I read a great quote yesterday, from psychotherapist Virginia Satir: “Life isn’t how it’s supposed to be, it’s how it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” Some days are harder than others. Let’s face it, sometimes whole periods of life are tough, or at least not how we feel they should be. There are times we may think life is unfair, or that other people don’t have to work so hard. It’s easy to fall into the trap of fighting against our experience and listing all the ways things ought to be different. The last time I checked, though, those thoughts won’t change reality. Sometimes it just is what it is.
The mind often doesn’t want to accept that, however. So chances are that judgmental thoughts will continue, no matter how enlightened we are. I don’t think there is one right way to manage an anxious mind, but no matter how we proceed, we must first be aware of what our thoughts are doing. The only way I know how to do this is to sit quietly and watch them.
Seated meditation puts me in touch with my mental forecast. I can see the negative paranoid stuff as well as the worry and projection. It can be a little scary at first, but as I sit, I see that the thoughts arise, come into focus, then fade away. The feelings they evoke do the same thing. Everything is always changing, and I am not stuck with the circumstances or emotions of this moment.
Sometimes, just remembering that everything that comes up will eventually move on again is enough. Other times, the distractions settle and I can see a clearer path through a difficult time or emotion. Sometimes the thoughts keep coming, but I stay seated and quiet and I return to this moment again and again until my mind and body relax a little. No matter what the outcome, meditation hasn’t removed my challenges, but it has allowed me to cope with them. I stop lamenting what I think my life should be, and start living it as it is, in the best way that I can.