So glad to see that slowly, but surely the true nature of meditation is being talked about more openly. It unfortunately is still generally sugar-coated and romanticized in the mass-media. It can certainly bring many wonderful understandings and wellbeing into ones life but not without one being also willing and able to face the dark side of life as well. One cannot pick and choose. Real meditation is real life and opening up to it requires that one embrace both that which gets interpreted as beautiful and ugly.
Here from the Secular Buddhist Association:
We’re hearing about studies that boast meditation reduces stress, lowers high blood pressure, and calms the mind. These all sound great, and perhaps over the course of time, meditation has that effect, but that is not the purpose of Buddhist meditation. In fact, if your meditations are relaxing and cozy, I’m going to be bold here and suggest either you’re not doing it right, or you no longer need it.
Buddhist meditation IS practice time, and it’s not easy.
Practice suggests you are doing something that is not nodding off, that is not feeling like everything is hunky-dory and if the world would just not interrupt your quiet time all will be well….
…Contrary to belief, Buddhist meditation is not about creating warm fuzzies. It’s not about learning not to think. And it’s not about stuffing your emotions. On the contrary, Buddhist meditation is the practice of sitting right in the heat of a moment, and giving yourself the space and the compassion to see what is really going on, how these processes arise, fall away, and what causes them to arise again…
…I often hear people say I can’t meditate. It doesn’t work for me. I’m going to take a guess that your expectation is looking for a feel good pill, not practice time. Also, when I hear people say they had a good meditation, what they often mean is they had a quiet, relaxing, unfruitful and noneducational practice time. Let’s face it, if we want to relax there are lots of ways of doing that. My preference is to take a nap! (continue here)
There is a page on Beyond Meds that explores this issue more deeply with links to several posts:
A very common misunderstanding about meditation that can lead to discouragement is that it’s supposed to be all bliss and roses. That is simply not the case on the ground, so to speak. Sometimes meditation is about being with the dark and ugly and anxious parts of our being too. Meditation is about being with the whole spectrum of human psyche and emotion. We cannot know ourselves without becoming intimate with those parts too. That means it’s just not always fun or peaceful or calm to practice meditation. Though it can lead to all those things in time. It can help us learn to live more skillfully in general. (continue reading)
It’s good to note and understand that for anyone dealing with great emotional, mental or psychic distress of any kind that being aware of the potential risks involved in serious meditation is very important. The links in Meditation, not all bliss and roses cover that as well.