“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”
It was about 3 years ago when I started practicing mindfulness for the first time. I realized that it was a necessary practice if enlightenment is what I wanted. Because if you want to understand something, paying attention to what you want to understand would be a good place to start.
So I learned what its like to have a more intimate awareness with the moment. And the tricky part with that is holding that awareness non-stop. I was really intense about it for a few months. So intense I exhausted myself. This became a pattern for me. And not just with mindfulness but with all of my practices. I would be overly intense, wanting to make as much progress as possible, and get exhausted. And then I would beat myself up for not being on top of my practice. Eventually I became so exhausted I stopped practicing all together and didn’t come back to it for months. During that time I felt very stuck, lost, and ashamed of myself for not doing it. I was very intimidated by the thought of starting again. I felt that way because I would beat myself up for “failing.” I didn’t want to keep disappointing myself. I had no compassion.
I attended a meditation retreat a while ago and met some people that were there solely for the purpose of fueling their practice of “self gentleness,” or compassion. I thought, “what the hell is that about?” I seriously had no idea about compassion, why to put it into practice, or why it’s important. I always had prided myself on being that intense awakening junkie. If I had understood in the beginning who knows where I would be now. But one thing that I’ve learned is that reality won’t give you what you want until you are truly ready for it.
During the spring of 2018 I was doing a “Meditation in Everyday Life” program. My teacher there had us contemplate balancing “business” and “laziness.” This is when I first realized that I didn’t know how to balance these. And remembered when I used to exhaust myself with my practice. But I still wasn’t really sure what to do about that. Like I said, life wont just give you the insight you want just because you want it. You have to work at it and contemplate it so you can discover it for yourself through your own experience. But this was certainly a big piece to the puzzle.
A couple months ago I went to a weekend meditation retreat. The first day I was nothing but confused (which is sometimes the point). The teachings weren’t making any sense to me but I was doing what I was told to do anyway. We were meditating, contemplating, doing yoga, and listening to the teacher all day.
The next day we pretty much did the same thing but this time the confusion was starting to turn into peaceful abiding (or contentment). I had no idea why this happened or how, but I was too content to question it.
When the retreat ended I drove home. But on my way back I stopped at a grocery store. And this was during rush hour so it was pretty damn busy there. This was my first time being back and interacting with society again. Something pretty incredible took place. I boiled over with loving happiness for no apparent reason and I couldn’t stop smiling. There was so much chaos around me, but I wasn’t even close to being affected by it. Not only was I not affected but I just loved everything for no reason. There was so much love it was entertaining. It nearly brought me to tears. Halfway through the little adventure I realized that I was deeply high on compassion. It was a state of silence that I had never experienced before.
Most people call it a state of mindfulness, but I like to call it “mindlessness.” Because I was effortlessly conscious of the present moment, but the mind was nowhere to be found. Meaning; there were absolutely no judgements, labeling, belief, complaints, or analysis of any kind taking place. The mind wasn’t doing what it usually does. I was just experiencing naked reality. It was a state of peaceful abiding.
So I had experienced what compassion is really like for myself. And with having that experience I could finally incorporate compassion into my everyday practice. Also, I still don’t know if learning compassion was the intention of that retreat, but I did anyway.
I then knew that it is perfectly ok to have an off day. So from then on out I wasn’t so intense with my practice. I was letting it all happen naturally. I also wasn’t digging into myself for having an off day. I don’t really get into that anymore. Now I’ll just notice that I’m not doing the best, feel compassion for it, and patiently wait until it starts up again naturally through my own motivation. And with handling it in that way, my motivated practice comes around a lot quicker. And with not being intense about the practice in the first place, it allows me to keep going for longer period of time. And with that I’ve been making more consistent growth. Not only more consistent but faster as well.
I’ve also noticed that even when I’m off of my practice, or “having an off day,” thats still practice. It’s just a different flavor of it. Bringing compassion into those times is a crucial part of it. And all of this has led me to seeing the whole life practice coming from compassion. I now use compassion as a nest for the practice to rest within. Because if you are lacking compassion in any part of your life, you will needlessly suffer, which in turn will keep you from progressing as a human being.
So with this writing I want to express how important compassion really is. And hopefully I can help you cut some corners that I wasn’t able to, so you can grow faster than I did.
If you’re serious enough about your practice, you need to allow yourself to “fail.” You need to learn to accept failure, suffering, and everything else you would usually associate with negativity. Because that is part of the practice. Thats taking the next step. After all, you’re the one who labels an experience as “failed,” or “bad.” In my experience, trial and error is all apart of the nature of progression. With trial will eventually come error, and we need to learn to deal with the error to continue the trial. Not only deal with it but love it, because its a package deal. Learn to be compassionate with yourself, and try your best.
Fundamentally speaking, it doesn’t really matter if we progress or not. It’s certainly ideal for some of us. But it’s all fundamentally the same. Once I really recognized that it made it a lot easier for me to be ok with having off days.
So I think thats all. I hope this will resonate with a least some of you who are reading. And become more realized in time. Because this stuff takes time. You may not get it now, but who knows. This just may give you some “unknown insight” to set you up to understand an experience you might be having a year from now. I’m hoping this can be a piece to your puzzle. Lets live a profound life.
Thank you for reading.