I have a daily sitting meditation practice. Sometimes I experience profound feelings of calm, rest and stillness.
Over the past couple of months however I have felt restless and the time has gone really slowly. It has not been what I think it should be or want it to be. In one of those ah ha moments we all have from time to time, I realised that this struggle is actually the practice.
The more we want things to be different than they are, the more we add to our suffering. Since I have become aware of the story I had gotten into about my practice I have become more mindful and aware of it. I have been able to stop wanting it to be different and accept that at times I have a chatty mind and I won’t always connect to my deepest self or that sweet spot I find so delicious.
This letting go has allowed it to become calm and quiet again. That’s why they call it meditation practice not meditation perfect!
When life is busy and stressful It is so easy to forget our learning, This is another reason why discipline and a good teacher can be a profound support.
I have just been through one of life’s challenges, not a big one but it I did feel some anxious anticipation of the unknown. I noticed that I was able to stay more present and in the moment as this situation got closer. This meant that my suffering was less intense and for a shorter period of time.
Once the situation had passed I became aware of the fallout from my anxiety about it. I was feeling a bit restless and irritable. When I feel this way I usually want to blame my nearest and dearest but the more I practice loving kindness and mindfulness the more I am able to hold these feelings knowing that they are mine. Even though I feel irritable with what seems like everything they do for a little while I can let it go. I know that this feeling will pass.
In this situation we can choose to add to our suffering by escalating a situation and not owning our irritation or by being aware of our own feelings and taking responsibility for those feelings. This doesn’t mean that we let people walk over us or behave inappropriately. It means that when we are feeling difficult feelings we take ownership of them and not take them out on other people.
Meditation can often bring about feelings of joy and happiness, even bliss on occasion, but it can also be about sitting with difficult, hard to feel emotions. We all have times in our lives when we have experienced pain, shame, grief or maybe the feeling of being unloved or unloving. Often times it’s just too hard to process these feelings at the time so we avoid them, stuff them deep inside or completely deny them.
These experiences and the emotions they carry can be triggered by the smallest thing when we least expect it. Meditation is sometimes about being able to be open to these difficult feelings, to being able to be gentle with yourself around them. Not running from or turning away from them, not stuffing them back inside. Dis-ease produces disease. Allowing the energy of these difficult emotions to flow and to be held with awareness and kindness during meditation is a wonderful way of allowing healing to take place.
This morning in my meditation practice I was able to rest in the moment. This is a very nourishing place to be because in that moment all is well. The corona virus is a very scary thing. It’s hard not to become anxious when we watch the news, it’s hard not to go into the internal dialogue of what ifs.
Meditation helps me to keep things in perspective, yes I need to take this very seriously and take every precaution I can to keep safe and follow the guidelines. It’s also vital to my mental health and well-being to balance this fear by acknowledging wonderful moments like being aware of the blue sky and the sunrise. The fact that we have had sunshine since we went into lockdown, meaning we don't have to queue in the rain. The blossom on the tress is stunning, the lack of time pressure I have is welcome.
When I notice the small but lovely things it keeps me grounded and centred, even when I need to go shopping with four lists to help my friends and neighbours out.
The very planet we live on is so beautiful and healing from the lack of pollution at the moment. I am so grateful for my practice especially at challenging times like we are in now.
During my meditation I come home to myself, to a place where all is well. I rest in holding and love, trusting the process, allowing and accepting whatever is there in that moment whether that's sadness, pain, anger, or joy. My mind quiets, my breath and body slow down and rest in a feeling that all is well.
It doesn't mean my problems have gone away or pain has gone forever, it just means that I know I can handle it. Meditation gives me a different perspective. It is a place of refuge in a constantly changing and sometimes distressing world.
This morning I was faced with a situation that triggered painful feelings from my past. I felt hurt and angry. I wanted to react to what had been said by defending myself. But I paused and took a step back and gave myself time to process my feelings. Now I can respond from a place of maturity instead of reacting and causing myself more stress. This is what meditation gives me.