Tuesday, October 1, 2013

some real talk on meditation

"Meditation is not a way to make things easier; it's a way to make them worse, so you will have to grow in the process.
 "The worst pitfall, I would say, is using meditation to "spiritually bypass" other concerns, concerns that can only be handled in their own terms, or on their own level. People think that meditation will take care of their money problems, their sex problems, their food problems--and of course it won't. What it will do is make you more sensitive and aware; and if you've got a painful life problem, meditation will probably just make it more painful because it will make you more sensitive. Meditation means you can't hide the pain anymore. You have to step right into the middle of it.
"In particular, meditation will not take care of most psychological problems. If you're basically a neurotic, meditation will make you a nice, enlightened neurotic. If you're a real schmuck, meditation will make you a real sensitive schmuck. It doesn't eliminate fundamental psychological or neurotic difficulties. and in some cases it can make them worse.
"I wouldn't say that [meditation is of no use with all psychological problems.] It can be of benefit in many ways, particularly in strengthening witnessing-awareness, but preferably alongside a psychotherapy designed to deal specifically and directly with your particular neurosis.  My point is that many people think that meditation is some sort of panacea, and it isn't. It is a direct way to engage your own growth and evolution, and, as is always the case, growth is painful. It hurts. If you're doing meditation correctly, you are in for some very rough and frightening times. Meditation as a "relaxation response" is a joke. Genuine meditation involves a whole series of deaths and rebirths; extraordinary conflicts and stresses come into play. All of this is just barely balanced by an equal growth in equanimity, compassion, understanding, awareness and sensitivity, which makes the whole endeavor worthwhile.
"But it's not just a day at the beach. Look at the life stories of the great saints and sages, and you will see tremendous struggle and pain. And notice that most of it starts after they have progressed in meditation, not before. My point is that there are extraordinary benefits and extraordinary pains, so hang in there. Just don't meditate instead of taking out the garbage--physical, emotional or psychological."  
---- "The Power and Limits of Meditation" by Ken Wilber

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