photoI’ve begun my meditation workshop series, and I’m participating in my studio’s 40 Days program.  Not only am I doing my own exercises I designed for my workshop, but I’ve been upping my meditation sessions to twice a day.  A lot of space has suddenly appeared in my life.  At first, it was energizing, peaceful.  Then, about three days ago, I was hit with this overwhelming sadness.

The “normal” human reaction (eh, at least mine was for my entire life) is to find the source and squash it.  I had a nudging of a feeling of the source, but I really didn’t want to address it. It was if my body was pushing me in this direction that I was too scared to go.  There was this heaviness in my chest, these pained facial expressions would appear on my face.  I moped around asking myself, “Are you sure?  Maybe it’s something else.” and no answer came.  Just silence.

This heavy fog of deep, inexplicable sadness hung over me.  I would stop and feel the physical sensations of sadness: the weight of it, the feeling of tears down my face, the painful burning at the center of my chest.  I would feel relief for a time, but then these feelings would show up again.  I watched my own desire to numb these feelings arise: the desire to drink heavily, to sleep all day, to cancel all of my classes, or to eat to the point of illness.  I found myself staring into my open refrigerator with the realization that none of these things would take away my feelings.  It would just postpone them for a time.  I didn’t want to eat, drink, or sleep until the point of numbness anymore.

I stopped meditating for three days, and those looming sensations faded.  The old me would have made the assumption that meditation was the cause of the unpleasantness, and I would have told myself to stop sitting, stop inquiring, and stop feeling.  In small moments, I would hear myself quietly urging, “Come back.”

This morning I came back.  I meditated.  When I finished, I jolted up, and I did the thing I did not want to do.  Then, I did about five other things I had been putting off as well.  Meditation did not suddenly give me the strength or make my life easier.  It granted me the awareness of my own coping mechanisms, and once you have seen your own coping mechanisms (whether it’s procrastination, eating, drinking, or shopping) for what they really are, you just are left with a choice.  This choice is not easy to make, but it’s very simple:  to feel the discomfort of change or the pain of staying the same.