Comparable to the multi-level super highways you see in futuristic sci-fi movies, or the simpler image of ants flooding a picnic, our thoughts go faster than we can keep up with.
When those thoughts are particularly negative and we don’t have time to process them, the emotions that come with them can really take us by surprise.
Have you ever suddenly felt emotional or upset, without really understanding what triggered you in the first place?
This is a classic symptom of a racing mind. So as you can see, the problem doesn’t just stay in our head, it affects our whole being. Our body gets the chemical jolt of stress, and our soul takes a hit, all while our mind is busy and distracted.
While this is playing out, time is passing us by. The plans we had for our day – our aims to be a productive, flow-state Zen master have flown out the window, perhaps along with our temper.
This was the case for me for many years. But when I learned what I’m about to tell you, it all changed.
The day I realised I’d shifted
I didn’t change from having a busy head and stressed out body and soul overnight – it took time and gentle persistence. So gentle, in fact, I didn’t immediately notice I had progressed.
It took an experience I like to call ‘The Soup Incident’ for me to realise I had found my inner vortex of calm…
On a sunny Sunday morning in England, I woke up with a sense of excitement because the first thing that popped into my head was the fact I had a Skype call to catch up with my dad in Australia that day.
The second thing that popped into my head was - why can I smell curry?!!
Being a logical spiritual soul, my helpful brain decided that there was no reason why I should ‘think’ I could smell curry, because the night before I had eaten lasagne and salad - and therefore clearly any potential lingering smells were in no way related to curry.
What it forgot to remind me of, was that before I went to bed, I got a pre-made soup out of the freezer to defrost....
You can maybe guess where this is heading ;)
So I carried on, bimbled about, did my morning meditation, had my shower and went downstairs for breakfast - feeling secure in the knowledge I had a good 20 minutes to get my breakfast, clean my teeth, get my laptop set up and then talk to my dad before it got too late for him down-under.
My brain had filtered out the curry smell because it wasn’t logical.
It very quickly became EXTREMELY logical when I entered the kitchen.
On the worktop was a carton of Chicken Rasam soup, looking curiously much emptier than usual - and as I got closer I realised that was because all of the liquid component of the soup had now made itself very at home on the worktop.
It was also on the underside of my blender, the juicer, the cabinet doors below, and all over the floor - taking advantage of the fact there was a very small crack in the carton, to have itself a party whilst I was sleeping.
Everything it touched was now a particularly fetching shade of yellow. Only not the kind of yellow you want in your kitchen.
SO with 20 minutes to spare before I got my breakfast, cleaned my teeth, got water supplies and got settled in for a deliciously long Skype call with my dad, I suddenly found myself with a MAMMOTH cleaning job on my hands. One that required urgent attention before it got worse.
Because unbelievably I did not REACT!!
I did not freak out, swear, shout, stamp, cry or get annoyed. I simply surveyed the damage, made an emergency plan, and then put it into place calmly and quietly.
This is responding, not reacting, and it’s something that comes from having a peaceful mind.
I dealt with the problem, delayed my call with my dad a few minutes, and did what was needed to rescue my turmeric stained, curry-smelling kitchen and my beloved yellow-under-bellied Vitamix!
I then made a smoothie in extra-fast time.... and suddenly paused....
It occurred to me that only a few months back I would have reacted very differently to this. I might have panicked or cried, or both – too overwhelmed by the huge mess and the time pressure to make my Skype call.
THAT is the peaceful power of meditation. And frankly, it blew me away.
So what changed in my life (and in my head) in the few months leading up to ‘The Soup Incident’?
I’d finally got the hang of small, but regular meditation practice and that had quietly made a bigger impact on me than I realised. I had become calm and clear-headed from simply sitting, breathing and clearing my mind for around 5-15 minutes per day.
There were many years before this where I had tried, got frustrated, stopped, then started over. It was not something I just slipped into; sipping a matcha latte on my yoga mat, wearing coordinated yoga kit in an empty, white-walled room, like some sort of Instagram illusion.
I know first hand that it’s not as easy as we want it to be. Like any other skills, getting into meditation takes time and all practices need practice. And it’s really not how Instagram makes it look!
The irony is, when we need it most is when we’re so stressed and busy, we’re likely to try and force the process . We will inevitably ’fail’ (I don’t love that word), and subsequently beat ourselves up.
It’s when we stop striving and start accepting, allowing, and persisting without the pressure, that things start to click for us.
So don’t push yourself to succeed. Allow yourself to try, and allow yourself to not be ‘great at it’ for as long as it takes.
I’ll let you know how long that is when I get there ;)
I have a new pop-up project for the next 3 months, focused on helping a small group of soulful midlife women to ease their way into meditation.
The Zen Zone meets online bi-weekly, and you can join in from just £5.
I will guide you through my own ‘so simple it’s hard to believe’ meditation techniques, and hold that all-important space for you that we rarely hold for ourselves.
I'll be honoured to have you with us for this mini mellow meditation adventure.
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