“If we stop to notice moments of pleasure — a flower poking up through the sidewalk, a puppy experiencing snow for the first time, a child’s hug – we have a resource for more joy.” — Sharon Salzberg, Real Happiness
Sometimes, life gives us moldy, sour lemons which are too far gone-off to make lemonade with. In those cases, it can be really helpful to have a dog.
Earlier this week I was walking down a crowded sidewalk and overheard a young man, in a defeated tone, complaining to his friend: “I didn’t sign-up for this..” he snarled.
I thought to myself this is exactly how I’ve felt in the past about my meditation practice. Witnessing the subtle moments of self-sabatoge in my own mind has led to similar disheartening & discouraging sentiments. Who am I to take on all this mental junk?!
In Week 2, just as in Week 1, the practice is in gently letting go of anything which is unessential in the present moment, with a bit more emphasis on the sensations of the body. Even if we catch a glimpse of our darker nature, we always have the opportunity to begin again, again, and again and again. Noticing a moment of reaction is the first step towards releasing the tangled energy that binds up our appreciation of life — of the present moment.
“When we can’t just let the moment in front of us be what it is (because we’re afraid that if it’s good, it will end too soon; if it’s bad, it’ll go on forever; and if it’s neutral, it’ll bore us to tears) we’re out of balance. Mindfulness restores that balance, we catch our habitual reactions of clinging, condemning and zoning out.” – Sharon Salzberg, in Real Happiness
So if you are experience any sense of “I didn’t sign-up for this,” around meditation, you’re not alone. Joy often rides the waves of sadness, and through meditation difficulties slowly dissolve into appreciation. Seeing our shadow-side is another opportunity for shifting our perspective, practicing kindness to ourselves and returning to whatever is vital in our experience.
Patrick is participating in the Real Happiness 28-day meditation program along with many other beautiful writers and meditators. You can jump in at any time and begin the program yourself, or check out other writings and musings about the program here.