I was talking to a dear friend yesterday who was feeling massive life stress over current events. Last week, a nice lady told me that I was literally the only person she had spoken to who wasn’t in despair. A couple of days ago I watched an entire thread of people talking about how much anger, pain, sleeplessness, and stress they were boiling in.
And what I know, beyond any doubt that the common thread is that none of them are doing Heartbeat Meditation. None doing a “Morning Ritual.” None doing a Spider Technique. Or “Glitter in Water” or any of the other techniques that create clarity.
T and I were talking about it. There is this horrible truth: the more you need to meditate, the less likely you are to do it. You are likely to let stress push you into “doing”, into rushing about putting out fires rather than asking yourself where the dragon is.
And worse? When the fires pause, you don’t use THAT time to quietly search for the dragon either. You distract yourself with entertainment, work on trivial things. Then, the next time the first starts, you will claim that you are too busy.
Do you get the ugly joke? When things are GOOD you “don’t need to do it.” When things are BAD you are “too busy to do it.”
What is the common thread? You don’t do it.
Casey Bernay, an old friend, once said something really smart to me a long time ago: “wherever you are in life, some part of you defines that as `winning’.”
Wow. Let’s investigate that. What part of you wants you to be swamped in stress? Well…did I SAY that’s what it wanted? No. I said that in either case YOU DON’T DO certain things. The result is that you are boiling in stress. But…what if that is a side effect?
What if the point isn’t to kill you in stress…but rather to keep you from meditating? Now…why might that happen?
I suggest that the reason is that it will kill your ego. Your ego thinks it is you. It is made up of concepts and memories, most of them emotionalized. FEAR is more intense than LOVE. It is acute rather than chronic. (Love as a chronic condition. I like that!) A tiger can kill you in a moment, so such dangers evoke a stronger response, even if the total “cubic inches” of emotion aren’t greater over time. Not in a healthy life they aren’t.
But the things you fear are “acute” in the same way that if there is one house burning in an entire town, THAT is what you see on the news. Stress creates tunnel vision. And once that kicks in it looks as if the world is burning. No…a house is burning. We need to put some attention there. But if you lose the wider perspective, you are screwed.
So the ego can think “we are dying! Focus all your attention on the pain!” and build its castle on that hill. Meditating is saying “I have time to pause and think and feel.” That challenges the survival response.
And…even when things are good, if you try to go inward then, you will challenge the edifice as well. Begin to deconstruct the fortress. And the part of you that thinks you ARE the fortress, ARE your memories and impressions and concepts and values, will fight like hell.
Unfortunately, this can be like a smoker who cannot quit, and will claim “I don’t need to quit. I can quit any time. I’m fine.” This is them thinking “I AM a smoker. I NEED my cigarettes.” I’ve known a few of these people on their death-beds, where and when all denial has suddenly vanished, and they are dealing with the reality of the cancer, or the emphezema. And then, when they can’t con themselves or the people around them (but mostly themselves) they finally “get it.”
Oh. They screwed up. They were wrong, they were lying to themselves. Their values were scrambled. They believed they were someone they weren’t, traded temporary pleasure for long-term pain and death. And all they can do now is make peace with it. And maybe be an object lesson for others.
That’s what we do. What can YOU do?
- Understand that you need to have a “daily ritual” of stress-busting, mind-focusing, heart-clearing action.
- There are countless methods. Find one. Try it. If it works for you, go deeper. If it doesn’t, try something else.
- Stress conceals itself. You don’t feel the damage until it is too late–you are drifting down the Niagra river and just trying to keep your boat straight. And only panic when you are about to go over the falls…and it is too late.
- And the sad, sick thing is that people actually beach their boats and have picnics. They have the TIME to actually learn to back-paddle, but hey, everything is fine and it’s a sunny day. Why bother? Well, time to get back in the river…
- EVERY PERSON READING THESE WORDS HAS THE TIME. Every one of you. What lies do you tell to distract you from this?
- If you can do NOTHING else, then every three hours take a sixty-second breathing break. If stress is killing you, take this break every hour, at the top of the hour. Deep, slow belly breaths. Sixty seconds.
- If you can’t get yourself to do this, for God’s sake ask “why?”
I can’t beg you enough. I’m on track to create a story in 30 days. If I let myself think about it too much, with everything else I’m doing, I’d panic. Instead, its just do a little every day. Yesterday I broke one of the two ideas into the 10-step Hero’s Journey…and it fits just fine. But I had to do that in a relaxed state. If it weren’t for my morning routine, I just couldn’t do it. COULD NOT. I’m not superman. Hell, most of the time I don’t feel like Clark Kent. I’m just a guy who loves his family, and loves the world, and is committed to doing the best he can every day. So I start by doing the things that have proven, over time, to produce the best results. And that “set up” is more important by far than rushing around “doing” shit.
FIRST GET YOUR HEAD STRAIGHT
FIRST GET YOUR HEART HAPPY
Then focus on what is most important.
Ask yourself WHY it is important, connecting this to the source of your joy.
Ask yourself WHO does it well, and model them.
Follow their HOW.
Decide what the 1-5 most important things you have to do to stay on track today AND DO THEM.
That’s it. That’s all there is. Do just this…and life works.
Please. Take care of yourselves. I really do love you. You really do matter.