So, I’ve just completed 40 days of meditation…41 days if you count today, because once you’ve been meditating for 40 days, you don’t really want to stop :)
I’ll be honest, it was a struggle. Not the practice of meditation itself – that was often the best part. No, it was the rest of the day that was difficult. Right from the very first day, perfection (and my distressing lack of it) became the theme that I worked through, up and down, around and around, until it did my head in.
It was kind of surprising, because I had never thought of myself as a perfectionist. If anything, I thought I was more on the slapdash/ near enough is good enough side. Yeah, maybe with icing cakes and housework, but never with myself. I want to be the best (perfect) person I can, and near enough wasn’t anywhere near good enough.
Every day, thoughts of disappointment, failure, frustration and doubt would crash over me:
Am I doing the right things?
Have I taken the wrong turn and accidentally got the wrong life?
Am I doing enough, trying hard enough?
Am I failing?
I was in a funk alright. Brought on by meditation. Yep, meditation, I’m blaming you. If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have to sit with these feelings day after day. If it wasn’t for you, I could have kept those feelings where they belonged – in my unconscious. But no. It was like Pandora’s Box; out they all came and after a while I began to feel quite unhinged, as if I was a house that was having its foundations pulled apart brick by brick. Precarious.Perfection, my obvious lack of it (and everyone else’s too! Don’t worry, you weren’t forgotten) was pissing me off. So for most of my 40 days, I wasn’t calm, I wasn’t zen and I definitely wasn’t happy. Strangely though, I didn’t once think about discontinuing the practice, and maybe that’s because there was something else happening that was more interesting than my own misery. It started off as a game: everyday, something goes awry. Doesn’t it? Things don’t go as planned (sick kid on a work day, changed plans, cancellations, an unexpected twist, a traffic jam). The game, which I call let’s pretend everything is perfect the way it is works like this: something happens unexpectedly. Instead of jumping in and trying to fix the perceived problem, I do nothing. I say to myself what if it’s better this way? Let’s wait and see. And as I watch and wait, it all miraculously and easily unfolds into the perfect solution. Without me doing anything. Every time. Big things, little things. And everything in between. Hey, here’s a thought: maybe I don’t have access to all of the information in this game. Maybe the picture is bigger than I could possibly know! This was a fun game, with no end of opportunities to practice it. Although I still sucked, the events around me were resonating with beauty and rhythm. I felt part of a greater wisdom and grace, plus it was much less stressful. You should try it :) The penny dropped on day 38. I was in the bath on a rainy afternoon. The rain was making music on the skylight, the water was warm on my skin, and the fragrance of lavender, sandalwood and orange filled my senses. I looked out of the window and saw the laundry hanging there wet on the line, as well as the blankets from the spare bed that had been put out to air in the sunny morning. We had arrived home in the middle of a torrential downpour, too late to take them off. I had a brief second of “Oh no! The blankets are wet! Alex won’t have any blankets on his bed!” And then I relaxed and wondered what if this is actually perfect? After all, Alex had stripped his bed because something was biting him – maybe the covers needed a rinse as well? Who knows :). I’ll tell you what I do know though – no amount of worrying and fretting is going to make those wet blankets dry. Then something else occurs to me – an idea floats down into my mind like a feather drifting onto an open palm. If something like a wet blanket on the line in the rain could be perfect and necessary in a way that I can’t quite grasp now….doesn’t it also fit that perhaps my life and where I’m at right now could also be perfect? Time and again I had seen it happen; life has a natural homeostasis which continually leads back to harmony and balance (they are perfect words don’t you think?). And if we get out of the way and let events (and ourselves) unfold naturally, everything is already perfect…or will be if we wait a little, and trust a lot. I’m not missing out, I haven’t taken a wrong turn, I’m not failing, and my life is not a mistake. Everything is happening in its own time. Divine Order. Finally, finally, I see it. Everything is happening in the right time, in the right way and is exactly how it is meant to be. My lesson? Don’t fuck it up by jumping in too soon. Wait, and if you need to act, you will be shown what needs to be done. Often, it’s nothing. Chill out woman! Go and do something useful like meditate will you? :) Have you ever embarked on a meditation commitment? What was your experience? NB I should make it clear that this is a process that didn’t happen overnight, or even over 40 days. My big inspirations and source of guidance were Eckhart Tolle‘s book The Power of Now, where he tells us to first stop fighting against the present moment, then work on accepting it, then embrace it as if you have chosen it. This has been a work in progress for 8 years. Another wonderful teacher is Tosha Silver, who I’ve mentioned before. She speaks of Divine Order and actively working with the Divine. I first read her book Outrageous Openness about 2 years ago, and she is a great person to follow on facebook too.