You know how easy it is to grow a bad habit? It’s much harder to grow a good one, and woe to you if you let it slide. That’s what’s happened to me, and I’m losing my mind – or rather, I’m trying to.
I freely admit that on paper, my life’s a recipe for insanity; two businesses, four kids and a dog, and they all compete for my attention. Somewhere, ‘way at at the back of that line of priorities, am I. I started meditating about four years ago, at a point when my personal life was a train wreck, and inner peace seemed totally out of reach. Looking to get it back, I went to the Shambhala Center and learned to get out of my mind, away from the clutter and chatter in my head. No matter who needed calling, walking, or feeding, I somehow managed to squeeze that fifteen minutes out of every day to become mindful, focused, and quiet.
And the results were miraculous: Where there had been noise, there was silence. Where competing thoughts had elbowed each other for my notice, there was peace. I enjoyed more clarity, a feeling of spiritual connectedness; I was more creative. My relationships with others improved, and I felt empowered and less self-destructive. My stress melted away, and things that had seemed overwhelming shrank to manageable proportions. This was my time – nobody else’s – and I treasured it and guarded it fiercely. It became an essential piece of my self-care.
So what happened? Time happened- or rather, a lack of it. I was on the road, at a conference, in a meeting; I missed one day, then another, then the next. I made excuses; “I’ll get back to it when things slow down” became my new mantra. Of course nothing slowed down – how could it? Rather, it sped up, and I sped up too. I’m a high-energy person and that’s great - but now I could no longer count on switching off for maintenance every day. And the worst of it is, I’ve lost the habit.
I have a lovely little meditation space in my home; every time I pass it, I feel guilty, like I’m letting it down.
So I’m starting from scratch, like the rank beginner I’ve become all over again. I’m using guided meditations (Depak Chopra has some great ones online). I meditate with my eyes open, focused on a single candle in the darkened room, trying to stop my mind’s endless racing. I’m trying to hold my focus with a mantra, to be as present as possible. But it’s tough to lose my mind; to shed that consciousness that powers me through the day. And it’s so, so much tougher to go back and learn it again than it would have been to continue.
If you’ve got a habit you love – one you’re proud of, one that nurtures and sustains you – please, hang onto it for dear life. Don’t sideline it in favor of competing demands, and don’t put it at the back of your to-do list. It might go away, and never come back.