. It is not required for you to move in that time. Can you do that?” And I said: “Yes, let’s try it!”
My first session was much easier than I expected it. Because the entire purpose was to sit down and relax, I was able to sit down and relax. I could to let go.
Meditation is a tool that you can use to find your middle. Don’t worry when there is no middle at the beginning. You just started out and you need to learn this. I am nowhere perfect either. I wasn’t able to have a centered thought for the last couple of weeks. When I sit down and meditate I can feel how much I’m drawn towards a thing that is currently on my mind. I try to concentrate on myself, but all I can think of is that other thing. What I want to say is, things change. It is not always perfect. Some days you have the entire session for yourself, some days you don’t. It is actually healthy to realize the busy days, because they are indeed busy. How are you supposed to calm yourself to a monk-like state when there are so many things going on in your life?
“Nothingness” is not permanent. It is something that exists temporarily, but it exists long enough to have an effect on other things in life.
The new year is coming and we are preparing ourselves for the things that are in front of us. Sven just wrote a tweet that inspired me to write this:
“In case you still need a good New Year’s Resolution: Stop doing things half-assed!”
Which is only half of the truth in my eyes, because you can’t just stop doing things half-assed if your clustered with stuff that you do half-assed. The art is to find the things that burden your life and to let go of these, so that you have more time and energy to focus on the things that are important to you.
And that is easier said than done. This brings me once more to Priorities. What are your priorities? Do you have a plan in mind or do you still need to figure things out? It is not bad if you are not there yet, but you should try to have one eventually. It is what makes the difference.
Sometimes I can’t see far ahead of me. In stressful times I can only see the next couple of days. When I’m really really good I can have a vision for the next 6 months. To imagine what the next 4 years are going to look like is an art I try to master at the moment. I can’t do that for everything. I can envision my business for the next 4 years1. I can’t envision how my relationship is going to look like for that time. Those two things are entirely different in my view. There are things where I rely on external guidance, there are things where I can only imagine a foundation. In those cases it is good to have someone else build the roof and the walls, so that I can fill in the blanks, hang the pictures, and color the scene. Maybe you can identify yourself with this, and if you do, maybe you can get an external guide. Whether this is your partner, a coach, a therapist, whatever, just have the strength to admit that you are not strong enough and let this guide help you.
Strength has nothing to do with external factors like rigidity or doing “tough” things. A strong muscle isn’t strong because it is inflexible. The opposite is true. A weak muscle is inflexible. When a muscle is strong, it is strong because it can let go. Admit that you are weak to become a stronger person.
Admit that you do things half-assed and be strong enough to make a decision what to do with these things. Is that thing something that you still really really want or is it just here because it was here all the time? Do you need an external guide to help yourself finish that thing, in case you really really want it, but are just not strong enough? If you don’t want it anymore, and you don’t need it anymore, can you be strong enough to let go? Can you have enough oversight to accept that someone else can see even further than you?
Which I just did. And the future looks really amazing. ↩
MOOCSE is a search engine for MOOC’s. If you don’t know what a MOOC is, it stands for “Massive Open Online Course”. I like MOOCSE when I search for new courses on things I want to learn. Click the link above and it will take you to a search “tai chi”.