Hello and welcome to this glorious Friday, February 19, 2021. Today is a rare and precious day that will never come again.
It’s hard to grow up. It’s taken me awhile to even develop a clear idea of what it means to mature. Maybe I got in the wrong line when these instructions were handed out when I was a kid. Or maybe I was told but I was so consumed with wanting what I wanted that I couldn’t hear the lessons. Regardless, through a comprehensive Mindfulness practice, I’m starting to get a clue as to what it means to mature. And most important, I’m starting to grow up.
I feel like a significant obstacle to maturity was that I really did want what I wanted when I wanted it. There was no waiting. Patience? Seriously? Not a chance. I wanted what I wanted without ever really asking if it was what I really wanted. I had an idea of what I wanted, I believed it, and I did what I needed to do to make whatever it was materialize so that I could be happy. Usually, these un-insightful choices created more suffering than lasting happiness. More often than not, I would compromise something that was important so that I could get my immediate wants fulfilled.
There are hundreds of superficial examples that I could offer at this point. But I want to dive in, deep.
I heard someone who I respect and appreciate once say that he, “never knew an addict who wanted to use drugs.” I looked at him like he was insane. Paraphrasing what he explained: What addicts really want is what everyone wants. We all want to be at peace, to be genuinely happy and to be content with our life. Drugs don’t help to create these qualities within us. Though they initially make us feel better, drugs anesthetize and lead to more suffering. The more we suffer, the more we use. We don’t want to use. We want to be happy.
I’m learning that maturity is about seeing clearly enough to make choices that won’t later cause suffering. How about a different example? Maybe one that more of us can relate to.
I work with and know many people who struggle with a sugar obsession. In varying degrees, this Cookie Monster is within each of us. Once the “COOKIE” thought arises, we succumb to its demand. Despite being completely content with literally no thought of cookies even moments before, once the thought arises, we’re doomed. Conceptually, we know this, and yet, like drug addicts, we are powerless. The COOKIE thought tells us that we need it, we want it, and we won’t be happy until we get it. Though we know it’s not true, we believe this thought – we act on this thought. When we act on the thought, we get our COOKIE fix. This is soon followed by remorse with a firm resolve to never do it again. Then, tomorrow happens.
“The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” ~ William James.
This is exactly what a Mindfulness of Breath meditation practice can do for us. In watching our breath during meditation, we notice thoughts as they arise. Before the thoughts take control of our decision-making faculties, before we are so emotionally triggered that we are helpless against its demands, the meditation practice teaches us to recognize the thought, relax, and let it go.
My Mindfulness and Mindfulness of Breath meditation practice are helping me to grow up and to make mature choices. For me, growing up is giving myself permission to be uncomfortable for the greater good – our overall peace and contentment. I can’t be peaceful, content, and be of utmost service to others if I’m constantly making choices in the present moment that will later create suffering. Growing up, at least in this context, is recognizing that my mind isn’t always concerned about my best interest. Though my thoughts can be compelling and persuasive, I am learning (it’s hard and I’m not always successful) to scrutinize my thoughts and explore whether they are trying to coax me into doing something that compromises my values and my long-term happiness. Can I sit in my discomfort long enough to realize that I need to make choices that honor my values, and life?
Though in this week’s support I put a lot of emphasis on addiction, this topic covers much more than these obsessive tendencies that we all seem to share. My main point is that, for me, growing up is, in one sense, about respecting and honoring myself enough to make decisions that won’t later create suffering. Regardless of the situation. Meow, for those of us who do struggle with addiction, I empathize with the difficulty. This takes time and patience. Each day we can make progress. However, our progress will be thwarted by shaming ourselves if and when we fall off the proverbial wagon. It’s ok. Just get back on and do your best, my dear friends.
I’m here to support you.
You are Loved by me, Unconditionally!
Growing Up, slowly,
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