There is much to say about what meditation is and how to go about it. Others more adept at it have written about it, all kinds of resources are available on google. So, just now I will talk about my own experience with meditation, or prayer, I believe they are the same thing with a different appearance.
I’ve been meditating on a more regular basis lately, not every day as I would like to, but getting there. My experience so far, is that meditation is uncomfortable, I get fidgety, stiff, achy, my mind races at a million per hour. Afterwards I am agitated and restless. I thought, isn’t meditation supposed to remedy all that? So, what is going on?
I’ve reflected that starting the practice of meditation, for real, makes you more aware of the current state of your mind and body. The current state of my body is very achy, I’ve all kinds of minor aches and pains. My lower back always pains me, my neck is always stiff, my jaw is sore, my stomach aches, I get indigestion. All kinds of little things that are easy enough to ignore if I’m not paying attention. If I’m not paying attention. As soon as I pay attention they become impossible to ignore. In fact, that is the practice I am aiming for, awareness, stop ignoring. My mind is also in the same state as my body, aches, pains, worries, and fears that I’ve ignored to just keep on going with life. I think all the bodily aches and pains start in the mind/spirit, and when ignored they manifest as stress in the body. Stress causes disease, this is known.
So, beginning an earnest practice of meditation is uncomfortable. I very quickly become aware of everything I’ve been struggling to ignore. Everything I’ve been struggling to ignore includes sensory and extrasensory perceptions, so much feeling, always feeling everyone’s feelings is exhausting, add to that feeling unseen feelings and it is just plain confusing. Better to just ignore it. Or is it? Not really.
Pain is your body’s way of communicating that something is wrong. We should not ignore pain, we should use it as what it is, a call for change. My back aches because I carry around my laptop on my right shoulder nearly every day. I need to get a good ergonomic backpack, even if it is not as fancy and professional looking as a nice side bag. Stop wearing heels, certainly there are nice looking flat shoes as well. I need to do yoga, to pay attention to my body. I need to pay attention to myself. I knew all this before meditating, but becoming so painfully aware of all the pain, both physical and emotional drives the point home.
Even as I write I struggle with writing that I am in pain. Because the pain is not too much, I tell myself ‘stop being overly dramatic’, ‘it is really not that bad’. There is a big resistance to even accepting and admitting the current situation. The thing is that it is NOT that bad, it is not invalidating, but it is getting worst and worst, at this point I know it can all be reversed. I run the risk of getting seriously injured since I go about my day with hurt muscles, any misplaced strain could cause a tear.
The above paragraph also applies for pain of the heart, and struggles of the mind. These are harder to get at, but there is plenty that is very obvious on the physical side to work on. Start working on the obvious things first. Clean my place, do my laundry on time, exercise, breathe, eat well. Clear enough, now I just have to do it.
So, meditation brings awareness. Awareness of uncomfortable things is uncomfortable. It is OK to be uncomfortable. Some weeks ago, on my last caving weekend, as we were cold, wet, and bruised inside a dark hole, one of my team mates said: ‘Pain is weakness leaving the body’. Through caving I’ve learned to be uncomfortable, and scared, and still OK. Although the whole experience is uncomfortable and I end up with huge bruises, I love every minute of it. It is that sense of overcoming yourself, of facing fear, of going to the depths and coming back out in the sunshine. So, I’m learning that it is OK to be uncomfortable. Don’t ignore it, change what must be changed, but be OK with it.
Many times before I’ve just stopped meditating at this point. This time I will keep going, even though it is uncomfortable. I will trust that this is like any other type of exercise regime, it hurts at first, but it makes you stronger with enough dedication.