The long term health benefits of meditation and yoga are known, namely greater happiness, lower blood pressure, and less stress. What is lesser known is the process to get to these states, just like any other process that asks of you to pay attention and commit.
Quite honestly, the more we practice meditation and yoga, the more we feel. And for some, this can be very uncomfortable.
The idea behind these practices is not that we feel less. The idea behind them is learning to see our reaction to our feelings.
As we engage in our practice, the oceans of the mind can become turbulent, and what has been below the surface can rise up.
The trick is to recognize and to allow what is there, to be aware of what is there under the surface and use the vehicle of our breath, of movement through asana, and the willingness to keep coming back to the sensation of the body to recognize what is truly real. To watch the feelings, to even engage as needed but to not drown in the sea.
For many, it is just when they get to the turbulence, usually after several weeks or even several months, that they stop their practice, “it doesn’t work” or “it’s not right for me.” This turbulence can show up also interpersonally and in the environment around us.
While yoga and meditation are traditionally and ultimately goalless practices, there is nothing wrong with seeking benefit within them. Meditation and yoga are designed to bring a person to what is important, what is real, what is most present in the moment. Having a life raft while navigating the sea of this tradition is also essential.
Yoga and meditation give us the opportunity to observe and be with the life within us, which is ultimately the life outside of us. Through these practices we can observe our internal responses while moving and sitting. And from this experience learn, and change what we need to change inside and in our relationships. It is through this change that our stress lessens, our blood pressure lowers and happiness starts to rise.
When feeling start to happen or as one meditation teacher says (tongue in cheek), you start to “feel better”, it is helpful to get the input from a teacher, or within the community you learn best from and take a class. We are after all connected, we all experience feelings and emotions and with that the challenges that come with being human.
May you in your practice today have the support you need to navigate the waters of your humanity. May your practice be sustained and supported so that you can continue in the process of health and happiness…it only takes one happy person, one healthy person to make a difference in your environment, the more you can tend to this, the better the world will be.