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Just Because You Learned to Shovel Snow Doesn't Mean It's Never Going to Snow

A red pickup truck in rain

Last Friday morning, I was on my way to see Melissa, beloved nail tech, for a manicure appointment. It's springtime in Indiana, so that means it's also road construction season. About three-quarters of a mile from the nail salon, a lane is closed, so traffic must merge from two lanes down to one.

Everyone, including me, was dutifully getting over... and then out of nowhere, the truck in the photo above, came racing up the soon-to-be-closed lane and started coming over on me.

Fiery Jack Jack from The Incredibles

In an instant, I transformed into flaming Jack Jack from The Incredibles, driving a Chevy Suburban northbound on State Road 135, just south of Curry Road in Greenwood. Friend, I WAS H-O-T HOT. Almost a week later, writing this, I can still feel my body tense, feel a flush rise in my face, and a rumble in my belly. I can also hear myself yelling, "Oh, HELL to the NO!" while I continue to stay close to the car in front of me, both hands on the wheel, staying firmly in my lane, while the guy in the truck beside me keeps pushing over toward me.

At some point, the safety features in my truck were dinging and shaking my seat, and instinctually, I yielded, which meant that menace got his way.

I laid on the horn, screamed many profanities at him, and snapped the photo above. If it's even possible, I was an even hotter Jack Jack because I was furious not only at him but also angry with myself for yielding. Friend, when I say, in that moment, if I could've pushed a button and evaporated that guy and his truck off the face of the earth, I would've, I'm not exaggerating.

So, why am I telling you this story?

Because some people think practicing meditation equals immunity to unpleasant experiences and feelings, which isn't at all true. I experience unpleasant stuff on the regular, just like every other human being. What I notice is that practicing meditation allows me to relate differently to unpleasant experiences.

For instance, I noticed the bodily sensations that arose with the anger. I got curious about why I was so angry, both with myself and the menace. At some point, a few days after, I even got curious about the menace, like what has he experienced that makes him drive like that? In addition, I chose to spend a few moments grounding before going into the nail salon so I didn't spend the whole appointment screaming about the menace. I used my agency to decide how I wanted to show up and then took care of myself so I could. That doesn't mean I stuffed down the unpleasant. I allowed it to be, practiced enough, for now, spent a few moments grounding, and then headed into the appointment.

I still experience the unpleasant in the moment, but the aftermath is more easeful than before I was meditating, for me and for those around me.

I saw my friends John and Lena on Tuesday for lunch and told them about how I keep running into people who say some version of, "Oh, I thought you were all blissed out from all the meditating, so I'm surprised you ever feel angry/sad/frustrated/overwhelmed, etc." Without missing a beat, John said, "Just because you learned to shovel snow doesn't mean it's never going to snow." My jaw dropped open, and when I finally regained speech, I said, "WORD."

So, please, hear me when I say: I practice meditating (and other present moment awareness building practices) not with the expectation that it's never going to snow but with the knowledge that I am fully equipped to HANDLE IT when it does snow.

Ready to get skilled up so you can HANDLE IT, too? Join me for Weekly Sangha Sit!

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