Do you remember the first time you took the plane? It’s usually nerve wracking. You don’t really know what is suppose to happen, in other words you don’t know what’s normal. You notice every little noise, you might even question what the pilot is doing – as if we could do better. Then the plane starts shaking, gains more power and momentum, soon you realize, the wheels are off the ground which means you are flying. Let that sink in for a moment. You might have still been nervous then but seeing the sun bright and shinning above the clouds was an incredible wonderful sight.
Being in the light is always more comforting than being in the dark . Darkness seems fun when watching a movie at the theatre or playing laser tag. But when darkness is caused by problems in our lives, especially when we feel we have to face them alone, darkness can be frightening and bring ton of discomfort.
Recently I had problems to resolve. Most of them, if not all, creeped in my life because of the way I was thinking – thoughts about myself, about other people and how it should be versus how it is. Trust me I still have plenty to learn but the key is to start learning. So I was introduced to mindfulness and its practices – here’s a good place to start the habit of mindfulness.
What I am learning is that my suffering does not come from my problems, it comes from my thoughts. Here’s a personal example, I’m at work and decide to work longer hours to finish something. At that moment, my thoughts that lead to this decision are “I need to be better than _____ and better/faster than myself because now I’m not good/fast enough”. After a few hours, I’m not done yet – since I’m a software developer this is not unusual but I’m aware of this I still think “I should be done by now, what’s wrong with me”. Right then, I also feel guilty that my beautiful wife has to manage our two young children by herself as she did for the past 10 hours. The saddest part of this story is that I did not have a hard deadline to meet, my employer is not a tyrant. Trust me if I stayed late because of a deadline it would have been an exception and I would not have been alone in the office. Also my thoughts would have been different and brought less to no suffering.
So the real problem is what you do with your thoughts . And mindfulness can help you with that. I like to think of thinking about your own thoughts as meta-thinking. We all have problems and you might be stuck under thousands of thoughts like if a thunderstorm was raging. As a plane, meta-thinking can help you soar above your thoughts to examine them in a new light. At first it will be difficult and you might feel some discomfort to lift off but when you’ll think of your thoughts as passing clouds, transient entities that come and go and change moment to moment, you’ll start to see them as thoughts and not as facts. You’ll take them less seriously and you’ll feel more compassion for yourself and others.