I’ve been meditating daily for about 18 years. I’ve been selling professionally for almost 16 years (I was previously a social worker).
I’ve been running as a spiritual practice for 15 years.
Typically, these three areas act as a virtuous circle in my life; my activity in one area will energize and inspire novelty in the others, which then reciprocate.
But recently, they’ve become a kind of crucible.
I wanted to share some thoughts on what I’ve found supportive when things don’t go your way and seem to be conspiring against you.
Selling and Running
What I love about selling and running is you are negotiating with forces that are outside of your direct control.
You cannot make someone buy your offering; that’s called extortion.
Your body will not do whatever you ask of it; it will rebel at some point through injury or stagnation. And yet, my family’s financial stability and my well-being absolutely depend on how well I get along with these forces.
Meditation, on the other hand, has no concern whatsoever with anyone or anything other. As long as my body and mind are sound enough to sit still and quietly, I’m good to go: I’m free.
Usually, spending time experiencing this depth of freedom spills over into the rest of my life.
It is a remarkable thing to engage in a business conversation, or run hard for 10 miles, with a whiff of meditative infinity circulating in my consciousness.
I endeavor to express it however I can, whether through my vulnerability in an unlikely situation, or by charging through time and space faster than I ever have before.
Where Is the Magic?
However, for countless reasons I can speculate on but not confirm for certain, the magic hasn’t been there.
It’s been raw toil these days with seemingly little to show for it. The money’s not coming in fast enough. I’m running slower than I was last training season.
Now of course, some of this is simply a matter of patience.
Business agreements in my field take time to finalize (I sell for a consulting firm to banks and technology companies). The body needs time to be tuned to higher levels of efficiency (I started training later this year than last season).
But thoughts have haunted me like ominous clouds: of lack, of barren struggle, of a general impending decline.
This is in the context of my past two years, which has been an unprecedented period of flow and plenty in almost every area of my life.
What Is a Stable Source of Confidence?
I found my underlying zest for life getting slowly gnawed away by fears of the minutiae of my daily obligations that essentially boiled down to: am I not as capable as I thought I was?
I found this to be a particularly challenging test because to excel at selling and running each demand a certain kind of verve and depends so much on one’s confidence. But what to do when confidence was the very opposite of what I was feeling?
But then, I started to contemplate: what is confidence? Where does it come from?
Clearly, there’s a reality to how we measure ourselves that is quantifiable and unmoving.
I can feel awesome about myself, but if I’m not bringing in sufficient revenue for my firm, or achieving specific speed times, I will face unavoidable consequences.
Conversely, if I’m over-delivering, my family’s bank accounts expand enormously and my middle-aged body transmutes into a lethal machine before my very eyes. That typically makes me feel pretty good.
However, I’ve seen how we can become a slave to our own metrics: one’s self-worth relies on fluctuating calculations that aren’t entirely in our control.
Like a hyper-aggressive investor fixated on the global stock market, I value my life by whether I’m up or down on this index.
And the insidious nature of this index is that there is no top and no bottom.
Look in either direction and there will be numbers towering and descending without end. Holding one’s self to an arbitrary standard is a never-ending hell that is difficult to escape.
Thank God for meditation.
In its immediacy, this index crumbles.
Finding Faith Through Meditation
Lately, as I’ve clung on to the sanctuary of nothingness that is meditation, I’ve been drawn to a source of confidence that is not so fragile and full of flux.
Until I can refine my thinking (and come up with a better word), I call it the Dream.
Why do I meditate just about every day without fail? Why am I so motivated to bask in nothing at all?
Because it’s not really “nothing”. It is something. I don’t know what it is. I can’t put my finger on it. It has to do with why I am alive and why it is worth living.
It is reminiscent of a hope for a perfected world, but as that’s a vision impossible for the mind to comprehend with any specificity, it is like a glorious Dream that you can never remember.
Yet, that doesn’t mean the Dream’s not totally real, meaningful, and full of purpose.
You just can’t hang your hat on it or put it in a box on the mantle.
Perhaps a more accurate word for it is faith.
And the nature of faith is that it relies on something that you cannot see. That can seem like a bad bet to base your confidence on.
As our our world grows more volatile than ever, I think the strength and stability that comes from a conscious and open-eyed faith in our existence is a most powerful resource to draw from.