One of the benefits of asana (the physical practice of yoga) is that it prepares our body for meditation through breath awareness, discipline and concentration. I absolutely love meditating. Sometimes it seems more successful than others, but no matter what, every time I meditate I feel amazing. So why, then, for the past couple months, have I pushed it away completely? Why am I struggling with it so much? I know that if I just did it, it would eventually turn into a habit, which would eventually turn into a practice again. But despite that, I continue to push it away. So what changed?
In all honesty, the beginning of my meditation struggles coincides with the loving kindness meditation we did in my yoga teacher training. If you aren’t familiar, the loving kindness mediation takes you through an exercise where you direct feelings of love, joy and peace to certain people. First to yourself, then to someone you know well and have positive feelings towards, then to someone you don’t know very well and have no particular feelings towards, and then to someone you are having a difficult time or experiencing conflict with. It’s all very beautiful and somewhat easy until that last one. I did it, and it was honest, and ugly, and heartfelt, and emotional. And it was painful to be in that loving moment with the person I was envisioning sitting across from. It wasn’t that I didn’t mean the love, joy or peace I was directing towards that person. Instead it was sitting there with that person and not also wanting to scream in their face.
Spending a year recovering was (and still can be) very isolating. Especially after my second surgery, I rarely talked on the phone or made plans because most days I barely had enough energy to spend time at home with my family. And when I did make plans I either ended up having to cancel them in order to take care of myself or I spent several days trying to regain the energy I used to actually go do something. All of which probably came across as selfish. And I suppose it was. And unfortunately, possibly as a result of that “selfishness”, a couple of my relationships suffered immensely. Not instantly, but over the course of several months. I didn’t really know why and I struggled with that a lot. I was losing so much energy to the pain and confusion, of trying to understand, energy I didn’t have to lose. I didn’t know how to make peace with it but I knew I needed to. I had been avoiding dealing with my feelings for a while, and that meditation exercise forced me to confront what it was doing to me by putting me in a position to face it head on with feelings of love and peace rather than pain and anger. And that was hard.
Sitting here now and putting these thoughts down makes me realize that it was only after that meditation that I was able to find some acceptance and peace, and start moving on from the pain. Facing it with loving kindness is how I found respect for the personal decisions that ended the relationships and also respect for myself to finally end the blame I was taking on. I was finally able to find a sense of peace with not knowing why those decisions were made. Occasionally I still find myself wishing I knew what happened (I am human after all), but ultimately I know that it really is okay. I honestly don’t think I could have gotten to this point without having done that exercise. And for that I am really grateful. So I guess it did exactly what it was supposed to do, huh? Imagine that. Sometimes it really does take writing down our thoughts to find clarity.
So a challenge for all of us:
Let’s stop avoiding things we know make us a better, happier, more joyful person. Whether it’s the food we eat, reading, meditating, spending time with people, riding our bike, facing our emotions, whatever it is, we need to hold ourselves accountable and really explore the why. Only in there will you find a way out of the funk – somewhere we tend to let ourselves live for far too long. I had been pushing meditation away because it forced me to face something I was very much struggling with. By finally owning that, I can make space again for a practice that makes me a happier person.
Now, while this post isn’t primarily about meditation (that will come in a different post), I encourage each of you to go find a comfortable spot to sit for about 15 minutes, google loving kindness meditation, and hit play. I’m guessing many of you are also experiencing conflict with someone you care about. It’s an unfortunate part of life. And you deserve the same peace and calm it brought me. Hopefully it doesn’t take you as long to realize it.