It showed up at the most unexpected time.
Tennis shoes on, a Shaun T fitness program blaring in my living room while I begrudgingly bounce around to his commands and work my ass off (literally). There I heard it.
“You got this.”
Excuse me? Did my psyche just encourage me??
What the hell is happening here?!
I’m miserable. I’m sweaty. I feel zapped of every ounce of energy. From the heat outside, the horses that I ride. Everything. I’m over it. This is the last thing I want to be doing.
“You can do it, just finish it.”
It’s not the internal talk-track that I’m used to. It’s certainly not the one that I carried around with me for the last twenty some-odd years. It catches me so off guard that I can barely focus back on what I’m supposed to be doing (which, by the way, was some ridiculous spider-lunge-push-up-all-in-one move that felt more complicated than throwing together one of the double-tall, two-pump sugar-free vanilla extra-foamy soy lattes that I served for so many years).
Just where exactly did that encouraging voice come from?
And then it hits me. It came from over a year and a half of hard work. Not always perfect work. Not always perfectly regular work. But a dedicated, intentional practice. A 1.5 year practice of meditation.
Now for those of you reading who don’t know a lot about the topic, I’d first like to say calm down. It’s not nearly as hippy-dippy woo-woo as you think.
The easiest way I have to describe the practice and why you should care about it, is to consider the idea that your mind is much like a completely untrained, 8-week old puppy. How do I know that? By the fact that, for many of you reading this, you’ve probably never (or at least rarely) heard that inner voice of yours give you kind words of encouragement. Or at least you hear that kind of thing a lot less often than you would like. True story? Ok, then keep reading. And back to the puppy metaphor (sorry, kitten lovers).
This puppy brain of yours…it runs amok. It pisses and shits everywhere. At times it can be adorable. At times it can even be useful (ever try to pick up a member of the opposite sex? Grab a puppy. Congratulations, you’re a magnet!). But by and large, it’s completely out of control.
Meditation is about becoming aware of that, and changing that. Intentionally.
It’s about becoming increasingly more aware of this out of control puppy, and building your awareness and ability to recognize said puppy-monster.
And, just as importantly, it’s about training puppy-monster to behave like you want it to. To be more useful. To fetch the paper for you. To pick up your slippers for you. To clean up after itself (ok, maybe that last one was asking too much, but you get my point).
I may have had no idea what the hell I was doing for the last 1.5 years, but I did it as consistently as I could manage. I meditated, close to every day. At times I felt like a failure, and like I was doing it wrong. At times I felt like I wasn’t doing it nearly enough. But I felt like I was supposed to be doing it. Something about it still felt intrinsically right. So I kept going. I had no idea where this road was leading me, I just knew that my gut told me it was leading me somewhere good.
That somewhere was an idle Thursday evening, when I realized in a sweat-laden instant that all my training hours had paid off. They made a difference. They counted for something.
I may not have the next Lassie yet, or the next Canine Companions guide-dog, but I do have progress.
What has that voice been saying to you lately? Do you like what you hear?
If you don’t, then change it. I double-dog dare you.