One of the most challenging aspects of a good mediation practice is your own self. You trip yourself up before you even get going. Your body gets uncomfortable and your mind is all over the place and how the hell is this suppose to make me feel good?
So you stop.
And you carry on ‘living’, all entangled in every little stress and emotion. It didn’t work for you, right?
I speak from experience. I wanted to be a meditator so bad when I first started. I wanted that enlightenment everyone is always raving about. I took pictures of myself in lotus pose with my eyes closed because maybe if I looked like I was meditating I would eventually, one day, be meditating.
As soon as I sat to practice my mind was all over the place. I’d spend 30 minutes or more, sitting on the floor looking like a meditator but thinking about; food, work, men, friends, family, health, that dream I had when I was 12, my body shape, my hair, the trees, the planet, how planes fly, if my dog could understand me, what death felt like, why I was so shit at meditating, why was I so shit at everything. You get the jist.
But I didn’t give up. I sat every day I thought the exact same messed up mind thoughts.
And then my life fell apart. Out of my control. I lost everything I’d once loved and felt the kind of pain that made me howl uncontrollably.
And the first thing I turned to?
I chose wine. I got so fucking plastered to forget. I drank bottle after bottle. I wanted to feel anything but pain, so I chose to feel drunk, then sick.
But that is obviously not a permanent solution to pain.
I knew my next meditation attempt would be like sitting on shards of glass whilst swallowing acid. I was so scared to feel.
Ultimately though we have no choice but the feel, eventually.
So I sat. On my bed this time, no floor, no alter, no candles or malas. Just me, in pyjamas, wrapped in fear.
I waited for the pain. And you want me to tell you it didn’t come and I found some kind of peace?
Pain came. That kind of pain that makes your throat close up and your breath become short and stomach burn. Tears flooded till my face stung and eye swelled. Everything was hot, fire, burning pain.
But in that very first painful meditation after grief I discovered something. I watched myself experience everything during that seated practice. And that person doing the watching (me) is what I needed to tap into in every meditation moving forward.
I became the observer. The observer is your true self. The experiencer (the one with the noisy mind) is who you perceive yourself to be in this world (ego).
Now when I sit I can separate. I can tap into me, not who I perceive myself to be (and no doubt who you perceive me to be too). I sit like ‘oh here comes fear, let’s deal with that’, ‘here’s sadness, the tears are rolling but I can’t feel them’, ‘here’s pleasure, arousal, temptations, desire. Let’s watch them till they are done and gone’
It’s a trip really.
I used suffering as a vehicle to elevate my spiritual path.
And if you want to know if it was worth it?
In truth, I don’t know yet.
Would I want to go through it again? Absofuckinglutely not.
Will I go through it all again. Definitely.
I’m not writing this so you’ll start meditating. That’s none of my business. But if you’re trying to meditate and finding it difficult maybe you can find comfort in the thought that you’re practicing something that will one day become your source of air when your suffering become suffocating. Keep going. Real You and ego You will meet eventually. In pain or not.