We all know about the benefits of having a solid meditation practice. It seems to be the go to thing to do anytime we’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, anxious or maybe simply too “in our feels” about something. We’re told to just go and meditate and like magic…. POOF … all our negative feelings, fears, anxieties and undesired thoughts will turn into positive ones and we will certainly become one with our highest being and maybe conquer the world!
Well… maybe not exactly…but my point is, we’ve definitely heard that meditation is key to happiness and therefore many of us give it a try because who doesn’t want to be happy?
Then, 1-2 days later… we give up. It was too hard to sit still or maybe we’re convinced we have ADHD and it’s medically impossible to not become distracted therefore, we’re back to ruminating on all the things we wanted to escape from and we’re not feeling like our “highest being” like at all.
Here’s the thing: STOP thinking meditation will make you feel better because it won’t. At least not right away.
Meditation is a technique to actually make you feel much worse before you feel better. Think of it this way- the only way for us to get better emotionally is to learn how to handle our emotions. This is what meditation does.
In meditation you’ll begin with breathing and then you’re taught to not think about anything, but then a thought comes into your mind and you freak out because you’re not supposed to think thoughts so you push it away and it’s immediately followed by another thought and now we’re stressed about being stressed and so we feel hungry and therefore- meditation fail. Let’s give up and hit the kitchen for a much needed and well deserved snack. Maybe try again tomorrow?
We’re told we shouldn’t “feel” anything when we meditate and to only focus on a quiet emptiness inside.
But this isn’t effective. Instead, I want you to understand that meditation is a practice to teach our brains to FEEL it all!
Let the thought come and let the emotion come. Feel everything! Acknowledge it and feel the emotion go through you.
What you’re doing is teaching your body not to REACT to emotions, but to still see them and feel them.
You’re using your prefrontal cortex (rational brain) to see the emotion for what it is. Process it and become aware of it, but DON’T REACT to it.
This my friends is the art of meditation and it’s one stressful, shitty emotion at a time.
See it. Process it. Learn from it and when you’re ready- let that baby go. It may come right back, but keep doing this cycle over and over and over again until one day, it doesn’t come back! Of course, a new one will replace it, but that’s ok because you’re getting better and better and dealing with them and like it or not, you will always have emotions.
Meditation is not a tool to numb us.
It does not make our problems go away. The entire purpose behind a meditation practice is to learn to FEEL. All the feels. So breath in… breath out… and let the emotion come.
You can’t use meditation as your problem detour.
Meditation makes us feel worse before it makes us feel better because it forces us to sit in that shit. We’re all so afraid to sit in our suffering. We don’t like to be uncomfortable so we avoid it, suppress it or numb it. This leads to drugs, alcohol abuse or other risky life style choices in an effort to distract ourselves because the last thing we want to do is feel something we don’t like. Well my friends… we have to FEEL.
Stop thinking meditation is a way to detour problems. You must go through your problems! There’s no effective shortcut around them and do not expect them to go away on their own. They will keep coming back over and over again in new and different ways until you deal with them and learn from them so start getting comfortable sitting in the “suffer”.
So where does one start if they want to feel all the feels through meditation?
Find a safe place that makes you happy and begin practicing your mediation as often as you can. It may be daily or weekly and it may be 1 minute or 10 or even hours. The goal is to start small and build your habit. Schedule this time for you. This is your self care and great self care is the hard stuff.
Once you exercise your brain like this, you’ll begin to have an uncanny ability to no longer react when you’re upset, sad, anxious or any other emotion. Your mind and body will know how to take it in, see it, give it a name, acknowledge what it’s teaching you and let it go out. Key idea here: what is this emotion teaching you??
Life is about being uncomfortable and screwing up and learning. This is how we grow.
Stop holding it in. Stop compartmentalizing.
If you continue to bury emotions inside they‘re guaranteed to come out in other unhealthy ways. Your stress will lead you to possibly being unable to sleep, eat right or exercise and by not taking care of your one and wonderful body, new problems will escalate into other health concerns such as diabetes, heart attack, panic/anxiety attacks or worse. So on top of your stress, you could also die way before your time.
So stop meditating to feel better and instead meditate to feel it all and define yourself as someone that reacts positively and calmly to adversity. As Tim Ferris says,
“We will ALWAYS have problems so make sure you pick some good ones.”
Once you solve a problem, a new one is ready to take its place. This same mentality can be said for emotions. An effectively functioning human (which I hope you are) will always have emotions, so make sure they’re damn good. See them, say hello to them, process them and learn some serious awesome stuff from them!
Thank you for reading another rambling from my brain.