Over the past few years, I have gone from someone who did not think meditation was “for them” to someone who proselytizes about it on TV. (Watch my BT or Rogers Ottawa segment for more info.) In retrospect, I was simply ignorant about what mediation actually was. To give my old self some credit … as Tim Ferriss has been known to say, meditation has traditionally been the victim of, like, the worst PR ever! (As in “no PR,” just ignorance feeding ignorance and stereotypes feeding stereotypes.) Thus, I have let myself off the hook for not knowing. Growth mindset — now I do know. As Maya Angelou would say “If I had known better, I would have done better.”
Anyway, I appreciate all forms (or all that I have tired) of mediation — they all have different positives and negatives — but during day-to-day life, I have really embraced (mostly for selfish reasons) “loving-kindness meditation.”
In a nutshell, with this type of meditation you wish people — including people you love, those you have no connection to, YOURSELF, etc — to “be well,” “be happy,” “be fulfilled,” etc.
I say I have embraced this selfishly because embracing this mantra/philosophy/way of thinking has helped calm me. Wishing other people well reminds me that other people are dealing with a story I am not privy to. Others are probably just as tired, stressed, nervous, etc, as I am. I am just not aware of what they are feeling or thinking. Kindness meditation has helped me most with my on-camera media appearances. I used to get VERY (unproductively) nervous pre-segment. The loop in my head would be some iteration of “What if I screw up? What if I say something stupid? What if I look fat?”
I just assumed the host and other guests were fine — or maybe I did not assume that; I just never thought about them. Then one day I decided before every show to — in my head — wish the host a good show. I realized he or she was probably also nervous and going through their own “life stuff.” This new thought pattern — the act of wishing the host a “good show, a non-nervous show, a fun show” — helped calm me down. Being calmer allowed me to bring a better Kathleen to the segment. Thus, I think the segments are better. If they are not objectively better to the viewer, they at least feel better to me. I get to be “in joy” when doing them — vs being consumed by anxiety — which I love.
Basically, what I realized is, I need to have compassion — for myself and others! Fear and uncertainty are inherent parts of being human. Instead of fighting emotions, embrace and learn from them, and always remember that “the golden rule goes both ways.” Meaning, yes, do unto others as you would want others to do unto you, BUT also do unto yourself as you would do unto others. We are all often VERY cruel to ourselves. We all have to learn how to have empathy and compassion for ourselves — as we would for others (in this case the host) — while also working to have the compassion and kindness for others that we would want them to have for us.
Anxiety is not worth it. Have joy. We are all human.
For more information on meditation check out Sharon Salzberg’s book Real Happiness.