An interesting question, one addressed in articles like this:
The scenario is troubling, but not uncommon: a person seeking stress control, or the “meaning of life” or spiritual enlightenment begins a meditation practice, usually some visualization or mental exercise that takes them into a world they’ve never known. They spend more and more time there, an hour a day. Two hours. They attend meditation retreats, build encyclopedic arcane libraries, and their lives begin to revolve around their practice.
And they start having panic attacks, visions of nothingness or deep waves of negative emotions. Fall into a pit of meaninglessness, or develop a sense of cosmic inadequacy. Loss of identity, and sometimes a sense that life itself is undesirable. If fortunate, they find a mentor who can help them, a more experienced meditator. Or seek the advice and counsel of a therapist.
If unfortunate, well…as one former meditator said just today:
“Yes, I can see it as dangerous because sitting and meditating for 20 minutes makes me ready to cut my own throat.”
The SOULMATE PROCESS asks to start with Self-Love, and the means to achieve that state include various meditations. So it is reasonable to ask: is it dangerous?
- Anything that is powerful has the potential to be dangerous. ANYTHING.
- The most common cause of negative reactions is loss of ego identity: we start to lose our sense of who we are. A sovereign clue that we were not well balanced or integrated, but that is not an uncommon human experience.
- A corollary to this is that the ego itself will cause panic response: especially if you have a corrupted or distorted identity (due to abuse or negative experiences/programming) and begin to disassemble that shell, it will FREAK and try to prevent you from going further. Fear, drowsiness, a volcano of internal voices…all kinda tricks.
- If you have had depression or other mental issues, it is best to meditate under the tutilage of an experienced teacher or licensed professional.
Who would be the least likely to succeed in meditation? My answer at this moment is: a person with a totally unrealistic self-image, either positive or negative. If negative, the “bad voices” come vomiting up, and they can seem overwhelming. This is like squeezing pus out of a wound.
If positive? Once you see the truth, if it doesn’t match reality, you can get hit with guilt, shame, and massive impostor syndrome. How DARE you think you could accomplish X?
Frankly, the people most likely to fit into this category are people without a physical discipline. The body exists in the world. It doesn’t care about your opinions or theories: it is a laboratory in which you find out, objectively, what works and what does not. Avoiding the body allows you to have any theories about life you want. You can hallucinate about your discipline and focus all you want, and sitting on the couch eating Pop Tarts at 50 feels about the same as sitting on the couch eating them at 12. You don’t have to deal with time, decay, the costs of our decisions and actions. We blame our bodies for decades of bad habits, rather than asking ourselves WHY we don’t have the healthy connection to our bodies any damned hamster in a cage yearns for.
“I had a horrible experience with sports in grade school!” So did many of us. That is a fact. It does NOT control what you did yesterday. If you are to be healthy, you have to process, heal, remove, tame, or destroy your demons, and anything that connects you directly with the reality your ancestors dealt with: if they didn’t move, they didn’t eat. Simple as that. Destroy that connection, and you risk turning your body into a garbage bag, a place you never visit except for food and sex.
Move. Anchor your breathing into your movement. Learn how you breathe when you are under physical stress, and you’ll start recognizing the way your breathing changes when you are emotionally stressed. You’ll start seeing that a large part of the day you are pumping “ALARM!” juice into your body, such that you view the world through a fear filter, or protect yourself with delusions and theories.
That’s one level. The full quote from the meditation student: “”Yes, I can see it as dangerous because sitting and meditating for 20 minutes makes me ready to cut my own throat. I meditate when I’m MOVING, such as swinging clubbells.”
How to take this into the spiritual realm? Easy. Follow the breathing while moving. Move until you enter a metative state, by moving with conscious rhythm for 12-15 minutes, until you notice emotional emersion in the “flow”. Note how you are breathing. Take it low and slow and under control, following the “thread” and never letting it break.
How to take this into the emotions? Reduce the physical load as much as you can without losing focus. Some people HAVE to exert themselves to focus. Others can use light weights, or just walk, or finally sit. There is still exertion if you notice the movements and adjustments necessary to stay balanced and erect. Quiet further.
A smooth, repeated pattern like Tai Chi or asana can be very good for this. You go inward to the finer and finer distinctions. And when mind, breath, and alignment all coordinate, you will find an internal balance that is lovely. Start noticing how you breathe, hold your posture, move when in other aspects of your life. Notice your internal dialogue, and attentional focus. If you are stressed to the max, just BREATHE for sixty seconds once every 1-3 hours.
Subtler is “just” following your heartbeat, but this can feel like a more advanced practice. The breathing, combined with movement, does fine for most people, and will give you a foundation. All the angst, fear, guilt, shame, ALL that stuff?
Disappears if I cut off your air. Instantly all that bullshit is gone, and what remains is core survival. All you have to do is slow the breathing and you start flirting with the same circuitry: throwing off all false identity and connecting with the raw struggle for life. THERE’S your damned motivation. It was always there. THERE’S your love of life. The rest was illusion.
I actually feel sorry for people without a daily physical discipline. There is an entire realm of human experience they will never know, entire ranges of emotion they can stuff, creating the risk of an unexamined life. Its so easy, and so easy to forget or talk yourself out of.
Breathe. It is the doorway to so many wonderful things in the human spirit.
And…if you can do it while visualizing the child you were, so that you are PLAYING with her?
You have opened a new doorway. And behind it is a more authentic life.
And all the love you’ve ever sought.