This week I took the plunge. Something in me was wanting to take more time this summer to be with my kids. So I’ve edited my coaching + writing schedule and opened the doors to slow days of fort-building and lemonade stands.
Lest you think things are too idyllic over here on day two of my Summer Delight Plan the wheels totally came off. Starting, as it often does with parenting challenges, in the night with vomit.
With Rosetta sick and sharing her stomach bug with me I ended up care-taking on the one full day this week which was slated for writing + coaching. (Can you feel me shaking my fist at the sky?)
This is what the Buddha calls the first arrow. Martha Beck calls it clean pain. It is simply what is happening, which sometimes includes suffering.
Now imagine a second arrow hits in the exact same spot… it would more than double the pain, it would create exponentially more pain in the body.
What is the second arrow? How can we avoid it?
The second arrow is what we make the circumstances mean.
It is our thoughts.
Which can create what Martha Beck calls “dirty pain.”
Try this week’s guided meditation to untangle thoughts.
Repeat after me: the goal of meditation is not to stop the mind from thinking.
Make this your goal and you are sure to fail. (And be mean to yourself along the way.)
It is the nature of the mind to think. We think upwards of 12,000 thoughts a day (that’s 1,000 or more an hour!).
Meditation helps us strengthen our attention muscle so we don’t chase the thoughts like a puppy but instead can stay with ourselves in the present. Which is where we have a choice.
Interestingly, in meditation, thoughts can actually be one of the ways the body is releasing stress.*
A thought in meditation is simply inviting you to into your practice. This is the very moment where you are rewiring your brain to be more resilient by choosing to notice the thought and return consciously to the present moment. There are many tools which bring us back, the breath is one of them.
Building our attention muscle in meditation we are more capable of noticing the painful thoughts as they emerge in daily life and creating a little distance from them. Which is how we grow our sense of freedom + agency in the face of life circumstance. Thoughts often position us as a victim. Come home to the present and you remind yourself that you have capacities to respond creatively to life. You are on your own hero’s journey.
I hope this week’s practice gives you a fort to recharge in + some cool lemonade on your path. xo Courtney
And Now Choose Your Commitment!
Engage your sense of choice as you design your practice this week.
Take a moment right now, a few breaths, close your eyes and feel into your body. What is the right commitment for you?
Could you do this thought dissolving meditation for 10 minutes every day?
Or maybe 3 times a week? Or just once right now?
Share your commitment in a reply to the post. I will read and hold that commitment with you. Or share it with a friend. Or on social media (Don’t forget to tag me + use #summerofmeditationchallenge). Or all the above.
Social accountability helps to make it real.
While the gold standard for rewiring your brain with meditation is 30 minutes a day for 8 weeks, the benefits come much sooner and even with smaller doses.
And the best meditation is the one you do.
I have loved all of you who have shared pics and feedback on your practice, please keep it coming! xo
If You Would Like a Little Bit More…
I promised distilled this Summer. However, these are some of my deeper reflections if you are into that. Xo
QuickStart Mindfulness Question
What are some of your recurrent painful thoughts?
Rosetta’s puking shined the light on a whole cluster of painful thoughts which are a recurrent chorus in my mind. Thoughts which push me to be all things to all people:
Help with preschool graduation? Sure! Move tools out of the shed at the school garden, no prob! Show up for myself and my Birders with (what I hope is) a quality blog post? I’m on it. Be a present parent—for hours at at time — including feeding the little critters? Sure thing. I got it.
(Can you feel the collapse coming?) Oh and a concurrent thought when I’m in this “I got it” mode: I should never get sick!
Once you notice your habitual thoughts you are more easily able to relax back into the fuller experience of reality.
Oh right, my body isn’t failing me. It is just giving me feedback that I need to adjust my pace. I can reschedule (my clients were, of course, totally gracious.) I can ask others to help with my volunteer work (which they did). I can rest and write on another day (which is happening right now!) You get the idea….
For bonus points write out your painful thought parade and an alternate script. This can be just for you or consider sharing with a meditation buddy or to inspire others (including me!) leave as a comment below.
What are some of the painful thoughts you encounter regularly in your social context? Often people share their painful thoughts with each other without realizing. Rather than drinking in another’s anxiety… could you return to your breath and meet your friend or coworker with compassion even as you choose not to internalize their pain? This is a fresh form of thought leadership.
I will be meditating each Friday at noon as the invitation goes out. Join me then or schedule meditation in your calendar at a regular time.
Until next week… where we will have fun with lovingkindness. xo Courtney
PS Need some one on one support? Schedule a DIY coaching session at a time convenient for you. Read more and access my online coaching calendar here.
*The stress the body is releasing through thoughts is not necessarily linked to the subject of the thoughts. For example just because you are thinking about work doesn’t mean that the stress you are releasing is work stress. For more of this check out Sarah McClean’s Soul-Centered.
Courtney Pinkerton, M.Div & M.PP, is a holistic life and leadership coach and the founder of Bird in Hand Coaching. She holds dual masters degrees from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Kennedy School, is the host of the Summer of Meditation Challenge and publishes a weekly e-newsletter on real-world mindfulness practices. Courtney teaches regularly on the Enneagram, meditation, and conscious approaches to leadership and parenting. She lives in Oak Cliff, Texas with her husband Richard Amory where they try to keep up with their three young children and remember to water their garden boxes. Courtney can be reached at email@example.com or you can schedule a complementary conversation to talk more.
Join the Summer of Meditation Challenge Here!