The crappy meditator

Meditation has been a part of my path for a long time. I’m supposed to be good at it – I’ve run workshops and groups, I even went so far as to write a book, and recently I’ve been involved in the Contemplative Druidry project. The truth is that in recent months, I’ve been bloody useless when it comes to meditation. I’ve not made regular time for it, and when I do, mostly what happens is that either I obsess over things I should be doing, or I stare vacantly into space.

Meditation is not a goal in its own right. It is a tool to use. The important thing is not the sitting around looking all spiritual and Druidic, the important thing is what you can do with the experience. Sometimes, it isn’t the right tool for the job. There are things you cannot fix with meditating, and things better tackled by other means. For me at the moment, walking and rest are more productive in terms of fixing my life and my inner state, than meditation is. As a result, I’m mostly not meditating, and I’m also not beating myself up for this. There is more to life than contemplation.

I tend to seize up if I sit still for long. Thus any meditation requiring me not to move for more than about five minutes is out, and any space where I can’t seek relief in stretching and careful fidgeting is also out. I can sit with the Contemplative group because no one minds if I need to wriggle now and then.

I have very little focus. This is a symptom of wider issues, not a cause. I will not heal my lack of focus by trying to force my mind to focus. I need to work through what’s going on, and I need the space in which to flail about randomly. Right now, I cannot afford mental discipline, I need the benefits of unravelling. I also need my autonomy and the right to self determine, so am likely to give short shrift to anyone who thinks they know better than me what I should be doing right now.

I can’t afford to be working with high levels of awareness. My body hurts, and I need to ration my consciousness of that or I just end up crying a lot. I can’t process all the things that are issues in one go, I need to deal with them gently, and this means I need to be cautious about entering contemplative states in the first place. Overwhelming myself isn’t helpful.

I’m not doing any of the more creative meditation work either – partly because I don’t have the concentration, partly because emotional unwellness and this kind of work do not go well together. Meditation isn’t perfectly safe, and if you don’t feel safe about doing it, that’s a very clear sign to stay away.

The spiritual life is part of life. That means if life gives you things you can’t work through meditatively, there is no failure in going another way. If too much awareness is unbearable, it is ok to move gently. If you have no concentration, beating yourself up with an aim to achieving focus is not a good plan. Meditating is not the be all and end all, there are times for all things, and times not to step up.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “The crappy meditator

  • contemplativeinquiry

    Just when I got your post I also had incoming from some people called Non-Duality Press. They were doing a book review that included this: “Some of us may at some time have forced ourselves to meditate, while others enjoy it. ‘Yoga in the Kashmir Tradition’ takes a different approach to both these scenarios: A meditation practice may become part of the rhythm of our day. We may find ourselves naturally drawn to the silence. However, if we impose the practice on ourselves through will and discipline, we will end up with another rigidity rather than freedom. If we feel something lacking after missing a practice, then it has become merely a habit”. Total down-time is part of the process (unless even that thought becomes annoying!)

  • asuburbandruid

    Hello Nimue,

    I have always veered towards the contemplative and thanks to having a father who has gone down the Buddhist path for decades, I was brought up meditating. I use it a great deal in my daily life. However, like you I from time to time suffer from depression, especially if I have been overdoing it, been physically ill or have been surrounded by negativity from other people. I find it incredibly hard to meditate when the depression gets the better of me. However, switching off a troublesome mind can be a great help in dealing with a bout of depression. I use guided meditations when I am not feeling the best – very therapeutic. Particular favourite is Phillip Carr-Gom’s ‘Wild Wisdom’. I hope you are feeling better, walking and rest are great antidotes to depression and you don’t need me to tell you that walking in itself is a great form of meditation.

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