Finding Beauty in Comparison Through Meditation

Comparison Doesn't Have To Be Bad

Last weekend, I got up on stage to lead a Kundalini meditation session. This was at one of Gabby Bernstein’s retreats, and I felt so blessed to be in that opportunity and in that space.

But there was a moment where I looked around the room and was blown away by the people that were there. Powerful women and men. They were beautiful women, strong people, successful people., vulnerable people..

And in that moment, I noticed that voice of comparison in the back of my mind.

You’ve been there, right? You see an incredible person, and you can’t help but wonder how you measure up. You can’t stop yourself from making those numbing comparisons: how close—? how far—? how much more—? how much less—?

So, in that moment, as I felt the lights on the stage and that gnawing in my stomach…

I had a choice.

The Comparison Options

Option one. Would I enter reaction mode? Would I allow my brain to become an echo chamber of negativity? Would I let my thoughts spiral into self-criticism, judgment, jealousy, pride...?

Option two. Could I allow my mind to notice the incredible people in the room within needing to react? Could I find inspiration in another human’s power and success? Could I recognize, breathe, and release?

You face these same options every day—when you’re scrolling through Instagram, stepping into a big meeting, or just walking down a crowded street.

We’ve all felt that sinking feeling after scrolling through a curated feed, or running into an old friend who seems to have it all together, right?

But too often we don’t allow ourselves to sit in the moment and embrace that beautiful choice, that second option. Instead, we either spiral into doubt or stuff our feelings and force out our comparative instincts.

There’s a problem with that, though.

You see, your brain is wired to make comparisons and identify differences—there’s no way to turn your instincts off.

In fact, according to Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer, psychologists and authors of Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both, “social comparison is an innate human tendency.”

Our challenge isn’t to remake our brains. Our challenge is to look within ourselves, to find out how to work with our bodies, embrace our natural tendencies, and find joy anyway.

You can’t shut comparison out, but you can learn how to live in alignment and acceptance—embracing the light side of comparison instead of allowing it to steal your joy.

Three lovely practices have supported me in my personal journey towards finding inspiration, self-love, and confidence in moments of comparison.


The first is the idea of seeing others as “expanders,” and this concept was first introduced to me by Lacy Phillips, of Free and Native.

Expanders are the people or the stories that transcend, and inspire, and enlighten you. On your more insecure days, they might trigger feelings of jealousy, inferiority, or resentment.

But Lacy encourages us to see them as “mirrors of our capacity and capability.” Instead of seeing someone else’s brilliance and feeling threatened, we can choose to harness and celebrate their energy, power, and brightness. We can see them as possibilities.

Beautiful, right?


The second helpful practice is simple: speak your feelings. When you find yourself in a downward spiral of comparison and judgment, step back for a moment.

Release your guilt (your brain can’t help but make comparisons, so give yourself a little grace).

Acknowledge the fact that you’re trapped in a space of negative comparison (again, it’s normal and that’s okay).

And, finally, harness the power of verbalizing your feelings.

I’m jealous. I’m angry. I’m afraid.

Her success makes me feel anxious. His charisma makes me feel powerless. I feel insecure because of her sensuality. I feel resentful of his privilege.

Instead of judging your tendency to compare, voice your feelings and then release them. , Choose forward action, and allow that comparative experience to fuel you to make changes to your current situation or sink deeper into gratitude.

This practice of voicing your feelings awakens your self-compassion and frees up your logical mind to give you a bit of space and perspective. Win-win, right?


Last and probably most important to me, my daily meditation practices bring peace, groundedness, and calm to my (sometimes anxious) mind. It helps me to stop and witness what is happening instead of just jumping into reaction, which is often fueled by fear.

Let me walk you through the ritual that works for me.

I practice transcendental meditation in bed, right when I wake up. For me, it’s so important to meditate first thing in the morning.

Meditation gives me a moment of quiet and inward focus, and helps me ease from sleep into action. Most importantly, it keeps me from slipping into reaction mode—the mindset that triggers negative comparison cycles. It gives me the ability to pause.

At some point during the day, it varies due to my schedule, I go into my other room for an at home  Kundalini class and then meditation.  I give myself a lot of time and space for meditating, because it is so important for my mental health. I didn’t realize how important meditation is for my mental balance until I skipped transcendental meditation for a few days. My mind was so much louder, so much more reactionary and unfocused.

Meditation gives me extra space, grace, and pause. When I encounter something (or someone) that could trigger self-judgment and negative comparison, I’m able to notice my feelings and stay out of knee-jerk reaction mode.

I’m able to take a step back and find gratefulness or inspiration in slow, logical, gentle thoughts. I’m not as rushed.

Since meditation has been such a powerful gift for me in this area, I want to share a Kundalini meditation with you today.

Go through this every morning to set the tone for your day, bring slowness and peace into your thoughts, and protect yourself from reactionary thinking. Or, practice in the evening to release the worries of the day.


Photo Courtesy of The Library of Teachings 

Photo Courtesy of The Library of Teachings 

“In your life there will be good days and bad days, normal days and abnormal days, right days and wrong days, but you must understand that every day has to be followed by a night and every life has to end. Don’t waste your life in reactions. ” Yogi Bhajan

Kundalini Meditation for Perspective and Emotional Balance:

Adapted from : KRI International Teacher Training Manual

 This is a great PLAYLIST for the meditation, or just to have playing in your home, your car or walking around to help you feel grounded and peaceful. 

TUNE IN (OPTIONAL):

  1. Repeat "Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo" three times: I bow to the Creative Wisdom, I bow to the Divine Teacher within. I bow to the golden chain of teachers who have come before me.

  2. Repeat "Ad Guray Nameh Jugad Guray Nameh Sat Guray Nameh Siri Guru Devay Nameh" three times: I bow to the primal wisdom. I bow to the wisdom through the ages. I bow to the true wisdom. I bow to the great unseen wisdom.

WARM UP (OPTIONAL):

       MOVEMENT  For three minutes, move through cat-cow as fast as you can. This works to lubricate the spine and move your                  energy. It adjusts your spine, strengthens your nervous system and reproductive system, and brings your emotions into balance.          It also helps to move energy up the spine to the upper Chakras to enhance meditation and bring vitality all day long.  After the 3          minutes, Inhale and hold, stretching the chest up, then exhale and round the back go to child's pose, far head and arms on the            mat, hands in prayer pose stretched above the head.

        MANTRA mentally inhale “SAT,” and exhale “NAM.” After the end, i

        EYES closed, focusing in on the brow point, the third eye.

 

MEDITATION POSITION:

  1. Sit in an easy pose

  2. Have a light jalandhar bandh

    1. Sit comfortably with a straight spine.

    2. Lift your chest and sternum upward.

    3. Stretch the back of your neck gently straight by pulling the chin toward the back of the neck.

    4. Keep your head level and centered without tilting forward or to either side.

    5. Keep the muscles of your face, neck, and throat relaxed. When you apply the neck lock, you allow your neck to be open and maintain its natural structure, which helps you maintain better spinal posture in general. The neck lock also seals the energy that is generated in the upper areas of your brain stem so it becomes easier to focus and meditate.                 

        EYES closed, focusing in on the brow point, the third eye.

BREATH:

  1. Use the right thumb and right pinky finger to close off alternate nostrils.

    1. Close off the right nostril with the right thumb.

    2. Inhale deeply through the left nostril.

    3. When the breath is full, close off the left nostril with the pinky finger, and exhale smoothly through the right nostril.

    4. Keep your breath complete, continuous, and smooth.

  2. Say the mantra "Sat Naam" to focus your concentration. Inhale on "Sat;” exhale on "Naam.” You may also practice this without the mantra.

  3. Hold your left hand extended; thumb meeting your pointer finger.

 

END OF THE MEDITATION:

  1. Inhale, then exhale completely.

  2. Hold the breath out and apply mulbandh.

    1. Mulbandh, the root lock, is a powerful contraction of muscles and stimulation of energies that helps to redirect sexual energy into creativity and healing energy. The root lock is often applied at the end of exercises and meditations to seal the healing and uplifting effects and stabilize your senses. Root lock is a smooth motion that consists of three parts.

    2. To apply mulbandh: Contract the anal sphincter and feel the muscles lift upward and inward.

    3. Keep these muscles contracted and then contract the area around the sex organ. (You will experience a slight lift and rotation inward of the pubic bone that is like trying to stem the flow of urine.)

    4. Contract the lower abdominal muscles and the navel point toward your spine.

  3. Apply these three actions together in a smooth, rapid, and flowing motion.
  4. Relax completely.

 

Inhaling through the left nostril stimulates the brain's capacity to reset your framework of thinking and feeling, allowing new perspectives. Exhaling through the right nostril relaxes the constant computations and cautions of the brain, which helps to break automatic patterns. Regulating your breath pattern in this way sets a new level of brain functioning which establishes emotional balance and calmness after periods of intense stress or shock.

When you’re just beginning, practice for 3-10 minutes. Extend to 15 minutes to turn this exercise into deep meditation. Practice for 22 minutes to train the mind to use this achieved state as a resource. Meditating with this technique for 31 minutes will cleanse your body and restore the nervous system from the effects of current and past shocks.

Adapted from : KRI International Teacher Training Manual