Many people believe that meditation will bring peace and tranquility, and at a certain point, when we are freed from the distress of our discomfort, we do achieve the equanimity which many of us long for.
When I began meditating many years ago I was taught that the mind and its thoughts and reactions was the source of all problems, and practicing meditation would free me of its influences. I spent hours in sitting meditation, working hard to eliminate all thoughts. I became very good at being numb, but I did not achieve inner peace. The more numb I became to the insistent chatter in the brain, the more anxiety I began to feel until I finally experienced full blown panic attacks.
I now believe that the real secret of meditation is in learning a mindful approach to our discomfort. When we feel emotional or energetic discomfort we often reach for something palliative to relieve the discomfort. Food, drugs, alcohol – all of these are methods of reducing the level of discomfort in the body that triggers distress. Mindful breathing and focus can help us to befriend the anxieties and emotional triggers to go THROUGH them and release them rather than go BEYOND them as I was taught years ago.
The breath holds the secret to befriending our discomfort. Many of us hold our breath, either on the inhale or the exhale, in a fear of letting go to the experiences in the body. This is a learned reaction to stress or unpleasant emotions, and learning to regulate the breath through deep inhalation and slow exhalation can help to decrease the anxieties around our discomfort and slow our reactions to it.
This is coming up for me personally because transiting Uranus is hitting a sensitive system in my own chart. Uranus transits are electrical in nature and can create a disruption in the body’s magnetic fields, triggering a sudden release of stored memories and emotional reactions. Rather like a thunderstorm that appears out of nowhere, the disruptive force of Uranus serves to liberate stuck energies in an emotional storm that can be quite uncomfortable. But trying to put these forces into a box is counterproductive – not only is it virtually impossible, it also creates additional force that causes an even more extreme reaction when they later emerge.
Still, thunderstorms can be frightening and scary with their noise, their lightning and their hail, but the air is never cleaner than after a storm. The storms that rage inside of the human experience can have the same effect and help us to clear out the psychic cobwebs and debris, and meditation is the key to finding the stillness at the heart of the storm as we use our breathe to release the detritus that is left behind.