If you were like me, growing up you and your friends likely asked each other pretty regularly what super power you most wanted.
The hot debate was always between flying or super human strength.
What I didn’t realize at the time, however, was that I had access to a super power all along! It took me 20+ years before I finally discovered my super power, and now I’m here to tell you that you have one too!
It just has so far gone untapped.
Let me describe a scenario, see if you can relate.
You wake up for work, pretty normal morning, but you’re just feeling “blah.” You go through the day kind of feeling tired and you have no idea why. Even though your workday was fine — nothing major happened — you just felt low energy all day. Essentially you were in a “funk.”
Can you relate? This ever happen to you?
I know it happens to me.
Have you ever caught yourself in that moment? Can you bring awareness to this feeling in the moment? Or do you generally have no idea what’s going on until later?
For me, for most of my life, I didn’t really catch myself feeling this way until way later. Finally after hours of having just a crappy day I’d realize something was off.
That is until I discovered my super power.
What are all these funky names and acronyms?
They are all tools for meditation. Omvana has an extensive catalog of free and paid meditation tracks, and Headspace has a great 10-day beginners program that is totally free.
MBSR stands for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. This technique is non-denomenational, was developed at UMass-Amherst by neuroscience researchers, and classes are taught all around the country.
Essentially what regular meditation allows you to do is create space between you and your thoughts.
There are different methods and ways to achieve this, but about the most basic meditation on Planet Earth goes like this:
Sit quietly. Focus all of your attention on your breath. When your mind wanders (which it will constantly, at first), just bring your attention back to your breath. Do this as long as you can — starting with 5 minutes a day is great — everyday.
Essentially what this — and other meditation practices — teach you is that you are not your thoughts. They exist in your head, but they are not you. You can choose which ones to listen to and follow and which ones to ignore. What was automatic and unconscious becomes a conscious choice.
I’ll never forget when this concept first really solidified in my mind, and when I first started to think “hey, I’m kind of developing a super power here…!”
It was around the time I was taking my MBSR class. I was also in grad school at the time, and I often biked to campus. It was a bitterly cold morning, and my commute was all uphill — both ways! (Ok just one way, my way to school).
When you are biking in sub-freezing temperatures, you need a lot of gear. Windproof jacket and pants, gloves, hat, facial cover, warm boots, etc. It’s quite a process, and biking up a massive hill in this gear can be pretty annoying. You sweat inside your gear but are freezing on the outside. It’s unpleasant.
So I battled my way up the hill, slogging the whole way. I get to campus and walk into my office building, to the bathroom to change into my work clothes. I open my backpack only to find that I forgot my work pants at home!
Instantly I had a vision of them still sitting on my bed. So stupid!
At this point the thought of riding all the way home and back in the bitter cold sounded like the worst thing ever. And on top of it, the trip would make me really late for work!
But I had no choice and so I got on my bike and set off.
As I started my ride my mind was going crazy. I was impatient, anxious, frustrated, tired, sweaty, late. It was a bad brew of thoughts and emotions.
And then… it all stopped.
All of a sudden this rational, “all-knowing” voice appeared in my head, drowning out the anxious chatter that was currently driving me crazy.
I simply thought: “there is nothing I can think that will change this situation. No amount of thinking will make the work pants appear in your bag. There is no reason to suffer in this moment. Accept it.”
All negative emotion instantly vanished. I realized that there was nothing I could do to change what had to be done, and my only real options were: 1. make myself miserable as I ride home to get my work pants and then ride back, or 2. ride home to get my work pants and then ride back.
Option 2 sounded far more pleasant all of a sudden.
But here’s the thing — if it wasn’t for the regular meditation practice I was developing, I wouldn’t have even been aware of option 2!
We are so programmed for these responses, especially in stressful situations. And when you are so identified with each and every thought that enters your mind, you can never get any separation. It’s only through this separation that you can gain perspective, and make a better choice.
Just last week I found myself pacing around my apartment with in a funk, like we talked about before. Normally you just kinda have yourself a bad day.
But with my super power I caught myself, and that higher voice came in and said, simply, “I am feeling stressed today.”
No judgment, no trying to change it. Just noticing that the feeling was there. With that noticing I was able to allow it to pass more freely through me, instead of trying to resist it, and ultimately I had a better day thanks to the super power that comes from regular meditation!
If you are at all interested in starting up a regular meditation practice, I’d highly recommend checking out those apps I mentioned, Googling “MBSR [your zip code],” or simply starting with the five minutes of conscious breathing. Or, you can watch this funny video my friend and I made about how to start a meditation practice!
Go get that super power!
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