No. 4: Walking the walk

Or, when you feel too busy to meditate, that’s when it’s most valuable to meditate.

Last night's choice: keep up the nightly meditation routine, or get more work done?

Like many of you, I'm sure, I feel like I have a lot going on right now. The day zoomed by yesterday, and I didn't get everything done that I wanted to get done. And I thought, heart racing just a bit, I HAVE to get x, y, and z emails out. I should definitely write those emails, which will break the great nightly meditation streak I have going, which will be a bummer, and I'll probably sleep worse tonight, because meditating before bed has really been helping my sleep quality, but I HAVE to get those emails out.

And then I paused. Did I HAVE to get those emails out? What was going to happen if I didn't get those emails out? Nothing. Nothing was going to happen. I'd write the emails in the morning, and my recipients would read them on their own timetable anyway.

So, I sat down on my meditation cushion across from my partner, and fitfully meditated. It felt hard. My brain felt like a jumbled ball of string that was being pulled at by a toddler in an effort to untangle it. But over the 25 minutes, my heart rate slowed, and then the tangles in my mind felt a little bit looser. And a thought appeared. I was reminded that my "racing mind" is a symptom – not of the fact that I have a lot going on, but of my feeling that I need to DO GO FINISH NOW everything I have going on to achieve the outcome I envision in my head. It is a symptom of what Buddhists call "grasping" – trying to grab, hold, and control what is going to happen, rather than taking the best actions you can take on any given day, with the information you have at hand, and seeing with fascination what outcome occurs.

I slept pretty well last night. And now I'm writing this to you, and in a few minutes, I'll write those emails.

Unrelated but also totally related note: Morra Aarons-Mele, a friend of mine and host of the Anxious Achiever podcast, has a great feature out today – Leading Through Anxiety. It is worth a read.

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