Awhile ago, I was leading a meditation group. At the beginning of the session, I asked the participants why they wanted to learn to meditate. There were the typical answers of seeking improved concentration, peacefulness, and mindfulness; however, there was one woman who said she wanted to learn to sit still. She described how sitting still is a real challenge for her. Working in finance, she is expected to sit for many hours a day, which is really difficult for her. Her colleagues often comment upon her fidgetiness.
As we got to know each other more, I learned that this bright young woman was a creative powerhouse. She could innovate at home and at work almost constantly and was sought out by all who knew her for her keen problem solving skills. Things did not linger on her to do list as she was on-the-go throughout the day making things happen.
Our sitting sessions were difficult for her and so I modified them to a walking meditation practice that allowed her to meditate in motion. She savored coordinating breath with movement and was able to focus her mind on that singular place of breath and step.
Even with that success, however, she still longed to sit still. She said to me, “Will I be able to do sitting meditation next?” And I replied, “You’re training your mind and will be able to translate that into sitting.” But then I hesitated because I wanted to point something out to her and so I ventured, “What if not sitting still is your superpower?” She looked at me puzzled, and I said, “Think about it for awhile and let me know next week how that might change things for you.”
She returned to our meditation sessions regularly and we continued our discussions on reframing her view of her hyperactivity. She noticed that by not resisting her physical energy but rather by accepting it and harnessing it she had greater peacefulness and mindfulness.
When she felt fidgety at work, she would go for a short walk. She also moved to a standing desk and eventually a treadmill desk. Then she started to explore the possibility of a career as a personal trainer — an area she had always loved. And eventually, she was able to sit for short periods of time during meditation.
This experience made me think:
What if we looked at the things that people sometimes don’t understand about us and harness them as our superpowers? Rather than resisting them, we make them into an asset.
For instance, perhaps people tell you that you’re thin-skinned. Instead of trying to be a tough and callous individual, you accept your sensitivity and use it to relate deeply to others. You create appropriate boundaries to protect yourself and yet are able to guide those in your life with your insightfulness.
What is your superpower? I encourage you to identify it and nurture it. May it grow and help you bring a shining light to this world.