I’ve been meditating for over a decade now. I practice regularly, pretty much every day. I’m also a meditation teacher which I’ve been doing for over 8 years. Meditation is something that has profoundly changed my life for the better and I see how it helps my students, too.
And… also… the truth is… sometimes I feel like shit.
Some days, all the things meditation promises seem to evaporate, leaving me with horrible dread, sadness, worry, fear, and hopelessness.
Today is one of those days.
It’s sunny outside for the first time in a while. It’s spring, so while there’ve been beautiful sunshiny days to appreciate, and warmer air causing bouts of delight, there’s also been days and days of rain. Cold gray gray days. I would understand if I were in bed on one of those days.
I’m having one of those sunshiny shit days where I want to sell all my belongings and buy a one-way ticket to Ibiza. One of those days where I feel like the second I open my mouth, I regret it because the sound of my voice is like fingers on a chalkboard and everything I say is shit.
When I feel like this, I do have the wherewithal (thanks to meditation) to ask myself what I need.
Today I need a walk outside, the largest latte one can buy, and to write down these words.
I don’t love it when I have days like this. I feel like a meditation failure.
Plus, the texture of this experience is rough. Most of my days are smooth and easy and really fun; full of real joy. My meditation practice saved me from being gobbled up by darkness ten years ago, so when I feel glimmers of those same shadows within me, I worry I’ve lost my way.
This is a terrible feeling for a meditation teacher to have.
If I’ve lost my way, what on earth am I doing guiding anybody else?
As I sit on this rough patch within me, I’m flexing my mindfulness muscles pretty hard. I don’t want to believe the thought that people who meditate, (especially meditation teachers) shouldn’t have shit days like the one I’m having right now. And the truth is… I don’t have to believe it because it isn’t reality.
As Byron Katie says, “When you argue with reality you lose, but only 100% of the time.”
I know meditation isn’t a panacea. I know dark days are part of being human no matter how much you meditate, and these kinds of days are actually good for me because that means it’s time for me to grow. I know that if I just stop and settle in, maybe let myself be still inside of this dark storm, something beautiful can emerge. Like the sunshine or a butterfly.
Here’s what I also I know:
My thoughts change, my body changes, my circumstances change, my emotions change, the seasons change.
I am not the one in control of change.
I’m the one who controls how I respond to change. I’m the one who can wait it out, knowing right now is probably not the best time for me to make major decisions, like blow up my life and run for the hills.
I know what I need.
And it’s probably not alcohol, or 6 bowls of lucky charms. I need to be kind to myself and feel the storm within me (all of it) and let it rage. I need to ask myself questions to remember how to take good care of myself. I need to lean on those simple things that feel refreshing, or at least comforting.
I will be ok.
I know this because I know who I am apart from my thoughts, emotions, beliefs, circumstances, and the weather outside. I can trust Bigger Me. She knows what Little Me doesn’t because she can see the big picture.
Whatever shape my practice takes today, I’ll be still so that I can keep going. I’m willing to adapt and experiment and be curious about this uncomfortable space I find myself in. Letting it be as it is, letting it scrape the barnacles off the bottom of the boat, letting it change me as it wants to.
That’s the big beautiful point. Stay. Don’t run away and don’t let fear be the voice you listen to. Tell people you struggle, too. Move all the way through. Let this dark sunny day have its way with you.
From this womb of darkness, may I be reborn.
Come, oh hands of God, and shape me into something new
Something more beautiful
Like who I am to you.