Sometimes I just forget what I’m doing. I get so distracted that I literally have to keep my gloves pinned to my jacket or I’ll forget them. I get distracted sometimes when I go into the changing room after a yoga class. I put down my bottle of water and forget 20 seconds later where I left it. Do I have my keys? Did I remember to bring my yoga mat?
What is so interesting going on inside my mind that it’s more interesting than the present moment’s event? Why is it that my mind drifts? I pinpointed it for myself. I realize that I’m hyper-vigilant and anxious. I’m constantly thinking about something that is going to happen in the future and making sure that I’m planned and ready.
Sometimes I’m thinking about things that happened to me in the past. I’m generally not obsessing on many positive memories. I’m thinking about something that makes me angry, or something that I have a resentment towards. Maybe I’m thinking about something that hurt my self-esteem: I’ve had encounters with people in my life during which my self-esteem was damaged.
I’m not blaming the other person. I’m just saying that the situation was such that my self-esteem was affected in a way that was hurtful. Self-esteem is not ego inflation. Self-esteem is just a general sense of self-love and compassion. It’s a state of mind in which I enjoy being in my own skin. It’s a state of mind in which I feel slightly grateful, and sometimes extremely grateful.
And why shouldn’t I feel that way? I managed to make it into a body and squeeze my way through my mother’s thighs into this crazy world. I managed to take my first breath of life. I managed to make it through those first vaccinations and through a diet of that disgusting fake powdered mother’s milk. I managed not to get mixed up with some other children in the hospital.
Maybe I didn’t have so much control over all these things. But if I’m gonna take responsibility for all the stupid shit I did in my life, then I might as well take responsibility for all the amazing miracles too. I managed to have some lovely children. I managed to marry an incredible wife. I managed to survive many jumps out of an airplane. I managed to survive living in New York taking the subway. I managed to survive all the mistakes that I’ve made in my life. That’s where my self-esteem comes from; just the tiny little positive things that make up my life. I’ll let those things build up my self-esteem just a bit.
I’m not going to make the things that I’ve accomplished be the sole reason that I feel good. That’s a dangerous game that would cause me to get stuck in the past. Perhaps if I kept my mind on all my past accomplishments I’d lose my motivation to do new things. I’d think that my time has passed, and for sure it has not.
I’m here right now. I'm present in this moment, and this moment is much better than my past. I might sit around and judge it and say, “Well, today my thumb really hurts because I closed the car door on my hand last night. Yesterday was a better day for me.” That’s a mistake. Certainly I’d rather not close the car door on my thumb, but this is my life today and I’ve got to get into the habit and routine of saying, “This is the best day of my life.” I’ve got to teach myself how to do that: No one else will.
These are all the things that I figure out when I concentrate. It may seem deep and heavy, but I can handle the depth. I can handle the weight. When I clear my mind of all of the ridiculous things that I’m usually thinking about, I can find a path to my own mental and emotional healing.
I check in with my body and I think about what I feel right now. Sometimes what I feel right now is a lot of worry. So then I ask myself what’s worrying me, and then I think of what it is. Sometimes the thing that’s worrying me isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes I’m just excited about the next thing that’s going to happen. It may be that I have a meeting at 12 noon and I’m really excited about the discussion.
So sometimes I mistake fear for positive excitement, perhaps because I’m distracted. I used to get distracted very easily. At one point in my life it was completely impossible for me to keep from getting distracted by anything that passed by. That’s because I didn’t realize that what I was trying to achieve was concentration and focus. Meditation has helped me tremendously in helping me overcome that.