Sitting in meditation, I see the beginning of infinite parallel worlds, my arm reaching for the phone, my legs unfolding as I rise to walk away, my mouth opening as I explain my side of the story. All of these possibilities live out in other universes while I remain seated. Often, the entire time that I'm sitting in meditation, I'm bringing myself back to my breath. Telling myself to 'come here', like I would to a child.
Popular culture would have us believe that the goal of meditation is peace, stillness, and transcendence. As if our bodies and minds become a monolith, solid and rising above our earthly experiences. Here's the thing that no one tells you: meditation is simply noticing your mind wandering away and then gently calling it back. That's it. No big events take place (usually), no communion with some higher power, just simple mindfulness. I read somewhere that the most pure form of meditation is the moment when you realize your mind has gone astray and you bring it back home. That brief blip of awareness is what meditation is all about.
Though this may be simple in principal, it is challenging in practice and it can be really difficult if you are experiencing unwanted feelings. And that's ok. Sometimes you'll leave your meditation feeling more angry, sad, and confused then when you started. Other times, you'll walk away feeling excited, elevated, ungrounded by your inspiration. A lot of the time, you'll be bored and neutral and wonder what the point is. The point is not feel any certain way, the point is just to feel.
It's harder than it sounds. We live in a world of distraction and grasping. We seek entertainment to avoid feeling difficult emotions or being bored. We are sold fantasies to make us feel good and cling onto. How many times have we heard, even in the yoga community (maybe, especially), something like, "breathe in the good, exhale the bad". This reinforces the notion that we should want/grasp/strive for the positive, while rejecting the negative. We end up judging ourselves, shaming ourselves, telling ourselves to 'get over it' and think positive.
The most healing thing we can do for ourselves is to just learn to sit with what is true for us in the moment, regardless of whether we deem it good or bad. Next time you meditate, see if you can allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you are feeling. If it's difficult, see if you can soften and open into it, even just the tiniest amount. If it's really great, see if you can feel it without trying to maintain it.
What happens over time as we practice is that we create a home base. A place where we feel safe and comfortable no matter what is going on with our lives. Eventually, we fear our emotions less than before. We find more courage to directly experience our lives and we seek less distraction outside of ourselves. Living more does not involve exotic adventures, first class entertainment, or spending more money. Living more means feeling more. And that's no myth, just the truth.