Yes, this week, I’m joining the giant list of people suggesting you meditate or find another way to develop a practice of stillness. I know, I know, it’s bordering on annoying how often we hear this, and so I wanted to talk a bit today about why you might not be following this endlessly repeated advice and how to deal with the consequences of meditating. Stillness – while blissful, amazing, and healing (eventually) – in the beginning often just sucks in a huge way.
If you are anything like me, you may have spent years – decades – running from being present, running from feeling any type of feeling, desperately trying to outrun pain. And, in all likeliness, by this point you’re aware that it just doesn’t work. Worse, it is exhausting. I’ve personally tried a whole host of ways to avoid feeling anything – overeating, overspending, overworking, reading excessively, becoming enmeshed in other people’s problems, and playing video games for entire days, just to name a few. I don’t regret these things, because they allowed me to keep the various feelings at bay until I was ready to deal with them. The thing that finally convinced me to face the feelings was literally the sheer exhaustion of keeping up denial. It takes a phenomenal amount of energy to hold all this crap at bay, and it just wore me down!
I had an interesting flashback to my ‘old’ way of being in the last couple of weeks. A relationship that I REALLY wanted to work is just not happening, and I’ve sensed this giant storm of grief lurking in the background, just waiting to flood me. And goodness, friends, did I fight it! I did NOT want to feel this grief, and so I set about becoming codependently involved in my friend’s apartment search. Did she want me to? No. She suggested I take care of myself in whatever way I needed, and would have been happy to sit with me, offering support while I grieved. Did that matter? No! I was determined to not feel anything! At the very least, not until she had an apartment secured!!!!! I fought this wave of grief tooth and nail, and by the end of the week I was just spent, completely exhausted. It was like taking a horrific little vacation back in time to my days of epic codependence and enmeshment, and simultaneously it was a huge gift to myself. By the time I finally let the grief come through, I was so exhausted I couldn’t even fight it any longer. It gave me the clearest, cleanest reminder of something so fundamentally true for me – painful emotions hurt, but denial hurts worse. Denial is what will mess up your life, cause you to act crazy, and exhaust the living hell out of you (or at least me, at any rate!) The grief is painful, but it is just flowing through me, and it will pass. The denial was stuck, ugly, exhausting, draining. It doesn’t pass, and it requires continual effort. Worse… the emotion is still there anyway! I still have to grieve, even after going through all this work to keep from feeling!
What the heck does any of this have to do with me inviting you to meditate? If you are anything like me, you may be resisting meditation because doing any type of stillness practice just makes you aware of how terrible you feel. I have planned a whole blog series of ideas on how to handle all the various, hideous emotions that may come up as you start to embrace stillness, but I wanted to just start out with the warning here that it is likely to happen. Meditation and rest are beautiful, amazing, healing things…but if you are in denial of any kind, they may just bring up a whole lot of crap for you. If this sounds like it might be you, you may like the idea of one moment meditation. I’ve linked a YouTube video here with the basic instructions on how to meditate for a minute. Next week, we’ll be looking at some of the deeper states of rest and meditation, for those of you who are ready to take it to the next level.