Meditation and Overcoming the Cult of Positivity

in Silver Bloggers28 days ago (edited)

I normally do not set out to write anything that will be positive or inspirational. I often think that we are inundated with a sort of toxic positivity.

However, it seems ubiquitous. I am referring to people trying to look on the bright side of my life before they even have a clue about the dark side. For that matter, people looking at the bright side of their own lives can be toxic also.

So far, so bad in terms of writing about positivity.

img_0.4268762826820687.jpg Photo is from bragachtal on pixabay.com

Focusing on the Positive can be Dangerous

Often people don't realize that by focusing on the positive they might be ignoring real danger signs in their lives. They might not be taking a realistic view. And probably the most unexpected consequence of focusing on the positive is that it can, in some cases, lead to serious depression.

That probably sounds ironic, but it's true. When your first response to a negative thought is to try to bandaid a positive thought over it, that is a recipe for depression. Why? Because you are not really dealing with either the immediate problems or the underlying feelings that gave you a negative view in the first place.

Acknowledge How You Feel

One important thing I have learned from years of coping with depression is that I am healthiest when I freely admit, both to myself and others, that I am feeling bad. In fact the sooner I admit this, the less bad I end up feeling. I think a large part of depression is trying to hide from the negativity.

Embrace all Your Parts

So, my positive thought, ironically, is that we should embrace all of ourselves, even the part of ourselves that is like Eeyore from Winnie-the-Pooh. Until we find all of our parts to be lovable, we really love none of our parts.

There is a poem by Rumi called "The Guesthouse," which is excellent. It is about mindfulness. Rumi was a 13th century Sufi mystic poet. This is the poem:


The Guesthouse by Rumi (13th century)

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Rumi is Relevant 800 Years Later

What I like about this poem is that, although it is ancient, it is just as relevant now. It illustrates the concept of mindfulness in a succinct way.

I have had clients come to me and say they "cannot meditate" because they cannot quiet the voices in their heads. I am not referring to schizophrenic voices. I mean just the various different parts of themselves.

Not Knowing How to Meditate

When a client says this to me, I find it to be a great starting point because it shows me that they don't understand mindfulness meditation. Not understanding is a great start to anything.

The key is being vulnerable in your lack of understanding. When my clients demonstrate that they don't understand something, but they are candid with me about it, I can help them to come to an increased understanding. This is not because I know everything (that is just a side benefit). Ha! I actually often think that each day I am alive serves to show me how little I know because I learn how much more there is to know. At the same time, what I know often fades just a little even as I struggle to learn more.

Start Where You Are

My point, thought, is that when a client tells me they cannot meditate because their minds are too busy, I understand that they don't realize that this is the whole point. You sit with your mind in the state that it is. Your mind is that guesthouse of which Rumi so eloquently spoke.

You sit with all the feelings inside. The mindfulness is realizing that you have all of these different worlds inside of you. You might have anger, joy, sadness, grief, etc. They all live there, sometimes for a brief moment, and sometimes for years.
Mindfulness is acknowledging their presence and allowing them to exist inside you in peace. The strange side effect that serial meditators come to find is that, sometimes, by accepting that Anxiety or Rage will not give you peace, you eventually get peace.

This does not happen immediately. Also, it is not easy to sit with anxiety or rage. However, it is a little easier to sit with these emotions, fully accepting them than to run around all day trying to get away from them. We cannot run away from ourselves. I know. I have tried. For years. It won't work. If you figure out a way, let me know, but I have not found a way.

Transcendental Meditation vs. Mindfulness Meditation

Some people who find mindfulness meditation very challenging take up transcendental meditation instead. Some people do not realize that there is more than one type of meditation.

Transcendental meditation is, for someone like me, a little more relaxing, and a little easier. You come up with a mantra, which is basically just a sound. The classic one is "ohm," which has a meaning, but the important part for the meditation is the sound. Then you chant the mantra over and over, varying the sound and keep at it for about 20 minutes. This triggers a trance state in your body and it is profoundly calming. It gets easier with practice, and I have read it recommended that we do this twice per day although I have rarely managed to be so regular about it.

Conclusion

Well, I did not set out to write about meditation, but that is where it ended up. I honestly believe that meditation, whether mindfulness or transcendental, is a route to inner peace for most people. Maybe it is better to say increased inner peace because I know that people get frustrated when they meditate and still feel angry, anxious, or upset. It takes time to experience improvements.

What was unexpected to me as I have read about mindfulness meditation over the years is how much it has been proven to help people, not just with psychological problems. People with a variety of physical ailments have shown dramatic improvement from regular mindfulness meditation. I find that fascinating because it is a relatively painless, non-invasive, and inexpensive intervention.


DreemPort Logo designed by the amazing @jimramones!

Sort:  

Thank you for the insightful post, I have to agree positive thinking isn't always a good way to go. It has lead me and many of my friends into the trap of being used or taken advantage of.

Now I shall meditate on my negative emotions and chronic grumpiness.

The glass is half empty, so imma get a refill.

Thank you for your comment. It made me smile. I think I need a refill also!

Always happy to be of service! I shall join you for round 2

Love, love, love the Rumi quote. And this insight:

When your first response to a negative thought is to try to bandaid a positive thought over it, that is a recipe for depression.

And this:

people looking at the bright side of their own lives can be toxic also.

What a bold and refreshing topic. I highly approve of this message! Thank you @harlowjourney!

Thank you. I appreciate your kind words. I really like the Rumi poem also (obviously, I suppose). It has stayed with me for years. Also, I have found that it is easier to be more positive when I give myself room to feel my negative emotions. It's perhaps counter-intuitive.

Very good post but as a #dreemportchallenge, it would be more suited in ThoughtfulDailyPost Community.

Thank you so much! I completely agree. Sadly, for some reason, I cannot join that community. Is it because I am new to Hive? I don't know. I press the join button, and am unsuccessful.

I thought my thoughts would also be relevant to silver bloggers, since I am one, and am very sorry if I am off topic. That was not my intention.

Thanks again for your thoughts and observations.

@harlowjourney

You should be able to join my community. And thank you @hive-106316 for the kind reminder. Harlow is indeed new to HIVE but a good soul! Harlow... here is the link to my community... Please try again, my friend!!

https://peakd.com/c/hive-109288/about

Thank you. I really appreciate it. I can't explain why the link doesn't work. I did try again now and I tried several times previously. There are some communities I cannot join. Is it because I am new? Is it because I am using Ecency? I don't know. I assumed some communities might have a membership restriction.

I am quite technical, so my ability to press "join" is reasonably sound. Lol.

Thanks again for your kind words!

@harlowjourney

I have been trying to get in touch with you. If you'd like, please click the image below; I think we may be able to help you!!

I did enjoy the blog but it landed in the wrong community. Wish you well @harlowjourney and hope to see a Silver Bloggers kind of post in our community soon🌻

what is a Silver BLoggers kind of post?

 24 days ago (edited) 

This blog was was also suitable, but was a challenge from another community as per our comment - as it is a #dreemportchallenge post, it should have been posted in ThoughtfulDailyPost Community who run that challenge.
We were warned about allowing challenges from other communities being published in ours as it is not the correct thing to do.
As per our description:
The Silver Bloggers’ community brings together young-at-heart kindred spirits and younger 'old souls'. The golden threads, in addition to a love of blogging and photography, are –

a keenness to learn more about blockchain and crypto – we’re not digital natives – most of us were born before the PC was imagined; we ask “stoopid” questions

a compulsion to share our life experiences for storage on the blockchain for our children and children’s children

musings and memories of lives lived – the happy and the sad, the long and the short

planning for life beyond formal work – from leisure and travel to second (or third…) careers, hobbies that can supplement pensions and just what keeps “un” working people busy

From time to time, we will run challenges. To suggest and/or run a challenge, please tag one of the administrators or moderators with your idea.
Unfortunately I did not realise this was a new user so when @wesphilbin responded, I unmuted the post and promoted it on Twitter, in my personal feed and curated it for OCD as it could be very helpful.
Hope to see you in the community some time @shadowspub.

I read in the community (and others) but rarely think to actually post in them.

I've unmuted the post as it could actually help some of our Silver Bloggers. Thank you @wesphilbin 😊

Nice to see you posting in #truth. I would like to let you know that we have this week a contest you can participate in, related to ''truth'' by the way. Check it here please : DCC tag contest - Let's support #truth.

 27 days ago  

I totally agree with you that meditation is a great tool for inner peace, and it costs nothing but taking a little time out of our busy days.

Isn't it wonderful? Do you still practice TM? I have been working on making it a practice because I have heard very good things.

 27 days ago (edited) 

I must admit ever since my 90 year old Mom fractured her ankle and I'm on duty 24/7, I've neglected it although I now need it more than ever before as I suddenly have BP issues. It helped me get off anti-depressants which was why I went for classes in the first place. I felt amazing when I was practicing it regularly, but still use it when I feel stressed.
@ericvancewalton has published 2 awesome books about meditation, take a peek at his blog when you have a moment. I have both books and they have also helped me greatly!

I am sorry to hear about your Mom. I have some idea what that is like because my mother passed away a couple of years ago and had dementia and strokes the last few years of her life. It makes life very difficult, both emotionally and physically. Maybe this is like a reminder for you to return to TM although I imagine it might be challenging to make even a small amount of time for yourself. It sounds exhausting. I will check out what you mentioned. Thank you.

 26 days ago  

I started TM last night so thank you for your post which has prodded me, don't want to fall in the claws of that awful pit of depression again!
Thank you @harlowjourney 🤗

Congratulations @harlowjourney! You have completed the following achievement on the Hive blockchain and have been rewarded with new badge(s) :

You received more than 800 upvotes.
Your next target is to reach 900 upvotes.

You can view your badges on your board and compare yourself to others in the Ranking
If you no longer want to receive notifications, reply to this comment with the word STOP

Check out the last post from @hivebuzz:

Hive Power Up Month - Feedback from Day 20

So far, so bad in terms of writing about positivity.

Favorite part. LOL. I'm all about mindfulness meditation. I used to hate it. Until I suddenly found that it was actually working. Now, well, I don't go a day without it.

That is awesome. I have been more consistent with transcendental meditation. However, I have to confess that it would not hurt me to renew my meditation habit.

Few days ago I didn't agree with this. I saw it and I wanted to use it for a contest entry

But the fact that I didn't agree with your views made me procrastinate

this evening, I decided to come again and read through, probably to be proven wrong

It was timely I must confess

This is because there was someone in my inbox asking me to do something and I was angry about it

few minutes ago I would have acted cool and let it slide

But since I was digesting each Paragraph of this post while responding to that message, I knew I didn't have to act cool if I wasn't feeling cool about what he did

So I gave it to him in plain white and black, how I felt and the feeling was different

We really do not have to hide the negative emotions that emanates from us

We need to accept and express them if need be.

Thank you very much for these thoughts, it saved my ass this evening.

I appreciate your comment a lot. Thank you. First, I think it is really important and good to have a dialogue when we have a different point of view. That's how we learn. So, if you had told me a few days ago that you disagreed with me and why, I would have liked to hear about it, even if it can sometimes be challenging to hear criticism.

However, that brings me to my second point, which is that reading/hearing views different from our own helps us to understand and shape our own perspectives. Sometimes, I have found that the reason someone's viewpoint irritates me is because it challenges me in a way I need to be challenged. Other times, I just disagree, of course.

I am glad that you were able to experience your negative emotions and stand up for yourself. I believe that it is always important to acknowledge to ourselves how we feel -- positive or negative. It is not always necessary to act on these feelings. Sometimes, we can feel angry or sad privately and then decide to take some action and other times, we might decide that just acknowledging our feelings in our minds or in writing might be enough.

I think when we realize that we have a right to our feelings and that how we respond is a choice, we start to make peace with ourselves and with the world. At the same time, I recognize that some people are in bad situations and may only be able to acknowledge their own feelings inside their own minds for now. That is sad, but it's a start -- realizing that, in our minds, at least, we are free.

Thank you for your thought-provoking comment. Please feel free to let me know in the future if you disagree with me, even if you continue to disagree. Some people get upset about that sort of thing. As long as people are constructive and not too harsh, I like the food for thought.

(I have been writing essay length comments all day. Time for some exercises in being less verbose!)

It's weird, but I don't generally find that others' viewpoints irritate me too much, even when they are completely opposite to my own. Especially when they are opposite of my own. I LOVE being challenged in general. I think there are times when I might get annoyed or bothered, like if someone's opinion happened to affect an outcome I was trying to achieve. But I think overall, over time, it's just fewer and further between that I actually get annoyed or bothered.

And for me, at least, I honestly believe that it has come from the very basic understanding that I really actually know nothing, in the end. And truth tends to change form over time. And that has only come from discovering that what I used to know, or think I knew, ended up being rather incomplete and incorrect after all. So, the lesson from that is: what I think I know now, could very well be something I discover later that I was quite incorrect about it, or incomplete about it. It has happened enough in the past, where I was quite sold on an idea, only to discover that the idea itself was ultimately incomplete or flawed in some way. Religion being the first of many flawed belief systems I subscribed to, where the power to obtain and achieve and manifest somehow existed OUTSIDE of myself, rather than within.

So the lesson is, if I fully throw myself at something I fully believe in, it does not make that thing intrinsically more true. It just makes my feeling about it stronger. And perhaps I might then manifest a reality around it to make it more true for me. But with more evolution, even that truth might find itself slightly obsolete over time.

 27 days ago  Reveal Comment