Monday, January 26, 2015

Don't be Afraid of the Dark

     We all experience ups & downs numerous times each day. During meditation, we see & feel our actual life with minimal distraction, and therefore much greater clarity. That’s why we can experience emotions so powerfully during meditation and also why we're able to learn, through our meditation practice, to live with progressively increasing skill & wisdom. 
     However, many of us have experienced significant trauma in our lives, the echos of which can repeatedly re-emerge in various disruptive ways into our present life. Sometimes these energies are "too sticky" for us to process physically, on our own, during meditation. In such cases, professional counselling offers established psychological techniques for effective processing.
     A variety of challenges from our past, including, but not limited to what we consider significant trauma, can resurface as challenging mental content in meditation. There are many things that we may not consider to be "significant trauma" that can, nevertheless, have significant effects in meditation. Verbal abuse, witnessing domestic violence, various forms of neglect, having alcoholic parent(s), divorce, etc can all leave people with unresolved issues. For example, neuroimaging studies suggest that exposure to verbal abuse - considered relatively "minor" trauma - can have even more significant effects than more easily recognized forms of trauma, like sexual abuse.
     So choosing to seek counselling may be very wise. Counselling can markedly benefit both our overall quality of life, as well as our effectiveness in performing our wide variety of tasks - including meditation!
     Counselling is completely confidential. At least a third of us need counselling at some point. Far from jeopardizing our career, obtaining necessary help is as much a professional obligation as being sober at work.
     Should concerns or difficulties arise during meditation, make sure you discuss it during group meditation or on a one-to-one basis with the meditation teacher, trusted family or friends, - and or - a mental-health professional (who ideally also has meditation experience).
       *** I thank the wonderful mental-health care professionals in my immediate family who kindly help refine some of these blogs with their wise suggestions.***

     "This is a dark time, filled with suffering and uncertainty. Like living cells in a larger body, it is natural that we feel the trauma of our world. So don't be afraid of the anguish you feel, or the anger or fear, for these responses arise from the depth of your caring and the truth of your interconnectedness with all beings. To suffer with is the literal meaning of compassion."

                        Joanna Macy         

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