If you’re new to meditation, it’s probably been somewhat of a rude awakening to uncover all those thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that you’ve been working so hard, both consciously and unconsciously, to suppress. Let’s face it, most of us spend a decent amount of time hiding from others those aspects of our selves that we don’t much care for.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending upon your perspective, a meditation practice, like the finely polished scalpel that it can be, gently and without error puts a person in touch with precisely what a person needs to move through in order to heal.
Ed Halliwell pens this recent Guardian post on the emotional rollercoaster of meditation. According to Halliwell, while meditation can have overwhelmingly positive benefits, it’s not without a bit of work.
As anyone who’s actually sat down to practise knows, this is a consumer fantasy. Mindfulness has a great many benefits, but they tend to come as a by-product of getting up close to unpleasant experiences like pain, turmoil, and “negative” thought patterns. Striving to avoid unwanted aspects of ourselves and our lives creates stress – by facing them openly in meditation, we give ourselves a chance to relate to suffering more skilfully, with confidence and compassion.
This means we have to experience and befriend our sadness, anger, physical pain and so on. When we omit to mention this, and fixate only the “positive” results of meditation, we risk passing on a partial description of the path, which involves being present to every aspect of life – what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls, after Zorba the Greek, “Full Catastrophe Living”.
Read more from Halliwell on the good, the bad, and the ugly of meditation here.