Why I stopped meditating: acts of rebellion + intention
“Meditator” isn’t a label I’d give myself, though I’ve meditated for years — in temples, on the bus, on cushions, in the tub, with and without formalities and teachers. (People who put things like, “And Joe has been a meditator for twenty years…” in their bios make me wonder. Unless of course, you’re a mediation teacher. But otherwise it doesn’t impress me as a pick up line, mostly because I’ve known some long-time meditators who were very cranky, or paranoid, or rude to waiters. Meditating doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be more compassionate or loving, it just means you can call yourself a meditator.)
I’m Meditator Lite. Meditator Light. Reluctant, Flailing, Empassioned…person who meditates.
But I then stopped formally meditating. Intentionally. Not like when you don’t go to the gym one week and then a month goes by, not that kind of slow halt. I actually declared that I would not sit in lotus or pick up mala beads, or watch my breath for, well, maybe forever. The very thing I was doing to feel liberated felt confining.
My practice — which was not that grueling to begin with — started to feel like one more thing to do. Meditation became an assignment and I felt I was being graded by an invisible monk. Polishing my consciousness, counting my mantras, strength-building — achieving. Meditating was becoming a way to reinforce my “goodness” — good at taking care of myself, good at seeking, good at being holistic, good at being good. And meditation was becoming a crutch for being “on”. Meditate before the gig, the interview, the meeting to make sure I was ON TOP OF IT. I felt pressured to meditate to relieve the pressure. From this frustration, a question surfaced: How present would I be if I didn’t focus on being “prepared”? I dared myself.
Some very beautiful things happened when I stopped meditating.
I learned to work without a net.
I learned that I am still loving and insightful even if I don’t pause for cosmic clearance. A deeper kind of strength came forth — calm, and ancient, and sturdy.
From my new vantage point, I could see with great clarity the essential reasons that I had meditated — and I gave myself permission to love those soul inclinations:
I meditate for comfort.
This is an admission of sorts that gives me great relief. I don’t necessarily sit to empty my mind, or to “grow”. I meditate because I deeply crave the comfort of connection with, if even just a taste of, The Mother of The Mother of All Things Ever. I crave The Spaciousness That Cradles, The Light That Burns Boundaries. I want to be home. This feels so good. I want to feel that good as much as possible. Yep, I meditate for comfort.
I meditate for disruption.
Sometimes I go digging in the back alley of my psyche just to stir shit up. I look for lurking fears and I turn up the volume on the critical tapes. I tend to do this when my psyche is like still water, just when things were going so well. I love this act of conscious antagonism. It shows me my power to heal, how far I’ve come, what monsters are still misbehaving at my table and who at that table needs more compassion.
When my meditation is an act of loving others, I get higher, faster.
The times when I devote a meditative session to someone/something else — whether it’s a string of mantras, or sending someone light while I’m sitting on a park bench — I get a rush of divine currency that is the yum of being alive. I like it. A lot. The surest way to experience oneness is to be the giver.
Intention is everything.
Meditation is an act of compassion for myself and others — when I come from a place of compassion. When I meditate to achieve, it’s a striving; when it’s to prove something, it turns into enduring. And when you’re in a place of compassion – you’re able to be more fully present with all of it — the pain and the joy, yours and others.
Sometimes, you need to stop taking your medicine to let your body heal itself. Sometimes, you need to pause so you can move forward. Sometimes, you need to turn away from something so you can see why you fell in love in the first place.