I have been meditating for over ten years. Meditation has definitely changed me. It can change you too, if you’re sincere about your practice. No one can tell you how much you’ll change. Everyone is different. Some people give up the practice. Some do it sporadically. Some do it regularly, but with little enthusiasm or interest, so little change occurs.
For that reason, I can only relate how it has changed me. I noticed it while watching the season finale of Bates Motel this past Monday night. The dramatic action was great, but the story line has a sick and twisted edge to it. By the end of the show, I realized I may be done with the series. I won’t include any spoilers. I’ll just say that the darkness – including the literal shadowy darkness of the set – has become too dark for me. It disturbs me at a soul level that I can’t explain, but can no longer ignore.
It kind of bums me out because it was my favorite show! The next day I went to social media to see if any other fans had the same reaction. Nope. Some people were disappointed with the new direction of the plot, but no one else was disturbed by the subject matter or wanted to quit the show. And that makes sense. I am the one who has changed, not the show. But it made me wonder – what shows am I going to be able to watch now? Cartoons?
Another change I’ve noticed recently is that it’s harder for me to feel “revenge joy” at the pain of people who “deserve” it. A friend of mine told me that this girl – who has been really ugly to us – almost got arrested But, as he was telling me the story, I just felt sad. Her father is in prison. Her mother is nowhere to be found. And her grandmother is a mess. Yes, this young lady is awful, but I imagine she’s also in pain. I wish I could fix it. I wish she felt loved. I wish everyone around her hadn’t let her down. I hope she can stop the cycle and avoid getting pregnant. I think I was a buzz kill for my friend because I couldn’t see any humor in it. Where do I fit in?
And that leads me to the third big change I’ve noticed lately – dating. The disaster of my last relationship forced me deeper into my practice. Through that deepening, I emerged as a stronger and even more dedicated spiritual being. Because I left my former spiritual home in order to avoid interacting with him, I found a new one that has led me to a new path. It is a Buddhist temple; and, although I’ve always been curious about Buddhism, I am now studying it with a passion I haven’t felt for years.
That passion has led me to notice all the ways I have compromised myself in order to date in this world. I’ve never really been on the same page spiritually as the men I’ve dated. I’ve ended up feeling like a counselor or support system for them. I’ve found myself navigating their anger or managing my own negative reactions to whatever drama was taking place. I’ve found myself compromising my own needs and desires just to try and stay with them. My practice really helped me navigate this minefield, which is great. But it was like treading water. It wasn’t swimming – or real living. I really want to become enlightened, help others to do the same, and help make the world a nicer place in which to live. Yes, you can have a relationship with someone who is not spiritual, or who does not practice what they preach. But it will require a great deal of your own emotional resources to do so. And it will likely slow your own spiritual progress.
So, unless, by some chance, I meet someone who is just as committed to spiritual ideals and social change as me, I may need to stay single. This is probably why monks and nuns take the vows that they do. Other things become a distraction. I’m lucky that my job affords me lots of time to pursue my interests. Now it’s up to me to eliminate the other distractions that have kept me on a treadmill, running hard, but running in place. There’s no one to blame but myself. I bought into the notion that I had to find a man in order to be happy.
Time is precious and our lives are even more precious. How we spend the limited amount of time we are given determines whether or not we get to experience heaven – which is a state of mind, not a place. Meditation causes you to wake up. And waking up is a wonderful thing, but read the fine print. It’s also kind of awkward and confusing. It can be painful for yourself and others as you start to let go of things you thought you could never let go of – things you thought you needed in order to be happy. But as we let go, something much better awaits us – something that cannot be described, only experienced. The heaven we seek is within. Nothing outside ourselves will ever bring lasting happiness. The things of the world disappoint, change, or, eventually, are lost. But life is a beautiful adventure when we live it full-out.
Peace and joy,