Photo Credit: Kalen Emsley, Unsplash.com

Written by Luke Iorio, President of One Idea Away and iPEC
June 12, 2019

Why I meditate . . .

A friend told my wife recently that his relationship with one of his children was not going well and getting worse. His son was beginning to mimic his own less-than-ideal behaviors (i.e. grumpy, quick to get frustrated and angry, stubborn, and a whole host of other fun traits). His eyebrows raised when my wife said, “Oh, sounds like Luke.”

Not surprising to any wife in the world, my wife’s correct. This was me. Okay, I can’t say it’s totally in the past. There are days where that grumpy SOB wants to come back out. He’s still there. He’s just much quieter and not as much bothers him anymore.

It was also when I saw my own behavior being copied and repeated by my son that I stopped in my tracks—and by that I mean it broke my heart and I knew I had to do something drastically different. I owed it to my son and my whole family.

I re-committed to my on-and-off-again meditation practice, and this time it stuck.

I meditate to be a better father, husband, business partner, friend, and human being—and yet, I know that’s not quite it. The intention has shifted a little further.

“Better” is a judgment and subjective; so let me embrace this more authentically. What I really mean is that I want to show up more like the type of father, husband, partner, friend, and human that I wish to be.

As a dad, I want to be one that’s supportive, nurturing, open, and compassionate, but not in a manner that’s overbearing (“Daddy’s always telling me what to do”) or where my own desire to fix or save (or control!) kicks in whenever my kids struggle, or are having a rough day.

Challenges are okay—they’re actually quite beneficial. They’re a part of growth and finding your own inner agency and capacity to discover that you can take care of yourself, and develop that resilience and confidence.

And so, I sit and meditate to become more discerning.

Utilizing Discernment

Discernment helps me recognize the tendencies that lead me to fix, save, control, and jump in—as well as the tendencies I have to get frustrated as my children get frustrated, upset (or even angry or doubtful) when those challenges arise.

More discernment means I’m seeing more clearly and I’m recognizing more of what may be impacting what I perceive—such as fears, clinging, resisting, controlling, desire to get something from someone (recognition, love, acceptance, etc). When I understand this and am more discerning, I also settle into a calmer state and become more compassionate.

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

~ Pema Chodron, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

With discernment, I can be patient. I can be more clear-headed. I can sit and notice what’s occurring in me—my reactions, the stirring within me internally.

My reactions are not the situation; they’re what I feel as I experience the situation.

How Meditation is Supporting Me

When I can recognize those old patterns and reactions . . .

When I can simply stay with the uncomfortable feelings that may arise without relying on those old patterns or reactions to make them go away or shift . . .

When I can be patient, knowing that the discomfort will pass . . .

  • . . . I can view the situation with more clarity;
  • . . . I can feel a bit more calm and spaciousness return;
  • . . . I can place my focus on what’s actually unfolding (not my reactions to what’s unfolding);
  • . . . I can choose a different path—one that serves my children more compassionately and effectively—that progresses me more and more into the image of the dad I wish to be.

In doing all of this, I can be more compassionate, perceptive, and precise in meeting the moment where it is with who and what I am.

And so, I sit (currently) to grow in discernment.

When I peel that back further—beyond the image of the dad, husband, partner, friend, or human being that I wish to be—I realize that I really just wish to be me and authentic to my true nature. Our true nature or our essential self isn’t the self-image that the mind comprises.

Whatever is in my mind is actually not authentic, but an image that reflects all of my experiences, including, fears, expectations, conditioning, judgment, biases, wants/desires for how I wish things to be (and so on).

Coming at things from my true nature means coming at them uncorrupted by these influences, filters, and fog. It means coming at things from my innermost energy to care, support, nurture, love, connect, and so on.

To be unhindered, without thought (or second thoughts), and meet the moment where it is with what and who I am.

And so I sit.

Sitting in Meditation Provides Space

. . . and that space fosters patience.

That patience fosters discernment, as patience lets me question my mind and perceptions.

Patience allows me to observe, to notice. Noticing lets me see more clearly where my sight may be affected by conditioning or desire.

Noticing lets me look inside—not just outside—to not get drawn into the usual external orientation of life, but to become familiar and more intimate with my inner life.

I sit to know myself better and I get to know myself better by becoming familiar with all the things I may experience, have, or relate to, but are not in fact me.

Each one of us is much more than any single or even any combination of roles, labels, identifiers, feelings, or past experiences. We may connect to each of these things at times within our lives, but they are not us. We’re the essential self, the awareness behind all these experiences that comes into contact with all of these experiences.

I sit so that one day I can fully express my essential self by being present in this moment—without judgment or thought, fear or doubt, wanting or resistance.

I sit to peel away all that suppresses this innermost expression of essence. That’s how I wish to connect to life—unfiltered essence.

And that is why I sit . . . why I meditate.

To get started with your own meditation practice, try this guided Morning Meditation:

Morning Meditation

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Photo Credit: Kalen Emsley, Unsplash.com