I’ve written before about choosing conscious change over chronic pain, and this concept has been on my mind a lot lately. I spent some time with family over the holidays, and it was fascinating to see generational patterns and how they exhibited in someone who has been doing pattern x for ten years versus someone who has been doing it for 50.

Not surprisingly, the person with a longer history with pattern x is much more entrenched in that way of thinking and acting, but it was interesting to get a glimpse at the choices earlier in the process that eventually led to pattern x being established.

Essentially, I got to see a time lapse illustrating “If you keep making choice x, then this is likely to be the result.”

All right, enough abstract; let’s talk about actual examples and how this relates to the awesomeness of meditation. So, one thing I observed during my family time was people having trouble owning and expressing their needs. (This is another hot topic for me, which I’ve written about before.) One person was so accustomed to denying their physical needs, especially in the area of food, that their body literally had trouble keeping food down.

As someone who has struggled with orthorexia (noun, an obsession with eating foods that one considers healthy), this was a very potent reminder that, no matter what I’m eating, maintaining the intention of deeply nourishing my body and receiving this nourishment is very important. I do not want to create (or deepen) a subconscious pattern that involves rejecting nourishment. (Do you hear that, subconscious?)

In my conscious change post, I talked about minor, chronic pain that nibbles away at your energy, day in and day out, and yet we don’t do anything about it because, somehow, dealing with the constant nibbling feels easier than making the decision to change, and over time, we build up habits that are difficult to shed.

Meditation helps you see this nibbling for what it is, earlier in the process.

With meditation, you become accustomed to sitting with discomfort. Some days, sitting still for even five minutes can feel like torture: my mind races, I feel like there are a million other things I should be doing, anxiety wells up in my belly, you name it. Over time, though, I’ve learned to just sit with this mess of stuff until it passes. And it always does. 

Where this relates to conscious change is that I’m now finding it easier to discern if the discomfort I’m feeling is of the transitory, “just let it pass” variety, or if it’s indicative of one of those chronic energy drains that needs to be healed if I’m to reclaim my power.

To bring this back to family patterns, meditation is helping me see when I’m putting up with something, not from a zen, “just let it pass” place but from an “I don’t want to deal with this, and it’s not blowing up in my face yet so I won’t” place. It’s now easier to see those chronic energy drains for what they are, and confront them before pouring ten years of habitual energy into them.

It’s as if meditation is helping me refine my discomfort palate.

Rather than lumping everything into a “well, this sucks” bucket and either rejecting/avoiding the experience or tuning out and putting up with it for years, I am better able to taste the nuance and decide whether I need to sit with something until it passes or take action.

In short, meditation has given me more choices, which is a powerful thing, indeed.