It happened in slow motion. I was flying through the air. My motorcycle helmet skidded down the highway.
I was a million miles from home. Studying on the other side of the world in Australia and living with two strangers in a foreign town.
My roommate and I had an argument. There were red faces and strained voices on both sides. When I jumped on my motorcycle to get to class that morning, things were decidedly unresolved.
The Steep Price of Distraction
I was speeding down the coastal highway to University, lost in my spinning head and replaying the tape of the heated exchange.
What happened next is permanently marked in my memory. It’s one of the main reasons I started meditating almost 20 years ago.
I remember watching my helmet sail off my head as I rolled across the pavement. I had hit a truck, which was parked on the shoulder. As I dragged myself up onto the curb and listened to the ambulance sirens, my hand throbbed.
I was lucky. Four days later and I walked out of the hospital with a dislocated wrist and three metal pins sticking up and out of my hand. They were knitting the small bones in my wrist back together.
That’s when I made up my mind to start meditating. I never wanted to be lost in my mind like that again. It nearly killed me.
It’s Never Too Soon to Center Your Mind
So how does this apply to you? Are you waiting for a good reason to start your meditation practice? If so, don’t. There’s a hidden cost to waiting. Odds are, you just don’t know it yet.
Here’s the thing. We all need ways to step outside the drama in our head. There are plenty of ways to do it: exercise, a new hobby, a creative endeavor. But meditation is one of the best ways to just stop and let go of what pains you.
Meditation is all about letting go. When you practice regularly, you learn that. You also start to see the shocking truth that we tend to cherish our problems. Probably because they are familiar, or maybe because it’s a habit. Either way, we often don’t realize that many of the things that drive us up the wall are patterns of thought and behavior that we can release from our clutches.
Meditation gives you a new way to relate to old problems. Let them go.
It’s so damn simple that it’s hard. But when you get the hang of it, you’ll be amazed to see what you can let go. And when you do, you’ll be surprised by the space that opens up and the new solutions and possibilities that spring from within.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that meditation is a cure all. In fact, there’s a risk that you can use meditation to avoid the very same issues. That’s especially true when it comes to problems or patterns of behavior we’ve been avoiding for a long time. Like anything else, we can use meditation to deceive ourselves. I know that from first hand experience as well.
That being said, it’s not why most of us put off starting a meditation practice.
What Is The Real Cost of Delay?
So what is the real cost of delay?
Before I got in that motorcycle accident, starting a regular meditation practice wasn’t an urgent issue for me. I knew I’d get to it. I’d had some beautiful meditation experiences, but generally I just felt, “What’s the rush? I have time.”
My guess is that you might feel the same way. So let’s unpack that for a moment.
I’ll bet that you can relate to what happened when I crashed my motorcycle. There’s a flashpoint, maybe it’s with your spouse or your boss. Whatever it is, something happens and you’re grinding on it in your mind.
Step back for a moment and consider how much time we waste on things like this. It’s huge. We pour our limited life energy into fretting, chewing on, or obsessing over things that we could just as easily let go. That’s time and energy that we don’t get back.
Or maybe, like it was for me, the cost is higher. You miss an important cue from your boss, which has big consequences. Or maybe you get in an accident. It happens all the time.
The thing is, we have these moments all the time. Moments when we are caught in our mind but life keeps moving. And the thing is, those are potential moments of real transformation.
Making A Different Choice
My point is that it’s possible to develop a different habit. A distaste and an aversion for getting lost in the endless inner drama.
Instead of retreating into your inner storm, can you imagine a different response?
What if you had a reference point of calm steadiness despite any storm? Most of us don’t know that we actually have a choice in these moments. The truth is, we can always choose where to put our attention.
The beauty of meditation is how it awakens you to that choice. If you feel trapped in your head and the noise won’t stop, you have an option to reboot and hit the reset button.
If you pause for just a moment, and remember you have that choice, everything can change instantly. That’s the essence of mindfulness. Suddenly, when you need it most, there is space and a fresh perspective.
Why? Because you’ve been cultivating a new reference point in yourself through meditation. One that is always and forever free of the drama. Meditation gives you access to a dimension of yourself that is untouched by the world of time and action.
Imagine All The People
I like to imagine, what if everyone cultivated this inner space?
The combined distraction of all of us lost in our heads probably adds up to billions of dollars worth of lost productivity. We’d be saving time, reducing stress, and generating millions of opportunities to act from a calm center versus a spiraling mind. As the cortisol levels drop, we’d probably see less health issues, decreased healthcare costs, higher productivity. The list goes on.
I know. That’s a stretch. But not for you! You can actually make this shift. Don’t ignore it like I did. I’m lucky I only ended up with a dislocated wrist and a bunch of pins. But it could have been worse.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been flirting with the idea of a committed meditation practice already. Maybe there’s a reason for that. Maybe a part of you has already done the internal math and knows what I’m saying is true. What are you waiting for?
Maybe now is the moment you stop all this risky behavior and start meditating.
By Morgan Dix