For a lot of us, we may not be skilled at entering new or unfamiliar social situations or environments. Someone might invite us to a gathering and even though we say we’d like to get out and meet new people or try new things, we simply can’t seem to bring ourselves to break out of our old habits and push ourselves out the door to go do it. Learning how to stay is a practice.
It feels just too daunting and uncomfortable.
We can also sometimes find that even if we manage to get ourselves to that event or join that group for dinner or a party, we find ourselves in a stew of anxiety once we actually arrive. In our heads, we begin plotting how quickly we can leave while having it still be socially acceptable to do so. Or we start scheming the ways in which we can find an excuse or even tell a little fib to get the heck out of there as soon as possible!
For some of us, it’s difficult at first to simply just show up and for others and for ourselves, it’s more about learning simply to stay once we do. As I mentioned previously, learning how to stay is a practice.
Even in the discomfort, can we stay? Can we first just notice the discomfort we are experiencing in the moment as it arises? Then can we be in that discomfort as we experience it settle in upon us?
Can we stop long enough to simply notice the discomfort?
Once we notice the discomfort, can we stay in it without attempting to either run away from it or try to change it?
Learning how to stay is a practice.
For some, it does not come easy. Especially for those of us who are masters at finding ways to avoid discomfort at any cost. But even for those of us who are a bit more skilled with discomfort, this idea of staying can also be a practice.
It’s a practice of noticing.
Can you notice what might be triggering you to want to bolt out the door at the first possible moment? Can you notice what it was that someone said or did that shut you down in the very moment that you found yourself shutting down?
What do you notice? Did you start to sweat? Was your heart beating faster? Did your mind start telling stories about the situation or event? Did you hear yourself justify the desire to leave?
What actually got triggered?
Was it an unresolved wound from the past?
Was it a conversation you’ve been telling yourself for years?
How do we learn how to stay?
It takes practice. It takes practice as you navigate your daily life. The practice comes in learning how to notice, learning how to bring awareness to each moment as it arises.
One of the best ways to build muscle around learning how to stay is meditation. In meditation, we use an anchor, whether it’s our breath, a mantra or some other, to bring ourselves back from having allowed ourselves to leave the present moment. We do this over and over and over again as we notice when we’ve strayed from the present moment. We use our breath or our mantra as the anchor to bring us back to the present moment.
In essence, we use our practice as a training ground to teach us how to stay.
Meditation on the cushion is simply one training ground to teach us how to stay. Meditation in action invites us to train in learning how to stay as we interact with the world around us.
As you deepen your meditation practice, or perhaps dive in for the first time, consider joining us at our weekly Community Meditation & Dharma Talk. If you're ready to take your practice to the next level, join me at Satsang House Sedona for a luxury retreat that is sure to bring renewal and refreshment. We would love to join you as you continue your work toward peace and healing.