100 Day Meditation Challenge

Day 100: Just do it

Just do it. Neon sign.

So, today is the 100th Day of Wildmind’s Meditation Challenge. Actually, for me this is my 185th straight day of meditating, as far as I can tell. That’s one of the longest stretches of daily meditation that I’ve done in my life, but my goal, frankly, is to keep meditating daily until I’m dust.

But since the first of January this year, a bunch of us have been encouraging each other to stick to meditating daily. We “hit the ground sitting” on January 1, and this is the 100th day of the year, and of the challenge.

Here are a few lessons learned:

  • My “mantra” really seems to work for many people. “I meditate every day; it’s just what I do; it’s part of who I am.” This affirmation helps to change your self-view so that you actually see yourself as a daily meditator. You lose your tendency to waver, and to let yourself off the hook. You just do it.
  • If you missed a day it wasn’t that you’d failed the challenge; the challenge was to build a habit of sitting daily, and in any habit-building there’s going to be learning about what does and what doesn’t work, and there’s going to be times when the habit falls to pieces. The important thing is to pick up those pieces again and to get back to the task of building the habit.
  • A day is organic, not a calendar day. This turned out to be very useful: a “day” in terms of “meditating every day” is the time from when you get up until the time you go to sleep. So it’s not necessarily a day ending at midnight. There was at least one day when I didn’t manage to sit until after midnight. If I’d been counting calendar days I’d have “missed a day.” But because I sat before I went to sleep (at 12:30 AM or whenever) I kept to my commitment to sit “daily.” It’s funny how these little things help.
  • It’s easier to build a habit if you do it in company and if you check in with others. Wildmind’s online community has been a tremendous source of inspiration and support for many people. We’ve had participants who are experiencing major emotional upheavals, depression, bereavement, separations, etc., and who have kept their practice going. I’ve experienced the benefit of this myself. There have, frankly, been several days when I was exhausted and overwhelmed and couldn’t meditate until late at night. Part of the reason I did sit was because of my mantra (“I meditate every day”) but part of it was most certainly that I didn’t want to let the team down. Thanks for being there, guys!
  • Five minutes is enough (at a pinch). A lot of people end up not meditating because they don’t have time to do a forty minute sit. This is kind of crazy, really. The idea is that it’s better not to meditate than to meditate for a short period. Of course the reality is the reverse of this; any amount of meditation is better than none, and it’s much better to do a five minute sit and maintain (or build) your habit of meditating daily than to break the habit and feel bad about it. Sure, aim to sit for 40 minutes a day, or whatever you can manage, but know that it’s OK to have a five minute sit as your emergency fallback position. It’s like emergency rations, eaten not because they’re haute cuisine, but because you’re hungry and it’s all you can have.
  • Short sits add up. We all need breaks during the day. They keep us sane and make us more effective. And if you do a couple of five or ten minute sits during those breaks, they really add up. Add in a walking meditation on the way to or from work, and a more formal sit, and it can be surprising how much meditation you can fit into a day. Some days I’d manage an hour and a half, or more, and half of that time, at least, would be shorter sits squeezed into gaps during the day.
  • There will be times that you just go through the motions. I’ve had some blissful meditations over the past 100 days. I’ve had some that were purely token sits, where I was on the cushion for only five minutes and ended up falling asleep. (Once I fell asleep for nine hours during a five minute meditation.) It doesn’t matter. Just do it. You’re not sitting to have good sits, you’re sitting to transform your life. And transforming your life isn’t always going to be easy.
  • There’s no such thing as a bad meditation. Really. Well, I’ll concede that a meditation you didn’t do is a bad meditation. But every sit you do is a good sit. It’s good in that you’re building that habit. You’re keeping faith with your practice and with yourself. You’re showing determination and tenacity. And down below the threshold of awareness you’re doing things like building new neural pathways in the brain. Your brain is building those pathways, strengthening your ability to regulate your emotions and to live compassionately and mindfully, whether or not you enjoy a particular sit. So your meditation wasn’t just monkey-mind? It was a cage full of ADHD monkeys on speed, throwing poop at each other? At least you did it. You rock!

I’m sure I’ve missed some points, but perhaps other people can chip in below and share their experience.

And what’s next? We have another 100 day challenge coming up! This one is 100 Days of Lovingkindness. Stay tuned, and keep sitting.

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What animal trainers can teach you about establishing a daily meditation practice

Animal trainer and sea lion

Yesterday someone posted a comment about their “failure” regarding a 100 Day Challenge:
I’ve stuck to my challenge only once — ONCE! — in the past 12 days. MASSIVE failure.

So for this person this wasn’t just a “failure.” It was a “MASSIVE failure.” Yikes!

My immediate thought was that this labeling is very, very counter-productive. If you aim to do something like meditate every day, and only manage to do it one day out of 12, why not regard that as a small success, rather than as a massive failure? After all, you made some progress toward your goal!

Here’s the thing: how does it make us feel when we look back and scream “failure!” at ourselves? It makes me feel bad. It probably makes most people feel bad.

And then how motivated do you feel by this kind of self-talk? Perhaps some people do feel motivated by making themselves feel bad, but frankly I find that I just want to put the entire activity behind me. If I was saying there had been a “massive failure” because I’d failed to get a 100% grade, I’d probably give up. Why try, when anything other than complete success is going to result in name calling and suffering?

What’s it like, on the other hand, to look at a track record like the one above and to call it a small success? I’d feel a small amount of happiness!

And what if I was trying to develop a meditation habit, after each meditation I did I gave myself a massive “yay!” What if I rewarded myself by evoking pleasant feelings after a sit? I’d probably feel inclined to do it again. I like doing things when there are rewards.

What if you have a goal of meditating daily, and on one particular day you only had time to sit for five minutes? A lot of people will give themselves a hard time. They’d compare the five minutes to the 40 minutes (or whatever) that they’d ideally like to do, and regard the short sit as being a failure. I saw someone doing this just the other day. But hold on a minute! You kept up a daily meditation practice! You had a tough day, either because of demanding external conditions or because you didn’t feel good that day, and you meditated anyway! That’s fantastic! That’s an excuse for giving yourself an inner party — “yay, you!”

Yeah, but what about the animal trainers? You promised me animal trainers!

You know who uses this technique all the time, very successfully? Animal trainers. Let’s leave aside the ethical considerations of, for example, capturing or breeding wild animals and keeping them in unnatural habitats for entertainment purposes.

All successful animal trainers use rewards, and avoid punishments. Punishments are demotivating, while rewards are encouraging.

And animal trainers don’t just reward huge advances in behavior — they reward small steps. A journalist who studied animal training (and how to apply the principles of animal training in her marriage!) said “The central lesson I learned from exotic animal trainers is that I should reward behavior I like and ignore behavior I don’t. After all, you don’t get a sea lion to balance a ball on the end of its nose by nagging.” And you start off by rewarding the sea lion even for just touching the ball with its nose! You reward a step as small as that! A sea lion learning to balance a ball on its nose comes from hundreds of small steps, each one of which is rewarded. There are also, of course, even more “massive failures,” but those are ignored. Why demotivate your (inner) sea lion?

So every time you sit, reward yourself. I don’t suggest rewarding yourself with raw fish (although, À chacun son goût) but with positive self talk — rejoicing. “Yay, me!”

Now in some cultures, including my native Britain, self-rejoicing is culturally taboo. We might, when we’ve done something exceptional, grudgingly give ourselves a “not bad, I suppose” before going on to criticize something aspect of our performance that was less than perfect. But even British people cheer their football teams when they score a goal, so this isn’t a general aversion to celebrating! So when you’ve made any kind of progress in your meditation practice, dear British people (and anyone else who finds rejoicing in one’s own good to be “cheesy” or otherwise improper) just pretend that you’re cheering on your favorite team.

So how do you talk to yourself about progress? Is anything short of complete success a “failure”? Or are you able to recognize small successes and rejoice in them? Give it a go. You might end up experiencing the benefits of meditating every day — or even be able to balance a ball on our nose.

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Falling through suffering

featherRecently someone wrote to me and said that although he’d been making great progress in his meditation and had been experiencing at times profound peace and intense clarity, his meditation recently had become very turbulent. There can be many reasons for this, of course, but one that came to mind was when we need to shift gear in our meditation practice.

This turbulence may well have been a call to go deeper. We can get used to having a generally more positive experience, and get used to a certain ease in our practice. The mind is generally calmer, and we’re more joyful and experience more kindness. But we can become unused to experiencing difficulties, and when they come up we are profoundly disturbed. We become like the princess on the pile of mattresses: the one small pea in our experience is enough to destroy our comfort. And we become addicted to “fixing things” — trying to get our experience to be just so.

When we experience something uncomfortable in our experience and we try hard to “fix it” we end up just disturbing the mind even more. Our “fixing” activity itself becomes a source of disturbance. A good analogy for this is catching a feather on a fan; the more effort you make the more the feather flies away from the fan.

So when the mind is disturbed like this, we can work on developing more equanimity. Let go of aversion. It’s OK not to feel good. Let go of any craving for peace and joy. We can find a complete acceptance of the fact that things don’t feel good.

100 day meditation challenge 080And the ironic thing is, when we completely accept not feeling good, then amazing things happen. We can rest with our discomfort, just letting it be there. As we stop resisting it, stop thinking that things should be otherwise, stop thinking that it’s a bad thing that we’re experiencing discomfort, our suffering starts to thin out.

We find that we start to “fall through” our suffering and come out into a place of joy and calm. The discomfort may vanish. Or there may still be discomfort present, but we’re fine with that.

It might be tempting to see this as just a sly way to “fix” things, but I don’t think it is. It’s a completely different paradigm.

Now I’m not saying that we should never try to fix things, or never try to change our experience. Often we need to do that. You’re anxious? Take a few deep breaths to calm down. You’re angry? Cultivate lovingkindness. You’re craving something? Think about the drawbacks and deficiencies of the thing you’re craving. This is all “fixing.” But you may, at some point, find that your fixing activities themselves are as much a source of disturbance as the problems you’re trying fix. And at that point, just stop trying to fix, and just be with your suffering. And then fall through it, and find peace on the other side.

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Gratitude, creativity, and the “boys in the basement”

Glass lamp in a black backgroundLast night I sat without a timer, or rather using a stick of incense to time my sit. Recently I bought some rather lovely Shoyeido Nokiba (Moss Garden) incense, which has long sticks that burn for 50 minutes. It’s a nice alternative to using my iPad as a timer. Sometimes it’s nice not to have electronics between me and my little altar.

The Boys in the Basement offered up some interesting experiences. The “Boys in the Basement” is a term I borrowed from the novelist Stephen King. He uses it to refer to the creative powers of the mind. I write quite a lot, and the term resonated with me very strongly. Writing barely happens at all on a conscious level. Stories write themselves. Or the Boys in the Basement do the writing. I — the conscious I — just witness the words appearing, witness the small twist in the gut that comes when something in the writing doesn’t feel right, witness alternative phrasings appear. “I” don’t really do anything. writing is an excellent teaching on non-self. Actually everything is, but we rarely pay attention to the lessons, because they threaten to upend the way we see ourselves.

And it’s just the same with meditation. The less there’s a sense of “me” meditating, and the more there’s this sense of “me” witnessing the meditation unfold, the better things tend to go. The surprising thing is that there are unconscious parts of the brain that are better at meditating that “I” am.

The boys in the basement often surprise me. Last night they decided that gratitude was going to arise for every experience that appeared, whether pleasant or unpleasant. Observing the breathing: gratitude. Noticing a pain in the back: gratitude. Getting distracted: gratitude.

This may make no sense to you. It probably wouldn’t have made any sense to me until the Boys decided that this was how it was going to go down. Why should I feel gratitude for feeling pain? Some people are paralyzed and can’t feel pain, for one thing. For another, this body turns up and does things even when it’s suffering. What kind of a friend is it who shows up and helps you out even when they’re in pain? And one interesting thing was that pain received with gratitude ceased to be experienced as pain at all. It wasn’t even unpleasant — quite the contrary. Pain turned into bliss.

100 day meditation challenge, day 70Right from the start of the meditation I found I went straight into powerful pīti (pleasant feelings of energy in the body), deep joy, and an almost complete absence of thought.

I’d like to invite this gratitude practice into my life throughout the day. I was trying it last night. My son was sick, and I could hear coughing coming from his room. Gratitude. (Why gratitude? Imagine if I couldn’t hear him coughing. Not everyone has hearing. Imagine if it didn’t bother me. Not everyone has empathy.)

I’d like to invite this gratitude practice into my life throughout the day, but it’s not something “I” can make happen. The invitation can be sent out, but it’s up the Boys in the Basement whether they’ll respond to the call.

But I’m sending out the invitation now (although that’s not really me either) and even though I didn’t get much sleep last night I’m grateful to be here, grateful to be conscious, grateful to be a channel for the Boys in the Basement.

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Having a meditation toolkit

100 Day Meditation ChallengeOne of my online students wrote:

I find that when a dark thought or uncomfortable feeling comes up during meditation, my habitual reaction is to very quickly label it “thinking” and then return to my breath, which feels very much like I am suppressing my emotions and feelings.

And my reply was: This is a great thing to have learned about yourself. It seems that you innately know, with your inner wisdom, that this kind of suppression isn’t the way you want to live your life, and in fact with mindfulness we should be prepared to give our darker feelings room to breathe — or at least some of them.

That brings up the question of when we should simply let go of thoughts and the feelings/emotions that accompany them, and when we should give them space and take the time to sit with them. Sometimes one approach is appropriate, and sometimes it isn’t. How to decide? I’m not sure I can offer any clear-cut guidance on that. I think we need to use our inner wisdom to figure out what the most appropriate approach is. But I’ll have a go.

So I’d weigh up things like:

  • Is this thought just chatter? Like planning dinner, or thinking about our next Facebook status update? Can it simply wait? If so, let it go.
  • Is this thought destructive or unhelpful in some way? (For example, am I engaged in an angry rant, or busy telling myself how bad I am at something, or worrying?) In these cases I’d let go of the content of the thoughts (the storyline) but acknowledge any underlying feelings of hurt, fear, anxiety, etc., and give those my kindly attention.
  • Is there strong emotional baggage with this thought? Does it keep coming around again and again? If so, then again I’d let go of the thought but be attentive to the underlying feelings.
  • Is this a dark feeling, but not necessarily a destructive one? For example I consider grief and sadness to be aspects of love, rather than being “negative.” They’re what we experience when we love and have lost the object of our love. These are uncomfortable states, but not to be dismissed. We might find that here we don’t want to be too quick to dismiss even the stories. It’s not that we would engage is storytelling, but we may notice that the feeling arises from a story we’ve created (I should have been there at the end, I never said I loved him, etc.) It may be a great learning experience to understand how we’ve creating our feelings.
  • Is this a bright, positive, constructive emotional state, of say love, or joy? Are the thoughts we’re having contributing to that state? We might want to let those thoughts happen. After all, that’s what we do in lovingkindness practice; we deliberately engage with thinking that gives rise to love, kindness, appreciation, and compassion. We often think of thoughts as being “distractions” but they’re only distractions when they distract us! Sometimes they are guides leading us toward a deeper and more meaningful way of being.

If this seems like a lot of factors to consider, then you’re probably right. It can take us time to build up a model of how to act in various circumstances, and to keep tweaking that model as it encounters limitations. That’s the “wisdom” I mentioned earlier. Eventually these kinds of evaluations become second nature.

It’s good to be aware that there is a range of choices available to us. We should feel we have a toolkit of choices available to us, and develop a sense — through practice — of which seems most appropriate at any given time. And we should have the freedom to switch approaches if the one we’ve initially chosen is clearly not working. It’s fine to decide to just sit with an uncomfortable emotion. It’s fine to decide to do something about it. But if we aren’t in a position where we can take one of the other approach, we don’t have freedom.

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Your anxiety deserves your love

100 day meditation challenge 055All of us experience anxiety — even meditation teachers. I was nervous the other day driving down to the airport on my way to lead a retreat. I’d left it a bit late, and thoughts like “what if the traffic’s bad in Boston and I end up missing the flight?” kept popping into my head.

We all have to learn strategies for dealing with our fears.

You can think of there being an “anxiety module” in the brain. It’s the amygdala — a rather ancient part of our wiring. It’s always scanning, looking for “threats” — for things that might go wrong. When we’re in an anxious state, the amygdala is working overtime, and it’s interpreting pretty much everything as a threat (and, in my case, inventing things that could go wrong). And the amygdala is well wired into the rest of the brain. When it’s operating, we know about it. An active amygdala in fact can in fact “hijack” the higher centers in the brain (to do with rational thought, etc.) so that in a way the whole brain is being run by the amygdala. And an over-active amygdala actually becomes larger, like a muscle that’s exercised a lot.

But our higher cognitive centers have wiring running back to the amygdala, and they can (in theory) send back reassurance: “It’s OK, we can deal with this.” These inhibitory activities damp down the activity of the amygdala, and can quell our anxiety. Those pathways may be underdeveloped, but they can grow, with practice.

So the key is to keep bathing the amygdala in reassurance. One way to do this is to accept your anxiety. The amygdala actually responds to its own activity. it creates anxiety and then takes the symptoms of anxiety as a sign that something must be wrong. So if we can simply accept our anxiety, and accept that it’s OK to feel anxiety, then we cut out that feedback loop of getting anxious about anxiety. You can say to yourself, in a soothing tone of voice (internal, if you want), “It’s OK. It’s OK to feel this. Let me feel this.”

You can even send thoughts of lovingkindness to your anxiety. Notice where the anxiety is in the body. welcome it; don’t make it feel unwelcome, because that’s just feeding it. Welcome it like a beloved friend who has turned up at your home in a shaky state. You’d sit your friend down and sooth her. So let your anxiety be there, and wish it well: “May you be well; may you be happy.” Over and over. The aim isn’t to try to make the anxiety go away (again that can end up feeding it, through aversion) but to give it our compassionate attention for as long as it’s there. It’ll go away of its own accord once the mind works out that the anxiety is no longer needed.

Over time, you’ll strengthen the regulatory channels that run from your frontal cortex back to the amygdala. The amygdala will shrink. The bits of your brain to do with reassurance will get physically larger. And in time you’ll feel less anxiety, and when you do feel anxious it’ll be more “contained” within a larger context of patience, reassurance, and kindness.

Oh, and I made my flight with plenty of time to spare. The worry was completely needless.

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“I meditate every day. It’s just what I do. It’s part of who I am.”

100 day meditation challenge 050A lot of people intend to meditate every day. But not many people actually meditate every day.

Good intentions are hard to sustain, aren’t they? That’s why I came up with my affirmation: “I meditate every day. It’s just what I do. It’s part of who I am.”

I realized that if I wanted to meditate absolutely every day it was never going to work if I “intended to” meditate. I needed to just do it. And in order to just do it there had to be an absence of choice, in a positive sense. Whenever there’s any process of deciding “will I or won’t I meditate today” then there’s inevitably going to be a time when we’ll decide “nah, can’t be bothered,” because inherent in having to decide is the notion that meditation is an optional extra. Or one day you’ll just forget to even think about whether or not you’re going to sit.

So what I’ve done is to make meditating daily just “part of who I am.” I no longer have to choose. I don’t have to decide. It’s just going to happen.

“I meditate every day. It’s just what I do. It’s part of who I am.”

I wonder, in fact if part of the difficulty with getting ourselves into a new habit is that we elevate the idea of choice so highly. It’s hard to frame “not having a choice” as a positive thing. (Of course we always do have a choice — it’s more in whether we see ourselves as having a choice.) But we can either keep the choice open, and not meditate regularly, or remove the sense of choice, and do it regularly. You can’t have both.

Because we elevate choice so highly, and equate it with freedom and happiness, we tend to assume that seeing ourselves as not having a choice is going to lead to unhappiness. But in fact, choosing not to have a choice has made me much happier! I’m happier if I meditate every day because the meditation does me good (and the cumulative effects of meditation seem to be more intense with daily practice), but I also no longer have to face any sense of regret due to not meditating, and I don’t have that horrible “will I or won’t I” feeling when you’re caught between two conflicting impulses.

I believe that in psychology they call this “binding.” You choose not to have a choice, so that you’re more likely to do the thing that’s most beneficial in the long term. You “bind” yourself to the long-term good. The thing is, part of you already wants to meditate every day. Other parts of you want to have options. You can’t please both factions at the same time, but if you do meditate every day you’re doing what’s best for you in the long term. And those choice-hungry factions soon quiet down.

So “I meditate every day. It’s just what I do. It’s part of who I am.”

The mantra’s not a magic wand. You can’t just say it once or twice, half-heartedly, and assume that the words will make things happen. You have to say it like you mean it, and you have to say it often. And you have to say it as a support for the part of you that does want to meditate every day. And you have to think through how you’re going to make it happen.

It’s been interesting seeing how many people have taken up this “mantra” and found it to be beneficial. I’ll be interested to see how you get on with it.

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Coming back to “the big, loud, present, bright world”

100 Day Meditation Challenge

It’s Day 45 of our 100 Day Meditation Challenge.

After I’d asked one of my meditation students to try a mindful eating exercise, she wrote about how during the exercise the food became “her everything” and said that this reminded her “of how life looks when I am able to shut out the whirring thoughts and just pay attention to the now — the big, loud, present, bright world comes forth when before it was in the background.”

Her mentioning how “the big, loud, present, bright world comes forth when before it was in the background” reminds me of times that I’ve been reading outdoors, and after a period of complete immersion in the world of words I’ll come back to sensory reality and find myself astonished by how bright, and vivid, and rich, and fascinating everything is.

Now I love reading, and I consider myself to have a rich inner world, but there’s just a huge difference in sensory bandwidth between the world of thought and the world of sensory experience.

I notice this as well when I’m moving from distracted thought to being present. I’ll be driving, say, and realize that I’ve drifted into rumination, and when I come back the real world just seems so vivid. I also have a strong sense of the thought-world involving qualities of heaviness and tightness, compared to a relative lightness and open relaxation in the sensory realm.

I notice the same thing when I’m walking, and I switch from thinking to being aware of my body and the world through which it’s moving.

I think it’s worth noticing these contrasts and allowing ourselves to be fascinated by them. It’s also worth valuing and rejoicing in the richness and fullness of the sensory world, and developing the intention to keep revisiting it as often as possible. Often we get so caught up in thinking for so long that we almost forget how to be aware of our sensory experience.

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Listening as a meditation practice

Nipper the dog listening to a gramophone player

For Day 45 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge I wanted to post something I wrote in response to one of our participants who found it useful to set a bell to ring every so often while she was meditating.

What I’ve found is that when I’m listening very intently to something, I can’t also do much (if any) thinking. So listening to a gong can be very calming.

When we’re listening we’re also being very receptive and open, and opposed to all the “doing” we normally, well, do. That “doing,” if were not being very mindful, tends to make us close off to our experience, so that we can become very willful. The ideal is combining doing and receptivity, so that the doing takes place within a greater context of not-doing. But periods of pure “not doing” are a good practice.


Also, a bell naturally fades away into the void. It can get so that you’re not sure whether you’re listening to the last traces of the bell, or whether you’re listening to silence. And listening to silence is a great practice.

And lastly when you listen to a bell, it’s possible to be aware that there’s not just one “thing” you’re listening to. Every moment is different. Every moment is a combination of multitudinous arisings and fallings, beginnings and endings. And so in listening to a bell we can start to have a greater appreciation of impermanence and non-self; the sound of the bell doesn’t have a “self” — it’s not a thing. It’s composed instead of those myriad arisings and passings-away, just as we are.

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Day 40 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge

100 day meditation challenge 040I’m sure you’ve noticed an increased tendency to be irritable and cranky when you’re tired. This is a valuable area for practice, and I have a tip for you.

I think one thing we should take on board is how physiological our feelings and our ability to regulate our emotions are. When we’re tired, our brain’s biochemistry is running out of “the good stuff” and we tend to feel a bit down and a bit more vulnerable and sensitive. Our feelings are on more of a hair trigger. And it’s harder to be mindful of our emotions and to keep ourselves in a positive state.

When we don’t take all that into account we almost automatically add a layer of blame to our experience: “I’m down. I’ve failed. This sucks.”

When we do take this into account it’s more like: “I’m down. Oh, I’m tired. That’s why!” And at that point, even though our experience might still be unpleasant, we’re less likely to get into a dark mood. The self-blame, which often we don’t even realize is there, just doesn’t happen as much.

Have some compassion for yourself when this happens. Your brain and body have needs, and that’s normal. You’re running low on fuel. The old brain’s knackered and in need of a good rest. So meet your experience with lovingkindness, but not with the intent that you’re going to “banish some negativity.” It’s more like you’re just going to be kind to yourself at a time when you’re low on resources. Be sympathetic and compassionate to yourself. Now, maybe this will sometimes perk you up, because you’ve removed the self-blame and perhaps feel a bit lighter and more energetic. Or maybe you express your regrets and get yourself off to bed, or get some quiet time, or have a snack — whatever you physiologically need and are able to give yourself in whatever circumstances you’re in.

Accepting our physiological limitations is an application of the principle that thoughts are not facts. “I’m down. I’ve failed. This sucks” is a series of thoughts, but those statements are not facts. They’re just judgments. Drop the judgments, and have some compassion for yourself, and you’ll feel much more at ease with yourself.

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