How do you feel today? Right now?
Are you wishing it was different? Wishing YOU were different?
Whether now or previously, take a moment to pause...
Many people start practicing meditation because they want to stop feeling uncomfortable. Harassed, stressed out, anxious or low.
What’s interesting is that whilst we can lower cortisol, BP and heartrate by giving the mind a sensory focus in meditation which can lead to a sense of calm, there’s something else which is more unexpected that emerges if taught well.
If we happen to be feeling uncomfortable for whatever reason, the body and mind will do all it can to resist what’s unpleasant and grasp after something pleasant; we're hardwired that way. I’ve become very wary of people who say, ‘meditation makes you feel amazing’ which causes people to want to take up a practice because who wouldn’t want some of that in the face of struggle? Not having to feel this discomfort and feel amazing instead is very appealing.
Yet this false promise is not what you're being led to believe it is, and its unexpected truth is far more compelling…
The unexpected truth of meditation is uncovered when we meet ourselves exactly as we are in a moment of meditation WITHOUT trying to change ANYTHING. We practise meeting uncomfortable feelings or discomfort in the body with a kindly sense of curiosity. You aren’t being asked to ‘LIKE’ it, just notice it without assuming its bad/good/right or wrong. It is what it is and in the face of it, you likely could do with a hug or a bit of kindness at least for the pain that you’re feeling.
For many people there’s a real problem with waking up in a morning and feeling anxiety, yet the real problem lies in the fact that you think you SHOULDN’T be feeling like this. You might feel fearful or ashamed thinking you SHOULD be able to cope, that this really SHOULDN'T be happening to you and all this does is simply make it worse. Trying to mask it or get away from it only suppresses what needs to be acknowledged.
My experience of meditation is a practice of creating a space that’s a kind allowing of what’s here, a brave and gentle exploration of sensations in the body even if unpleasant (due to anxiety) and breathing with them and offering some learned self-compassion. THIS is what helps ease the feelings. These feelings ARE here, its your body’s way of telling you it needs your kind and caring attention because something doesn’t feel safe.
It’s your job to let your body know (if you feel anxious), you recognise its fearfulness, the way in which it’s trying to protect you, and then reassure yourself it’s okay and it IS SAFE.
You can do this is a variety of ways many of which we talk about in our online classes. A good start can be to let yourself know that you’ve got your own back today and you’ll take steps to carry yourself with care. To remind yourself that everyone experiences this and feels just like this. That this is part of living. Let yourself know you’ll stop for lunch, you’ll stand outside and breathe by a tree, just for a couple of minutes and listen to the sounds of life happening, drink more water, eat as well as you can and remember who and what you love.
There's no need to reject yourself, dismissing yourself as weak or somehow ‘gone wrong’ (which you aren’t), and how much more appealing is this kind of a relationship with yourself?
Relationships are so very important for us but the most important one is the one you are making with yourself. I know that we can sometimes cringe at the sound of someone saying “Hold your inner child”, but like it or not, there IS a little version of you in there who needs your kind attention, so we might pause on being too quick to knock it.
This is me, where I’m at and what I’m doing now. This unexpected truth has been my unexpected joy.
I want to leave you with this, have a read, it’s Bob Sharples (meditation teacher) talking about meditation, it’s become my holy meditation mantra:
“Don’t meditate to fix yourself, to improve yourself or to redeem yourself.
Rather do it as an act of love, of deep warm friendship to yourself.
In this way there is no need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for the endless guilt of not doing enough.
It offers the possibility of an end to the ceaseless round of trying so hard that wraps so many people’s lives in knots. Instead, there is now meditation as an act of love…
How endlessly delightful and encouraging”.