Since July I’ve been participating in a group training outside of school at my favorite professor (FP) and his father’s private practice. We’ve been discussing the enteric nervous system and what research has taken to calling the second brain (a whole other post for another time). We usually begin our sessions with a centering exercise that consists of about 5 minutes or so of meditation focusing on the breath. Until recently, I’ve always had trouble with this form of meditation, of quieting my mind. FP’s father, the co-facilitator of our group, referred to the mind as an untamed elephant and Sera Beak calls it a monkey in The Red Book. I can definitely relate to each of these in that as soon as I sit down and try to meditate, my mind just goes nuts and starts reminding me of things I need to do, of memories I have, of people I haven’t talked to or have recently talked to, of grocery lists, of issues I’m working through or need to work through, etc. I have always become frustrated with my mind when it’s done this and felt like I was failing. Thankfully, FP’s father rocked my world and provided the most delicious reframe ever that has had a tremendous impact on not only my meditation but my entire journey.
He told us that when we’re meditating and our mind diverts our attention away from our breath that it is not a failure at all – that our attention has strayed doesn’t matter and isn’t the point; rather, our noticing our attention has been diverted is a success and enables us to refocus once more on the breath. After I computed that, meditating became a lot easier. I’ve been doing it daily now for about 2 wks, and though my mind still interjects and my attention will stray, I’m able to redirect it back, recognizing that instead of failing at what I’m trying to do, I’m succeeding.
Several days after we’d been told this, things started to shift for me and pieces started to fall into place. This half-full reframe, I began to notice, not only applied to meditation, but to life in general. I started to see my stumbles on my spiritual path and general mistakes not as failures, but as opportunities to get myself back on track, to learn and grow from the experience. As I sat with that, I began to see it as a gift. These times are now something to even be grateful for when they happen because they are among the hallmarks of growth.