Meditation Doesn’t Fix Everything – May 18 2018

As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.
Mahatma Gandhi
One of the most disconcerting things about meditation is that it doesn’t fix everything.
Meditation, for me, had been like the search for the Holy Grail. If only I could find a meditation that worked, I would be okay. I would be finished with all the discomfort, misfortune, suffering, disconnection and unworthiness that made up so much of my experience of the world. Instant healing is what I wanted. All the pain and anxiety and worry taken away, now. Immediately.
When I did finally find my meditation practice, something did happen right away. Something changed. And in a way, I got what I was looking for. I had the contact with a Higher Power that I sought. I had the beginnings of a grounding within Self that, when I could feel it, put the lie to the suffering and the self-abnegation I’d been so at the mercy of. I was able to see, sometimes, that I was worthy, that everyone was worthy, and I could feel the oneness of all things, or at least the promise of one day being able to feel that oneness. But…
But it had taken years to become this person I was. All of these stresses I had accumulated from decades of life and all the tools I’d had to learn to get along with who I was. All the self-justifications and permissions to behave in ways that are less than pure, that are about separation and seeing oneself and others as being unworthy of tenderness, compassion, love. This whole setup of behaviors and thoughts and coping mechanisms that we use to survive, and that we end up identifying as ourself.
All of this took years to build, and we don’t stop using it simply because our meditation has made it possible to have a deeper experience of who and what we are. It’s a process. And the process involves having to feel the stresses moving through us as they are being released, the really uncomfortable feelings that we’ve learned to avoid or change or cover up or pretend away. All these feelings now are coming up and coming out and we’re left having to remind ourselves, over and over,
‘This is stress, leaving my body. This is not me. These thoughts and feelings are old, they are historical. They do not describe my life or me and I do not have to listen to what they have to say. I do not have to believe what they are telling me. I am not this. I am something else, and even if I cannot feel this something else that I am, I contact it in meditation. It is of nature. It is of God. It is the truth of what I am.’
We tell ourselves this, and then we get present to the moment, present to what we are doing, and we move forward.
Meditation did not fix everything. It continues not to fix everything. But it gets you in the game. Meditation continues to help me to connect to something greater than myself. It continues to give me an experience of self that is other than my thoughts and my feelings, deeper and more real than my thoughts and feelings. It continues to give me more and more the capacity to feel happiness and the ability to choose happiness and to choose an approach to life that is aligned with nature, and with a Self that knows I am worthy of happiness, of joy, and that I have something worthwhile to give in this life.
Meditation helps me to know that love is something that can be chosen. Love of self, love of others, love of life. Even when the old patterns arise, and the habits of judgment and separation kick in, even at those times, as a meditator, you become able to stop and notice and offer yourself the choice of continuing to feel the separation and fear that used to be so much a part of what you were, or letting it go and offering yourself the possibility of something other. Something like love and acceptance and oneness with everything.
Meditation offers always the possibility of life and the ability to choose something new. I know of nothing else that even comes close to offering that.
Today I will meditate, and I will suggest to myself that any ‘bad’ feeling I may be having could be a release of stress, and I will remind myself of how much better I’ll feel when it has passed through me and away.
Three Women and Calf, Veerpur, Uttarakhand, India
All original material copyright © 2018 Jeff Kober