Meditation is not a wellness tool. But you need it more than ever! – Integrally Alive Podcast

I love meditating because it trains me to be more present.
What about you? Why do you meditate?

On meditation, being present, crazy thoughts, wellness, and enlightenment…

Meditation trains us to stay with discomfort, without trying to escape. It teaches us to be fully present to life.

In a conversation describing his morning routine, a guy told me: “I meditate every day. For ten minutes. Then I feel like moving, so I get up.”

But for me this is exactly when the meditation begins! When we feel itchy, want to move, get flabbergasted by the sheer number of thoughts that rush into our head all of a sudden!

The Western world took meditation and transformed it into a tool for wellness. I think this is like looking the finger when the master points at the moon.

Peace of mind does come from meditation, but it is a side-effect, not the final aim. That is how we end up giving up with feelings like:”Meditation is not for me, I can’t sit still.”.

We think about meditation and have this stereotype image of someone looking so serene, living in peace… But this is NOT the image of someone who starts meditating ! The person in this image started a while ago.
First they were moving just as much as you do. They were impressed by the number of ideas going through their head. Did I said impressed? overwhelmed!

The real purpose of meditation is enlightenment, spiritual awakening.

And actually, some people, especially in case of trauma or deep anxiety, need to do other things first before they can sit and safely stay with their emotions and thoughts. Otherwise it is overwhelming and potentially re-traumatising.

And for everyone, we need time to learn to stay present with discomfort, without trying to escape. It takes practice.

The good news if you’re struggling with meditation

First, it just means you’re only human. Yay!, you’re not a robot or a superhero after all.
And, you just might be mistaken on the real purpose.

Meditation is designed for spiritual awakening. Who said enlightenment was going to be easy and a bunny ride? No, it wasn’t Buddha. Actually no-one said that. Because it isn’t.

What many people call “guided meditation”, or “guided visualisation”, on the other hand, is designed for all sort of purposes, from reducing anxiety, to boosting self-confidence, making better choices, etc. I consider these guided trances, by self or someone else, as self-hypnosis. And it is great!

Now, yes, until now I only addressed the first part of our practice of meditation. But there comes a moment when you go beyond the first “I can’t do it / I don’t know how they do it” reaction. And then it becomes really soothing and calming to meditate. Because then, you can hold your agitation lovingly, like a parent would hold a crying baby and soothe him/her: Staying present with, without identifying with.

But again, the aim of meditation is NOT wellness.

My first meditation teacher was Sasaki senseï, my Shiatsu teacher — Well, really my first meditation teachers were the wind and the ocean when I was living and sailing on my sailing-boat. Sasaki Senseï’s instructions were quite simple: “You sit like this, and then you are like a piece of dead wood.”
We would start every class like this, and never knew for how long we would meditate.

Mmmh, staying with discomfort, learning to be OK with it, without trying to escape, even when we have absolutely no idea what is going to happen, or how long it is going to last… It kind of reminds me of something! 😉

Can you see how it would help in your life, and especially right now in these crazy times?

It helps a lot, and in countless everyday situations. One of them being to be fully present to others, and communicate better by REALLY listening. Which most of us are really bad at. We mistake listening with silently reacting to what another person is saying.

That is something we’ll be exploring in the upcoming IAm connected online meetups— more to come on that very soon.

How do you want to use it?

Next time you meditate, ask yourself: “What do I need right now?”

And maybe you need to sit in silence and train to stay with discomfort, and experience the bliss of silence and stillness. Beautiful, meditate all you want.
And maybe you need a soothing self-hypnosis to support you.

Either way is fine.
Just acknowledge your needs, and honour them.

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Stay tuned for the next episode, à bientôt. 😉

(Intro music for the podcast: “Tiny people”, by Alexei De Bronhe )