You’re not always going to feel relaxed and blissful during or after meditation.
Not every practice is going to bring you peace and calm.
Sometimes it’s going to be uncomfortable and challenging.
Sometimes you’re going to bring up some difficult memories and painful experiences which will make you feel like you’re looking into a dark mirror.
A dark mirror which reflects back all things you’d prefer not to see.
Your doubts and insecurities.
Your fears and anxieties.
Your negative thoughts and emotions
Your bad behavior.
Looking the other way might help in the moment, but running away from these things is not the answer in the long term because pushing them away will create tension in your body and mind.
And this tension will make their power over you stronger.
Embracing the Dark Mirror
And when we don’t want to be with the experience.
We might resist them or resent them.
Or wish for something more pleasurable to take its place.
Craving and Aversion
And this is what we call craving and aversion.
When we resist or resent what we’re experiencing this is called aversion. We don’t want what is here right now.
When we wish for something different, more pleasurable, this is what we call craving. We are craving for things to be different or better than what we’re experiencing right now.
So if your meditation practice is filled with negative thoughts, it would be aversion if you’re trying to force them to stop or if you’re resenting the fact you’re having them.
If your practice is usually serene and calm and it’s now filled with negative thoughts, it would be craving if you want the practice to be serene and calm like it usually is.
So in every day life this might play out like this…
I’m feeling sad, but rather than being with my sadness I start to seek out fun and pleasure to try and make me happy. So maybe I head off for a night out with friends to get drunk and party.
Or perhaps I seek out a temporary high through food.
If I’m experiencing anxiety, I might choose to suffocate that feeling by scrolling through social media or watching a film.
What we’re seeking in both these situations is to do something that makes the sadness and anxiety go away.
Rather than choosing to be with our experience, we choose to suffocate or run away from these emotions.
And when we do, we’re essentially giving them the power over us, because we haven’t dealt with them. We’ve just taken steps to mask them or avoid them.
And because we’ve suffocated them or pushed them away, they will keep surfacing again and again until we do.
It’s OK to feel sad.
It’s OK to be anxious.
And when we can learn to be with these emotions and accept them, we begin to empower ourselves because we don’t have to run away from them or push them away when they show up.
So What Do We Do?
The way to work with challenging and uncomfortable moments is to build a relationship with them.
And a good way to start is to label what comes up.
Maybe it’s a memory that makes you feel sad. Label it sadness.
Maybe you did something that made you feel guilty or shameful.
This labelling helps create a space between you and what you’re experiencing.
It creates a disconnect between you and the experience of sadness; shame; guilt.
Because these emotions and feelings are not you. They are something you experience.
And the same goes for your stories and memories. They are experiences you had., but you become attached to them.
Thinking they’re you rather than realising they’re just experiences you had.
Starting a Dialogue
When we create space to disconnect from them, we also create an opportunity to start a dialogue with these experiences.
And when you start a dialogue, you can begin to unpack that memory; that story; that feeling; that emotion; that thought.
Because you become curious and ask questions. You start to dig into it a little deeper.
Is it something you need to resolve or get closure on?
Is there a lesson to be learned from the experience?
Maybe you can gain some understanding of why you feel that way? Or did what you did?
Maybe you just need to surf that feeling and ride it out?
Maybe you just need to have a cry and let it go?
By finding a way to be with these challenging and uncomfortable moments you can begin to release their power over you and the suffering they may be have been and continue to cause you.
So when you meditate don’t be scared or run away from what you see reflected back.
Embrace your dark mirror.
And empower yourself.