“Start Again”

I’m a few months into meditating on nearly a daily basis. Meditation was always something I struggled to get into and adapt as a daily habit, despite understanding all the potential benefits and wanting to reap the rewards. During a meditation session I find myself lost in thoughts over and over, (and over!). When this happens, I fight the urge to get frustrated at myself and the whole process. I can happily say that I’ve been able to let that go and I look forward to my morning meditation session everyday.

I’ve been using the ‘Waking Up’ app by Sam Harris. There is a concept Sam repeats often, which is to simply ‘start again’, or ‘start over’. In regards to meditation, it has helped me tremendously to understand that at the moment when I’m lost in thought, instead of reacting with judgment or frustration, I can just simply start over and be present in the moment WITHOUT any negativity.

The ability to translate this phrase to so many other aspects of life, including poker has been comforting and I would even say transformative. I find myself repeating this phrase a lot lately. I’ve had to apply it to many aspects of life. Mainly exercise, food and poker. Knowing that I can just move on without negative judgment towards myself and start again in the present moment. Each day I can start my exercise program again, each meal is a chance to then make wiser choices, and each hand or day I can play better poker.

These two words are so profound. The amount of acceptance towards the past that is implied with simply ‘start again’, is crucial to releasing negative emotions that can dangerously build and even prevent you from making future choices that you immensely want to make. Why is it that one meal of binge eating pizza has the ability to turn into a spiral of self hatred and then maybe even a week of bad food choices. There is no need to feel like one bad meal has sabotaged our lifestyle and that in order to get back on track we need some magical solution. There isn’t one. Take this to the extreme of maybe you have eaten poorly for months and gained a lot of weight. Guess what, you can literally start again right now. There is nothing stopping us from doing that at any moment except the judgments and low quality thoughts that we tell ourselves.

With exercise, it’s the same thing. I’ve been to a stage where I made a lot of progress in the gym, taken a few steps backwards and then suddenly felt discouraged or demotivated to get back on track. Why is it that some bad choices can then spiral to giving up all together? I know for myself, it is a feeling of hopelessness, feeling like a failure or incapable at achieving something. I’ve seen others be victim to this mentality as well. When we think about it deeper, it’s complete nonsense. Missing a workout for a day, a week, or even a month doesn’t mean that I am no longer someone who works out regularly or that it defines my performance.

With poker, I’m constantly reminding myself of this phrase. I’ve had sessions where I’ve misplayed a hand or two and it feels like the whole session is doomed. Tournaments where I went from chip leader to short stacked in a couple hands. Downswings that never seem to end. But each hand and each session, I can and need to just start again. Holding onto anger at myself for misplaying a hand, the disappointment from losing the chip lead, or distress that I’ve lost a lot of profit I worked hard for is useless. I am where I am at the current moment and I have the ability to minimize the emotional impact and try to move forward with wisdom from the past, and start again.

So, maybe you’re upset at yourself for playing a hand bad, neglecting your workout routine that you had been following, an eating plan, or whatever it might be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t just start again!

P.S. – here is a link to the meditation app that I’ve mentioned and highly recommend Waking Up.

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