The many gifts of meditation, and escaping life is not one of them

Meditation is not here to help us escape life.
Meditation is not here to help us avoid feelings and emotions.
It is because I have a regular meditation practice that I can lean on, that I know I can feel safe to feel all the emotions that humans are supposed to feel. The whole range of emotions, from anger to joy.


And that I will have the mindfulness, the awareness, the consciousness to catch myself when I’m falling back into my pattern, and to choose to respond differently.

To choose to respond with love instead of fear.

And that is one of the many gifts from meditation. It is divine grace.

This realization came through to me when an episode happened with my son during our online 1-week mantra meditation challenge for creativity this week.

The story began like this…

It started with something small. I asked my 5-year-old to make his bed, which he normally does anyway. But this morning he decided that he wanted to make my bed and not his. I’ve already made mine, so he undid what I did and made it again but refused to do his own bed.

One word led to another, I became very frustrated. I was feeling so fed up that no one was listening to me. It was definitely something inside me that got triggered by this small incident.

I admit that I was a bit harsh with my words at the beginning. I wanted him to do as I told but he didn’t, and I wanted him to show respect.

He started to get upset. I started to get upset. So I left the room, knowing full well that if I didn’t, I would say more hurtful words to further add damage to the situation.

As I was brushing my teeth and washing my face, I was still angry, but I started to contemplate how to move forward. I still needed to get him to take his breakfast and go to school. If I just left the situation as it was, we would just stay stuck.

So I was thinking to myself how I should proceed. What should I say or do to let him understand that respect is important to me?

For one moment, I thought, it would just be easier to use my dominance and power to tell him to do what I say. Afterall, that was very much the environment I grew up in. In Chinese culture, you never talk back to your parents or any elderlies. That would consider to be very disrespectful and a huge no-no in our culture. So as a kid, if an adult was shouting, whether it was at me or around me, I learned to shut my mouth and keep silent to stay out of trouble.

So I could yell at my son and told him to get on with going to school. But I knew that would only instill fear in him, and the effects would only be temporary (meaning he would only do what I said then but not later). It would be the opposite of what I intended. Trust me, it happened to me before so I learned my lesson.

How could I take this moment and turn it into a teaching opportunity as a parent?

Football was what came to mind. I’ve always told my son that we were a team, not opposites. And because my son played football at school, I thought perhaps this analogy would make sense to him.

So I went back to his room, he was still crying and I sat down and talked about football. How in a football team when the coach asked him or other students to do something, they would need to do it for the sake of the team. Sometimes there would be something that he wouldn’t like to do, maybe the warm up exercises or cleaning up afterwards, but it was for the benefit of the team. Of course when the leader asked him to do something, he could always disagree, but there must be a reason too.

After my explanation, he calmed down, finished up with his sniffles, we hugged, we made up and both of us moved on with the day.

Of course perhaps it’s not so much in the words that I was saying but the energy that I was exuding that calmed him down. I wasn’t all worked up anymore, so he could relax and listen.

This all happened before I needed to show up to lead our daily japa practice, and naturally it became my very real story of the day to share about the power of our words.

The insight came through to me after I sent my son off to school and when I was sitting in my own short meditation practice before the group class began.

I used to be someone who avoided conflict like a plague. And so for many years I looked calm on the outside (and I got a great poker face by the way), and people would tell me how calm I was. I thought I was too. As I embarked on my own spiritual journey, whenever I felt triggered, I learned to just breath and let it go. Or so I thought.

What I didn’t realize at that time was that I was just bypassing, ignoring and suppressing anger and whole heaps of other emotions inside me. By breathing and letting it go without truly facing the real root cause of why I was triggered at the first place, I was just hiding my true feelings without expressing them.

Now I have many tools, such as journaling, chanting, and fire ceremony, to help me express and release all the emotions within me. I don’t need to bottle up my emotions anymore.

I realize a huge benefit that I’m reaping from my own meditation practice is mindfulness. When I’m feeling angry and starting to react with hurtful words and actions, I’ve learned to catch myself in the heat of the moment, and to make a conscious choice to respond with more awareness. To know that I have a choice – I can do the same thing that I’ve always done and react that way, or to try something different from a place of love.

I know that I have my meditation practice and my intuition to lean on, and now I feel safe to express my own emotions thanks to my practice.

To me, that is the moment of divine grace – I know that I cannot do all this just by myself and by my own willpower. When I choose to respond differently, I allow words and acts of love to flow through me, transforming the energy around the situation with a presence of love.

Of course it’s not perfect every time. I’m still a mess. But as Elizabeth Gilbert said, “embrace the glorious mess that you are”.

It is my wish that you can also experience this gift of meditation in your daily life.

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