Meditation creates mindfulness. Mindfulness creates a lacuna (space) for you to be your more genuine self.
I don’t like spiders. They scare me. For the vast majority of my life if I saw a spider near or on me, I would scream for whoever was around to get it away and “take care of it.” It was a gut reaction that I thought I couldn’t change about myself.
It’s in my DNA. I am afraid of spiders. My reflex to scream is a natural response to danger and completely warranted.
When I started meditating in my late 20s, I didn’t really notice any big changes in my life right away. Let me start out by saying meditation is tough. I had a whole lot of self judgement tied to it and I didn’t feel like I was any “good at it.” But I kept doing it because I was supposed to for my yoga teacher training. Then, while I still felt bad at it and sitting upright on the floor wasn’t feeling any more comfortable, I started noticing little changes.
For example, instead of screaming and swatting immediately after seeing a spider, I paused. I thought “oh, shit.” Then I screamed. Weeks later, the response slowed even more: pause, what is around me that I can use to kill it? Whack! And now, a few years later, more space to respond - not react. The other day, I saw a spider on the dryer. I paused. I cracked open the door to the outside and found two pieces of cardboard. I set one close to the spider up against the dryer and encouraged the spider to climb onto it with the other. I quickly moved outside and shook the shit out of the piece he was on until he wasn’t on it anymore. Room for improvement? Always yes. Am I more at peace with my more recent responses? Heaps.
The fact is, for me, killing anything is not my nature. Even little critters I don’t appreciate, when in harm’s way, I frequently go to a place of empathy and concern. What about their little spider families? What about all of the mosquitos they would have kept out of my house? I may not appreciate little critters around me, but I honestly would never want to take another being’s life. This is just one example of being my more genuine self. But imagine the power of this practice of pausing when put to use in your relationships, in tough situations at work, and parenting.
When we can pause and bring some mindfulness, some awareness to an emotion we’re experiencing (in the above example, fear), we increase the number of choices we have to respond.
So during your day today, take a moment to sit, take a deep breath in, close your eyes, and begin to notice. Notice how you’re being. Notice your breath. Notice how you feel. Simply take a moment to check-in. Then, throughout the rest of your day, being aware of your emotions, see if you can practice pausing when you would normally react; creating space to recognize what’s happening and choose how your genuine self would respond. That space is your personal lacuna and it's where growth happens.