If we really care about each other, and I know we deeply, deeply do, this needs to be said.
As much as we may groove with an enchanting romantic spell now and again, the ones that conceal our view of the absolute truth must in good faith be broken.
So as unromantic as that sounds . . . let’s just get about it, shall we?
Okay, here goes:
If you (or your friend / lover / yoga instructor with the sexy solar plexus chakra) think meditation is in any way supposed to be easily peaceful, that you will somehow be miraculously absorbed by an orgasmic explosion of light or mysteriously levitated above your living room ottoman. you have been fed a grave and serious amount of bullshit, my gorgeous love.
Quite possibly on multiple occasions.
Also quite possibly, incense or magic carpets or chickens or late night credit card payments or yoke-less eggs were involved.
As a friendly blogger and humble seeker of wisdom who has taken MANY a wrong and unfortunate turn (I did mention the chickens, yes?), I am not in any way here to judge anyone’s path or experience.
I have enough to chew on de-tangling my own hairbrain ideas, thanks.
I only highlight that many of us are made to feel like we are incompetent meditators if we don’t find peace right away in order to break the pop-culture spell and speak the truth which is this:
Meditation is not easy. Meditation is very, very hard.
It is so hard sometimes that even days / months / years into your practice you may curse it and you may want to give up on it. And the fact that you might ACTUALLY give up on it terrifies me more than yoke-less eggs.
I mean, seriously. That shit’s disturbing.
And long as we’re getting in the raw about it, meditation is also at times a train wreck. It’s a mess. It’s bone-wrenching and dizzying and frustrating and infuriating. It feels like torture and victory and disaster all at once.
Which is at many times maddening, frightening, and incredibly brutal.
Meditation is not easy. Meditation is hard.
The big lie that meditation is some sort of sleigh ride into existential bliss is dangerously crippling and heartlessly discouraging for those who could otherwise benefit from its challenging invitation to healing, had someone just had the crystal balls to level with them from the get go.
That is to say: it is a cruelty toward all sentient beings to perpetuate some preacherly nonsense that the practice of true meditation requires any less of you than everything you are entirely made of.
(Right, so preacherly is not a real word. Good catch. Looks like I’m so rattled about this that I’m making up words. If you keep reading, it may continue. :) )
Meditation is hard but not because it’s frustrating to be still, not because it’s annoying to try to find the time to squeeze it in, and not because it seems like a colossal waste of time to close our eyes and ‘do nothing.’
Meditation is hard because it is love – in all its grit and glory.
If you guys don’t mind, I’m going to say that again because it’s actually pretty heavy:
Meditation is HARD because meditation is LOVE.
And as squirmy as we little buggers get about anger, hate, punishment, jealousy and meanness, nothing really kicks up our inner turmoil like daring to apply unconditional love.
To ourselves. Without judgment.
Meditation is hard because it requires of us the deepest love. A self-love that is so forgiving, tender, disarming, healing, accepting, immense and unrelenting that allowing ourselves to experience it upsets every stiffened fiber of our frightened bits.
This is also, of course, why meditation is so very, deeply, wholly important.
This is why a regular meditation practice is a life changer for many and a full-blown life saver for some.
To learn to meditate is to learn to love.
To sit alone, unwavering, in the face of your inner “you are not worthy”s and all the other gross forms of rabid self-inflicted cruelty, and to consciously choose kindness in the face of them, is nothing shy of a hero’s journey.
To allow all of the difficult thoughts, emotions and feelings to arise and come into full, uncomfortable focus while embracing them with all-consuming tenderness is overwhelming.
Meditation opens us up to what is going on inside without denying it, without pushing it away, and without being cruel to ourselves for allowing what is to be.
Here, would you like to try something with me real quick? Close your eyes, breathe deeply and recite (silently or aloud) the following three radical truths to yourself:
It is okay to be here right now.
This moment is okay exactly as it is.
Without changing anything, I am okay.
Just sitting in the honest expression of ‘the present is okay / I am okay’ is incredibly grounding and powerful, right?
You don’t have to call it spiritual. You don’t have to call it religious or witchy or new age or eastern or western or cosmic or punk or hippie or retro or 70’s.
Forget all of that and while you’re at it throw away all the stigma you may have clung to (or hidden behind) about what it means to meditate ‘well.’
The act of meditating, of allowing all forms of hurt, pain, fear, anxiety, depression, rejection, confusion, guilt, and scatter to exist with you in awareness, without pushing any of them away, is sacred.
It is radical. It is healing.
The act of silent, motionless, unconditional self-love doesn’t give a flying monkey (chicken? ottoman?) what you call it.
To allow our ridiculous stories to circle us without attaching our worth, our dignity, our souls to them, is to love ourselves completely.
To hold our inherent worth as true, eternal and unchanging, amidst all kinds of distorted, hurtful, painful, wild illusions is a holy act. It is the invisible work of the peaceful warrior.
“Move like a beam of light. Fly like lightning. Strike like thunder. Whirl in circles around a stable center.”
Morihei Ueshiba The Art of Peace
In meditation, we have to learn to hold ourselves the way we desperately desire to be held (but have a damn hard time admitting): fully, penetratingly, and in the rawness of the naked present moment, by the arms of love inside a mind that rails against us.
We learn to allow the frightened bits to be frightened and lonely, to welcome them, and to comfort them instead of berating them for being what they are.
That’s intense, guys. It’s mighty hard to go there without mountains of guilt trying to push us away from that kind of cathartic self-intimacy.
It’s crushingly difficult to step up to our deepest pain and say “I love you.” without flinching.
So how about no more lies. How about no more romanticizing what it actually takes to be fully mindful, present, accepting and aware during meditation.
No more smoke and mirrors. No more chickens. (Seriously, please. No chickens.)
This is the truth about meditation.
It is brutal. It is freedom.
It is hard.
It is hard because it is love.
And if you think love is easy, my beautiful disillusioned friend, then you have no idea why it’s worth everything to fight for.
~ ~ ~
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P.P.S. Are you a creative type? Yeah, me too. :) That’s why I designed an original audio series just for artists with serious soul and passion. It’s called Beginner’s Luck: 7 Ways the Beginner’s Mind Makes Better Art and it is here. If you want to uncover the full richness of your unique creativity, I guarantee: this will help you rock out with your absolute best stuff yet. You ready, babe? Awesome, let’s roll.
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