One of my favorite comedians, JP Sears, has become an internet sensation with his satirical “ultra spiritual” video series. His Instagram and YouTube channel are full of “how to” guides on topics such as being vegan, using essential oils, getting offended, being a minimalist, and of course (the ultimate spiritual practice) how to meditate.
Being a Marine, I know the power of “doing” meditation; how quieting the mind, slowing your breathing and decreasing your heart rate can many times mean the difference between life and death. Yet now when I’m told I should meditate, I can’t help but see JP depicting, as he describes it, the “tofu-thumper who knows how to sit in excruciatingly uncomfortable positions for mind-numbing lengths of time” while surrounded by candles and soft music, as the ideal. Not that there’s anything wrong with either way of “doing” meditation, but when it comes to day-to-day life I have to wonder — can there be a happy medium?
In my own practice, I have discovered the most powerful times of meditation were actually not found in taking a few deep breaths to chill myself out, nor when the stakes were as high as life or death. The most profound times of meditation were when I slowed my breathing, calmed my heart rate and quieted my mind IN ORDER TO reconnect with who I was at the deepest core of my spirit and being-ness.
It’s easy to mistake the DOING of meditation — the sitting still, the deep breathing, the repeated chants — as the end goal. However, in doing so, we forget that these actions are simply a means to an end. Meditation is not about these actions on their own; it’s about CHOOSING who you want to be in the process of whatever you decide to do. When you are able to approach meditation from this position, the DOING is what then allows you to BE. It is at this point the environment is no longer an excuse to distract, dissuade, or compromise your values. Other peoples’ actions or reactions can no longer manipulate how you choose to show up and BE. Going beyond the “doing” takes courage because you must be willing to get quiet enough to think about who you truly are, what you really value, and how you will live these out in your daily interactions.
Abraham Lincoln said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the amount of life in your years.” Meditating with the perspective of BEING brings LIFE into your days because it draws you back to the core of who you are. It reminds you of the things that ignite your soul. You have a renewed perspective to evaluate your goals and decide if they still align with your purpose, and if they do then you will confidently enjoy your journey — regardless of the challenges standing in your way.
When you know that your goals align with your purpose and you decide to go after the “impossible,” there will be times the summit feels too far away and the challenges seem too painful to overcome. In these moments, it is critical to stay connected to your inner purpose and remember that though the journey is hard, the suffering is optional. Pain is part of the price we pay for achieving big dreams, and when we use meditation to reconnect to our deepest self in the midst of challenges, we will learn how to let go of any suffering to remain rooted in our cause.
Meditation goes beyond quiet spaces and deep breathing. True meditation prepares our mind and spirit for what our hands and feet experience on the daily journey. With this mindset, meditation can be done in any place, at any time, in any way — for when you connect who you are with who you want to BE, there is no other option but to DO what you were made to do.
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