Author Jason Napolitano shares an excerpt from his new meditation book.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, infinite” -William Blake
Many years ago I heard a spiritual teacher say, “If you can worry, you can meditate.” At the time I didn’t think about how profound that statement was, nevertheless, I tucked it away in some dusty cabinet in my mind. During a challenging and particularly worrisome time in my life, that simple phrase came back to me while I was writing about a meditation session I had and helped bring a new level of clarity to both my life, and my practice of meditation. At the time, I wrote the following in my journal:
I had a really amazing session of meditation yesterday. Probably the deepest and most profound meditation I’ve had in many years. It was as if a major shift took place in my practice. I had been worrying all morning about some financial crap. I was upset and going over all these different scenarios of problems and disasters that might occur if this check I was waiting for didn’t arrive in the next couple of days. I kept running over the same repetitive thoughts of doom and gloom bullshit throughout the day, feeling worse and worse as the day wore on. Soon, it started getting dark. I noticed it was time for my evening meditation. I didn’t really want to do it, feeling hopeless and defeated at this point. I finally forced myself to sit down; worrying literally until the second I closed my eyes, and started to meditate. After a few minutes I began to intensely focus on my breath. I felt an internal shift in my thoughts, and felt as if the worries and issues were transformed or maybe transmuted, as the alchemists say. Suddenly a feeling of calmness, peace, positive energy, and hope came over me. It felt as if I had changed the dirty, garbage filled rapids of thought into a smooth flowing, crystal stream instantaneously.
It hit me like a bolt after I wrote those lines in my journal. “My God, I finally get it!” I said rather loudly to myself in the middle of a coffee shop. I probably looked like a nut but I didn’t give a crap. “If you can worry, you can meditate, yes!” That wonderful phrase I heard years before came back to me and made so much sense! That’s what my teacher meant…If I can worry, I can meditate. They are pretty much the same thing. When we worry it is basically like WE ARE MEDITATING. We’re unconsciously meditating on a flow of negative thoughts, but we are meditating none the less. Really, when you think about it that’s what we do when we worry, don’t we? We focus very intently on a stream of thoughts and if the mind wanders to something else, (a positive thought, or solution, for example) we just go back to the muddy stream of negative B.S. The real key to happiness and peace is to turn the destructive thought flow into a peaceful and positive one. Meditation, when looked at in this way, can be seen as an ADJUSTMENT to what we are already doing, as opposed to some challenging new and difficult skill we need to learn. With this in mind, we can begin to approach meditation as something we already know how to do, but we just need a little “software update” to make it work better! It can give us a lot of confidence when we approach meditation with the understanding that, “If you can worry, you can meditate!”
From If You Can Worry, You Can Meditate by Jason Napolitano, available on Amazon.com