We just celebrated my son’s first birthday, and I have found myself meditating again. How are those two things connected, you ask? It’s a milestone for sure…the first birthday, not necessarily the return to my meditation, although spiritually, the latter feels like one too.
Before my son was born, I was very devoted to my spirituality. It’s difficult to define, but for me it simply meant a deeper connection to myself, my beliefs, the way I showed up in the world. It was this shiny term that for so long, I never fully examined its significance in my life. If I upheld my mindfulness practice(s) and made shapes on my yoga mat each day, I was being spiritual. If I told myself to “let go” and “surrender” each morning as my mantra, I was being spiritual.
My commitment to spirituality tends show itself when I have gone through certain periods of my life, motherhood being the most recent when the comfort of its former routines were stripped away. Having a child will place many types of routines on the back-burner, but I felt it most when it came to my spirituality. Sure, there is a unique sense of spirituality you experience after having a baby, but mine as I knew it seemed to disintegrate in this particular chapter. So after I have worked through the shame of not being able to uphold my personal practices (on top of all of the other anxieties that come with being a new mom, mind you), I have started to return to it, baby step by baby step (pun intended). That has been exemplified by a literal return to my meditation cushion.
There is a misconception about meditation. In order to do it “right” the mind must be “clear.” That has never been farther from the truth. The mind will never completely clear until we leave this earth. Rather, it is a witnessing – an objective observing – of the mind at work. The noisy chatter that always exists, but until we bring consciousness to it, we are simply a slave to its swirling. To build the skill of watching your thoughts puts you back in power, back in control.
On this particular morning, the day after my son turned one, I was able to sit for a longer period of time (and by longer I mean ten minutes versus two). After these ten minutes were up, I journaled in order to get the “swirlings” down on paper. Putting pen to paper is a powerful tool to get thoughts out of the mind.
I realized how much I long to feel more present in my life, but how presence is often disturbed by distraction. With curiosity and questions, I began to examine distraction a bit deeper. Why do I feel so distracted? I believe our society at large is constantly distracted: by our phones, the media, other people’s lives. What purpose does distraction serve?
Quite frankly, it is a numbing agent for the present moment. “Being present” can often feel uncomfortable. But why? Why has a research study shown that people would rather shock themselves than be alone with their thoughts? And there is my “presence paradox.” I want so badly to feel more present when – both consciously and subconsciously – I find myself constantly trying to run from the moment. That begs the question: is it a matter of getting more comfortable in the discomfort, or do I simply need to shift my perspective in the present moment to find more inner peace?I don’t have the answers (yet), but it leaves me with more to unpack. So I will keep returning to my meditation practice again and again.