Why We Meditate

This essay was published by Elephant Journal on July 4, 2020 titled, “Why Do We Meditate?  Inner Thoughts of a Restless Meditator” at https://bit.ly/38vyOlN

Why do we meditate?

We meditate to burn through.  It’s true, at first you sit with the best of intentions.  You sit with a glow, a light, the light, you are light.  And for the first five, maybe 10 minutes, that holds true.  You are still and you are one.

And then your mind wanders.  And you think about getting a cat.  Or whether or not you’ll do yoga later.  Or how many times you’ve pooped or not pooped today.

“Maybe I should start eating prunes?” you think.  “Eddie Murphy says that’s what he eats first thing in the morning on that episode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee.  I wonder if there are any new episodes out?  Though to find out, I’d have to renew my Netflix membership and I have a lot more time for yoga and writing and meditation without it.  Anyways, what was I thinking about before Netflix?

“Oh right, meditating.  How long was I gone for?  How long have I been sitting here for?  Shit my back is starting to ache.  And now my left shoulder is, too.  Why do I even do this?  Who am I kidding?  Oh.  I’m at the 20 minute mark, I can tell because now things are falling asleep.  My left foot and my bum.  God I hate pins and needles.”

You sigh mentally.  You are no longer the glow.  The glow is long gone.  Now you are bored and a little irritated.  And soon you’ll be outright angry, because you’re almost always angry in the last ten minutes because the last ten minutes are the hardest and hurt and feel useless and you feel stupid for even trying to meditate.

But here’s the interesting part: every now and then instead of trying to change your anger in the last 10 minutes, instead of trying to not feel it, to not see it head on, instead of denying that this lesser part of you exists, you just allow it to be.  You let it turn you hot, you attempt to dispel nothing.  And generally this moment right here, this is the reason why we meditate, because somehow it dissipates on its own.

In the anger you are not enlightenment, you are not light, you have not ascended.  You are the worst version of yourself.  The part you keep underwraps from coworkers, the part that only your family can bring out of you.  You are whiny and petulant and entitled.  You feel like you deserve an award for showing up.  You are a feral cat who would claw any hand that got too close — friend or foe.  You are debased.  You are aching back, sore knee.  You no longer care about enlightenment.  You are over it.

And then.

It breaks.

And for the briefest of moments you are not the dark anymore but you are also not the light you sought.  For maybe all of five seconds, there just is.

And then *ding* the timer goes. And most of it is forgotten but sometimes, a feeling remains with you, a lightness, a softening of the noise that is the hustle that surrounds you, and you forget the struggle until the next time you sit.  This is why we meditate.

Published by Pam Stewart

I am a writer living in Victoria, BC, Canada. I got my start in spoken word and am now a frequent contributor to Elephant Journal. My writing is the result of a deep dive into the world of self-help. I don't profess to know how others should do it, but am interested in having the conversation. I think there is real value in revealing our blindspots, our vulnerabilities and our fears; which is what I am trying to do through my essays on mindfulness, self-exploration, and living honestly. I have found God through writing, which is to say, I have found myself through writing. My book, I Really Thought It Would Be Easier Than This, is available now.

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