Everyone who meditates has a different reason why they do it. Some do it to calm down their anxiety ridden monkey minds. Others do it to experience altered states of consciousness. Others do it because they think it will be a performance enhancer.
Personally, I like to look at it as a simple check-in. An ability to sit with my mind and my feelings and check in with myself to see what’s going on in the universe of Troy.
I like to look at my body as an ocean of feelings. When I sit down to meditate, I’m merely observing what the waves are like that day.
Just like the ocean, the waves are different every day. Some days the water is calm. Other days the water is choppy. Sometimes there’s an under toe. Other times there’s waves so big you don’t want to go in at all.
When I sit down to meditate, I’m simply scanning through my body and feeling what I feel like that day. What is my energy like? Concentration? Any tightness anywhere? Pain? Emotions that are overwhelming me?
Keep in mind that this isn’t meant to be a judgement process. It’s merely observing the waves come and go as if you are sitting on a beach watching wave after wave crash into shore.
All of this also changes depending on how long I sit for. The waves of my body 10 minutes in might be very different from how they feel 30 minutes from now….or maybe it will feel exactly the same. Every day is different.
I like to look at it as learning how to ride the waves of emotion. If you can sit with your anxiety, sadness, anger, frustration – whatever it may be – and observe how these emotions FEEL, you can start to become familiar with the quality of these waves.
Over time, you can learn how to ride them. How to navigate them. How to feel it and not allow it to overwhelm you.
You can also see the signs that lead to the creation of the wave, so you can see it coming from a far and get out of the way as necessary.
I like to use the analogy of surfing. If you’ve ever been surfing, you’ll know that you spend most of your time waiting for the right wave to catch. You have to see it coming, time it, and then choose to dive into it. OR If the wave doesn’t seem to your liking, you can simply dive under or go over it and allow it to pass without riding.
Similarly, we can do this with our emotions. When you feel a wave of anger rising up inside of you, you don’t have to ride it.
In the same way that you avoid a wave that is too big or too fast for you, you can see waves of emotion rising to the surface and get out of the way before the wave overwhelms you and wipes you out.
Note that this is also much different than avoidance. We still feel the emotions, but we can learn how to navigate the ones that make us lose control. Instead of taking the bait and getting angry or frustrated, we can pull back and have the awareness to know the conditions that make us lose our cool.
If you used to get easily irritated or depressed, you can notice these feelings arise and use that energy of feeling to strengthen your conviction, stay strong, and not fall into bad habits. You can see the wave coming and allow it to pass without diving in.
We can learn from the ocean as well. The ocean is constantly moving. Constantly changing. Shifting. Morphing. Mixing. No two waves are exactly the same.
So are we. Our feelings and emotions are constantly changing, constantly in flux. The quintessential “this too shall pass” realization that there is no such thing as the present moment, because the present moment itself in motion – No two moments in your life will ever be exactly the same.
Such is life. There is no actual stillness. Even at a bacterial level, everything is always shifting, morphing, changing. Take a microscope and zoom in on anything deeply enough and you will see the activity I’m talking about.
How can we learn to observe this impermanent law within ourselves? To observe the constantly changing evolution of our bodies and how they morph and shift on a day to day basis depending on what we ate, how active we were, and what type of mood we carried around with us. To learn not to judge, to simply watch the waves come and go like we do when looking at the ocean.
Try it for yourself. When you sit down to meditate, imagine that you are sitting on a surfboard in the middle of the ocean waiting for a wave to come. Some days the water might be calm and peaceful, some days you’ll get wiped out.
Either way, get back on the surfboard and observe the waves again the very next day 😉
Also published on Medium.