Making it to Practice: How to Cultivate Self-Awareness for the Big Game of Everyday Life
Just yesterday I was sitting on a metal stool, eating my lunch at a counter. Everything was fine, and then I got a sharp pain in my left leg that felt like a bug bite. That was manageable, but the pain caused my leg to jerk to the side, thereby whacking it on the stool leg and creating way more pain than the original sensation.
I swore like a sailor (because profanity is one of my guilty pleasures), rubbing my leg until the pain lessened adequately, and continued eating my lunch. Then, as I was finishing up, I took a swig of my seltzer and some of it went down the wrong tube, resulting in that kind of coughing that is more reminiscent of eye-watering and gagging noises than anything else.
Then the burst of rage came.
I suspect we’ve all been in situations like these, where an issue, inconvenience, or momentary irritation annoys us. Then another one happens, and maybe another one. We then have an emotional reaction, in my case rage, that could be described as excessive.
Here’s the important part.
The rage came, and I was able to notice it in a somewhat detached way. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “I am so pissed right now. Interesting. I see how that happened. But really, my day has been good in general. I’m going to let go of this.” The words weren’t exactly like that in my head, but this was definitely the spirit of what my internal experience was like. It was also useful that my husband said something funny right around that time, which really helped me move on.
My purpose in sharing this story is not to portray myself as some kind of mindfulness Jedi. I’m sharing my story because it is a real-life illustration of the value of meditation practice.
A colleague of mine once said something about the idea of “practice” that really resonated with me. She said that when we think of the word practice, we often associate it with athletic teams having a daily practice of training, conditioning, and skill building. Then when the athletes find themselves on the field of play for the game, match, etc., they are better prepared for whatever comes their way.
The same is true for meditation practice.
Sitting for 10 or more minutes a day has trained, conditioned, and built skills in me that I can apply in the “game of life.” How is this helpful? Let’s circle back to my leg-whacking and seltzer-choking afternoon: when I think back to how this would have unfolded in the days before I meditated regularly, I know that this same experience would have colored my attitude and disposition for quite some time. I probably either would have felt sorry for myself or bad about myself or something in between, none of which is useful.
Not surprisingly, since I find it of benefit in my own life, I believe this is something all of us can use for greater happiness and ease. This is why I’m on a mission to teach my fellow educators how to meditate and integrate mindfulness into their lives. One foundation of mindfulness is this idea of SELF-AWARENESS, and that is why I’ve chosen this to be this month’s Teaching Balance theme.
So, if you haven’t already, hop on my list to stay connected and hear more about this theme along with many others this year. Also, keep an eye on your inbox in the coming weeks for a Back-to-School membership invitation that will make it even easier for you to find meditations you like, as well support you in building the habit of meditating regularly.