When I was maybe 8, there was this game I would play with myself where I’d pretend that I was a grown up and I’d try to act and speak as cool and sophisticated as I equated with grownup-dom. The goal of this little game of mine was to have a ‘perfect’ day. One where I stayed in my fantasy through the whole day and managed to act like a perfect grown up the entire time.
EIGHT. Which means wanting to be ‘perfect’ has been a consistent thought in my brain for at least 34 years.
I discovered meditation in college at a time in my life where I felt very lost and alone. I did so with the desire for the magic fix, the thing they would turn me into the serene, balanced model I saw in magazines (this was long enough ago that social media hadn’t been invented yet). A new version of the The perfect grown up game. Something where I could be not me.
And since that didn’t magically happen after a few sessions, my practice has been inconsistent. I WANTED to like meditating and get something deeper from it so sometimes I’d do it often enough that I seemed to have more equanimity. But then I would go weeks without thinking about it, only to get back to breathing and sitting when the static of overwhelm would fuzz over my brain.
This went on for YEARS.
I just recently surpassed 60 straight days of meditation, at least 10 minutes, every day. I do it in the mornings or after dinner or in the car in my office parking lot. Whenever I can fit in in. And something pretty remarkable is happening. I have not suddenly morphed into the serene, still beauty on the mountain top. I’m just slowly becoming more and more okay with who I am. I’m able to step back from myself and observe slightly more objectively, not only when thoughts and feelings bubble up on the mat, but at the grocery store and work and after a long day. Which means I can handle every day stressed with less soupy emotions.
And the other day, after an error at work that I’d normally spend a little too much time thinking about, I realized the part of me that would normally be upset with that kind of shrugged instead, knowing I’d corrected my mistake and there wasn’t anything else I could do about it.
That is a big reason, I think, to stick with this meditation game. Because the perfect grown up game seems to be going away.