Cella’s Chat: Meditation – It’s Not for Sissies

Human instinct is to run from the pain.  I get it - who wants to "feel" the pain, but part of healing and spiritual growth is being ok with going deep inside and confronting these feelings.  In order to change and evolve, we have to challenge what is familiar to us and this change often creates a painful experience.  As Michael Singer points out in his book, The Untethered Soul - "This pain is so uncomfortable, so challenging, and so destructive to the individual self, that your entire life is spent avoiding it."  We begin to identify with this pain so deeply that our whole way of living becomes about ways to avoid the pain. Hence, why people do whatever they can to avoid their pain and coping skills are developed such as drinking, drugs, co-dependence, addictions to gambling, shopping, sex, whatever it takes to avoid dealing with the issues at hand.  But the avoidance of this pain actually invites the pain to become more enhanced in our lives.  One of the things I used to do instead of "feeling" my pain, was to keep myself so busy I could never stop long enough to "feel."  I never realized this is what I was doing, it became a part of who I was.  I kept going until my body decided to get my attention by creating illness which, in turn, caused me to stop and be still.  Meditation is the best tool for being still. People think they have to be perfect at meditation for it to be "right."  The common thought is that meditation is about feeling good.  Not necessarily true!  A common meditation session can elicit the feelings of boredom, restlessness, a hurting back and pain.  But, as author and Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron expresses, "meditation is about a loving compassionate openness and the ability to be with oneself and one's situation through all kinds of experiences."  This is about awakening fully to our life.  Meditation isn't just for Buddhists and Hippies.  According to Time Magazine's edition of Your Body:  The Science of Keeping it Healthy, meditation has even gone corporate with classes to teach CEO's and employees alike the practice of meditation in order to "stop, breath, notice, reflect and respond."  The same article goes on to state that at the beginning of 2013, the U.S. Marines (yes, I did say Marines) started a pilot program at Camp Pendleton called M-Fit (Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training) which was designed to help veterans to use meditation effectively to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder as well as to calm themselves in the middle of maneuvers.  The biggest advantage of meditation, however, is to our health.  A study by Herbert Benson, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, found that meditators used 17% less oxygen, lowered their heart rates by three beats a minute and increased their theta waves, the ones that appear right before sleep, proving that they reached a different state than either normal consciousness or sleeping.  Dr. Benson argued that meditators counteracted the stress-induced fight or flight response and achieved a calmer, happier state.  This practice has also been used to help people manage their pain and get off of medication by teaching people to focus on what pain feels like and accept it.  This gives us power over our own bodies.  Even our immune system benefits - how great is that!  So, experiment and be open with playing with the possibility of noticing what you feel in the moment.  Don't get frustrated, your mind WILL wander.  Just notice it and come back to the present.  Listen, if a bunch of tough Marines can get in touch with their inner-selves, then hang up the sissiness and just go for it!   

At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky, because I've made mountains out of molehills.  With meditation, I can keep them as molehills.
 - Ringo Starr 

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