More than a few times, meditation has been taught to me as follows. Imagine your thoughts are clouds drifting across the sky. Watch them come in and then out of view. Or this. Imagine your thoughts are branches floating down a river. Notice them appear and then drift away downstream.
I don’t know about you, but these analogies do not feel AT ALL similar to my reality. I have a lot of thoughts that don’t just float away. My sky is full of storm clouds and tornadoes, interspersed with pockets of brilliant light and rainbows. My river is white water and beaver dams and a reflection of the mountains at sunrise. I refuse to believe this means I’m bad at meditating or that there’s something wrong with my brain. I think this is just the human experience.
I have, for a good long while now, preferred the friend over for tea analogy, and with the holidays right around the corner, I’ve come up with an even better one: the Thanksgiving table.
Imagine your thoughts are guests at your Thanksgiving table. Some of them chew with their mouth open and drop crumbs all over the floor. Some of them get drunk and say rude and unkind things. Some of them might even have the “wrong” political views. But they’re there because they’re family and you couldn’t figure out how to not invite them*. You could try and kick them out, but that would probably cause more drama than it’s worth. All you can do is sit there and suffer and wait until they finally decide to leave.
THAT, my friends, is meditation.
The suffering does not mean you’re doing it wrong. (Unless the suffering is a backache, in which case lay down and try some yoga nidra!) It does not mean you’re wallowing, or playing the victim, or getting “attached” to your thoughts, or becoming your thoughts, or even that you’re ungrateful. It just means you’re human.
In my experience, the best support you can offer a suffering human is love. Since we’re talking about meditation, let’s call it radical self-love. Instead of wishing the uncomfortable thoughts and emotions away, try some of this self-talk… And say it like you mean it!!
Of course you feel this way! It makes so much sense.
That is A LOT. Truly. Anyone would feel like this a lot.
You are doing SUCH a good job. No, really. You are.
Go ahead and have another piece of pie. You deserve it.
*Please remember that this is an analogy. I fully support your decision to invite only the people you want over for actual Thanksgiving.