(Image from here)
Last night I took a class with the deeply wise and warm Sharon Salzberg. I was struck by how applicable mindfulness is to us as artists. I’m a broken record about this, but meditation will change your life and help you SO MUCH. Not just you – your whole family. Sharon posted this excellent guide on meditation that was in the NY Times. It’s really comprehensive and has several audio recordings. A really great place to start!
For those of you reading Sharon’s Real Happiness, how’s it going? What are you learning? How are you doing in terms of sitting every day? The important thing to remember – and this is something Sharon said last night – is that we don’t see the transformations we’re looking for when we’re on the cushion. The effects of our meditation will be seen where we matter – in our daily lives. Little and big ways. Once you begin meditation, try to track things. You might notice results right away, or you might notice them a few months down the road. The practice works where it counts the most. You’ll sleep better and need less of it. You’ll have more energy. You’ll find you’re less susceptible to irritation. You’ll be calmer during stressful times. You’ll feel more relaxed and you’ll find that you’re more present in your life and in your relationships. You’ll be able to better access your flow state and you’ll feel more calm, centered, and grounded in who you are and your place in the world.
It can be really hard to start this practice because most of us have major blocks in regards to sitting – I know I did. I was dead bored, restless, anxious to be getting back to my work. I couldn’t turn my mind off (news flash: you will never be able to turn it off, but you will eventually notice that you’re aware that you’ve drifted off more often). I kept forgetting, couldn’t find the time, got distracted by my dog or noises outside. But I kept showing up because I knew I needed to. Stress was making me physically ill, depression was weighing me down, and I felt unmoored in the world. So I sat. Every day. First for ten minutes and now for two sessions a day, 20 minutes each. I look forward to it now. I need it.
The thing that helps the most is just putting it into perspective. Dude, it’s 10 minutes. Then it’s 20 minutes. Out of your whole day. Seriously, how much time have you been on Facebook? It’s crazy, the excuses we come up with not to sit. The science is catching up with this ancient practice and study after study is showing that meditation can rewire the brain, increase creativity, and majorly reduce stress, which, if left unchecked, can literally kill you.
Now more than ever, we artists have GOT to find a way to unplug. It’s damn near impossible to be creative when we’re in these fractured states, multitasking and constantly dealing with the stress of email and messages to keep up with. Packed schedules and new apps and buy this, and watch that, and be this. We are drowning in this culture and it hurts us creatively, emotionally, and spiritually. Meditation is a way to take a step back, to ease into delicious silence. Peace. It’s just you and your breath.
So breathe. Sit. Chill the fuck out. And get ready for your life to change. Love to you all. xx