We may think meditation will improve us, but it’s really about accepting ourselves as we are right now.
When we start to meditate or to work with any kind of spiritual discipline, we often think that somehow we’re going to improve, which is a subtle aggression against who we really are. It’s a bit like saying, “If I jog, I’ll be a much better person.” “If I had a nicer house, I’d be a better person.” “If I could meditate and calm down, I’d be a better person.” . . .
But lovingkindness—maitri—toward ourselves doesn’t mean getting rid of anything. Maitri means that we can still be crazy, we can still be angry. We can still be timid or jealous or full of feelings of unworthiness. Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we are already. The ground of practice is you or me or whoever we are right now, just as we are.
Maybe the fundamental delusions are
1. that we're not okay, and
2. that we can be someone else.
Trouble is, the culture tells us we're not "normal," and the psychiatric establishment pedals the idea of getting rid of that crazy mind. Psychotropic medications do indeed change you at a fundamental level, the very activity of the brain. They are meant to change you, your energy, your emotional responsiveness, your impulses, and they do. They affect the same creativity that can express itself in hallucinations or voices. What to do?
Meditate, I think. Just sitting I learned to see my emotions rise and fade, see how sometimes they were fueled by my elaborate thought-trails, and sometimes just arose for no reason at all. Learned (slowly, slowly) that I could sit still and not say a thing and not act on strong emotions. That I could say to a bad memory, I don't want to go there now. That I could choose when to act crazy.
As for my personal life, I am thinking about that very small dose of Seroquel that has been helping me sleep. I am in a phase of profound physical healing right now, nine months since the transplant, three months since any infection, though my ordinary herpes is manifesting in cold sores, result of all the heat and light of July. Not the moment to make a significant change.
If you read this far, you deserve a treat. Here it is.