I learned about meditation, over a dozen years ago and kind of practiced regularly for a couple of years. When I started grad school in 2004, I practiced occasionally and didn’t entirely stop until four or five years after that. And then I stopped completely, and couldn’t bring myself to continue. It didn’t matter that I knew it was beneficial, that it would help me feel better and bring peace of mind. None of those logical things mattered. My aversion to meditation, or any type of meditative practice was irrational.
I think now that I simply couldn’t (and still can’t, really) bear to be fully present. I was, and remain, too frightened of the feelings I’ll face. I’m terrified of all the sadness, exhaustion, depression, anger, grief, disappointment, and bewilderment I know are lying in wait. I can’t face them more than I already do and have. Note – please don’t tell me about your “amazing” experience with meditation, how you had the same fears, etc, and how relieved you were that it wasn’t really like that – I don’t want to hear it. I know my fears are irrational and illogical, but they’re mine and they’re real for me right now.
I’m not sure what my expectations were about what kind of life I would live, but I’m pretty sure I’m not meeting them. How do I know that? Because I feel [insert above list of emotions here] all the time. Those emotions, according to so much of of what I see and hear, are not the indicators of an expectation-meeting life. Those emotions are giant indicators that you’ve screwed up somehow.
Even though my logical mind knows that thought for the bullshit it is, I can’t stop myself from thinking it. Even though my life is meaningful and fairly rich, there are still layers of unconscious, unknown expectations I feel like I’m not meeting. Even writing about it feels ludicrous. What would I say to someone who came to me with these feelings? I would say “I hear you and I have many of those same feelings myself. Would you like to talk?”