“Feelings are just visitors. Let them come and go.” ~Mooji
I once thought that the goal of meditation was to reach a state of constant positivity, a natural euphoria in which a person simply does not get angry or depressed.
I think that a lot of people begin practicing meditation thinking that their teacher has reached this euphoric state of being. I have learned, though, that these negative feelings are never permanently banished from anyone’s mind.
As someone that has been struggling with anxiety and depression disorders since early childhood, I turned to meditation as a teenager as a means of treatment.
I assumed that one day I would master meditation and never feel depressed or overly anxious again. I have been practicing on an off for eight years and have completed a meditation teacher certification course, and guess what. I am still human. I still get angry, depressed, and anxious.
What meditation has taught me is that there is no such thing as a negative feeling. All feelings are natural and necessary, no matter how unpleasant they may be.
Instead of resisting your feelings and the circumstances leading up to them, accept them. Only after you accept your feelings can you let go and move on. Resisting and stifling your feelings only keeps them with you longer.
I realized this after reading The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.
I tried to do everything that the book said to do. Making lists of things that I was grateful for was easy, and so was saying “thank you” all of the time. One thing that I could not agree with, though, was the author’s assumption that negative feelings are a result of being ungrateful.
Even on my worst days, I am grateful for the life that I have. I am grateful for who I am and the people around me. My negative feelings are caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain, and listing things that I am grateful for doesn’t help because I already know that my life is good.
For some people, depression comes the same way as a headache would, and accepting the feeling and letting it go is much more effective than trying to stifle, resist it, or act like it isn’t there.
Look at the Earth, for example. Should the Earth try to resist winter, simply because summer is more pleasant? Wouldn’t it serve the Earth better to accept winter, trusting that summer will come again?
If we weren’t meant to feel anything that is unpleasant, winter would not exist.
Nature is beautiful; think of blue skies, flowers, beaches, and hot summer days. Nature can also be scary. For example, volcanos, hurricanes, tornadoes, typhoons, thunder and lightning destroy towns and cities and kill thousands of people.
There is good and bad in everything and every person on this planet. You, like the Earth, are a Yin Yang. Do not feel bad about being angry or upset. Instead, celebrate the good things about you.
Accepting your feelings and letting them swallow you whole are two different things, though. That is where meditation comes in.
You sit there and focus on your breath, the sounds around you, and the present moment. If feelings of sadness arise, notice them, let them be, but do not attach yourself to the feeling.
Do not think, “I feel sad. I should not feel sad.” Instead, simply let the feeling exist, and before you know it, it will be gone. You are not your thoughts and feelings; they are simply experiences. Just because it is happening in your mind that doesn’t mean that it is a part of you.
Before I came to realize all of this, I felt bad about myself for not being able to reach this superhuman state of constant positivity that a lot of yoga and meditation teachers seem to purposely project in order to glorify their practice and attract new customers.
Your teachers get angry and upset sometimes, too; some of them just don’t want you to know it. The standard of constant positivity that I was trying to reach actually hindered my progress and made me feel worse after a meditation session.
If you are experiencing this, stop trying to be perfectly positive. It’s impossible. There’s no reason to resist your “negative” feelings, or feel bad for having them. You are a Yin Yang, as we all are—and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Photo by David Goehring