I am twenty days into my online meditation program through Peace Revolution and I was ready to call it quits yesterday. The purpose of meditation is to bring inner peace, calm and tranquility. I would argue otherwise, especially because of the emotions that arose yesterday. The peace does arrive in time and with patience; however, it would be silly to deny that during these moments of introspection, emotions we normally try to escape from, surface with a vengeance. And when they surface during such moments of mindfulness and awareness, they are there to teach us lessons. They are there to test our mind and whether or not we will resort to past habits or move forward with an evolved state of mind, which will in turn will bear fruit to new consequences. Yesterday, I met my anger with love. I met it with peace and acceptance. I sat with it.
As part of this practice for the past twenty days I make a daily agreement to refrain from:
- killing or hurting the life of people and living beings
- stealing or damaging the property of others
- sexual misconduct
- the use of false or hurtful speech as well as telling lies
- using intoxicants
It’s not that difficult to refrain from killing or stealing, for me. I have even stopped killing insects. However, 3, 4, and 5 are definitely challenging especially because there are previous patterns that are deeply engrained. During such meditation programs, I realized that most words I utter are better left unsaid. In silence, I get to realize that during my day to day, communication is highly based on unintentional, but still false or hurtful speech (gossip, complaining, etc.).
So, when emotions of anger surfaced and I was on high alert to cause havoc yesterday, I decided to not escape it. I did not resort to a glass of wine, which would have likely turned into two. Since my definition of sexual misconduct during these days is not to engage in sexual activity without intimacy, I am not using sex as an escape either. In the past, I’d easily use number 3 and 5 to push said emotions under the rug. But, yesterday, I was very close to resorting to these sweet escapes. Deep down inside, I knew it would pass, as it clearly did. It’s during these moments of pain, anger, frustration and agitation that I tend to lose focus and balance. I then permit my mind to wander frivolously and make uncontrolled decisions. When I am finally able to center myself again hours or days later, I tend to blame and shame myself for these actions. Yesterday, meditation help me become hyperaware of these patterns.
During the past twenty days of half hour daily meditation, I have likely had 3 “successful” sessions. The reason I include quotation marks around success is because it is unfair to judge and label a meditation experience. In fact, it is during this practice that we become aware of the reactions to these frustrations, whether or not our meditation was good or bad. So, quite frankly the anger surfacing and my response to it, is a huge success already. You are probably asking now:
Why is meditation making you angry? Why do you even bother with it then?
In a blog post written by Robert Piper he answers this question in the following manner:
When your body is calm and descends into a deep level of metabolic rest (as it does in deep meditation), it’s going to restore balance and release stresses that are stored in your body. These stresses are actually stored in the form of energy and like all energy, it can’t be destroyed. It can only be transformed.
So it’s possible that the stored, suppressed energy of anger is poised deep within your body and is seeking an opportunity to be released. This anger could be the result of you being pissed off when you were a kid, and you held it in and stuffed it down so that you didn’t feel upset anymore.
It’s in the deep level of physiological rest during meditation, that your body scans and unlocks that stored stress, recognizing that it is foreign and not meant to be stored in there.
Having gone through this experience once through my 30 day meditation during my time in Nepal, all this is familiar. I know to ride the wave and just let the emotions surface and leave. For example, during my first two weeks, all I wanted to do was escape my body and the monastery. The cries and frustrations eventually were balanced with laughter and pure joy. It is this reason that six months later, I chose to go on a meditation program where I would be held accountable with a daily practice of meditation and reflection.
Yesterday was a difficult day. All I wanted to do is go out, drink my face off, meet someone at a bar and repeat patterns I find oh, so familiar. However, I decided to practice three hours of yoga with my teacher, take a warm shower and go on a nighttime supermarket adventure and mindfully browse the aisles. Random, I know. This might also be considered to be extreme behavior and I’m well aware of it, but at least it was able to bring me back to my center, at least for this moment in time.
All said, I’ll take the momentary anger for a chance to get closer to inner peace and joy. I’ll take this practice for what it is. I will likely quit and I will likely not. Who knows? It is a practice. It comes and goes. But, I hear of it’s success rate so I will try my best to make sure it is here to stay.