The construction on the main road to my house has it down to one lane, and I keep forgetting take a different way. Each time I get stuck, I get so annoyed! “How dare they ‘waste’ my time” flashes through my head. Who are “they” anyway? It’s amazing how I can get so insular and egotistical with just a little traffic.
Think of meditation – what’s the first image that appears? A beautiful woman wearing white on a beach smiling?
Orange cones, honking horns, the buzz of a jackhammer – just like the road work by my house, this would be a more appropriate metaphor at times for how it feels to meditate.
As the brain changes through meditation (check out this cool TIME magazine demo on the brain under meditation), it’s a bit like being UNDER CONSTRUCTION. You’re laying down a new road, one that leads to improved filtering of information (e.g. less traffic, better merging) and a slowing down of the input of sensory data (e.g. school zone vs highway). Yoga practices, including meditation, create a smoother ride with increased focus and awareness.
Yet some days my mind is restless, screaming at me, and hot; I feel lost in the messiness of life. It's normal to feel a little more stressed at times when we meditate, because we are actually noticing what we didn't notice before -- all the ways in which we are changing, and yet currently overwhelmed by stress.
By taking a powerful pause (try this Cooling Breath video), I can smooth out the road a bit and see the signs more clearly; and maybe next time, plan a bit better in advance.
Next time you’re stuck in traffic, physical or mental, remember that creating new patterns is messy and feels like construction. Extend compassion to yourself and put on an audio meditation (one of my favorites here) instead of automatically getting upset.
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