Chin up, buckaroo

Do you ever notice how when we perseverate on good thoughts, we say we’re meditating on something… but when we harp on bad thoughts it’s called worry?

I suggest that meditation doesn’t indicate good or bad.

It indicates focus.

When we worry, we’re still meditating, just on the bad stuff. The stuff we want less of, not more of.

And by meditating on the worry; worry becomes your world.

You can pretend you’re fine.

You can pretend you like yourself, your life.

You can pretend the fears aren’t debilitating, don’t keep you up at night.

But even if you do a great job at pretending, and even if most people you come in contact with can’t smell your worry on you, your worry will stick to you like the smell of rotten eggs.

And it will persist.

It will become your tomorrow, your next week.

Until you stop it.

Just stop it.

I write a lot about mindfulness.

Mindfulness — in my own personal practice — usually means

paying attention

pausing before reacting


breathing again

focusing my thoughts and self-talk on the positive in my life

on what I’m grateful for

on what I want more of.

But over the past few weeks as I’ve been moving through some health issues, I’ve been meditating on doom and gloom.

My thoughts sound like this:

“What’s wrong with me?”

“This can’t be good.”

“Something is seriously not right here.”

“Why doesn’t anyone take this seriously but me?”

“No one wants to help me.”

This is a really easy funk to fall into when you don’t feel well.

But as with positive thoughts I like to meditate on, such as

“I am loved.”

“I am strong.”

“People like being around me.”

The worry I’ve created in my mind has become my world.

And my world has suffered.

I’ve noticed I don’t want to write. Not blogs or the novel that I was half-way finished only three weeks ago

I don’t want to take beautiful pictures on instagram.

I’m tired and uninterested in deep, meaningful conversations with my friends, neither in real life or on social media.

Because I’ve been meditating on worry, instead of love, positive change, and possibility.

The truth is — pain and fear will do that to you.

Pain and fear can send the most mindful of us down dark roads.

But yesterday, I had a brief chat with a fellow mindful friend who is also going through a difficult time. She told me she’s trying to be and speak as positive as possible, and it’s helping her move through this time.

I know for a fact that people think she is faking it … or they wonder, “How can she be so happy all the time?”

I even asked her (a bit bitterly), “Is that working for you?”

The truth is — she is probably kinda faking it. She’s choosing to not be her worry.

And it’s working for her.

But I didn’t think it would work for me. I’m in a funk, you know.

This morning, however, I saw in my twitter feed, an update from a stranger.

It piqued my interest.

amanda tweet

I clicked through to the picture on instagram, and realized suddenly I knew exactly what Amanda meant when she wrote “Keeping my chin tilted ever so slightly, even when it’s hard.”

Chin up — even when it’s hard — That’s mindfulness.

Smiling at your friends when you pass them, even when it’s hard — that’s mindfulness.

Choosing to take a walk and breathe in nature when you could just as easily sit on the couch and worry about the results of your blood test — that’s mindfulness.

It may not be the Buddha’s version of mindfulness, but it’s mine.

Mindfulness is noticing how hard life is right now. So hard, you can hardly lift your chin.

But you do it anyway. That one small motion.

Chin up.

And before you know it, your body and mind will follow.

It’s just as easy to chin up — isn’t it? — as it is to look down, to look back, to look away.

Chin up lifts you up.

Puts your eyes in the direction of beauty

of friends

of family


towards life.

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