I went to my first ever meditation class tonight. It was really good. I’m going to go back next week. I won’t go into too much detail right now because I really need to go to bed and I’ve been staring at my computer for so long today already.
Mindfulness is all about acceptance. You aren’t supposed to judge your feelings, you’re just supposed to notice them. Be aware that they’re around, and choose to feel something more positive, like the air hitting your nostrils for example.
I can see how this is good in theory, and seriously, the guy leading the class is really, really calm. Doubtless he is also profoundly accepting. But in practice I have a hard time with it. For two reasons.
First – and this one’s a little easier than the second – acceptance can be a slippery slope into complacency. I don’t think that point really requires further explanation.
Second, I feel really resistant to becoming an accepting person because I worry that it will lead others to invalidate my pain. This may seem silly to a reader who’s always been validated in their lives, but I grew up in a house where every strong feeling I had was minimized, neutralized, disbelieved, and sacrificed for the sake of social niceties. As a result of course I had a few boundary problems, and bled at people to make them take me seriously.
You can see how acceptance is in conflict with this deeply sown need for validation. I want to be accepting, I do. But I’m worried I’ll disappear if people don’t believe that I’ve suffered. I feel like I need to have ever-ready evidence of it. How fucked up is that?
The guy leading the class is in a wheelchair; his suffering is highly visible so maybe that’s why acceptance works for him. I don’t look fucked up anymore, I look like a healthy non-profit person with a graduate degree, which is exactly what I am now. No one’s intimidated by me, nor do they feel sorry for me. I remind no one of a wounded bird.
And maybe the other people in the class have a strong sense of self, I don’t know. Probably not though.
So at present I kind of don’t believe in mindfulness, for these and other reasons. But more than being afraid it doesn’t work, I’m afraid it will work. So far I’ve only been to one session, and like I said, I’m going back next week so I’ll keep you posted.