“Whenever I sit in meditation, feelings of past hurts appear. Or it is anger I feel, or fears of all kinds,” a woman said. “Can you teach me a meditation that will get me away from those messy feelings and find peace?”
“Meditation does not open escape routes for you, but closes them. Instead of helping you avoid reality, it helps you to see and honour it,” the sage replied. “For that, you have to observe the ways of the heart, the dance of your fear and the clamour of your desire. For the one who understands the movements of one’s heart, peace is the sure gift.”
(THE OCEAN IN THE DEWDROP – Awakening the Sage within, de Mello Publications, 2010, pg. 128)
People are motivated by different reasons to learn to meditate. One of them is to escape the pains and problems of life that affect them, so that with the help of meditation they would attain a becalmed state of mind that is unaffected by what happens around them. They would not feel angry when they are ill treated, they would not grieve when they lose something, or they would not feel the many unpleasant emotions that occur in daily life. The gift that is sought an inoculation against pain, a spiritual anesthesia that would make them invulnerable in life.
This would be a serious misconception about the purpose of meditation which should in fact open us to life, even make us vulnerable, and give us the strength, wisdom and clarity to face life and its hardships with dignity and courage. Awareness does not protect people from reality, it propels them in the direction of life. And yet while awareness shines a light on all we fear to see, it also lights up paths we never saw were there.