I taught yoga for 20 years. I learned that, regardless of what I intended for the student to take away from class, the fruit of the practice was out of my hands. I could be teaching a class about loosening tight hamstrings, and the student might be processing their resolution of a decades old fracture with their step-sister in Kansas. The importance of the practice was the relationship between what was happening on the student’s mat and the rest of their lives.
I’m a meditator. Sometimes I enter practice with a leading question. The majority of the time I take my seat and get still. A lot can happen in stillness. The practice is a doorway for observation and revelation. It is a gateway to psychological freedom. The toy inside the Crackerjack box of my meditation is the relationship between my practice and the flow of my life. It isn’t a box on the list of daily tasks to check off once completed. Rather, the point is mindfulness of thought and emotion. It’s an objective vantage point. It’s an opening for a glimpse into psychological freedom.
Though I’ve been spending time with friends, I’ve recently experienced intensifying loneliness. I yearned for its erasure. I was reminded of the yogic teaching of non-attachment during a recent meditation. It softened the charge that I felt around being lonely and made me a happier camper in that moment. It was psychologically freeing.
Thinking is not antithetical to mediation. Meditation is thinking’s perfect companion. Thoughts are susceptible to becoming identity guides. Meditation can help to neutralize thought encumbrance. I become my own observer, my own witness. I don’t always like what I see, but the practice can soften the hardness connected to my observations.
I’m not someone who is easily brought to tears when I’m sad. I thought I had a grieving defect. My meditation practice played a big role in shifting that perception to one of accepting that my grief is unique, that it doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s grief, and that my grief process isn’t defective. Thoughts are a difficult part of mindfulness. Once I eliminate any confusion between their appearance and their impermanence, then I’ve got a fighting chance to not drown in the revolutions of my mental skating rink.
Even though we don’t live as though it’s true, every experience changes. We’re prone to succumbing to the illusion that we will ultimately arrive at finality, at a point where the doubts and questions end. But the recognition that the doubts and questions don’t end can be clarifying. There is no arriving. I’m often asked about my quest, my destination, and when and where I’ll settle back down. My plans are subject to change, my thoughts are subject to change, and my observation of the flow is psychologically freeing.
My observer that validates impermanence isn’t in conflict with commitment. Instead, my observer itself is a commitment portal. I don’t know precisely where I’ll be, but I’m committed to going. I’m committed to my practice so that I’ll stack the odds in my favor for psychological freedom. I would abort my own psychological freedom if I went through life without admitting that I’m a work in progress. I’ll continue to step into the laboratory of my experiments where I’ll recognize and regale flux.