We arrived at the seaside vacation with my friend Mick, to join the rest of our friends. We left the city in the morning together. I had some inner trembling in the morning in the bank already, where I went to pick up some cash. I didn’t understand why I was feeling that way. Then I was nervous about the long trip on an unknown route. We had lunch at an unknown restaurant near the highway, we crossed the border, we crossed the highway gates. All unknown and new things and places, it all made me anxious and fearful.
I am restless. It is Monday evening, and I started this week at a frantic pace. I didn’t want to work on Sunday evening, I woke up early today instead. I arrived at the office at 9 am which is very unusual. I had planned, done, and arranged a lot already before the usual 10 am project management meeting. I stayed very active and motivated in the afternoon too. After work, I rushed through the city to the service with my car. As I arrived home, I didn’t feel like working more, so I started to read instead. I am reading five books at the same time, like a maniac. Then I decided to work a little, arranged some stuff for tomorrow, and kept on reading. It was already past 7 pm when I started feeling restless and uneasy again. I wanted to do everything, everything at the same time.
I’d like to share a story based on Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk. The story is about Gillian Lynne, the famous British ballerina, dancer, and choreographer, who talked about her childhood and the discovery of her talent to Robinson during an interview. She had problems at school from the beginning. She wasn’t interested in the classes, she couldn’t listen and concentrate, she had behavioral problems, she wasn’t able to even sit still. The teachers watched her worried, her mother didn’t know what to do. They wanted to give her medication, to control her constant nervousness and her inability to concentrate.
Kabat-Zinn writes this in this book: try asking yourself why you meditate! Don’t believe your first answers. Just write a list of whatever comes to mind. Continue asking yourself. Make a list of what is really important to you. Ask yourself: what is my vision and my map for where I am and where I am going? Does this vision reflect my true values and intentions? Am I remembering to embody those values? Do I practice my intentions?
So, I asked myself, and contemplated this question quite a lot. Why do I meditate?
I was thinking about something today, that I had noticed several times before. Meditation and this conscious awareness makes my perceptions sharper and wider. I see, feel and observe more about the world and about myself. I am getting more aware. This is good on one side, but on the other side I notice more tensions, frustrations, heavy feelings, bad habits in myself, that I have just never seen before. I just haven’t felt it, haven’t seen it, haven’t have any clue about it, therefore it hasn’t bothered me at all. I often feel that meditation brought me many new problems, instead of solving current ones. My life might be better with meditation, maybe I don’t even realize the ways it made my life better and easier. Maybe meditation will help me in the long run, by helping see and solve problems that I am just getting to know now, because they have been burried deep down inside me. I don’t know. But meditation surely makes my life more difficult sometimes with these new-found problems.
I’m having these panic attacks sometimes, and meditation seems to teach me things that can be useful in those dark moments. The only thing is that most of the time I get so overwhelmed and frightened during a panic attack, that I lose sight of what to do and how to handle the situation in a mindful way. It is really not easy, even if I know I am in the middle of a panic attack, and I won’t die or something. It is still very scary and difficult, and I am also very confused about the right attitude.
I think I just found something important in my meditation practice. Kabat-Zinn had a metaphor in his book, that I really liked but then I completely forgot about it. He said that meditation is like sitting out to the banks of the river of our thoughts for a while, instead of flowing with the river. Just watching and listening to the river and its constant flow, without letting it carry us away. Whatever happens inside the river, it is nothing more than a thought, not the absolute truth. When we feel something, it is not more than just a feeling. When we think something, it is not more than a thought, generated by our mind. And it really is possible to look at thoughts as mere thoughts, feelings as mere feelings, just watching them, accepting them just the way they are, and not letting them have too much power on us.