Friday, June 15, 2018

Every path is the right one

For most of yesterday, I was in a funk. I get all knotted up inside when I don't hit my marks every time. What am I talking about? The wrongheaded notion that if I don't do something perfectly every time, if everyone is not immediately pleased with my efforts, I'm somehow an utter and abject failure. Like, if I don't post a loss on the big screen at my weight loss group every week, to quote a benign example. Never mind process. Never mind trial and error and begin again. Never mind the imperative of outside perspectives. I know I'm being oblique, but the point is I was really down on myself yesterday, wondering if I am on the right path. To make matters worse, not one, but two alternate paths presented themselves to me, neither of which I could fully explore, because I've already committed to the path I'm on, and will have to travel this stretch of the road to its destination. I have no idea if these other opportunities will still be there when I've completed the particular journey I'm on. Both of them seem less angst ridden than the choice I made, and offer more security, too.

To be slightly less oblique, one opportunity involved reuniting with my former work wife. We were both deputy editors at a women's magazine for many years, and had a seamless working relationship that was enjoyable to us both. Now she is in a new position and proposed to bring me on board. But our timing is all wrong. I got off the phone with her thinking the universe is just fucking with me, making me second guess my decisions. Or maybe I'm so confused in my own head my spirit guides don't know what to make happen for me (if you know about Tut's daily notes from the universe, you won't think I'm so crazy).

And then last night I went to a talk on meditation for weight loss by a fellow journeyman. My funk yesterday was not exactly about weight loss, but since everything is interconnected, it stands in for an aspect of myself that could use some reframing. This man who gave the talk used to weigh 461 pounds. In the same year-long weight loss program I just completed (in which I lost 50 pounds—yay, me! but still more to go) he came down to 340 pounds. In the year after the program, he lost an additional 115 pounds, and he did it by learning to how to meditate.

He said some things that rocked me with a blast of recognition: He called his hunger a raging river, for example, and said that at the start of his weight loss journey his goal was to gain control over that river, to learn how to navigate it. But at a certain point, as he began to investigate ways to tamp down his unceasing desire for food, he realized that it wasn't his hunger he had to gain mastery of, but his craving. It was a subtle distinction but I grasped it in the deepest way. Food is comfort. But what is it that makes our need for comfort so enormous? How can we touch that?

There was so much more from this man who spoke to us with his heart on his sleeve, who had clearly walked the path we were walking, who got it. He is normal sized now, tall and attractive in a dark haired, self-deprecating Al Pacino way, with the slightly awkward body posture of a man who used to carry a lot more weight—it was endearing. Some of what he said echoed what our friend here, Scott aka Tearful, has written about meditation, and about clearing the mind, non attachment, being a mirror for the world, taking all of it lightly, allowing all of it without judgment or suffering. Scott, of course, says it so much more eloquently than I just did, but a lot of what I didn't understand before, clicked into place last night. And when I came home, the knots in my stomach, the anxiety and feelings of impending failure, were gone. Everything was just what it was, and would be met in due course, and worked through. I didn't have to catastophize and manufacture problems that had not yet arisen. I could be in the moment. And I could eat a healthful dinner with my husband and feel satisfied.

May I grow more into this meditation adventure with time. Another thing I heard last night that was useful: No one feels as if they're doing it right when they start meditating. Don't worry about it. Just do what you do and keep clearing the mind, keep focusing on the breath, keep starting again, a minute at a time. I can do that. I don't have to be perfect. What a relief to stop reaching for an impossible state. I can just be.


  1. You know what? Just reading that made me realize that I have knots in my own stomach because they relaxed.
    Whoa! And maybe I should pay attention to that.
    I am grateful to Lee Meyer for sharing his journey and to you for reporting it here. We do absolutely know that meditation can change our brains and thus, of course, our lives. And part of me thinks- well, that takes years and years. And then my inner (best) voice reminds me that the purpose of mediation is not results at all.
    Okay. I'm going to think about this.
    Meanwhile- I have faith that your work path will be illuminated for you so that you will see it clearly. And that tree is like an ocean of pink and I love it.

  2. "Everything was just what it was, and would be met in due course, and worked through."

    I needed to read this. Thank you.

  3. I am glad you discovered something that resonates with you.

    Reading puts me into a similar state! Cravings disappear. Anxiety disappears.

  4. Comfort, it's what we all want, isn't it? A place that feels safe, secure and welcoming. I know I want that. Last week I had a minor meltdown, felt like the world's biggest bitch because I chose to stand up for myself. I always doubt myself, believe the words of others. I beat myself up.

    I did try meditation, when I was so depressed, but I need to try it again. The universe keeps bringing it to my attention for a reason I'm thinking:)

    Thank you.

  5. Well, that sounds like a potentially transformative experience! As you know I meditated for years with a Zen group in NYC, so I know exactly where you're coming from (although I wouldn't say I was the best, most unconflicted meditator in the world).

  6. There are few things that I let take me down the path of anxiety and knotted up insides... like travel and anything that disrupts my quiet daily routine of a retired recluse's life. It is good to quietly sit and learn the language of our inner cravings, and then to learn how to turn that language into healthy action. It's a good journey. I'm so happy you are on it.

  7. I also meditate and it brings calm and balance to my life. Definitely continue to look into meditating. I think, you too, will find it beneficial. Susan

  8. That picture is amazing. Lee Meyer's story is inspiring. I get the whole food as comfort thing. I struggle with that. I downloaded an app to help me be more mindful with that a couple of months ago and didn't listen to it once! I want to just be too! Love you. yolie

  9. This is so helpful to me. Thank you.