My daily meditation practice consists of around 45 minutes in the morning, before my kids wake up (and all hell breaks loose) and 45 minutes in the evening, before I go to sleep for the night.
It’s as basic of a practice as one can find – I sit on a plastic foldout chair in the dark of my basement and focus my attention on my breath. Later into the “sit”, I’ll try to let go of the attention on my breath and just “be.” Some days I’m more focused than others, but it is rare that I don’t make both of these daily sits.
Over the course of my 5-year meditation career, I have experienced a plethora of “states” as the mediation masters call them. While all of these states of consciousness are nearly impossible to describe, I’ve experienced such things as; vibrations throughout my body, strobing lights, psychedelic like images, a feeling that my mind had flipped ‘upside down’, concentrated heat, violent pulsating in my head, and the deepest calm/peace/love I have ever felt. A couple of times, I even thought that I was hearing the conversation of someone else. All of this occurred by sitting on a chair and breathing (no intoxicants included).
As a beginner meditator, I used to get fixated on these states and try my hardest to manipulate such exciting events. More than anything, I liked the thrill and the knowing that I was doing it “right.” Today, my meditations are more consistent, and typically include a focused state where I calmly let my thoughts, feelings, sounds, and other sensations pass through my consciousness without attachment (as best I can). In comparison to the “states” that I described above, my meditation is now pretty boring.
However, I am finding this “boringness” to present positive change, awareness, and growth. There’s a depth that wasn’t quite there before, while my meditations aren’t providing huge swings of excitement, they are providing pointed opportunities and lessons. In the past, my meditation was like a chainsaw, cutting down the low hanging fruit of personal development, today it’s more of a scalpel, helping to slice out mind cancers, centimeter by centimeter.
To explain, let me indulge you with a story about my 4-year-old son, kicking me in the face…
Last week, while meditating, I had set my timer to end my sit at around 7:30am, knowing my wife would be going for a run at this time, and the kids would be waking up soon after. Upon hearing my timer, I decided to “keep going” as I was feeling a deep peace.
As I continued to sit, the sensation was one where I was moving throughout my mind, following a path, similar to a peaceful hike throughout the woods. Except the noises of birds chirping, leaves crunching, and squirrels moving, were replaced by my thoughts, the water running through the basement plumbing, and sounds from outside the house. Similar to the leaves crunching under my feet on a trail, when thoughts would arise in my mind, I’d keep “hiking” without any second thought.
The whole experience was fluid and easy, without judgement, attachment, or emotion. I felt as though I could have wandered around in my mind for hours, similar to walking in the woods when the crisp autumn air is just right, and you have plenty of water and nothing but time to kill.
However, my mind wandering would come to an abrupt end when I heard my son screaming, (from two stories above), with the words, “DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD!!!!!!”
I have been startled out of plenty of meditations before, but this time was different. After hearing my son calling for me, I simply got up from my chair and walked up the steps to his room. There was no mental chatter of, “why’d that kid have to wake up” or “damn, it sucks to to be interrupted like that.”
Upon reaching his room, my son was in the middle of a full-on temper tantrum – this of the classic, “waking up on the wrong side of the bed” variety. He was thrashing all over the place and kicking up his legs like he was possessed by a demon. Still unemotional, I sat down next to him and said, “It’s ok, I’m here buddy.” To which, the possessed demon responded with a double footed flying axe kick to my face.
Still in a slightly meditative state, I observed his feet hitting my face the same as an outside observer would. While I felt a bit of pain, the pain sensation was similar to the “meditation hike” I was on just 30 seconds before. There was no attachment of judgement or emotion to the pain. It was just the flesh of his feet, hitting the flesh of my face, and the central nervous system response of pain receptors firing that followed.
Usually in a situation like this, my response would be along the lines of, “OWWWW! WE DON’T KICK!!!” Or, “GOD D*MNIT – WTF!” This time however, no response at all.
In fact, the lack of response shocked myself and my son. As he looked at me with a face that said, “ohhhh no, I shouldn’t have done that”, I was looking at him with a quizzical look of, “I know you didn’t mean to do that and I know it hurt, but I’m not feeling any anger or judgement. What am I supposed to do now!?”
What I decided to do, was to continue to love my son and help him to the best of my ability. His temper tantrum and kicks weren’t aimed at me – he needed love, not scolding. Around this moment, a lightbulb went off – I wasn’t taking the action of my son kicking me or his temper tantrum personally. In short, the whole experience was separate from my ego and happened not to Dan, but just happened.
In this episode, I found myself responding not from a place of reactivity, but from a place where “true Dan” was still able to operate. I was in control of my emotions, because my emotions were never even involved. Shortly after calming my son down, I realized that this was an example of my personal development work taking hold. Put simply, this was progress!
Since getting kicked in the face and responding in the most zen-like way possible, these Jedi powers haven’t stayed with me, but the instance has provided lasting hope. Like finding a bread crumb on a trail, confirming the right direction, the moment has me optimistic of what the future may hold.
I am more confident then ever there’s another way to live, one that doesn’t lead to unnecessary judgements from an overly egoic Dan. Judgements that usually are rooted in fear, scarcity, and anger, causing nothing but turmoil for myself and those around me.
It took getting kicked in the face to see it, but not taking things personally is possible and I’m confident this approach has otherworldly benefits to my life.
Not sure if you’re taking things personally? Find a 4-year-old and ask him to kick you in the face. If you respond by yelling out, “DAN IS AN A$$HOLE!!!!” you’ll have your answer.
Author Bio: Dan started Fired and Free in 2017, to provide his “truth” after being fired as CEO of the company he started and led. After a diverse 17-year career in management consulting and entrepreneurship, Dan now leads 3Sixty Leadership, where he provides coaching and consulting to business owners with 5 to 500 employees, helping them to work “on” their business not “in” their business.