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Stop pressing the snooze button on awareness. A pep talk and pointers from the just-published Don’t Hate, Meditate!

By Megan Monahan

Are you ready to wake up? We can’t just think our way into living our best life. A shift needs to occur to experience lasting change. As much as your mind houses some turbulence, it’s such a privilege to be able to sit and explore it. You get to wade through the thoughts, the feelings, the stories and the truths, and as you begin to surrender into that journey, you’ll eventually feel lighter. You’ll go from struggling to getting comfortable in the silence to floating on top of it all. And there you are. Each time you get quiet, you can return to that place.

Our conditioning has created a spiritual amnesia and we’ve forgotten who we really are underneath it all. Relax, it’s not because you’re bad at life; it’s because you’re human and it is in our nature to “forget.” We started forgetting our fullest consciousness the moment that we took our first breath, and we have been leaning closer and closer to a conditioned autopilot mode ever since. We forget and we start letting the outside world’s narratives regulate who we are, how we dress, what we do, what we want and ultimately how we see the world around us. Keeping it 100 with you, I will tell you that living life in that state takes less work. It’s way easier to indulge in negativity and a state of victimhood. On the other side of doing the work, though, is power and the opportunity to live as the highest expression of yourself, which comes with all the perks: happiness, contentment and peace. Remember also that this journey isn’t about acquiring anything, but letting go of the residue of conditioning that has accumulated within you.

When we’re born, we’re good to go. We are present and we unapologetically express our feelings and needs with complete transparency. We don’t hold grudges, have judgments, or become attached to the outcome of anything. For a period of time, we’re in a state of complete “being.” Pull out a photo of yourself as a toddler. Do you see any cynicism, any fear, any scarcity or self-doubt? Probably not. As we get older and our brains develop, we begin to discover additional layers of that “being.” All of a sudden, we have a mind, an intellect, an ego and a physical body that all have a voice. That crystal-clear lens of pure potentiality is traded out for a set of conditioned lenses that we’ll see the world through from that point forward.

I’ll never forget the first time I heard Deepak Chopra say that our set point—the way we look at the world—is developed by the time we’re 7 or 8 years old. After that initial set of programmed preferences are downloaded, everything you experience reinforces that outlook and figuratively thickens that lens through which you’re seeing the world. As a result of that conditioning, we fall into this hamster wheel of repetitive thoughts, desires and actions.

On its own, the knowledge that your mind is conditioned is powerful and represents a degree of awareness that many don’t have. But it’s not enough to know it. Those habits, stories and conditioned responses that keep you from your greatness keep showing up for a reason. They’ve had a seat at the table for a long time. Imagine for a moment that each of your thoughts, words and actions creates a current that is moving you in a certain direction, the collective energy of which creates your world inside and out. If you’ve ever swam in the ocean and had to fight your way through a rip current to get back to shore, you know how difficult it is to change course when there’s energy and momentum pushing you in one very specific direction. At this moment, you might be acknowledging that you want to start moving in a new direction, but it takes more than just “deciding.” That current has been fed throughout the years with your thoughts and actions. It’s important to be gentle with yourself and know that redirection is a process that can be supported by favoring new thoughts. Insert meditation.

Learning to meditate will enable you to notice your unique conditioning, especially as it relates to your relationship with presence, acceptance, intention, nonjudgment and trust. It shows up as a way to shave away layers of that conditioned lens, and begin to shift into being a new version of yourself.

Reprinted from DON’T HATE, MEDITATE!: 5 Easy Practices to Get You Through the Hard Sh*t (and into the good) © 2019 by Megan Monahan. Published by Ten Speed Press, animprint of Penguin Random House.