I began practicing meditation because I wanted to be present more often in my life. I wasn’t surprised to find that meditating also helped me feel more centered during the day, or that it helped me fall asleep if I did it at night. What I didn’t expect was to learn something about forgiveness.
Although there are a lot of ways to practice mindfulness, my favorite is the typical “close your eyes and sit still for a while” version. I sometimes turn on calming music, but I usually rely on guided meditation, which is when you listen to a recording of someone telling you what to focus on. Even with that constant coaching, however, my mind still wanders.
Actually, it’s not the wandering that’s a problem. Rarely does meditating create a complete blank space in the mind. But, the goal is to simply notice these wandering thoughts, to let them wander on by without feeling the urge to grab on and let them yank you around.
This is the hardest part of meditating for me (and for most people.) I don’t just observe my thoughts; I chase after them, try to control them, and tell them where to go to wait for me until I’m done with this meditation business. From what I understand, this is pretty normal, and one of the benefits of meditating comes from letting go of these thoughts you’ve grabbed on to.
It’s the coming back to center that is so powerful.
And, for me, it’s the silence that comes next. It’s the lack of judgment about having gotten off course again. It’s resisting the urge to say “man, I am really bad at this meditating stuff!”
I have a lot of opportunities to practice not scolding myself when I meditate.
That not scolding is a form of forgiveness, and one many of us could benefit from practicing in our daily lives. It’s so easy to critique every move and decision we make, to curse the past even as we’re changing course. Rather than just say “Oh, wrong turn, time to readjust,” we have a tendency to throw in bits of “how could you be so stupid to take that turn?”
There’s no room for that in meditation.
Getting off track is as much a part of the process as getting back on is.
If I’m ever tempted to beat myself up for losing focus, it’s easy to remind myself that this is normal. Take a breath. Forgive. Take another breath. And just like that, you’re back in it again.
Without judgment. Without regret. Just coming back to center and moving on.
Have you learned something unexpected from meditating? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.