Inside Minimalism Nº48

Live More with Less

Beginning Again Is (At Least) Half the Process

By Shawn Mihalik

About six months ago, I started seeing a therapist. I’d been resisting for a long time, even though, for that same amount of time, I’d known it would be an important step for my personal growth.

After a significant amount of research, I called a therapist in town whose values appeared to align with my own—specifically, I was drawn to her decades of experience practicing meditation and mindfulness.

I’ve been meditating for six years. The specifics of my practice vary greatly, depending on when you catch me. Sometimes, I might sit for an hour or half an hour as soon as I wake, in the exact same spot in my home, on the exact same cushion, and I may keep this pattern for weeks at a time. Other times, I’m happy to snatch 10 minutes as soon as I wake, or 10 minutes after my daily workout, or 20 minutes after eating lunch. And then there are days where training jiu-jitsu is the only thing that I can count as even close to mediation. And, finally, occasionally, I may not meditate for a week or two at a time, not because of any practical consideration, but because I’ve become resistant to the practice.

The thing about resistance is that it compounds. The longer you resist something you know is good for you, the more guilty you feel about not doing it, and the more guilty you feel, the more you resist. At the end of the first visit to my therapist, I admitted that I hadn’t meditated for nearly two months—this after describing myself to her as a meditator, maybe even as a secular Buddhist.

Her reaction surprised me. I’d been afraid of, even expecting, judgement, but instead she said, “Oh—well that’s no big deal.”

“No big deal?” I asked. “But how can I describe myself as a meditator? I haven’t meditated in months.

“So go home and meditate,” she said, as if it was obvious. “Then it won’t have been months anymore. It’ll have been minutes.”

I realized that this advice applies to just about everything that’s difficult but good for me. I aim to lift weights four times a week. Then I get sick, and suddenly it’s seven days since I picked up something heavy. But instead of being burdened with the guilt of innaction, I know now that all I have to do is go pick up something heavy. The same goes for if I’m travelling and don’t step on the jiu-jitsu mat for two weeks. A training session soon after I return is all it takes to begin the routine again.

The fact is, we’re going to drop balls in life. Probably daily. That’s okay. All we have to do is pick it back up again, whenever we’re ready, and suddenly it’s not dropped anymore. Until the next time we drop it—which we almost certainly will. But then, again, we just have to pick it back up. Whenever we’re ready. There’s no rush.

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