The Big Game
There are a lot of conceptions out there about what meditation is or isn't. Let me fill everyone in, and make sure we are all on the same page. Meditation is not for or anti- anything. Meditation will not get you in trouble, nor is it something to be avoided or feared.
Meditation is practice. Like shooting free throws is practice. If you want to be a better basketball player, you practice shooting, passing, playing defense, and plays you might run in a game. If you are giving a big speech, you read your note cards, practice the speech so that when the time comes, you know the speech cold, can improvise if needed, and can answer any question confidently that anyone may throw your way.
Imagine the prior scenarios. We, I think, have all had the dream that we are going to or sitting for a test that we haven't prepared for. It is highly anxiety-provoking and leaves you feeling helpless. It's an awful feeling. What if you are at a basketball game in the audience, and the coach turns to you and says you have to go shoot and make these foul shots so we can win the championship. Or say you are about to go on live tv to deliver a story that you had not rehearsed or had little knowledge about. Unless you just happened to practice a ton of free throws or hone a speech on that particular current event 'just in case,' you'd be terrified, most likely. Most people would.
Yet this is how most of us go through life. Events happen, and we have no idea how to really deal with them. We think we are supposed to be "tough" or "strong" or "brave," or we completely melt down in sheer terror at the emotions, thoughts, or expectations we are facing. We have no idea how to work with our internal machinery. But what if you could practice so that when life shows up you know what to do, just like practicing free throws or an important speech? What if you had the confidence that no matter what situation arose in life, that you could handle it with ease and grace, just like the "iceman" at the end of the basketball game who steps up and drains the shots without a second thought?
This is the gift of what meditation has to offer. Life is not easy. Events are often unpredictable, and circumstances can change quickly. Nothing that you value in your life is guaranteed, and all of these things, including people, are impermanent. In understanding the "how's" and "why's" of life through the practice of meditation, we can become skilled in managing our own emotions. We come to understand our habituated thoughts and behaviors that lead us ultimately to pain, anxiety, and grief. We come to appreciate joyful times when they come, and not lament them when they are gone. We stop trying to repeatedly create the same experience, or rectify situations long gone in our past, and learn to skillfully entertain the experience that shows up here and now, and compassionately touch our painful past as it arises when triggered in the present moment, the only place we have power to do anything about it. We stop craving and lamenting that which we do not have, and begin to appreciate and feel profound gratitude for those things we do or do not have.
It's quite simple really. Life is the biggest game you or any of us will ever be part of. You can step on the field and role the dice that your performance will not lead you on a path of pain and suffering, or you can joyfully play, confident in knowing that win or lose, you will still be ok. It is within your grasp, all you need to artfully and skillfully play this game is...you guessed it...practice.
That's all for now...Thank you.