Our minds become our best friends when we’re struggling.
The reason is, we think we can solve our problems on the level of the mind. We may not consciously realize this, but the truth is that we go back and forth in thoughts in order to analyze and find a solution to our problems.
Before being introduced to meditation more than five years ago, I remember isolating myself from people whenever I faced a break up, issue at work or any emotional problem.
It seemed that isolation worked for me because it allowed me to have private time with my mind. I perceived any interruption to my thinking process as the ultimate hindrance to finding a solution.
During my first few months of practicing meditation, I would not go to class unless I was in a peaceful state of mind. I noticed this behavior in others as well when I started teaching meditation. So many people would cancel because they were going through difficult times in their lives. When I asked them why they didn’t meditate during their suffering, they told me they were too busy trying to solve the problem.
They believed there were more important things to do than just sit around staring into nothingness.
While I had originally agreed with their sentiments, it wasn’t long before I realized that meditating during suffering isn’t about sitting around staring into nothingness. I realized that meditation offered the exact solution I needed when things didn’t go my way.
Below are five benefits we can experience when we meditate during suffering:
1. We separate from the problem.
When we go through difficult times we tend to become one with both our thoughts and the problems we are facing. We become inseparable. Even when we’re not actually sitting and thinking about the problem, the destructive thoughts continue to flow.
When we meditate in difficult times, we find we are not the problem and we are not our thoughts. As long as we stay focused on our breath, we can separate from our life situations—even if only for five minutes.
2. We create space.
One reason we can’t seem to find solutions to our problems is because we’re too involved with thinking and analyzing. In order to solve anything in life, space is needed to see the bigger picture.
Meditation creates the space we need. After meditation, we notice that the thoughts in our minds have calmed down, hence we gain another perspective of what is really going on in our lives. Problems may not instantly be solved, but moving away from them can at least have us consider them differently.
3. We release negativity.
When I taught meditation I remember a few students who were going through difficult times bursting into tears during class. Because meditation allows destructive thoughts to resurface, it also allows us to face our problems. While facing our problems can be utterly painful, it is necessary and beneficial.
Anyone who has meditated before, knows that focusing on our breath for a long time can seem impossible. At some point—especially for new meditators—our thoughts come to the surface, bringing with them all of the associated hidden emotions. We might think we are “bad meditators,” but really, we are just releasing trapped emotions, thoughts and unspoken experiences.
4. We realize what really matters.
In a life where it seems impermanence and suffering rule, we know deep inside that the only thing that really matters is being happy. However, when we are in a painful state of mind, we believe that our problems are all that matter.
By meditating and focusing on our breath, we realize the true essence of ourselves and our existence. Our breath brings us back to our core—and only then can we recognize that our problems are nothing more than a fleeting experience.
5. We realize we are in control.
Dealing with problems can definitely feel arduous. We believe our issues control us, our minds and our lives. They make the final decision about how we feel and think. But this is only true if you think it is.
Meditation is a pivotal point in realizing that we are in control of our emotions and thoughts. If we can focus on our breath for even a few minutes and let go of what happened before, we can definitely learn to make this feeling last for hours, or even days.
Through my experience with meditation, I came to realize that meditation isn’t something that should be practiced only when we’re feeling good. A fruitful practice is one that can, and should, be done in any condition.
Don’t wait for the perfect state of being to meditate. Create it and magic will happen.
Author: Elyane Youssef
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Image: Nicole Mason/Unsplash