In just 5 minutes

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My stomach rumbled and I thought about angel hair pasta tossed with some shaved garlic and onion, and some extra virgin olive oil and tangy capers. A few sweet cherry tomatoes from my garden, cooked in a skillet until they break apart into a sauce to saute the whole thing. I needed to get some onions though…I could do that on the way home from work, but I’d need to swing by-

I snapped myself out of the future and back to the present.

It’s been several weeks since I’ve meditated, and I can feel it. The problem with stopping meditation is you can’t save your progress: Your clarity and awareness immediately and swiftly starts fading.

It’s like letting your kitchen go if you don’t clean it for a week. Your brain fills up its pathways with garbage thoughts, regrets, forward-looking fears, imagined transgressions and pitfalls and enemies. The pathways get jammed up. Temper is more sensitive to being triggered.

It’s scary, actually, to see how easily how temper can be swayed. It’s scary to see how you can acclimate to all the garbage that’s cluttering your mind.

Your judgment is affected, but you can’t tell, because you’ve adapted to it.

So using one session to calm your mind down to a steady state is almost impossible. You’ve let your mind wander without supervision for weeks or months. You’ve left the gates open, so it’s gonzo, far away by now. It’s going to take some effort to find it again, to find your calm center that’s not contaminated by your environment.

And yet…that 5 minute session of stopping and focusing on your breath is so powerful that immediately afterwards, I notice the change. It’s clear something happened in my head, although during those minutes I felt like I was trying to tame a wild horse, and it was bucking me every 5 seconds!

Be vigilant against the drift of the mind. Don’t habituate to that noisy place…or to any place, unless you want to. Whatever negative place you drift into through habit…realize you don’t have to be there. It isn’t normal, so don’t make it your normal.

Today, I’ve taken back some control. And tomorrow I must go back and exercise my mind again. I cannot be a victim of my mind, or the random circumstances of life. Because a life out of my control is not my life at all.

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