Musings on meditation

Parts of this was posted on the Facebook page. I’ve edited it and also extended it.

medI wanted to say a few words about meditation for those who are maybe just starting. I’m a long-time meditator and then in the last 7 years or so it’s been something I needed to stay alive. Quite literally. I have a deep appreciation for the contemplative life.

Since meditation has become widely popularized there seems to be a lot of mystification around it. One thing I think is important to understand that is not at all popularly understood is that meditation can, at least in the short-term, actually exacerbate problems. It’s like a headlight on your psyche…so if you have crap to work out, that crap might become underscored for some time…which means, that for some time you might actually feel worse. This can happen anytime in a meditators life as well. Not only when someone is just beginning.

The reason it’s good to be aware of this is that once you’re aware of it, you can just decide to watch what is going on and move through. Or, alternately, if it gets too heavy, stop for a while and get some help. We can’t always do everything alone. For those of us who’ve had difficult lives, these issues are more likely to emerge (and of course those in psych drug withdrawal, things are already hellish, so being gentle is important). It’s not a bad thing…it’s a healing thing, but it’s important to be aware of it and respond accordingly.

Sometimes movement modalities are a way to switch gears. I find that body meditation in the form of yoga, walking, dancing and lately Qi Gong or Tai Chi are incredibly important.

Something else that is important to understand is that meditation is, in large part, about learning to sit with what is…including and most importantly with that which is uncomfortable. So really, one wants to be with the stuff I’m talking about, the dark stuff, the painful stuff…and learn to not become frightened by it. Still there are times when we are not ready and we need to know when to change gears…and to trust ourselves to make that choice. If it is too scary or too ugly or too difficult in some way perhaps some sort of a break is warranted or maybe we need to find the appropriate teacher, therapist or friend before continuing.

I would have succumbed to the distress of the withdrawal hell had I not had the capacity and interest to be curious about the hell I was visiting…meditation allowed me to consider watching it instead of being controlled by it. And now, when I am at my best in clarity, I see it all as a simple and even beautiful unfolding, of this life, in this body.

Other posts on meditation:

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