BY DANIELLE BEINSTEIN
No one is really centered and calm every moment of every day. A monk, maybe. A spiritualist living solo in the woods, perhaps. But most of us are a constant fluctuation of emotions, thoughts running through our heads.
We’re not meant to be perfect. We’re not meant to have an answer for every question. It’s the shifting moods and thoughts and responses that make us human, that make us who we are.
Meditation isn’t about perfection. It isn’t about becoming a statue. It’s about accepting our humanity, the willingness to sit with ourselves no matter what we’re experiencing. It’s about loving ourselves through the mess and having the courage to be still when we’d much rather run.
The world is always telling us how to be, what to feel. But the truth is, there is no right way to be, there is no right way to feel. Our feelings are feedback mechanisms. They reveal our needs, our wants, our desires.
Meditation teaches us, especially over time, that it’s our inner life that dictates and determines the rest. Once we begin to peel back the layers, we find, at our core, the peace we yearn for. So often we think we need to fix this or that, or acquire this or that to to feel a particular way. But the truth is, it’s the reverse. The more we cultivate the qualities we desire, the greater our powers of attraction, the more likely we are to draw in outer experience to match our inner state. We learn the power of perception.
We also crave less and less. Perhaps this is the greatest benefit of meditation: the joy of presence, the joy of aliveness. This, after all, is our natural state. Everything else, all the thoughts and emotions that cloud our daily reality, are passing storms. But again, this is part of being human. It’s our relationship to the passing weather that matters, not the weather itself.
I remember when I was growing up in Manhattan, how I would walk for miles and miles, my head brewing with unspoken conversations, unsaid words. The more I meditated, the more clarity I gained, the more articulate I became, the more my relationships improved. This isn’t magic; it’s the benefit of self awareness and self discovery. When we’re attached to our thoughts and emotions and opinions, we hold them as fact. When we learn to recognize them for what they are, they become easier to process and move through. We move out of our heads and into our hearts.
Life is a messy affair. We don’t always know which way the wind will blow. We almost never have control (though we often convince ourselves we do). We don’t always get exactly what we want the minute we want it.
But we can always choose to love ourselves. We can always accept ourselves. And we can always find our way back to our hearts, to our joy. And at the end of the day, what else is there?