Ah – the toilet bowl.
The mental toilet bowl I’m referring to.
The one that says you’ve got to get everything done – yesterday, the one that says you don’t measure up to the Jones’s, the one that feels sorry for yourself or is pissed at everyone or everything around you. It’s also the one that says you’ll never get it right, and worries all night about what might happen tomorrow or next week or 5 years from now.
That toilet bowl. It’s like a one lever flush – it starts as a slow swirl with one thought, “I have to finish it today or..” “I can’t believe he’s doing this…” and then the toilet bowl gains strength – the thoughts gain momentum into the swirl of downward spiraling poop/negativity until there’s a full on tornado going on inside.
This used to happen to me in the morning. I would lay in bed for a few extra minutes and the toilet bowl party would start. So I did something – I stopped laying in bed after I first woke up, and went right to meditation instead. The mental toilet bowl? It stopped flushing in the morning – what a relief!
I see some students that come through, take a class, meditate for a while, feel better, then when I see them 6 months or a year later, they are swirling again in the toilet bowl. Life seems chaotic filled with problems, and they tell me they aren’t meditating or going to any kind of spiritual group.
So what’s up? Why does that happen?
There are many tools we can use to keep from going down the toilet bowl (which our minds are masters at), but there are 3 in particular that provide the foundation to keep the toilet clean (for the most part).
At the end of my meditation practice I say a closing “prayer” of sorts. I bring my hands to my head with palms together in honor of “the Buddha,” then to my mouth in honor of “the Dharma,” and then to my heart, in honor of “the Sangha.” I say these words to myself as I go through the motion with my hands.
I do this because these three words are the foundation of my practice and an important reminder of gratitude for what supports me. I would keep going into the toilet bowl if I didn’t have these (I call them the three pillars of practice).
- The Buddha represents the Buddha nature within you. A continuous opening to your true essence to see the love, peace, joy and compassion within you and for all people.
- The Dharma represents the Buddhist teachings. The teachings that guide you on how to uncover your true essence of love, peace, joy and compassion, and show you what you’re not, but thought yourself to be.
- The Sangha represents the community with whom you practice, meditate, get together with to talk about the teachings, to connect, and to hold space for each other on this path.
Creating peace and joy in yourself and your life is an on-going process and journey. It’s not like you take one class, one retreat, one vacation, read one book or see one mentor and “it’s all easy going from here.” These are important, but know there are more layers of beliefs and perceptions to uncover and see through, and more letting go to happen as you’re ready.
The mind will want to go back to what it knows, what it’s comfortable in (the toilet bowl), so the seeking and support provides a guiding light to continue showing you the way. Sometimes you need to take a break – I do to, but when you make it a priority, I guarantee your life – inner and outer – will shift too.
Make these three pillars a priority. Take a break when you need to, but come back to them over and over again. Believe in yourself. Have a daily meditation or mindfulness practice. Find a group and teacher that you resonate with and/or go on a retreat (like the one coming up) to stretch yourself – that is the journey. The support and guidance are priceless.
Categories: Meditation & Mindfulness