Meditation. It’s everywhere. Although it may seem like a fad, it has been a long time coming. As a society at large, there was only so long we could run on adrenaline. We all certainly know how to stay revved up and in control and on the ball.
But what about turning off?
Whether you have a practice or not, chances are you know quite a bit about meditation.
Meditation is just that. It is a way to flip the switch, to gain perspective and to take a step back. Mediation is solidly in the media everyday, making headlines with the same regularity as political campaigns in America. Even with all the press, there is much to discover about this ancient tradition.
Here are 4 things that you may not know about mediation:
You will never be the boss.
We have markers for progress and success in most areas of life. Meditation is an anomaly in that it won’t allow you to control the outcome. Some days you will sit down with the best of intentions and find that you are not getting to the place you wanted to get to. Meditation gives you permission to let go of the reigns and to see what happens. When you find yourself trying to direct the experience, you take yourself out of being. Becoming aware of our rigid internal directors can be quite enlightening.
You’re not doing it wrong.
The excuses for why people don’t meditate are numerous, but a very common one is that they have minds that are much too busy. The late writer Stefan Zweig is quoted as saying, “Nothing on earth puts more pressure on the human mind than nothing.” Our mind is built to think. When you have lots of thoughts in your head, you are not a meditation failure. You are just human. As with most things in life, the most important part of meditation is showing up. You will learn to watch your mind, but this insight does not come immediately. Meditation grants you nuggets of wisdom, but only with continued practice. This includes the days of practice where you feel like you are getting nowhere.
Meditation will make you aware of the strength of your ego.
Watch out when you have a really “successful” meditation session — the kind where you feel fuller and more peaceful by the end. It will be really difficult for you not to internally gloat. Then during a bad session, you may beat yourself up and wonder why you are even bothering in the first place. You are not “doing” anything, so why do you get the credit in the first place? Meditation makes us realize that our “I-ness” is a huge force. No matter how altruistic we may be, we think about ourselves a lot. We need to know the ego in order to know what is beyond the ego. Deepak Chopra wrote, “The ego relies on the familiar. It is reluctant to experience the unknown, which is the very essence of life.” Meditation is a vast territory of the unknown.
What comes up isn’t always peaceful.
The benefits of meditation are probably something that you know, because studies quote almost every positive outcome that is possible. Yet the studies fail to mention that by sitting with yourself, you will realize what is underneath the surface, and it isn’t always light and free. Without meditation, we can go through our lives in bubbles of distraction, eating and drinking our way through feelings and talking around a truth rather than getting to the heart of it. Meditation takes all of your BS, puts it into a balloon and pops it. Sadness, anger and frustration are as much a part of you as bliss, spaciousness and kindness. Meditation is a widening of the lens and an awareness of the entire picture. This must include the dark as well as the light.
There are countless methods to get into meditation if you have never tried it before, as well as techniques that range from fully guided to entirely silent. If you are entering a new modality such as this one, make sure that you are as comfortable as you can be. It might end up being with you for life.