When I was learning to administer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality assessment, we did an exercise to see if we relied mostly on thinking or feeling. At the end of the exercise, all of the people who relied on their feelings were on one side of the room. On the other side of the room was a firefighter, a guy from the army, and me. The firefighter joked if we needed to bet on the last man standing in the thinking camp, his bet was on me. When making decisions, I always went with my head instead of my heart.
In spite of my excellent thinking skills — I even wrote a book about critical thinking — I’ve still managed to make some epic mistakes in my life. Apparently, there’s a saying in AA: “Your own best thinking got you here.” In other words, if the best of your abilities has let you down, you’d best try another approach. I thought they might be onto something.
As it turns out, a big part of my problem was thinking too much. After years of making a lot of high-stakes decisions, my thoughts were on permanent overdrive.
I needed to find a way to turn off my brain for a while and learn to trust my feelings.
Enter meditation. The idea of meditation is to still one’s mind so it becomes clear that thoughts are just thoughts, and not necessarily the truth of the matter. Apparently, it helps prevent one from catastrophizing things — leading to acute anxiety — or dwelling on the negative — opening the door for depression. I love the idea that, with practice, I could learn to quiet my racing thoughts and make room for that still, small voice of intuition and feeling.
Recently I bought a set of sandalwood mala beads to help me with my efforts, but then I noticed, while meditating, the beads would nicely double as the on-trend tassel necklace on the cover of Coastal Living magazine. You see, that’s how my brain works. It’s “Peaceful. Peaceful. OMG I need to do this now!” Actually, it’s more like, “This is boring. I’m still thinking. Do this now! Do this NOW!” I realize the first step of meditating is to suspend judgment about one’s meditation practice and to accept the practice as it unfolds. Frankly, it would be easier if they asked me to fly.
Still, in spite of my resistance, I see results already. Now when I’m about to snap to judgment, I try to still my thoughts for a moment and listen to my gut. It’s helping with my relationships, a lot.
I’ve been asked by a serious meditator if I want to commit to a new way of being and formalize my practice. Frankly, I’m not sure. I’m still not at the point where I can feel out this kind of thing.
I said, “I’ll have to think about it.”