Meditation is a good thing

Meditation group was again very good. I left the meditation feeling quite a bit better than when I came in. It is really great to find something that makes me feel better instead of worse.

A lot of things that I try have the effect of putting me into trauma, and I am really wondering if that is worth it. For instance, going to the gym continues to be a nightmare, basically. I exercise, I experience body memories, I come home all upset and it takes me a long time to climb out of that hole. Yet I persist, in the hope that I will get used to the exercise and the body memories will diminish, or that having them is somehow helpful to me in the end.

Going to the women’s trauma group also brings up really bad memories. Is it worth it? I could get the same information in a book, and that probably wouldn’t activate my system in the same way. Still, they say it is helpful to go. Perhaps it is. I feel compelled to keep going as I have nothing else specifically for PTSD.

In the past, I have taken two-hour yoga classes and I’d come home and be dissociated. From yoga, which is supposed to be so calming and healthful. Discouraging.

What I need to know is whether it is best to try and avoid the body memories. I guess that would involve avoiding triggers, which for me is exercise.

If I don’t exercise at all I get depressed. And I know it is healthy to move your body. In fact, not using my body is just not an option. Sigh.

I feel as if I am trapped in a sticky web in this regard.

Tomorrow I am to talk to a therapy referral agency for therapists with sliding scales. I hope to God they can find me someone who knows some answers and can point me in the right direction.

Back to meditation. In meditation, it’s very possible that bad stuff comes up, especially when sitting for over an hour, as in this case. I do get that, but I’m doing my best not to go into any of that swirling darkness. I just let it pass. Bad emotions, I acknowledge, then let them (OK, encourage them to) float on by. This is not exactly kosher – we are to neither encourage or reject. I’m possibly rejecting a bit. But I feel that is necessary for me at the moment.

At times, I switched to Metta (loving kindness meditation) when I felt down or that I was getting into a dark kind of meditation. And I draw strength from being with other meditators. There is a very good, peaceful side of practice that I need to focus on and encourage. Also a belief that the mind in it’s natural state is luminous and clear – that is a good thing to be working towards.

Dharma talk
The talk was complex and the teacher was examining a long article. He encouraged us to devote ourselves to practice, and mentioned meditators who had been practicing for 20 years without results, because they kept switching practices. Like digging many wells, each just a few feet deep, and always quitting before they hit water.

He emphasized proper intention – the intention of equanimity, and of neither craving nor rejecting any particular state or thing.

Something about karma – how karma always involves intention to either harm or help.

What else? I seem to have forgotten the entire rest of the talk. I remember the image of the wells…Darn. I know it was good.

Oh yeah – we are to cultivate wholesome states of mind. There, that’s exactly what I was trying to do doing the practice.

And I felt really quite cheerful afterwards. I haven’t been cheerful much lately. That is definitely wholesome.

Art snagged from a site which does not give credit for the photo.

  1. Nechtan said:

    Hi Ellen,I think it is very wise to take stock every so often to re-evaluate things. You may even come to the conclusion that there are some activities you need to take a break from. It is good though that the meditation at least if bringing some comfort. With that in mind you might be able to find more of a balance.I have problem with exercise too and go through cycles of pushing myself too far and then not at all. Again its probably about finding the right balance where you are not getting all that negativity after it. I can see the point if long term it helps but sometimes we just don't see the long term benefits because the suffering because habitual.You are certainly not lacking in looking to improve your situation and that is very admirable. I hope a bit of that rubs off of me. ;)All the bestNechtan

  2. alice said:

    hi ellenkeep with the meditation if it makes you feel calm. i found when i tried it that my mind was racing. faster than normal. it was like i wanted to slow down but the mere act of putting myself into this state made it go faster than normal. almost like i was defying myself. and i didnt persist. youve found something peaceful, stay with that state. like the instructer said it could take years, yet anything thats meaningful will.x

  3. Susan said:

    oh, Ellen; I am sorry to hear that you are (stll) struggling – I do understand what you are saying. I also have experienced those body memories and the feeling that just about everything was a trigger for me. I wish that I could make it better for you (and everyone else who struggles with the triggers etc)…one thing to considar perhaps…I used to try to push myself but found that if I listened to my body/mind/spirit that sometimes I just needed to rest. A good resource for beginning to heal a bit (especially when resources are scarce) I found the workbook "Growing Beyond Survival" (you can find it on Amazon but if not let me know) to be a terrific basic instruction book on learning to deal/cope with triggers/dissoication and finding my way out of that dank place…Be blessed and at peace today. Susan

  4. Susan said:

    I posted some links for the Growing Beyond Survival workbook for PTSD on my page that I thought might be helpful…

  5. Ellen said:

    Thanks everyone for your wise comments.@Nechtan – Yes, balance is pretty important. From reading your blog Nechtan, it seems you face your biggest fear almost every single day – I find that inspiring – no need for inspiration from me.@Alice – Meditation is not totally easy…And feeling peaceful is actually not the reason you are supposed to meditate – it is more of a side effect. Your experience is normal – the point is to develop the skill of watching the mind do its thing, instead of being caught up in the content of the thoughts. If thoughts are racing, you could note that they are racing, and go back to the breath.Anyhoo, meditation isn't for everyone I guess. I will stick with the peaceful aspects I've found, thanks.@Susan – I expect it will take a while to learn how to calm down the body memories or hopefully eliminate them. Thanks, I'll check out that book.

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