If you haven’t already read my previous Blogs: “The 8 limbs of Yoga” & “To meditate or not to meditate… that is the question (Part 1)”, I suggest you read them before continuing this post.
Dhyana, meditation or contemplation is the 7th limb of the 8 limbs of yoga. This post is called ‘Road to Dhyana’ because meditation is hard to achieve; it is a long and arduous journey. Sometimes, I can fully meditate and other times I am just practicing Dharana (concentrating) which is the step that comes before Dhyana.
I started meditating before I even knew I was meditating. As a young child I would sit in the sun in my mum’s beautiful garden with my back against the garage wall and… just sit and observe my thoughts without getting caught up in it. Sometimes I would get distracted by surrounding noises or a particularly interesting cloud, but for the most part I would just sit and observe. Then somewhere along the way- around my teenage years, I lost my ability to just sit and meditate. I had to always be doing something; with school, work and a busy social life there was little time to just sit.
But like everything else in my life, I found meditation again in my time of need. Whilst laying in a hospital bed in Honduras my ability to temporarily ‘slip away’ provided me with some relief from the terrifying situation that I was in and the pain that I should have been experiencing.
You see, after my accident I was taken first to a public hospital and then to a private hospital and finally to another private hospital. While the public hospital was beyond comprehension, it did not cause me too much trauma as I was there for only a few hours. However the second hospital was one hell of a traumatic experience, one in which I needed to escape from.
I lay in the hospital bed for 4 days in a foreign country with the only person who could speak English constantly telling me that I needed to give them money before I lost my leg. They refused me antibiotics for any infections and no pain killers were administered. My ankle and lower leg were a big as my thigh as my bones in my leg had bowed. I was scared, lonely and at first, in a lot of pain.
Luckily, I had meditation. Meditation provided me with temporary relief through diverting my attention and distracted me from the source of my pain by allowing me to focus on something else. My real pain and suffering thoughts and emotions were held in abeyance. I had learnt how to not give them any attention- to tune them out. My attention was elsewhere, and the relief was palpable.
Of course this isn’t a forever‐state; it’s temporary. Relief is lovely but, by its very nature, it’s short‐lived. I am in no way endorsing anyone to use meditation to escape their pain or suffering. For me I was able to use meditation to provide me with temporary relief from a certain situation that I knew would not last forever.
For those people out there reading this and thinking “Great! I can meditate my problems away” think again! These problems, issues, emotions, or pain keep on arising because they need your attention. They show up to be healed, blessed, and transformed but when you’re using spiritual practice to seek relief you’re doing the exact opposite. Meditation‐as‐relief is an escape strategy and not a healthy way to deal with you problems. When you seek to escape thoughts and emotions you’re not dealing with them and instead you’re denying them what they need to transform.
Instead I suggest that you use meditation to help understand it, come to terms with it and perhaps find ways in which you can begin heal it. Dr Ian Gawler of the Ian Gawler Foundation states that “No matter where in your life you want to see improvement, meditation can help. It does not matter what age you are, your culture or beliefs; meditation is for everyone and can provide you with great benefits, many of which have been scientifically confirmed. This simple, yet powerful mind training tool, can bring long-term improvement to your health, well-being, relationships and career.” Mindbody Mastery. I can certainly testify that meditation has brought long-term improvement to my health and well-being and I am starting to use it for personal growth and to improve my relationships and career.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
(May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all).