Walking home from hot yoga yesterday, a friend asked me how I felt.
“Irritated,” I said.
“Wow. I’ve never heard anyone say that before,” She said, “relaxed, a little high, but not irritated.”
We talked about my meditation practice and about how sometimes my meditation sessions leave me feeling angry.
“I’ve been struggling with meditation too.” She said.
I wondered if this implication about me was true. I asked myself, “Have I been struggling with meditation?” I didn’t respond out loud but, internally, it became clear that I have not, in fact, been struggling much with my twice-daily meditation practice.
Most forms of meditation (that I’m aware of) are intended to starve the cognitive functioning of the mind of attention and energy, temporarily removing the buttress of self-reification, sliding the blocks out of the psychological Jenga tower, freeing the whole psyche to fall down naturally into a lower energy state. And when it all falls down, it’s usually an ugly mess.
What comes up during and after meditation is all the shit we’ve been sweeping into the corners of the mind, hiding away in our mental closets. All that stuff bubbles to the surface to be witnessed and released; it sometimes says a timid “hello.” We might feel anger, sadness, grief, frustration, fear, regret, love, or have any other kind of natural human experience.
Meditation practices are generally designed to provide space for these things to arise, to increase awareness of them, and to develop the ability to not react to them, to not deny them, and to not push them away. As the wooden blocks begin to tumble sideways, we learn to stand back and watch them collapse, to resist grabbing at them.
If we’re aiming for anything with meditation, it is to allow the natural destruction, the dissolution, and the final collapse of the phantasm of “me.” In this case, perhaps, “the one who does not, or should not, get angry.”
It’s not necessarily good or bad to come out of a meditation session feeling angry, but it certainly is what it is. Perhaps we’ve finally allowed ourselves to acknowledge some hurt that was felt or some boundary that was overstepped. Perhaps, given a break in the constant…