The practice of being alone
Have you ever been alone with yourself in a room without any distractions? The TV and radio are off, no book to read and no one to talk with? If that seems uncomfortable to you, ask yourself why. Too often in life you are running from one thing to another in search of pleasure. Your natural state is to move you from pain to pleasure so why is it so painful to be alone with yourself?
Many people try to meditate and just give up. They hate the experience and despise the voice inside their head. They falsely believe that they have to push all their thoughts away in order to meditate correctly. This is an impossible feat so understandably many just abandon the practice without really giving it a chance.
When you properly meditate, you are actually forcing yourself to face what you run away from all day with your activities. The nonsensical ramblings of your mind is constantly regretting the past or worried about the future as if one day things will get better. There isn’t enough time, money, attention from loved ones, acknowledgment at work or the weight just isn’t coming off fast enough. You feel like you are locked up in a room with the most negative person in the world. You just want to get out. You want to find someone or something out there to tell you that everything is alright.
The problem is that if you don’t face your darkest thoughts, they will run your existence. You may try to keep positive on the surface, but there is an undercurrent of dissatisfaction that never lets you enjoy life fully. You aren’t really running away from them because they are still controlling all of your experiences whether you are conscious of them or not. It is like ignoring a tumor and hoping it will just go away.
Sadly, the majority of the population doesn’t even realize they are doing it, but they are seeking external things from validation to material items to make themselves feel better. But, when they do get the car, the home, the husband/wife, children, raise, vacation, bonus, etc. they seek for more. The mind is always chatting away dissatisfied so the hunger to cover it up only gets more intense.
The power of meditation solves this anxiety by allowing the thoughts to have a voice and for you to watch them as an observer rather than participant. Your thoughts are just thoughts, most of them are exactly the same thoughts you have every single day. When you realize that the thoughts have no substance, they begin to have less power over you and you won’t feel the need to run away from them.
A great metaphor to practice meditation is to picture yourself standing on the edge of a rushing river. The river is the constant stream of thought. You can be beside the river and watch the thoughts flow without being in the river. Every once in a while, you get caught up in a thought and it drags you into the river. Once you realize it, you can pull yourself out back on the bank and be the observer again.
Just like any new habit, meditation takes practice. Give yourself just five minutes to start the practice. You can gradually add time and you will find that, instead of the mind controlling you and your experience, you can take the reins of your mind and have a more fulfilling life. Even the darkest thoughts are just left-over ideas from the past and do not need to affect you. During the course of your day, you will start to catch yourself in obsessive thinking and automatically have the mental muscle to stop falling down into the river of destructive thought.
Spend some time with you, the real you. Listen to all your complaints, worries and ramblings like a loving parent. Allow the wiser part of you to recognize the truth beneath the lies you keep telling yourself and bring that amazing part of you out in to the light. You can use self-hypnosis (which is different from basic meditation) to help flood your mind with supportive ideas to make the transition easier.
You have so much more inside of you than any fancy car, mansion or romantic interest could ever give you. It takes more effort to resist being with yourself, so give yourself a break, let go and allow peace into your life.