Maybe I need to just let the answers come in their own time. I’d still like to ask you some of these questions if that’s okay.
I’ve been meditating off and on (mostly on) for about 20 years. It’s still difficult, still a lot of painful stuff comes up, still physically draining. When I started way back when, I’d meditate for about 2 minutes a day. That was all I could endure. After about maybe six months to a year I increased to about 5 to 10 minutes. In the years since I’ve mostly meditated around 25 minutes a day. For a month or two I worked up to maybe 35 to 40 minutes a day. It’s always been difficult. I often feel fatigued and a bit foggy headed during meditation. And quite commonly I have painful emotions come up, rarely pleasant ones. I probably should have gotten more guidance. I don’t know. What I’ve been thinking for some time now is that maybe I’ve pursued this too long. That I am too tenacious for my own good. I thought meditation was supposed to be good for me so I persisted. I’ve been wondering if I basically wasted twenty years. If it just wasn’t for me and I didn’t listen to the signals.
My life didn’t improve, my compulsive behaviors worsened and I simply continued to live an isolated life. The meditation itself was, as I said, draining, difficult and not much else.
I think of some famous people I really admire – Alfred Adler or Viktor Frankl, for instance. Did they ever meditate? Practice focused breathing techniques? I’m not an expert on their lives but I doubt it. Yet they were immensely engaged with life. With their work, their families, contributing to society and serving. I think it’s possible to live a full life without ever having done meditative practices. For some. Not for others. I guess what I am asking is how can you tell which category you fall under? If I seemingly keep banging my head against the wall of meditation ( what it feels like to me) am I just too stubborn? It’s kind of like the old tv commercials for Buckley’s cough syrup – “It tastes awful, but it works.” That’s what my motivation for meditation has been. I’ve read that it has all these wonderful affects. That it works. That it would somehow cure my “defectiveness.” Well, it has tasted awful and it hasn’t worked. For me. For many others it has. Which is fine. I don’t feel bad about that. Everyone is different.
I’m not asking you to tell me if I should continue meditating or not. Yet I would appreciate any insights you might share.
It just occurred to me that maybe I’ve been meditating (and trying various philosophies and ways of being in the world) in order to overcome my problems without really facing them. That I don’t try to deal with my difficulties directly but instead get around them somehow. That I’m actually avoiding them and consequently stay stuck. I’ve stared at and felt the pain of my difficulties in meditation. I can’t say I’ve actually taken action to do anything about them.
It’s getting late and I should wrap this up. Thanks for listening.
Hello dear John,
Thank you for your sincere words and wise expression.
You did in fact answer your question in the last paragraph!
We probably all fall into the trap that meditation will fix our lives. And it certainly does tend to send us in the direction of greater contentment, less struggle. That said, at some point we do have to come face to face with what we are trying to avoid through all of these spiritual practices. Life demands that we do at every turn!
Consciousness is always working to expose unintegrated material (from our childhood and beyond) and most of us have not learned how to self-regulate in the face of difficult emotional material. We cannot by-pass emotions to get to Heaven! Like bread-crumbs on the path, they are leading us home.
One of the things I love to share and explore is that our parents (and their parents, and their parents…) didn’t have the emotional space for their own emotional material, let alone ours. The programming around avoiding in endless ways thus gets set into motion and we spend our whole lives by-passing feelings… with eating, spending, substances, television… even spiritual work!
So meditation to me is a gentle yet fierce determination (tenacity can work in your favor!) to be willing (and eventually being deeply committed) to sit with all of myself… my body and its’ lovely and not so pleasant sensations, my feelings, all of them, my mind and its’ creativity and insanity. In a way that my parents, other adults, partners and friends could not and can not. And to discover that in the midst of my messy human life, there is stillness, peace and wholeness. And I begin to move from there…
As a soul coach I see myself as that person who teaches you how to self-regulate emotional energies by co-regulating with you so that slowly but surely you learn how to liberate the energy that is tied up in guarding past trauma and unintegrated material. That energy then transmutes into fuel for our clearest and most authentic expression.
As for Alfred Adler or Viktor Frankl I don’t know what they did. There are endless ways of living a life and those who shine do tend to have ways of going deeper within themselves in the face of challenges. We can be inspired by others who have lived a bright life, and then we have to let our soul guide us to our own version of it.
I love that you’re inspired by people who contribute to society and serve. As a ‘practice’ you might turn towards that place inside of you that is sparked, and enjoy the beauty and fullness of its’ warmth and light.