By Melle Hany
(Breathing in) Sometimes, I don’t know everything.
There, I said it. Now we can move on (breathes out).
Having recently started a meditation practice, I’m finding an unexpected struggle in approaching things with a beginner’s mind.
Now that I’m in my mid-thirties, I’ve noticed a near compulsive need to have it all together and an even larger growing anxiety at the things that I feel like I haven’t completed. While that has both positive and negative repurcussions for my day-to-day life, it doesn’t lend itself to starting, well, anything with any sort of grace or dignity.
I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist.
Because of that, sitting for minutes at a time and mentally wrestling with all sorts of thoughts (which, for the record, are mostly thoughts that never cross my mind during regular life—who cares that my toenail is chipped? Why does my cat need a middle name?), drives me absolutely insane.
I start out calmly stating thinking to myself, erasing my white board and moving on. Normally this phase lasts about two or three of the ten minutes I’ve been sitting. Eventually, that turns into mental eye rolls, frustration and irritation that I can’t get it.
Instead of erasing the white board, I mentally run my nails down a chalkboard.
I open one eye, glancing at the clock. I throw mini-temper tantrums, shake my arms out, and reset. There may have been a tear or two shed on the particularly difficult days.
But, day after day, I sit.
I push myself. I try to be gentle. I try to be calm.
I attempt to view myself as a baby, a puppy, or even a student on the first day of class. Some days I succeed and other days I fail, but, at the end, I sit. If I make it ten minutes, then I have at least a small sense of accomplishment. I get up, stronger than I was before sitting.
I didn’t realize before how important that part of the process was for me. When I decided to start a meditation practice, it was mainly to develop a sense of internal peace.
I, like all beginners, was only able to see the goal and not the journey.
Ironically, the journey is the part I really needed.
I may never develop internal peace. I may always be a jittery, hot mess, but I’m a hot mess with the knowledge that I can push myself further than I thought possible before. As extremely difficult as it can be to admit that I’m not perfect (sorry, mom) and that I don’t actually know everything, it’s also incredibly freeing.
I don’t know everything and I still have much to learn. Being able to approach things with a beginner’s mind has brought all sorts of clarity to my life and I look forward to turning that clarity into calm and purpose.
I might never be able to sit for ten minutes without focusing on what color to paint my dog’s toenails next, but that’s not the point anyway (and it’s red, for the record).
The point is that I did it, that I sat there and fought, but I didn’t give up.
And, as strange as it may sound, I hope the beginner never becomes the expert in that regard.
Melle Hany is a thirty-something sarcastic, tattooed feminist know it all that doesn’t actually know it all. She is a wife, a mother (of both human and fur children), an employee, an avid reader, writer and student of life. She loves to hate labels, does yoga less than she knows she should and drinks more coffee than any human should be able to handle. Read her blog here, and find her on Facebook. She currently resides in central Illinois.
Editor: Jes Wright