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The benefits of meditating – lower resting heart rate, reduced high blood pressure, increased longevity, increased creativity, reduced stress/increased inner peace, and even reduced sensations of physical pain to name a few – have established meditation as the heart and soul of the wellness movement. Doctors of every stripe recommend meditation to patients, psychotherapists encourage clients in its daily practice, and educators bring meditation in one form or another into the classroom to promote optimum learning environments within the minds of individual children and the group. Meditation’s proven benefits prompt us to ask why, when it is so beneficial to us intellectually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, we do not meditate on a daily basis. The answer lies in a single phrase: Resistance to Stillness.
When I first began to meditate in the mid-seventies, I found myself inventing excuses for not sitting still. I began to dabble in the practice because of acute anxiety. I had been trained as a teacher, had completed my MA and begun my doctorate, and assumed I’d live out my days as an academic in a university. About half way through my first year of doctoral studies, I discovered that a part of my being, the brazen, story telling part, had other ideas. Reinventing myself as a sometime teacher and sometime writer was very challenging after the sureness I’d felt about finding an academic home. After I made the decision to leave my doctoral program, I entered a world of sleeplessness, anxiety, irritability, and lack of clarity. Anything, initially, even sitting still for a designated time each day, was better than the free floating anxiety that made me smoke too much, drink too much, and obsessively second guess my decision to chart a new direction for my life.
In the early days of my practice, I meditated fairly faithfully because it felt so good while I was doing it, but getting my butt to the chair remained an on-going problem. When a neighbour shared a flyer about a Transcendental Meditation (TM) training program at our local library, we decided to attend together. She had the same kind of twitchy, anxious energy that I did, not because of confusion regarding her career direction but because of concerns about her physical health. My interest in meditation was more emotional. I wanted to feel at peace with my decision to honour my creativity urges. Before taking the TM training, I invented my meditation practice in the moment. Sometimes I followed my breath, sometimes I stared at a candle flame, and sometimes I simply drifted into a state of profound peace without knowing how I did so. After the TM training, when I did finally settle into stillness, I slipped immediately into the deep peace we all crave.
Despite my deeply satisfying experience of meditation, my resistance to sitting resurfaced after a couple of years of regular practice. Once I managed to sit, I was fine, but justifying the time away from writing, renovating, job searching, and all the other anxiety producing activities I was involved in justified my putting meditation off. When I accepted a job where I could combine teaching and writing, I gave up meditating on a daily basis, as if I unconsciously believed had only been meditating to fill the space between paying jobs. I went back to it whenever relationship issues surfaced, or the work I was doing got me down, or sleeplessness began to interfere with my mental clarity. As soon as distress motivated me, I would do a few weeks of intensive meditation and feel terrific again.
This on-again, off-again love affair with meditation went on for decades. Looking back, I understand now what I didn’t at the time; I am a high physical-energy person. I like to move; I am a dance facilitator, a daily exercise buff, and a passionate outdoor walker. Sitting, especially sitting doing nothing, does not come naturally to me. Because I use EFT / Tapping to resolve resistance to doing (or not-doing in meditation’s case), I now find I am able to come to meditation much more easily. The unconscious resistance to stillness remains, but whenever I feel it building, I simply tap on it, using similar phrases to the following:
Tapping on the Karate Chop point: “Even though I feel too edgy to sit, I accept where I am right now. Even though I really don’t want to be still, I trust that meditating will make me feel refreshed and peaceful. Even though I wish I could get the same great results without sitting for twenty-minutes morning and night, every day, I deeply and completely accept myself and all of my feelings about meditating.”
While tapping through the body points, starting at the inner eyebrows: “I feel too edgy to sit; I don’t want to be still; what if feelings come up I can’t handle; what if I don’t get everything done; why do I have to sit; I hate being still; I hate this feeling of agitation before I sit; I wish I just could do it without all this resistance; I wonder why I resist sitting when I feel so good once I begin to meditate; I wonder why the idea of being still is so hard for me; I wish I didn’t resist the practice; the truth is, this resistance makes me feel like a failure; but I’m not a failure; I sit very regularly; I enjoy so many benefits from meditating; I like the idea of adding to the coherence of the world, and I’m so glad I make this investment in my personal peacefulness every day.”
Non-compliance is an interesting human characteristic. We’re told to quit smoking, and we continue to smoke. Our health-care advisers tell us to lose weight and we continue to eat fast food meals that have more fat and salt and sugar than is good for us. Resistance to healthful choices and activities, such as meditating is a very common factor in our health and well being challenges. Using tapping to address our resistance – to meditating and anything else that improves our quality of life – is simple and effective. Tapping resolves resistance because it is a tool that acknowledges the truth of our human condition. It increases our sense of integrity when we admit we are resistant to the changes that may well save our lives. And, in the case of meditation, tapping actually dissolves those edgy energies that prevent us from sitting to reap the proven benefits of a daily sitting practice.
Until next week
Jane Buchan, MA, AAMET Advanced Practitioner, email@example.com, 802-533-9277