A common misconception when people think about meditation is that the practice itself induces extreme happiness. People seem to believe that those who meditate either don’t ever experience sadness, or that nothing bad ever happens to these people so they are never even faced with anything other than laughter. Now, I know that this is a bit of an exaggeration, frankly, I doubt many people even think about meditation, but there is this idea that great meditators have grand control over negative emotions. While I don’t negate the fact that those who meditate cultivate a better relationship with their negative emotions, this isn’t the entirety of meditation.
I feel that at this point I should make the necessary disclosure that I am by no means a master at meditation. Aside from a three-month stint during college when I dabbled in meditating regularly, I have rarely found it possible to sit still for longer than thirty seconds. After many attempts to “kick start” my meditation practice again, I gave it up and hadn’t even thought about doing it until about two weeks ago. With that said, I shall continue on with my non-expert opinion on meditation. Now, while I do believe that people who meditate are capable of dealing with their negative feelings, they are also capable of doing the opposite. The control of emotion is not just being able to avoid feeling badly at times, rather it is the ability to not be dictated by random whims that pass through our bodies as a result of external stimulus. This also includes not allowing oneself to become overwhelmed with happiness as it is fleeting.
I view mediation more as a commitment to living life steadily. It stares emotion in the face and flies against the common idea humans have no control over these very emotions. That isn’t to say that people who mediate don’t actually feel emotions. That would be a robot. No, instead, people who meditate have allowed themselves to intensely sit with every emotion they have come across and process it in such a manner that when it arises again they are able to move to a mood of peace more quickly. In a very round about way, I guess what I’m trying to say is that meditators have stopped trying to avoid feeling uncomfortable purposefully and this very decision has given them the skills to achieve that very goal. Isn’t it true that whenever you stop wanting something is when it actually occurs (ladies…think about every relationship you’ve been in!) The same seems to hold true with meditation. By focusing on feeling all of the feelings that you have during meditation, you are actually able to achieve the goal of not feeling them so intensely later on, thus achieving the goal that you originally had prior to meditating which was to avoid feeling anything at all.
With this accomplishment as an incentive I find it ironic that I personally don’t meditate more often. To say that I’m a masochist would be dismissive, but is somewhat true I suppose. If the ultimate goal is to find serenity in a world of chaos, and if the answer to achieving this is meditation, then why on earth doesn’t everyone do it. Perhaps it is from boredom, or laziness that we don’t do that which we know is beneficial to us. Or, perhaps, it is fear that if this “guaranteed” solution doesn’t work, we have no more hope of resolution anymore. Since 2015 is my year to face fears and do what I know is right for myself, there really is only one thing left to do. I will grab my oversized pillow, sit myself atop it, and begin to meditate again.