I met meditation during a difficult time in my life. A time filled with fear, grief, anxiety, and shame. Meditation was true medicine. It reconnected me with myself and reawakened my life. The changes were gradual but important. Yet when I felt better, I stopped my daily practice, thinking, "I'll be fine." Of course, I wasn't. Life again became complicated (life was life), and I returned to daily meditation. Now I clearly see the evidence: If I practice every day—whether life is great or difficult—I cultivate awareness, clarity, and love. Some days, I feel ease. Other days, I feel doubt. Regardless, I sit and stay with what is.
Meditation is an experimental lab. It's a way to watch and experience the mind; to form new relationships with thoughts and feelings; to reconnect with embodied sensation; to cultivate love and awareness. But it's not done in a vacuum. I sit in meditation for two reasons: 1) to benefit myself, and 2) to benefit others. When I'm mindful, I more skillfully interact with others. The greatest teachings on a meditation path are out in the world, not on the cushion. We need both: we need to sit and stay with ourselves; and we need to sit and stay with others. Plus we need courage to do this with an open heart. A heart open to joy, play, and wonder; a heart open to pain, loss, and difficulty.
It's hard to stay with big emotions. They can feel overwhelming. Still, what we resist persists. To practice in the midst, we must ease our way in: establish safety, connect with breath, and open just a little—open to what's there, with kindness and compassion.
This is an honest and gentle practice; a patient and persistent practice. The next time you experience complicated emotions, come here, sit with me, and listen: