Today we wrap up our discussion of the foundations of a meditation practice. If you’ve followed me this far I know you’re disappointed there’s no cross-legged chanting.
Just to recap, BRFWA stands for Breathing, which is the foundation to all of life (no breathing, no life); Relaxing, or letting go of stress; Feeling with our bodies, our emotions and our mind; and Watching our reactions. We’ve tried all of it without judgment. This brings me to Allow.
We are human and therefore we all make mistakes. Hopefully you recognize this and are compassionate with yourself when you don’t live up to your internal expectations.
I am not saying “mistakes happen” is the universal get out of jail free card. We are still responsible for our choices, progress and learning. What I am saying is that struggle is positive. And that we need to make space for failure. I learn the most when I fail. If something comes easily I have a tendency to take it for granted, to become unaware of it (remember breathing?)
“The highest spiritual practice is self-observation without judgment.”
Allow is exactly that, the practice of self-observation without judgment.
Struggling with Allow
Allow is one of the more difficult practices for most people. Even today, I struggle with this practice. But it is also one of the most important practices for me. Like most people, I am my own worst critic. Allow empowers me to turn down the volume on that inner critic, to tell him to go away.
Releasing my inner critic was difficult, in fact, it was terrifying. But I tried it. And the coolest thing happened. I was able to extend a hand of peace and kindness to someone instead of a fist (not literally). In that act I saw this person soften and open; I felt a release that was unexpected and powerful. My self-compassion initiated a positive change in someone else. Cool.
Take a few moments here and breathe. Absorb. This is some fairly deep water, but stick with me.
Allowing for our own faults and imperfections dissolves the barrier between us and the rest of the universe.
In reacting with kindness and acceptance we create change. And like a pebble being dropped in a still pond, that change ripples through the world. Because that change is a positive one, the world becomes a little better place to live.
Time to breathe again. How does this feel? Can you accept these ideas readily? Or are your beliefs challenged?
You got a break from homework in the last post; not this time. It’s time to use the practices of breathing, relaxing, feeling and watching to create reactions that are conscious choices. Start small. One change a day is all it takes.
As you implement these practices, try to remember you’re learning and that struggle is expected. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge your journey. Recognize that not every day will be rainbows and unicorns.
Don’t feel like you must figure out all this on your own. In traditional meditation practices a mentor guides, supports and encourages beginners. This support is not a luxury, but a necessary part of the journey. You would never expect to learn the piano without a teacher. Reach out to me, a yoga teacher, a loved one or a friend. Discuss these ideas and the changes you’re implementing. Ask this person to support your efforts.
So some days will be tough. Allow yourself the support and encouragement to pick your-self up and try again. Success is not always attaining your goal on the first try. Sometimes a successful day is the one where you simply refused to quit.