beyondtheselenses said: Lazy yogi, I feel like I'm in this constant stressful environment, an environment that I'm creating. I keep stressing over not saving up enough money to move to a place in the future that I'm undecided about. I'm ignoring the present and focusing all my energy on the past and future and I'm at that point where my head feels claustrophobic. I just want to breath again and feel focused in a relaxed way....but I just feel unclear at this point in my life.
This is the raison d’etre for meditation. Everything you just listed as an issue actually has little to do with your environment. The stress is in your mind’s fixation on past and future rather than a certain quality of the present. In fact, it is the very lack of presence that makes the stress seem all the more inescapable.
When we define our world too solidly, too definitively, the world starts to feel like a smaller place. We think we know what there is to know, or even that the world can be an object of our knowing. That’s a ruse I sometimes get caught up in as well.
Primarily it is caused by the fixation on past and future. The past makes you feel as if you are a solid person, a specific individual. If you want to be another, then you will have to change. That is the perspective of the past; it freezes identity into place and relies on time for any changes.
The future, on the other hand, is what limits our current activity. Plans or hopes for the future can create a tension between the present and the mental conception of the future. It can almost feel as though you are living in a game of pre-selected moves.
These factors, in addition to the compulsive thinking that is driven by the added stress, come together to create that feeling of claustrophobia.
Firstly, let’s make one thing clear: You are capable of planning for the future while being mindful of the past without sacrificing your sanity and presence here and now. That is the new skill you are in the process of developing.
Daily meditation is an opportunity to sit, be still, and bring all of your attention to one single place. And since there isn’t anything for you to accomplish, no way for you to fail or mess up the meditation, you can also be wholly relaxed.
This has an impact on you both energetically and mentally. Your thoughts, judgments, and perceptions about you, your past, and your future all create energetic sensations in your body. They’re stored as neural pathways and like any pathway through the wild, the more well-traveled the path, the easier it is to traverse. Thus, these energetic sensations leave traces that are easily re-activated. When they are, they also cause the return of invasive thoughts.
There you can see the way thinking and feeling are a coupled system, as one can propagate the other.
In meditation, you are allowed to relax totally. However, unlike nearly all other forms of relaxation known in our society, this relaxation is conscious. People wrongfully associate meditation with a “tuning out,” like flipping on the TV at the end of a long day. That’s definitely relaxing but it is not conscious. When you relax consciously, these disharmonious energetic pathways are brought to your attention in one form or another.
All you do is sit with them. Whatever thoughts, whatever feelings arise, you just sit and remain focused and relaxed. The thoughts and feelings self-liberate. This means that not only is there nothing you can do about them but that there is nothing you need to do about them. All you can do is drop your preferences as to what you experience during meditation.
Every time you sit for meditation, something changes in both your mind and energy. It is a healing process and also one of awakening. But awakening nearly always begins with healing.
So take up daily meditation as a place to begin. You can start as soon as today!
It is okay to feel unclear. I can actually relate to that feeling. I’m in a new apartment for a new semester and I’m still sorting out all my responsibilities and commitments. I’m slowly but surely ramping up into study mode but I really have no idea what’s going on. This is one reason why I’ve made the extra effort to carve out time for daily meditation. It’s easy to get mired in the insecurity and ambiguity of any rat race, be it grades or money.
"Things" aren’t clear yet for me but that’s okay. If you’re clear, life doesn’t have to be. It can be messy, confusing, and demanding, but that doesn’t have to diminish you in any way. Life and its component parts are always shifting and changing. Sometimes they’ll be in a recognizable arrangement, sometimes not. Should we have to wait for specific formations before being at peace?
A book I would also highly recommend to help keep you oriented during this time is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.