So back to the question of meditation and mindfulness…
Due to the complexity and craziness of our current day and age, the conditions in which many of these ancient practices originated no longer hold true for us. I believe we must learn some very important foundational roots before entering into our mind in the way our earlier cultures did. A good friend of mine Chris Dierkes, a former Anglican priest turned soul reader and Reiki practitioner, says:
“Mindfulness type practices largely come from monastic culture where life is much more regularized and pacified than our society. I don’t think that’s been considered seriously enough in its larger social application in the West. Also, in the traditional form, first the student learned ethical practices and only later meditative ones. We’ve reversed the order (if ethics is even discussed at all). This is also a major problem I think.”
He also observes:
“I would say that the mindfulness traditions, as a method, tend to emphasize observation and witnessing. They want to create some distance from things. Also, they want us to go deeply. I think of them like depth charges into the core. But as depth charges they tend to disturb the ocean floor where lots of creatures acclimated to the darkness live. These creatures unaccustomed to the light are sent flying up into the psyche. At this point mindfulness practices don’t have a way to engage with these creatures directly, on their own terms (or so I would argue). If there’s a corresponding process(es) to deal with the creatures of the darkness then it can work. Otherwise the admonition is to keep observing and detaching which can actually lead to dissociation.”
This is bang on what I’ve come to observe in my practice. Those with troubled childhoods, and/or lots of trauma whether in the form of injury and/or abuse, or simple lack of emotional security and the basics elements of love, have tendencies to be either hyper-aroused, but more often than not tend to live in a dissociated state disconnected from feeling and connection with their bodies, typically because the past trauma has made it such that the body has felt icky and not like a welcoming place to inhabit. If we have these little creatures, as Dierkes puts it, that haven’t shown their faces in a while and we bring them up too quickly and don’t have the capacity, nor foundational skill set to be with the onslaught of their hot messy energy, it can be a very scary place to be, so much so that we end up re-traumatizing ourselves, freaking out, and then shutting down our systems (our emotions and bodily sensations) even further. This is not the path to healing and mindfulness.
Here is the good news…
If we take some essential steps towards improving and building foundational layers, just as the martial artists do, we can heal our past wounds, become mindful, meditate, do yoga, Feldenkrais, whatever you wish!
To wrap this up and give you some tips on where to go next, if you find it challenging to feel and tap into your physical bodily sensations, or maybe you have a tendency to lash out to others with emotions that don’t match the situation at hand, or perhaps you shutdown and bottle up everything inside when things get tough, then you are a prime candidate for building foundational layers first. Even if you don’t fall into these categories, but you are uncertain if you are meditating “correctly” then I’d urge you to consider some basic groundwork skills so you can really tap into the mind with purity and presence.
We all have the capacity to evolve and re-wire our bodies and minds so they can be the best they can be – but first we need to sand the deck, wax the car and paint the fence. =)
If you’re interested in getting the tools you need to develop your mindfulness groundwork – check out my latest blog post 7 Tips to Help You Meditate. The post also includes a FREE audio exercise that will get you tuned into your body, your impulses, and your environment in a way that might be new to you – Click here to access it.