Loving the Not Now Mind

My taxes are due in a couple of weeks. I think I have a few more days to turn in my 2014 medical receipts for reimbursement. Half the yard is covered by moss and weeds, the rest by grass that grows 3 inches every night. Dishes to wash, thesis drafts to read, lectures to write, assignments to grade – who has time for meditation?

This ‘hurry, hurry, hurry’ mentality is exactly what meditation was supposed to cure, right? So why isn’t it working? And how can I meditate when I don’t have any time?

Is this your story too? Here are some ideas that might help:

Kate Johnson over at the Tricycle blog (March 12) writes about, “Calming the Not Now Mind.” She points out that Not Now Mind has a number of ways of persuading us not to practice: convincing us that our to-do list is more urgent, telling us that we are just to exhausted and burned out to muster the energy for meditation, and turning our desire for perfection against us. She also provides a three step response: 1) Show Up, 2) Relax, and 3) It’s Not About You (no matter what you may think).

“It’s Not About You” is a truly important point. We often run into problems when we don’t like lives or ourselves very much. I really don’t like the fact that I let myself get behind on the taxes, receipts, gardening, dishes, thesis drafts, etc. If I don’t like myself, how am I going to sit with myself? Wouldn’t it be better to go out and get some items off the to-do list?

To be sure, some deadlines must be met, but it is all too easy to fool ourselves. My 60th birthday is just around the corner and I can tell you that I have spent the past 43 years falling behind on one deadline after another. And feeling disappointed in myself for letting it happen (again). Yet somehow I’m still here. So maybe my problem isn’t the deadlines, which will always be with me, but my less-than-compassionate view of myself as a person-who-fails-to-meet-their-deadlines?

The cultivation of compassion (which begins with self-compassion) is something I would encourage everyone to practice. This practice is not any more difficult than a simple mindfulness practice so give it a try. Here are two articles that have a lot to say on this important topic:

  • “May All Beings Be Happy,” by Kevin Griffin in the Tricycle blog (March 20). “Metta (lovingkindness) is that sense of openness when we feel connected to everyone and everything in the world. In some ways, it’s a natural outgrowth of mindfulness practice and just the general cultivation of happiness in our lives. …”
  • “Cultivating Compassion,” by Thich Nhat Hanh in Tricycle magazine (Spring 2015). “Metta meditation is a practice of cultivating understanding, love, and compassion by looking deeply, first for ourselves and then for others. Once we love and take care of ourselves, we can be much more helpful to others. Metta meditation can be practiced in part or in full. Just saying one line of the metta meditation will already bring more compassion and healing into the world. To love is, first of all, to accept ourselves as we actually are. …”