About meditation being a cure-all that leads to only bliss:
A lot of people now come to meditation having read reports on the virtues of mindfulness. Last week there was one claiming it can ward off ageing, and one suggesting meditators make more rational decisions. A month ago mindfulness was declared more effective for pain relief than morphine (maybe, but I still wouldn’t fancy the dentist’s drill without an injection), while it’s also being said to increase grey matter in the brain, ease the fear of dying, and help US army troops operate effectively in a war zone, as well as protecting them from post-traumatic stress….
all the above can be true, but it’s not the whole picture:
As anyone who’s actually sat down to practice knows, this is a consumer fantasy. Mindfulness has a great many benefits, but they tend to come as a by-product of getting up close to unpleasant experiences like pain, turmoil, and “negative” thought patterns. Striving to avoid unwanted aspects of ourselves and our lives creates stress – by facing them openly in meditation, we give ourselves a chance to relate to suffering more skilfully, with confidence and compassion.
This means we have to experience and befriend our sadness, anger, physical pain and so on. When we omit to mention this, and fixate only the “positive” results of meditation, we risk passing on a partial description of the path, which involves being present to every aspect of life – what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls, after Zorba the Greek, “Full Catastrophe Living” (finish article here)
I often think about the topic of this article by Ed Haliwell and have often referred to the same idea here on this blog. The purpose of meditation embraces life…good and bad and so it’s certainly not always a picnic. It’s important that people understand this because once someone is sitting on that cushion or chair and meditating the mind will do what it does and at times sitting with what it’s doing can get quite challenging.