Frustration or Forgiveness

Several times a day, I find myself at a psychological crossroads. One road leads to relief, peace, and patience and the other leads to frustration, stress, and anxiety.

The first is self-forgiveness. The second is self-reproach.

I'm going to present an example from meditation, but this crossroads is just as applicable for any activity that requires care and focus.

Picture yourself sitting on the floor. You may look like a monk, sitting there quietly with your hands resting on your knees and your eyes nearly closed with inward concentration, but you probably feel no different than usual, with thoughts of chores, work, family obligations, debt, loneliness, boredom, and worry running through your head. You're not paying attention to your breathing, or at least not exclusively. In some sense, you've so-far failed to meditate. (Though if you're sitting there quietly and doing your best to follow your breathing, you certainly are meditating!) This places you at the crossroads.

You can beat yourself up for how you failed to meditate. It's not just meditation either that you suck at. It's everything. You're not pretty enough for the guys you want to be with, you're not a good enough cook to have your friends over for a dinner party, your grades aren't good enough for getting into a grad school, you don't work hard enough at the office to deserve a promotion. You're a stagnating waste of space.

Or, and this is really the only option if you want to reap the benefits of meditation, you can forgive yourself your failures. Nobody's perfect, but not you less than most. You have just as much going for you as anyone else, as long as there is breath left in your lungs and strength in your heart. You're attractive, you're a good friend, you're intelligent, you work hard. Life is a gift and you intend to appreciate it despite your many personal failings. There, now you can breathe.

Before you can Listen, Wander, or Fight you have to be able to breathe.


What a crazy weekend! I made Judah Benjamin's Friday Night Chicken with Peppers, went to the San Jose Taco Festival, watched Star Trek: Into Darkness in IMAX 3D, returned finally to the Mountain View Farmer's Market, saw The Girl with the Pearl Earring exhibit at the De Young, and am finishing Memorial Day weekend with the Giants vs. A's game. I don't even want to think about how much it all costed.