I have been meditating daily for nearly 180 days now, and I wanted to write about another idea that I have picked up from meditation: it is okay to abandon harmful or stressful thoughts. It is okay to let go of any thought really.
What does this mean exactly?
Have you ever been in the shower after an argument with a friend or significant other – tame or heated – and started brooding about it? Maybe you wished they said something differently? Maybe they always get defensive about a topic and you can't get through to them.
This is an example of a harmful thought. This pattern of causing yourself to suffer after the event has already transpired. It can also happen before an event: maybe you are worried about some interaction in the future.
I used to get caught in these thoughts pretty often and I would keep getting caught in them because I thought I could find an answer. I stayed with these chains of thought because I was seeking an answer to my misery. I thought I could break out of narratives by solving them.
In the practice of meditation, the idea is to release thoughts: witness them, acknowledge them, and then move back into the present – repeat as necessary. The idea is that you cannot break free of a narrative by writing more story. The only way out is to simply let it go.
For me personally, I used to think that the "problem" would never get solved if I did not think about it. After learning to let go of thoughts, I learned the opposite. In many cases, there might not be a problem – normal human interaction will have failures and that is okay. In other cases, when there is a problem, it was much more helpful for me to approach the issue with compassion and generosity which was only allowed by giving myself peace of mind and time to relax.
Now, my showers are much more peaceful. If I find myself brooding about something, then I acknowledge the thought, and I go back to showering. Not every stressor is a problem. Not every problem needs solved. Not every problem needs solved immediately.
I hope this explanation was helpful and that I am doing the idea justice. If you would like to join me in meditating, I highly recommend Headspace. It does have a subscription cost, but it is worth it to me. There are also tons of resources on meditation out there – many of them free.
If you do join Headspace, and you want a buddy, send me an invite! (email: firstname.lastname@example.org). Want to get in touch? Reach me on Twitter: @NickOnTheWeb.