Newsflash, y'all: We're human! This means we lose our cool. We get impatient, sad, and unreasonable. We snap at people and occasionally act a fool. We sometimes feel anxious, fearful, and unsure.
We've all been there! We all get it. It's not something for which we should hide or criticize ourselves. It's all part of the human experience, amigos.
The key lies in how quickly and effectively we can get back to good. How speedily we can release those negative vibes and return to those good vibes.
Salzberg is a New York Times best-selling author and teacher of Buddhist meditation practices in the West. Cool lady, I'll tell you that. As she indicates, our "wandering" from peace and happiness is not the focus; rather, it's the return that matters. We're all going to wander - some of us less often, some of us more often, than others. Forget about the frequency. Focus on strengthening the "return" muscle. The more we train and use it, the stronger it gets. The faster and more often you can let go and release those negative emotions, the better you'll get at it.
Letting go can be tough stuff. It could be letting go of a toxic thought, a resentful feeling, self shame or guilt, frustration, worry, rage, whatever. Sometimes it's not just a snap of the fingers to bring instant relief. It's important to feel those negative emotions (so they don't become repressed and fester), and then let that shiz go. The secret is self compassion. Maybe you made a mistake (yelled at your kids, or wrongly accused your friend) and feel awful about it. It's okay! Genuinely apologize if necessary (if the situation calls for it), make amends if you need to, and move the heck on. Come back into balance with kindness toward yourself. This makes the process faster and restorative.
Same concept if you're meditating. If you've ever dabbled in it, you know how challenging it can be! It's not about sitting there in perfect, no-thought bliss. Your head will likely be swimming with thoughts, like, "I'm hungry." "I'm tired." "Oh, shoot, I have to buy a birthday present for my friend. I hope I remember to do that!" "How long has it been?" And on and on and ON. But as Superstar Salzberg advises, "The healing is in the return." That right there is why you're meditating: to get better at returning to peace. And if your thoughts keep coming, great! More opportunities to strengthen that "return" muscle and get crazy buff.
And if anxiety is your thing? Letting go is the antidote! This takes time to master, but once you get the hang of it - it's a beautiful thing. Utterly miraculous. When you're fearful/anxious, you're trusting in your own strength. When you're at ease, you're trusting in the strength of the higher power (God/Universe/Allah/whomever). My favorite mantra recently is: "I relax. I let go. My life is in perfect flow." I repeat this to myself over and over when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Let me tell you, it really comes in clutch every night when I lie down to sleep and have a zillion thoughts sprinting through my head. It grounds and calms my thoughts, serving as a focal point to instantly relax me. Try it!