The Internal Compass

It’s been 8 months since I left the meditation retreat camp. Every month or two, I can’t help but analyze and reflect upon what meditation did for me. The reason being that some part of me starts to slowly emerge. Sometimes it’s a bit of my past emotional states that were positive, and many times it’s something new I haven’t experienced before.

I remember the first day I got out, the immediate effect was I felt a sense of calmness that couldn’t be broken for many weeks.  I didn’t feel rattled or shaken, instead I felt balanced and observational. When I returned back to work, I noticed that the same problems didn’t effect me the same way, and to a certain extent I conscientiously understand “in one ear, out the other.”

I also remember being able to sleep fewer hours yet still maintain alertness throughout the day. In other words, for a period of time coffee was no longer necessary. I felt very detoxified.

More recently, I’ve felt this emerging compass inside me. Not in the sense of north, south, east, or west – instead it is more like hot or cold. Remember as a kid, you probably played a game where you had to find something by listening to your friend say hot or cold. Hot meant you were getting closer, and cold meant otherwise. But hot or cold is all you know (and yes there was warmer or cooler for a bit of subjective help). There’s no sense of real physical direction. But either way, you knew with each direction you took, there was a 50 percent chance you picked the right option.

Hot or cold is where I stand now. The cold is obvious, but the hot is not. During the past few months, I have been more aware of what I don’t like. In other words, spotting the cold has been a prime focus for me because cold is what I don’t like. If I can remove the cold, eventually the hot will present itself. This general concept is the fundamental groundwork for clearing out the clutter. The clutter is the cold. It’s like mixing hot and cold water to get the desired temperature for running water. When you want hotter water, you can either increase the hot water, or reduce the cold water.

I think of hot as happiness, purpose…whatever it is you want to call it, it’s the thing we all want and spend most of our life searching for. Just like the game: when you get hotter, you’re closer to the goal. But unfortunately life isn’t as simple as turning up the hot water. If that were the case, I think each and every one of us would be much happier. But luckily we can turn down the cold water, bit by bit, until the right temperature is reached. In which case, we reach the right equilibrium.

Each time you turn down the cold water, you place your hand in the running water to judge the temperature until you like it. Life works in a similar manner. Turn down the cold – turn down the clutter. Eventually the discomfort of the cold will settle into a temperature that is comfortable for a long enjoyable bath. That right temperature, whether hot, warm, or lukewarm, is to our own liking and solely depends on each individual. No one can tell you what your perfect temperature is. The only way to reach that is constant adjusting and testing. It’s the same you do before going into a shower or bath.

Yea, I am aware that I’ve beaten the analogy to death, but I hope you found this analogy useful. Find your right temperature, and remember: it’s a constant adjustment that will require you to keep testing the results of each adjustment.

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