When I first started meditating, it nearly always made me angry. I felt such disgust and even self-hatred for how useless it seemed, that I couldn’t seem to ‘get it,’ that I couldn’t control my thoughts. Of course I realized that was exactly the reason I was doing it, and gradually that anger began to subside. In other words, I hesitated trying it because I feared it wouldn’t “work.” When I started trying it, I was angry and disappointed that it didn’t “work.” But the first thing meditation did in my life was pretty much put an end to that awful perfectionism and toxic anger and disappointment in myself and others. And it did it simply by being what it was – something I couldn’t control. I was forced to let myself be a beginner, to be out of my league and feel worthless at something that seemed so simple. I had to accept my limitations. As I did, meditation began producing a humility I had always wanted but frankly had always lacked.
Strangely enough, humility only comes when we learn how to stop trying to be humble. Trying is just more of our own efforts and therefore, of course, we’ll be immensely proud of our successes and immensely ashamed of our failures because we’re still living as if it all depends on us. That is ego. At least that’s Freud’s term. The Apostle Paul called it the flesh. Pink Floyd called it the wall. Billy Joel called it the stranger. The great mystics called it the shadow. Carl Jung called it the false self. It doesn’t matter what you call it, all that matters is knowing that if you spend your life living from that place, your whole life will feel, and be, false. Meditation, slowly and surely, leads us out of that place.
A great gift of meditation is learning the contemplative mind. When you start learning what that looks like, then your own emotions and reactions become cues to you when you are in your “natural” (i.e., “false”) mind and you just need to get alone and get quiet and let God bring his mind to you (“the mind of Christ” in Christianese). Then every moment of life becomes a school where we are learning obedience and humility, as we begin learning to literally surrender in every moment of life, to let it all go, to realize that our obsessive worrying, controlling, and fixing is the problem, even and especially when we apply that to our spiritual lives. It is in meditation, and only in meditation, that we learn to let go of ego/flesh/shadow/false self.
Question: Do you think meditation is weird, or only something super spiritual people do? Have you considered it but have never really seriously tried it? Do you find yourself fearing it a little bit, and if so, what are you afraid of?
For more info on meditation, download this packet of brief audio lessons.