Much to my chagrin
When I first started coaching years ago, I began by recommending to each client that they meditate daily. I presented well-documented evidence on the benefits of meditation and encouraged the practice often. There was a big problem with this. I didn’t meditate. I wanted to want to meditate. I attempted to establish the habit many times. And many times I failed. I couldn’t figure out why I was successful in creating other habits, but this one just wouldn’t stick.
Every time I thought about the fact that I was requiring my clients to do something I wasn’t doing, I experienced stress. It was very uncomfortable. Then I was gifted with an aha moment.
I was listening to a Joe Rogan podcast interview of one of my favorite professionals, Dr. Kelly Brogan. He was interviewing her about the ways in which she works with her patients. She explained how she has always insisted that her clients utilize regular meditation as a fundamental part of their therapy. And then she admitted that for a long time, she didn’t practice what she preached either.
Joe asked Kelly, “Why was that?”
She replied, “Because my ego knew it was a game changer.”
Boom! She nailed me. No matter what my brain tried to defend me against this accurate accusation, I couldn’t deny the truth. I didn’t really want to change. I wasn’t ready for the change that meditation would bring to my identity. I wasn’t ready for what my ego saw as potentially fatal. To my egoic mind, meditation represented walking into a den of lions.
This realization came at a time in my life when I was being forced to let go of some things that were no longer serving my highest good; things I was holding onto way past the time my spirit started inviting me to take courage and “let go.“ The way I had been operating; the person I was showing up as was no longer working for me. I couldn’t deny she was making a mess of things. As Arthur Foote writes, “if we are truly to befriend ourselves, we shall have to learn in what ways we are our own worst enemy […] our egocentricity is not easily routed.”
When it became indisputable that protecting my self-concept was causing me more pain than peace, it became a matter of “If not now, when?” I decided to give meditation practice another go. And this time I utilized the habit-forming techniques/brain hacks I’d learned as a coach to make them stick. Because I knew that even though I now had the strong desire to change, my brain was going to make it very hard to accomplish permanent change. I had to win the battle with myself.
I found the best way to win this battle was to be gentle with myself. When resistance came, I leaned into the resistance and let it go. Instead of berating myself every time resistance appeared to fight my higher intentions, I practiced telling myself that I wasn’t bad or wrong for having resistance to change. That it made me human.
I also practiced reminding myself that the true me is so much more than the machinations of my human mind; that the power of my spirit is limitless. And when it was really difficult to overcome my resistance, I practicedasking for help.
In my favorite Disney movie, Tigger asserts, “Ith’s a dangerouth path I bounth. And I bounth it…alone.” But the truth is, we’re never alone. There is always help. Courageously accepting my own limitations with humble honestly made it easier to admit the need for help and ask for it. “to be fully what I am means accepting my own divided nature,” writes Foote. So I practiced gently reminding myself that asking for help didn’t make me weak, it made me strong. Accepting help put my true self in the driver’s seat.
It’s been a long road. Meditation has finally become a part of me. So much a part of me that it has become automatic. I actually look forward to meditating and miss it when my routine is interrupted. The gifts of meditation are invaluable to the peace, fulfillment, and happiness I now enjoy. The person I used to be wouldn’t have believed I could have this life or have even wanted it. The drama of being stuck was too exciting…until it wasn’t.