Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Television vs. Meditation

Yesterday I had a tough day.  As we move into fiscal responsibility, my husband and I have a great deal of anxiety.  We worry about the unknown; those expenses we forgot about or the unexpected repair bill, blah, blah, blah. 

I was having so much anxiety yesterday that I could not focus.  I knew I had quite a few things to do but I found myself flitting both in body and mind from one task to another.  I really needed to center myself with yoga and meditation but I could not settle enough to do either.  What I really wanted to do was to grab another cup of coffee and plop down in front of the television and veg out, neither of which would have been constructive.

So what did I do?  Posted on FaceBook, of course!  This prompted a great conversation with a dear friend of mine where I was encouraged to not feel guilty about sitting in front of the television to relax.  Now there is nothing wrong with this, in fact I do so frequently but it got me to thinking about the difference between meditation and plopping on the couch in front of the television.  Those who meditate, understand the difference but I feel it is a good point of personal inquiry.

Relaxation in front of the television is mindless.  We may think about what we are watching and have an opinion about what we are watching, but this is an externally-focused activity.  It gives us an opportunity to get out of ourselves and escape into a different place.  To unplug from whatever is going on inside.

Meditation, on the other hand, allows us to unplug from the external and delve into the internal.  It is an opportunity to still the body as well as to quiet the monkey-mind of all those thoughts that the ego tells us are important.  This allows the spirit, the center of our being, to be the star.

When I am in the throes of personal growth, be it working through an issue from the past, a conflict in the present, anything that causes me to be in turmoil, I find it very difficult to sit and be still and turn inward.  I also find it difficult to be on my yoga mat because yoga also directs one to turn inward.  One tool that I do utilize is my breath.  Breathing in and out through the nose, deeply and fully is very calming to the body and I employ this tactic as much as possible. 

So, what did I do?  I cleaned out a drawer and made my to-do list which I tackled with a great deal of energy and intentional breathing and, gradually, I found my focus.  I expended a good deal of energy as well as accomplished some of the things that were concerning me and I was finally able to bring myself to my yoga mat and then, finally sit and be still.

As I gain more understanding of myself, I realize that I cannot force myself to meditate or do yoga.  I must listen to what I need, breathe and figure out what I have to do to enable myself to come to my mat and my meditation cushion and, most of all, give myself permission to do these things with compassion and without judgement or guilt, including plopping down on the couch and watching television for awhile.

What do you do when you are stressed?  Do you give yourself time to just sit and be?

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