It can be interesting to investigate why it is you meditate, want to start or maintain a practice.
Is it to supress challenging emotions or control negative thoughts?
These were the exact reasons that I started to practice meditation. The realisation that my whole life was a lie and that I was the cause of my crappy life was brutal - a challenging period of time. My thoughts, feelings and emotions just would not me rest - there was no escape, I’d not sleep for days - regret, guilt and shame were a heavy cloud that I thought would never lift.
I went into meditation thinking it would be the magic pill to rid me of all the chaos, be empty of it all, even to feel illuminating, blissful and outer-worldly!
Needless to say this was not the case, instead meditaiton seemed to amplify the inner turmoil - things internally actually got louder and stronger. I stopped meditating for a while after that.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that mindfulness and meditation are tools to take away pain and make things easier. There seems to be a sheen of glossy positivity over a lot of resources and apps - the colourful tones and cartoonish visuals aiding this sense of the practice being beig a quick fix. As well our culture which is predicated on the surpressing of pain or getting rid of dis-ease as quickly and often synthetically as possible.
I started practicing again, somehow it felt right to - there was some urge which wanted me to sit down and see what happens. It seemed the only way out of the mess, was through it... It was in the process of learning to go easy on myself, slowly and gently be in the midst of what felt like hell - that I began to notice that I couldn’t fight a war with my thoughts and emotions or my history for that matter. The struggle and the resistance that I was putting up made it worse - created more suffering and that over something that passed, but of course only now was I facing it. And in this came the most interesting piece - that being here in the midst of it all, dropping the resistance and the conflicting, accepting what was showing up just as they did - allowing myself to feel what was showing up bit by bit…simply being here in the midst of it, was a huge relief. Like dropping a heavyweight or a letting go of a tug of war rope. They say that pain x resistance = suffering. Meditation allows one to feel the pain without the resistance - it's still painful, intense and heavy at times...but lacks the unneccessary suffering that comes with the added resistance and aversion to how things are. This is not to say I allow things that I don’t like, instead the acceptance of things as they are enabled me to make changes. The practice became sustainable after I dropped the idea that meditation should feel a certain way, that it's not about getting anywhere else or even making things better, instead the realisation that it was about developing the capacity to feel whatever it was that I was feeling…moment to moment. There is nothing more human than the capacity to be with the full spectrum of the human experience.