Without a Sight of the Shore

The following is a guest post from my friend and colleague Jinger Moore. It started as a reflection she posted on Instagram.

It's challenging to connect the dots between consistent mindfulness practice and the evidence that you're actually strengthening liberating attentional capacities. Built into this challenge is the counterintuitive willingness to let go of the outcomes that motivated your exploration. We have to acquire a taste for the subtle payoffs along the way, but it's encouraging to hear reports from the field about when the benefits become tangible. 

"I turned to meditation in the fall of 2015 when I realized I needed to add another tool to my emotional toolbox. I chose meditation because it was starting to become a big buzzword. I was familiar with concepts of mindfulness from my studies as a professional counselor but it always seemed like it was approached from the sense of having to calm down and be peacefully perfect.

After my first session on the Headspace app, things were far from perfect. But that was just what I needed.

The Headspace app taught me how to be okay with not being okay. I stuck with it for several months before switching to Insight Timer to explore a less guided approach.

Most days, I showed up to meditate because I felt like I should. Not in a guilt way, though. More like I know this is good for me, I know I will feel better afterward — like exercise.

However, that didn’t take away from the feeling of confusion, Is this even worth it?

Then this past week, something clicked. I was having some increased anxiety, even heading toward panic attack territory. I realized I needed to use the skill I’ve been practicing all this time to self-soothe.

One of the last quotes Julia Cameron shares in her book The Artist's Way (which I highly recommend) speaks to this personal experience. 

Photo:  Hiroshi Sugimoto , Seascape: Aegean Sea, Pillon, 1990.  

Photo: Hiroshi Sugimoto, Seascape: Aegean Sea, Pillon, 1990.  

I wasn’t appropriately taught how to self-soothe as a kid, but for the last two-and-a-half years, I have been teaching myself how to do it by just showing up without a sight of the shore. 

There usually isn’t a quick fix to what makes our lives so challenging, and that’s okay. A meditation practice, even as brief as a couple of minutes a day, can teach us how to accept the discomfort instead of trying to calm it down.

Sometimes it really is just sitting with it, in real time, fear and all. What you need in the moment will be provided if you just trust it. Consenting is the hardest part."

Jinger Moore is a professional counselor and amateur comedian. She says,"I try to make people cry during the day and laugh at night."