As embarrassed as I am to say it, I haven’t always been the best at maintaining my meditation practice. Ever since my first blackbelt retreat when I was sixteen years old, I have known of the values of meditation. From that time, I meditated now and then, sometimes maintaining a meditation schedule for a few months, but it would always fizzle out after a while. Recently I have gotten back into it, and had two shaking experiences.
With my recent interest in both reality-based martial arts and the Law of Attraction, it has been impressed upon me once again how critically important meditative practices are to martial artists (and to anyone else for that matter). Several weeks ago, I began again the basic meditation process of sitting still in a quiet place and following one’s breath. I have only been doing ten to fifteen minute sessions. The first few weeks went as usual: I felt very refreshed after each session, and I could gently feel a sense of peace and quiet developing in my life.
That came to a sudden halt late last Sunday night (sometime after my last post) when I was suddenly overwhelmed by what felt like a wave of deeply negative emotion. I don’t use the term “overwhelmed” here lightly because I was kept up for hours, unable to sleep, feeling enveloped in some of the most terrible emotions I’ve felt in some time. For hours I felt powerful rage, depression, and anxiety. I didn’t know what to do! No matter how I tried, I just couldn’t seem to shake it. This intensely bothered me because I’m generally a pretty positively minded person, and that frustration only added to negative wave I was caught in at that time. Eventually it passed, and I could finally sleep. I still felt somewhat shaken the next morning.
A similar episode happened again to me on Wednesday. Unfortunately, I was driving to work at the time, and for the next two hours I had to appear outwardly happy and professional whilst a torrent of deeply negative thoughts and feelings surged underneath. It was terrible.
I don’t want to harp on these experiences and seem that I’m whining or becoming emo. To me, it is remarkable that these things happened at all, and I believe that they are a sign that I am benefiting from my meditative practice.
That may sound like an odd thing to say, that these horrific waves of negative emotion are a sign of improvement, but consider this: when one undertakes a physical detoxification program for cleaning out one’s physical body, it is common for one to experience terrible rashes, diarrhea, nausea, and other unpleasant symptoms that result from the body finally releasing toxins that have been long held onto. I feel that the same is true of meditation; it makes the self begin an emotional clean up and a purging of toxic thoughts and feelings that have been accidentally tucked away. I believe this is from where the expression comes that sometimes when one meditates “all hell breaks loose” in one’s life. Rashes and emotional dumps can be intensely uncomfortable, but are ultimately signs that the body or mind is purifying itself.
I think that the past year of my life has been one of the most interesting years of my life and has also contained many of the more stressful and anxious thoughts and experiences in my life. This might explain why I am having these negative emotion dumps at this point as I am returning to a routine meditation practice. Moving forward, the only thing I can see to do is to faithfully continue my practice so that my mind is allowed to continue to clean itself. I look forward to the benefits of a cleaner, more focused mind and to having less debilitating emotional dumps in the future.