Laurie’s expanding her world of art this year so be sure to check her out.
I’ve been slowly moving back to more practice after several weeks of being pretty sporadic about chanting, meditating, exercising, etc. I realized without all that centering and balancing that I’m a little depressed. No big deal and I suspect part of the clearing process I’m in, but it reminded me of a lesson I learned long ago about those lovely practices.
If you’re not careful to do them in a way that invites them to open you up and with awareness of any feelings that arise and then to do something to let go of them (by whatever practice or mindful means you choose), meditation and energy practices can create another layer that buries your issues even deeper. A nice, calm, much-more-pleasant layer, but a layer nonetheless.
We talked about this in my Fischer-Hoffman group, where we used the concept of a diamond heart that is your true essence. It winds up surrounded by a circle of the bad feelings and self-doubts and negative beliefs you hold. Then around that layer you place the facade that you want the world to see. Meditation can become a crutch that creates an illusion of serenity that really just adds serenity as a layer that makes the diamond heart even more buried.
I realized the truth of this around the same time, thanks to a horrible roommate situation. Her behavior toward me, my belongings and my cats was outrageous. For a long time, though, because I regularly practiced pranayama and meditated, I stayed very calm about it all. Eventually I realized that the calm was masking fury — and a myriad of ways in which her behavior mimicked the way my toughest family member treated me.
It’s a very fine line. And of course bringing yourself back to calm so you don’t say, throw your obnoxious roommate off the four-story balcony of your apartment (yes I did really, really want to…) is probably a good thing. When I finally confronted her, I did it without yelling and negotiated the deal I wanted to get out of there and I’m sure all that meditating and breathing practice helped me do that. But resolution arrived much later than it would have if I had been more tuned in to my emotional landscape instead of just feeling relieved at the aura of calm that surrounded me.
Had I not been digging deep at the time in the Fischer Hoffman work, I have a notion that that layer of serenity would have buried the real turmoil indefinitely. Later, I met a lot of folks who followed various Buddhist and Indian teachers and gurus and I became adept at sensing the carefully constructed outer layer of serenity and the ignored turmoil underneath that many people had (by no means all). As I talked with lots of them I realized that for many the calming nature of practices became a balm they craved; but they used it to hide from issues instead of to illuminate them and let them go.
I’m glad I’ve had this little reminder that I need to practice regularly but without using it to ignore feelings I’d prefer to avoid.