Lean into Discomfort

 Photo:  Zach Mahone

I recently attended a meditation class with the 'Meditation Training Community of Denver'. It began with 30 minutes of meditation followed by a Dharma talk. I had never attended a meditation class before, I have always practiced privately, and I didn't know what to expect. I ended up gaining some pretty fundamental insights from the experience.

I've been doing a lot of internal work over the past three months. Asking a lot of questions in an attempt to bring awareness to my actions and the motives behind them. Lately, I've been having some issues with my relationship with social media. I recognized it as a negative force in my life whether it was comparing my life to others or wasting time mindlessly scrolling and watching stories. And then I started asking myself why? Why am I on social media right now? How is this serving me?

Meditation is about resting in the discomfort, leaning into it and not letting that discomfort deter us from our intention. During the practice of meditation we place our focus on an object whether it be the breath, love, impermanence, or even emptiness. Next, we breath into that and do our best to maintain it. But sometimes we forget, we forget where our focus is suppose to be, and before we know it we've drifted off into thought without noticing. But with enough practice one begins to notice more and forget less. And for me the goal is always awareness...working towards the awareness of being lost in thought and having the ability to bring it back to my intention. 

Some may think meditation is meant to relax you but really it is work. Immense amounts of effort is put forth to train the mind. It can be incredibly uncomfortable and boring. There are many times I've been discouraged but instead of running from the discomfort I choose to sit in it. I dust myself off and begin again.

In that class I realized that this training translates to every other part of my life. I  want to carry this awareness with me every single moment of the day. So, why did I just grab my phone and start scrolling or texting? The answer is easy...because I don't want to sit in the discomfort of boredom or loneliness. Because I want the instant gratification from the likes, follows, and comments. 

Once I had that awareness everything shifted. Now, every time I reach for my phone I ask myself why? If the answer is ever because I am bored or lonely I refrain or at least I try. All it takes is having the awareness. Once you have that you can start doing the work. I go into Instagram or Facebook with an intention, I focus on that intention, and once I find that I've forgotten it (mindlessly watching stories usually) I begin again or I put my phone down. Social media doesn't have to be a negative thing as long as we are mindful of why we are using it and we pay attention to how it makes us feel. 

I think so many of us go through life driven by impulse and desire without taking the time to ask why. I encourage all of you to ask yourself why and answer the question honestly...do not make excuses. We may not like the answer to the question but acknowledgement is the first step towards change.