The yoga scene in America is shifting. Everyday Yogis are looking for a lot more than tight abs and nice bottom from the practice. Yogis are looking for more peace and ease in their lives and they are turning to meditation - many to mindfulness meditation - to unearth the peaceful treasures within. But if you've tried to cultivate a daily practice you are seeing just how difficult getting to the cushion each day can be. After all, if you are like me, the arisings of the mind and body ain't always pretty.
Believe me, I know it's difficult to meditate every day. I've been at this for 15+ years and been in countless long-term meditation retreats, attended thousands of teachings and have done the hard work on the cushion. I know that life can be very full and that you have many responsibilities. I have compassion for the pressures you probably put on yourself to show up for your families/friends and yourselves. I have empathy for your anxiety, depression, shame/guilt and anger. I know how it feels to be too busy to slow down. I know how it feels to get hooked by the appearances of this life. And, I bet you ask yourself, even after your have worked so hard to achieve a good life, 'Am I being a good mom/dad/husband/wife/worker/friend?' 'Am I good enough?' 'Maybe if I work/push/try just a little harder I'll finally feel good about where I'm at in life'…
See, we all have the appearances showing up in our lives. Work, school, relationship, parenting… the list of roles and responsibilities goes on and on. We may not have much control over what happens in life today… the car breaks down, the dog gets sick, your child gets upset… But, what you DO have control over is how you relate to the arisings in your life. You actually have a choice on how to respond to your life. Actually, without a mindfulness practice you probably don't have much of a choice. You'll find yourself reacting habitually, emotionally and most of the time unskillfully to the arisings in your life. This unmindful life to put it bluntly, stinks. But, great news here yogis, you don't need to react unmindfully any longer. This is what your mindfulness meditation practice for. Your practice gives you some space to slow down and gives you the CHOICE to respond mindfully, calmly and peacefully to your life.
Someone asked me recently if meditation gets easier over the years. I wish I could say it does. For me at least it's as difficult today to let a thought, emotion, physical sensation go as it was when I first sat on the cushion 15 years ago. But what does get easier is your relationship to your life. You don't need to get pushed and pulled by the arisings in your life when you have a practice. With a practice you are able to have a thought, emotion or physical sensation arise and fall without getting wrapped up in it. You see that you have a choice whether you want to suffer or not and with mindfulness you can choose to let it go and NOT suffer.
The answer to all life's problems with a daily mindfulness practice are now the same… The car breaks down? BREATHE. LET IT GO. RESPOND vs REACT. Kids grades are down? BREATHE. LET IT GO. RESPOND vs REACT. Fight with your spouse? BREATHE. LET IT GO. RESPOND vs REACT. You breathe (and know you are breathing) and then you let the thought, emotion or physical sensation go back to where it came from (we're not saying the situation doesn't exist or should necessarily not be dealt with). You then, from your new found calm, ease and clarity respond vs. react. You choose ease in relationship to the arising vs. letting them take you on yet another roller coaster ride… And, aren't you tired of that ride by now?
Before you reacted. Now you let the thought, physical sensation, emotion do what it does naturally… arise and fall. You no longer get hooked. You no longer get taken for a ride. You are the calm in the center of the storm… and what you'll find, thanks to a daily consistent practice, is that the storm calms down all on its own.
So, after all these years of meditating I wouldn't say it's gotten easier to practice every day but that my RELATIONSHIP to life has gotten easier. And once that relationship is easier than you see that already is simple, beautiful and easy all on its own.
So, don't let meditation become another thing you need to fit into your schedule. Don't let it become another thing to be hard on yourself about not doing. Instead see it as your medicine. See it like brushing your teeth. It's not optional. If you want to be happy and not to suffer (and you want to bring Joy vs. suffering to others lives) then your daily meditation practice is just SOMETHING THAT YOU DO, no matter what.
May these words, which are only possible due to the kindness of my teachers be of assistance to beings and may all beings be happy, peaceful and at ease!
The point of Erik's life is to serve mindfully. He's most happy in meditation or relaxing/having fun/keeping it simple and joyful with friends and family. He enjoys helping others eliminate their suffering and helping them to discover their pure potential. Erik shares the mantra 'inner peace = world peace' whenever possible!