by Linda-Ann Stewart
I had a friend who learned Transcendental Meditation and practiced almost every day. She felt happier, more relaxed, even blissful as long as she meditated. If she missed a few days, she found that she didn’t feel much different than before she began to meditate. Although she felt better when she meditated, it wasn’t solving her underlying problems.
I’ve known many people who’ve used spirituality and meditation as a way of avoiding dealing with their issues. Since they feel good when they’re pursuing a spiritual path, guru, or new technique, they think that will make all the uncomfortable stuff dissolve and go away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Spirituality is no more a magic bullet than anything else.
According to Lawrence LeShan, a psychotherapist, meditation teacher and author of “How To Meditate,” meditation can help strengthen the structure of our personality, making us better able to deal with our challenges. And it may give us more insight into our issues, but meditation doesn’t do away with them. It may reduce overall anxiety, make us feel safe, therefore better able to face ourselves, but we still need to do the internal work needed to bring about change.
Anything that allows us to feel bliss and euphoria, whether it’s drugs, lust, romatic love, alcohol, achievement, spirituality or meditation, can become addicting. We become enthralled to the feeling and want to repeat it as often as possible. It makes the bad feelings fade away. Spirituality is a healthier escape than any of the others, but it still can be an escape. We need to ask ourselves, “What am I trying to escape from or avoid?”
There needs to be a balance and a grounding at the same time. Getting carried away with bliss can mean not attending to day to day affairs, such as paying the bills, eating right, and having healthy relationships. I knew a woman like this. She was so wrapped up in her pursuit of peace that when she received a chunk of money in a settlement, she didn’t want to be bothered by trying to invest it. Instead, she gave the money to a friend to invest it for her. Unfortunately, the friend put it in a high risk investment, which failed, and she lost all of her money. The euphoria from spirituality and meditation doesn’t erase our personal responsiblities.
We seek to recognize our wholeness through spirituality and meditation. Instead of feeling like we have a “hole in our soul,” spirituality helps us to understand that we are truly whole and complete as we are. It allows us to be more fully present in our world and expand our awareness of who we are. But as long as it’s being used to avoid our feelings and deep issues, we can’t move forward. We’re either resisting discomfort or moving toward wholeness. We can’t do both.
We have to be able to balance our spiritual practices with our everyday and emotional lives. Spirituality and meditation gives us a sense of connection that we can then take into the rest of our experience. When we are able to acknowledge our issues, work through them, and accept all of ourselves, we’re honoring our spiritual essence.
I recognize that I am whole and complete just as I am. Spirituality and meditation are important to help me remember that fact. However, when a recurring issue arises in my life, I face it, acknowledge it and address it. I balance my spiritual practices and ground myself to take care of my responsibilities. As I do, I experience more harmony, joy and self-acceptance.
Copyright 2007 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved