Don’t Short Circuit the Lessons

The practice of meditation isn’t simply to sit still and try not to think. Nor is it not some woo-woo out there activity reserved only for yogis and monks.

When we embark on a meditation practice, it actually trains us in essence to return to our ground state of being that is already and always there and accessible.

The silence is always there, we are the ones that fill it up.

We unconsciously fill the silence with anything to keep ourselves from having to confront our true selves. We fill it with needless chatter, food, gambling, shopping, sex, alcohol, video gaming.

The most poignant part of our meditation practice is that it teaches us not to reject those parts of ourselves that we may not really like. Whenever we are still, thoughts arise and the negative self-talk might follow closely behind and off we go!

Meditation also teaches us not to grasp, not to search “out there” for whatever it is we think might make us happy. We have never-ending thoughts about what we think we need or what we want or maybe even who we think we’re supposed to be. Maybe we are looking for a new boyfriend, a bigger house, a job that brings more purpose, that vacation to Hawaii. We are searching for something to make us feel happier, more fulfilled, “better.”

Meditation also teaches us not to reject nor grasp at whatever arises in the stillness.

Maybe it is a physical sensation or pain that gnaws at us. Perhaps it’s an emotional pain like the recent loss of a loved one through divorce or death. Maybe it’s the loss of your job.

The practice of meditation has us confront the very same paradox we encounter in our daily lives; the paradox of the joy and laughter as well as the pain and discomfort.

Life’s painful aspects actually serve to soften us up. Knowing pain, any pain, is an important ingredient to being able to be there for someone else.

How so?

Think about it. Aren’t we better able to be compassionate toward someone who is experiencing something we ourselves have gone through in the past? When we have some experience with what they are dealing with we have a relationship with their pain. Because we do then we can much more readily put ourselves in their shoes.

The good times, the joyful experiences also inspire us. We need both the good and the bad times. They go together.

Meditation practice also hones our ability to be patient. This is the kind of patience to allow things to unfold at their own pace. Patience as opposed to jumping in with our own habitual evaluations and judgements and trying to control the outcome of any particular situation.

When we jump in as part of our knee-jerk reactions, we short-circuit what might have been the lessons we might have learned or the reward of the experience itself. It’s almost as if we put ourselves out on an island of what we perceive to be safety. The unconscious thought process can tell us to avoid pain and upheaval at all costs, control the situation and the outcome so no one experiences strife or discord.

We cannot cultivate patience if everything is running smoothly.

We can’t learn patience if we’re always busy trying to smooth the feathers, not rock the proverbial boat or avoid conflict and pain.