Hello my fellow human Beings:
Have you ever experience a situation where shortly after a meditation session, in an encounter with someone else, you experience strong feelings of anger/frustration/impatience well up within you and erupt from you in a negatively charged outburst? Have you every yelled at someone soon after you’ve just completed a time of meditation or reflection?
Well, I have.
Even after meditating for many years, this can still happen.
When it does, you may think: How can that be happening to me? What a failure I am at meditating? How can I call myself a meditator with negative behaviour like that?
Well, first of all, no one is perfect. Not you, not I, not any meditation guru. We are all human beings with flaws and bumps and imperfections. We are not the Buddha (yet), although we’ve set out on the path towards becoming Buddha (or an enlightened one).
Yes, even after years of meditating, we can still get angry, yell, be impatient, get frustrated, be jealous, say hurtful words to others or do a slew of other unkind behaviour.
We are all human. We all make mistakes. We all slip up once in a while.
However, if we heap spiritual judgement on top of ourselves for stumbling, then we are moving backwards. In engaging in a meditation practice, we have made the decision to move forwards towards become more egoless, more balanced and more tolerant. So to blame ourselves for faltering and not being flawless is to judge ourselves unkindly and is not in keeping with our meditation way of life.
Don’t get me wrong. There are consequences for our poor behaviour in these situations. We will suffer and we will cause others to suffer. However, we can make amends for our poor behaviour and we can start again.
We can start again to observe the negative emotions when they arise in us and not react to them (or at least not so quickly).
We can renew our commitment to our meditation practice and work towards purifying our minds.
So the next time we are triggered and we feel negative emotions beginning to arise in us, try to be mindful. Pause. BREATHE. Observe the arising emotions as they start to bubble up, rather than letting them overwhelm us. See the space between what is arising and the story we are creating around it.
What is the root cause of these negative feelings? Why are we being triggered in this moment?
Our mindfulness practice helps us create space to observe what is going on within ourselves.
We shouldn’t blame ourselves for having negative emotions arise in our bodies or impure thoughts appear in our minds. We can’t control what surfaces in our minds, but we can take responsibility and manage how we relate to what arises.
We can be still with the emotions and thoughts cropping up within us. We can try to observe them objectively and understand them. We can create some space between the trigger and our reaction. We can move from a place of rash reaction to situations that will set us off to a place where we first pause, take a conscious breath (or a few), and then take appropriate action in the situation.
Maybe there is a reason for the anger welling up within you. Perhaps you’ve observed an injustice.
Yet without pausing, being still, and observing what is going on within ourselves before we react, our actions are likely to cause more suffering than good.
Jack Kornfield, a bestselling American author, who trained as a Buddhist monk, and is one of the key teachers to introduce Buddhist mindfulness meditation practice to the West, reminds us that:
“To undertake a genuine spiritual path is not to avoid difficulties but to learn the art of making mistakes wakefully, to bring them to the transformative power of our heart.”
In his book, A Path with Heart: A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life, he adds that:
“In this there is no judgment and no blame, for we seek not to perfect the world but to perfect our love for what is on this earth.”
So I encourage you to keep up your meditation practice. Don’t judge or blame yourself harshly. Remember we are all human and we’ll falter from time to time. But we can learn from our mistakes in a wakeful and mindful manner.
Our mediation practice is a way of life. It is a journey and a path that we need to walk on every day. There will be triggering events on that path; encounters that will push our emotional buttons. But we are reminded to pause…BREATHE…. and be still a while. Observe what is happening in our minds and bodies. Connect to our inner core, our True Self. Then take appropriate action. In this way, we walk on the path towards a more abundant life.
May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you be live with ease. May you be free from suffering.