Struggling to Do What’s Right

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We all laughed when in Eat, Pray, Love Julia Roberts as Elizabeth Gilbert, sits down in lotus position and attempts to meditate. Not a second after she closes her eyes, her monkey mind begins. “What am I going to do when this year is over? Where am I going to live? Maybe Chicago?…Why is this so hard?” Then when she looks at the clock turn from 1:50 to 2:00 pm: “Oh my god. Kill me!”

Funny because anyone who’s ever tried meditating understands the feeling.

Suddenly every single worry, fear, mindless concern seems to be front and center and there’s nowhere to hide from it, nothing to hide it with.

In that respect, how can meditation be really relaxing anyway?

I mean wouldn’t you rather plop down $100 to spend a day at a spa where people are ensuring your relaxation then spending 5 minutes of focused attention on yourself?

Somehow I think all the TV we watch, gossip we engage in and books we read to escape end up being more distracting and stressful in the long run. Like window shopping on our way to the grocery store, they impede our path. And while massage, manicures and shopping trips can be good for us and has their place in our lives, I think the thing we’re most afraid of (confronting our fears) holds the key to long-term change and ultimate happiness.

There’s all kinds of evidence to suggest it. There are research studies that prove meditation is good for our physical health (lowering blood pressure, decreases pain, increases immune function). But just like the choice between a healthy salad and a frosted scoop of chocolate ice-cream, it’s so much easier to lean to the right.
 

What is Good for Us Isn’t Necessarily Easy

The problem is, at least for me, doing nothing doesn’t feel like it should be any good. Sure sitting on my butt and watching mindless TV isn’t good either. But my mind is so distracted by flashes of light and attention grabbing verbiage that I forget about it for the moment. So although the repetitive motions of aerobic exercise or a bike ride when my muscles are aching really aren’t good for me, it feels like it should be. Maybe it’s growing up in the 80’s idea of pain = gain that has my mind twisted.

What’s hard is breaking the habit. 

Even in a cottage where it’s fitting that my husband sits on a lounge chair under a reading lamp and reads as jazz plays on the stereo, I busied myself painting, crafting a short story and trying my hardest to finish as much reading as I could before the weekend was over.

But when I am really honest with myself, all the drama of avoiding meditation has to with the word guilt. If I’m not creating, I’m not being productive. If I am sitting on my ass, I am being lazy. Generations of women who ran around cooking and cleaning and working as their men sat and relaxed has caught up with me.

This journey to take the time to take care of myself has revealed that. I guess “when you know better you do, do better.” The question now is what will I do with that information. Will you keep doing what’s easy and comfortable to ease your short-term experience or will you face the seemingly impossible-sit in silence and don’t do anything? We shall see.

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4 comments

  1. Kemari says:

    From my mind to your blog.

    Seriously, I was just thinking about this. I want to have that kind of discipline that the me in my head does. You know, that ideal you that lives in your brain? Mine has this infinite supply of discipline and inner strength. She pushes herself when she needs it, rewards herself when she deserves it, and loves herself regardless of any of it.

    I think of the movie and Roberts every time I sit down to meditate too. Because I have those same zippy thoughts bouncing around in my brain. The harder I try NOT to think, the more I do. And just as I get to the point where I am finally focused only on breathing, I start to think, “Ooh, I’ve done it. I’ve stopped thinking!” and the cycle starts all over again.

    I realize though that it is just another form of exercise. And that, just as it takes time to sculpt your body, it also takes time to sculpt your mind.

    In case I wasn’t clear, I love this post. 🙂

    • Brandi says:

      What a beautiful person that “ideal that lives in your brain!” And so true about starting and stopping, success and failure, trying and not trying. Meditation seems like a mini version of life, doesn’t it? I think you’re right on with your comment that “as it takes time to sculpt your body, it also takes time to sculpt your mind.” Will carry that with me as I attempt to meditate again today. Thanks Kemari! Btw, how do you make those cute smiley faces?

  2. Eleanor says:

    Hi Kemari,
    Fun post, it made me giggle remembering Eat, Pray, Love. I have come to the realisation that meditation can be something that can be done without sitting still. For me I love to sit in nature, that seems to sculpt my mind more than trying to sit and quieten it. I so get you on the ‘If I’m not creating, I’m not being productive’
    Eleanor

    • Brandi says:

      Hi Eleanor,

      What a great tip! What has been key for me (someone else who can’t sit still nor do the same thing once) is finding creative ways to meditate. Find what works and you’re more likely to stick to it right? Thanks for your comment! Hope to see you around here more!

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