Unless there is enough pain, mindfulness meditation practice might not ‘work’.
I have been playing with this idea for a while now.
I am not sure mindfulness will ‘give something’ all the time.
Even evidence-based research found that 8-week mindfulness-based programs create the most obvious impact in a person who had gone through multiple episodes of depression but less so for those who only had one major episode; the latter group might still benefit in some way but are less likely to sustain their practice.
It makes sense. There is always some safety and comfort in our existing life, and mindfulness suggests a rather different approach to life. To radically change how we experience and view life take significant motivation. And the motivation rarely comes from the pull of happiness or enlightenment. What usually sparks strong interest is the push of unbearable pain and struggles; not just once but repeatedly.
So.. if you have been attempting to meditate for a while but struggle to keep at it..
I invite you to think about what are some changes you want in your life.
How long have you been wanting it?
Is it pulled by possibilities or pushed by not wanting certain pain?
Do you truly want these changes?
To do 20 minutes of exercise.
To sit and meditate for 20 minutes.
To watch the TV for 20 minutes.
To scroll the social media for 20 minutes.
Which is easier?
Exercise tend to lose to TV and social media.
Meditation tend to lose to everything else.
In fact, meditation practice always becomes uncomfortable at some point.
Comfort zones tend to win.
But people usually find the additional determination with some major life changes.
Health scares. Relational issues. Persistent inner conflict, anxiety or depression. Utter despair. With these come the willingness to open to something completely different from our doing mode of mind – the being mode of mind. No goal, no more fixing, no more chasing; just stillness, allowing, and surrendering as it is. We can see why it’s scary to drop into that, hence when we do drop into it, the pain has usually pushed us to the edge. But with it, the contrasting relief you might feel from letting go can be heavenly. By then people wonder why they haven’t realise this earlier.
New doors open only when old doors close.
It’s perhaps no secret nor coincidence that mindfulness practice originates mostly from the Buddhist tradition of wanting to end sufferings and not pursuing happiness. For once, we are not doing it the positive way, and that’s ok. Are you willing to explore this?
Instead of pursuing new doors, why not get clear on the old doors you want to close. The pain and struggles that you are done with – don’t be in a hurry to get rid of them or run away from them. Give ourselves an opportunity to see and feel them clearly. Maybe, that’s the ticket to real change.
Possibly cultivating a joyful life is by allowing or even welcoming our negative inner experiences – what we have always thought to be the enemies of happiness. For all that you experience within you, isn’t it all part of your aliveness?
You can only see them clearly if you take the time to sit and observe.
Mindfulness meditation, anyone?