Posted by: innerpilgrimage | May 28, 2012

Resistance to Meditation

      “Silence is not the absence of sound but the absence of self.”
                                                                                        Anthony de Mello (Jesuit priest, 1931-1987)

      I recently have been reading The Seeker, The Search, The Sacred by Guy Finley. He has an associated website, which connects to the concept of the individuated spiritual journey presented in the book. The book, itself, is divided into sections. In each section, he gives an introduction then has a chronological section of quotes from philosophers and spiritual seekers to inspire individuals to seek truths within themselves about the concepts named in the title.
      That part of “within one’s self” is hard for me, because I am both longing to meditate and I fear it. M— offered the concept that I fear failure, which I agree with. The greater the risk, the greater perception of success or failure. To turn within and find nothing there (which I know from experience doesn’t happen forever–though I am anxious it was self-delusion) is a great risk. Am I deluded in even believing in a Higher Power?
      The problem is that I have spoken the word of Higher Power and called it reality. Reality–the world and state of things as they exist objectively, instead of a subjective view of what is–cannot really be argued. We can’t see or experience it all (which is why ontology, the study of reality, is considered a metaphysical branch of philosophy); however, it doesn’t mean what we can’t see isn’t there. That’s my Higher Power, which I consider is pretty accurately expressed by the band, Xenophilia, in the song IDIC:
      He said, “There’s infinite diversity in infinite combinations. Everything that can exist does.”
      She said, “There’s infinite diversity in infinite combinations, endless sets of natural laws.”

      I guess, then, my HP would be called, ‘IDIC’, if I cared to call it anything but HP. So, why won’t I connect to the infinite diversity in infinite combinations? Because I am also a product of rabid WASP fundamentalism, with just a hint of polytheistic Catholicism (angels, demons, God, the Devil–all the players). I have a sense that if one messes with the metaphysical, one can end up calling really, Really, REALLY bad things into play. Like when someone catches on with the whole Ouija Board belief that using a Ouija Board will open your life to demonic possession–as opposed to six freaked-out teenaged girls high on chocolate and soda and no sleep screaming wildly because the cleverest of the girls was able to con the others into believing that she didn’t move the marker.
      Irrational fear. What a fun character defect. But at least I named the monster, can discriminate from intuitive observation which creates a “Stop!” physical reaction and the hysterical phantasmal delusional state. Of course, knowing the difference doesn’t mean I act on it consistently–if ever.
      The other difficulty is that I am being like a spoiled toddler, stomping and pouting because I didn’t get that best-friend-‘n’-savior sponsor that I read about in all the best 12-Step approved literature. And I feel like crap, because I had opportunities to help others in program who ASKED me to sponsor them–and in doing so, I could have helped myself actually work program. How? Because in a program with so few sponsors, there are very few people being sponsored. I could have twenty sponsees and overtax myself, had I actually made it to Step Twelve. Of course, with twenty sponsees, I would be way back at Step Zero. See, I can slide into ego far too quickly.
      Those requests were invitations to end up being Stepwork Buddies. There were no sponsors in the beginning of any of the programs. Everyone worked together, as equals. Then, sponsors were able to help people through compassion and generosity of time–sharing their wisdom. Unfortunately, like any institutionalized organization, dogma gets called on at times. The minute dogma arrives, I flee. I can punish myself just fine without dogmatic belief grabbing hold and punishing me for “bad” behavior. I did that as a kid. Not going to do it again.
      Unfortunately, it means that while I won’t let others abuse me? I do just fine punishing myself. Ugh, what triggers me to act on my addiction is so-o-o-o-o very fun. Whee. When the world is an absolute mental Hell-swamp of misery? Escaping through any means possible–even for a few hours, and even if the price is inevitable death–starts to look good. The difficulty arises when the addiction, itself, isn’t an escape any more. It becomes life-and-death. It becomes a very real threat with a sickly-sweet icing of self-delusion, like thinking one can ride an alligator out of a bayou without becoming its dinner. There’s the self-deception that addiction demands in order to keep the failing structures from crumbling, and there’s reality just . . . being real.
      I’m laughing right now, because I was thinking, “I really liked cacadre the last time I had it.” It’s been over a decade. How to fold in the eat-or-be-eaten concept of alligators, Hell-swamps, and whatever? I don’t know. But cacadre does not taste just like chicken, because I hate chicken and like ‘gator meat. Moving on–sorry if I triggered anyone reading this. And if anyone has a great metaphor for the predator being out-predated by the recovering addict? Please share. I got nothing right now.
      Anyway, meditation.
      There are so many ways to meditate, to be honest. There’s that traditional meditation which often gets translated into a fascist and terror-inducing, “sit down, shut up, clear your mind, don’t fall asleep!” Oh yeah, I can see inner peace coming from a control freak in hemp clothes. Yes, that was sarcasm. If we’re supposed to be the change we want to see in the world, I don’t particularly appreciate the idea of militaristic neo-hippies. Again, that’s my character defect of judgment, based on the hippies I knew when I was a kid growing up in the 1970s.
      I have a friend, J—, who keeps trying this because someone told her these two disparate opinions she chose to believe: (1) You must meditate, and (2) meditation is sitting in the proper Buddha pose in an uncomfortably warm room with your eyes closed. Of course, with my and my ego, I insist that J— can do ambulatory meditation. Ambulatory meditation can be like yoga (not the yoga-as-exercise, the spiritual practice of yoga by clarifying body and mind through the yoga asanas). Ambulatory meditation can be jewelry-making, painting, sculpture, taking a walk . . . or even coloring or drawing mandalas.
      Wikipedia has this to say about mandalas:
      In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing attention of aspirants and adepts, as a spiritual teaching tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction. According to the psychologist David Fontana, its symbolic nature can help one “to access progressively deeper levels of the unconscious, ultimately assisting the meditator to experience a mystical sense of oneness with the ultimate unity from which the cosmos in all its manifold forms arises.” The psychoanalyst Carl Jung saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self,”[citation needed] and believed his paintings of mandalas enabled him to identify emotional disorders and work towards wholeness in personality.
      So . . . anyone want to color a mandala? Just sit and relax and let it happen. The best part is, it’s not really for others to judge. Like a Fourth Step Inventory (before we even consider Step Five), it’s a revelation of the innermost workings. Don’t color it to make it art, acceptable, pretty, or even displayed. Color it from the heart, apparently, and learn more about yourself through color, form, motion, thought, and concentration.
      You know, I remember, as a kid, I would spend hours and hours with the neighbor girls drawing these fantasy lands of theme parks and zoos and circuses and just plain idyllic childhood worlds. We would explain and talk and play and just become part of these six-to-twelve foot banners of imagination spurred communally. Unity through the process of communication. And it would take hours. Did we care of the things were perfect? Not really. It was the process of it.
      Like the drawing I have from my son of a roller coaster. It’s actually a drawing of the process of being on a roller coaster–with a few supports and a happy coaster car full of riders on it (to express that it is a great roller coaster and everyone loves it).
      I stopped drawing because I believed my critics. My art was not enough. Of course, this was from people who weren’t artists, who didn’t seem to get that artists put a piece of their souls into the work. Don’t take it so seriously, we are told. Don’t take it personally. Part of being an artist is becoming vulnerable in the process of creation. We bring ourselves forward and expose the deepest truths and vulnerabilities of the human condition. There is no other way to take it but personally.
      Art is for me. Though I do give away the hats and clothing and amigurumi I crochet, I don’t really need to show my mandala coloring pages (and eventual drawings) to anyone. So why do I resist?
      “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation — some fact of my life — unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
      “Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my [addiction], I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

      Bluntly, non-acceptance. I am getting in my own way. I am rationalizing why not instead of accepting that it doesn’t matter that people can be critical of people who create. Of people who seek spiritual answers. Anything can be judged negatively–which people seem to define as “criticizing”. The concept of criticism is discernment. The reality of criticism is to perform for others by being witty in one’s negativity. So much so, in fact, that criticism got a qualifier added to it, “constructive”, in order to show a more positive analysis of creation.
      Criticism, constructive or cruel, is opinion. It is just a judgment based on a person’s experiences and world views. It is illusion, and a person seeking truth must discern illusion from reality. Acceptance that people indulge in the illusion (if people didn’t, we wouldn’t have had the need for recovery and the program because there would be no addiction) and acceptance that their indulgence does not need to trigger our own (what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes) is a hard lesson to work on.
      One that requires the art of prayer and meditation as outlined in Step Eleven: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out. We pray (talk) to a Higher Power to take what we cannot accept. We pray (talk) to a Higher Power to humbly ask for wisdom and our purpose. Then, we sit in silent meditation (listen) and lose the self (true humility) as we listen to the ineffable. Addiction is loud, like a tornado; recovery is quiet, like a gentle breeze. We pay attention to the violent and shocking addiction; we don’t often pay attention to that gentle breeze. Yet, on a hot day, a cooling breeze which relieves the heat of a beating-down sun is something we are innately grateful for. It’s a small miracle, a change in sensory perception of the moment. We can see how we can become a wholly different person when there is no cool breeze than when there is. And we can easily ignore it if we’re not mindful of the moment in which we live–the one, true reality.
      The passed minute is gone; the future minute is not yet arrived. Therefore, they don’t exist except in illusion. The one place, time, and person is the here, the now, and the self united in this second. But because it is fluid (as life is, which is the gift–that no failure exists beyond the moment of its manifestation, therefore amends can be made if we are vigilant in learning the lessons inherent in an unanticipated or unwanted outcome). Failure is a judgment, an opinion. It is an illusion based on an unrealistic set of rules based on something which doesn’t exist. And with the layer of perception and judgement and opinion added to give a neutral event meaning? It becomes infused with more meaning and can become a banner which we wrap around us in order to define us in the present and future–when the future becomes the present.
      We are in living bodies; that means we evolve constantly. We perceive with a spiritual (and timeless) self that we don’t change, but the reality is that we, as cellular organisms, are constantly changing. Consider that scientists say every cell in our body (I think except the sex cells in women) is changed out completely by the time we end a nine-year cycle. That means the person we were nine years ago, the aggregate cells which made our physical forms, are dead. The form we were ten years ago is dead. Our mind may recall events and perceptions from then and say, “This form was there and then,” but it wasn’t. We are, today, a composite of the daughter cells (potentially many generations gone) of those cells which were present ten years ago.
      So, if we are in constant change–both in mind (I certainly don’t think as I did ten years ago) and body (scientists say the cells of this form ten years ago are gone)–why not accept it? Why not reflect in body, mind, and spirit the evolution of human existence? Why not become part of the whole instead of feed the illusion that I am as I was and will always be this way. That just because others perceive “Jess” because the cells replicated in the same relative formation (though with more wrinkles and gray hair . . . oh, and a hundred-pound weight loss thanks to an abstinence-based food plan of moderation) that the mind could identify from patterns of Jess-long-ago and extrapolate what one knows about aging of the human body and evolve that perception of Jess forward to today, it does not define me.
      It is our mind which tries desperately to find order in what we perceive as chaos. It is our mind which sends those signals to feel anger, sadness, and fear when we perceive changes we don’t want to accept. It is our mind which tries to apply the ineffable soul’s sense of unity and timelessness onto a world which has one constant: change.
      Oh, I know this stuff intellectually. I know it! Practice . . . not so easy. I really want to surrender. I really want to feel that sense of hopelessness I did when I faced off with Step Zero for that first time. I don’t feel death breathing down my neck, so it’s not as pressing as it was. It’s still important, though. It really is.
      My name is Jess, and I am a food binge-arexic and a toxic love addict and real love avoidant. Serenity Prayer, Acceptance is the Answer, and some choice Anthony Mello quotes really apply right now. I am SO on the verge, and I feel it!
      Leap into the silence and trust that I won’t be hurt because I won’t be leaping with my weighty ego to drag me down.


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