Discomfort. Uneasiness. Distress. All of these emotions society tells us to avoid. Whether it’s through pharmaceuticals or the media, there are entire industries dedicated to providing the means for people to evade their emotions. It is unprecedented in human history. Sometimes I like to wonder if 200 years ago people suffered anxiety in the same way as they do today. Back then, people just worried about surviving. Today, we are blessed and cursed with comfort. Technology has improved our lives to such a degree that our brains seem to create new problems that have never existed before. We are hardwired for survival, not happiness.
For almost two months, I have been practicing meditation several times a week. I was inspired to do so after my west coast trip and was fortunate enough to meet a great guru. Describing to someone who does not meditate how it feels is similar to explaining to someone who has never drunk alcohol before the effects of being drunk, you can’t. The best I can do is explain the process.
Before I started practicing, I assumed that meditating meant being completely at peace, clearing the mind of all thought, and being in control. I could not be farther from the truth. The first thing I learned from meditation was that you do not have control. Our thoughts are a highlight reel of our mind’s hopes, fears, and unfathomable scenarios; all we can do is observe them. The next thing I discovered is that we only have control over one thing, and that is being in the present moment.
I know that sounds cliché completely, but how many times in your life have you been at the moment? Maybe you were in the zone playing sports or had a moment you wanted to last forever with someone you care about, yet most of the time those moments are few and far between. Most of the time, people play out those unfathomable scenarios that cause anxiety that choke the mind of any tranquility.
Here is the secret that I found to successful meditation; accepting the feeling of being uncomfortable in the present moment. For me, it came up in the smallest of ways. There was an itch on my face that I was tempted to scratch. Instead of trying to escape that feeling, I decided to embrace it. By doing so, the discomfort eventually passed and sank deeper into serenity. Embracing immediate sensations is how I grasped meditation. They could be as simple as feeling the breath pass through your nostrils or feeling your shirt lightly touch your torso. Over time, I built on my progress by embracing my anxiousness and worries in the same way. I learned to accept them, and eventually they passed too. It never seizes to amaze me how the littlest of things can have the most immense of impacts.
Once you realize you are nothing but awareness, then it becomes much easier to deal with unpleasant realities.
Today, people have become so attached to their thoughts and emotions that it has mutated into cancer that infects everyday interactions. Just a few days ago, students at the University of Pittsburgh were traumatized by a speaker who held different views than them. Events like this show that what political correctness comes down to is that people have become so entrenched in their identities that they shun away any discourse that challenges the narrative of who they are.
If we want to solve the problem of political correctness, we have to stop dividing ourselves and start uniting with each other. We are all human beings that seek the good for our loved ones and ourselves. We may not always see eye to eye with each other and our opinions may even make each other feel uncomfortable, but we must accept that. Otherwise, we will keep bringing each other down instead of lifting each other up.