Meditation Helped Me Accept a Difficult Situation

Claudia Stack

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Lately, I have had the opportunity to practice acceptance, because I am on a triple timeout: 1) As a person who, like most , is trying to avoid COVID 2) as a cancer patient who is immunocompromised, 3) and as someone who was recently released from the hospital (for non-COVID pneumonia).

In normal times, I am a teacher, a documentary filmmaker, and a writer. However, my doctor made it clear I cannot be in school with students. Visiting my elderly neighbors to record oral history is also not allowed. So, out of the three creative activities in which I used to engage regularly, at the moment only writing is left. That was difficult to accept at first, but meditation has helped so much.

About ten years ago I started meditating every morning, and I felt a shift in my perspective. It gave me the ability to remain serene through stressful situations (very helpful when you work in high poverty schools). At work, I became known for my calm, optimistic outlook. One colleague asked me, “what color are the unicorns in your world?”

While being calm is certainly helpful, what I notice now during my current time at home is a different benefit. That is, meditation enhances my ability simply to accept a situation. It helps me to realize that I am all right in this moment. That is not to say everything is perfect, but...

You can resist and think about all the ways you want a situation to be different, but that is basically struggling against all the choices that led up to that moment. It is better to embrace it, even with any frustrations it may hold. Then, if you wish, you can envision any changes you desire — instead of beating yourself up.

Meditation somehow allows the minor achievements of daily life — doing the laundry, cooking, paying bills — to be more satisfying. I notice this because, even though I am ill with cancer, the everyday chores of running our household do not stop. We live in the country with pets and livestock. There is always something to do.

If I do the dishes and wipe the counters, nothing is improved. All is simply back to where it was before the meal happened. It can feel like running to stand still. From the viewpoint of our western culture, which constantly looks for progress and the infinite perfectibility of man, this is depressing. In order not to become depressed, I had to change to a different, more accepting mindset.

Again, meditation helped me to shift my viewpoint. Instead of seeing chores as an endless grind, I find them soothing, and get a sense of accomplishment from simple tasks. Feeding the animals is especially satisfying because it frames my day: After having coffee and my quiet (meditation) time, feeding the animals is the first thing I do every morning. It is also often the last thing I do, with my son’s help, outside before dark.

We are in an exponential surge of COVID cases. Even though vaccines have arrived, rolling them out to the majority of people will take months. In addition, my doctor says I cannot take the vaccine now… and so I must wait. Certainly, I don’t have to cultivate acceptance while I wait, but it does make everything a lot nicer.

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I am an educator and filmmaker. My documentary films on historic African American schools have screened at film festivals, colleges, libraries, and other venues. In Fall, 2017 I completed SHARECROP and SHARECROP: DELTA COTTON, documentaries that showcase oral history of the South’s “forgotten farmers.” These films have screened at festivals in major cities including London, Atlanta, Detroit.

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