I’ve been rereading Michael Singer’s book, The Untethered Soul. I love the simplicity and clarity of this book and I’ve also been frustrated with the simplicity too. After his recommended step of opening one’s heart chakra no matter the circumstance, he then writes about “letting stuff go”. I have struggled with this recommendation for years. God, wouldn’t you just love to let shit go? Set your intention to “let go” and voila! When I hear this phrase I think of someone coming over and just turning a switch off on me. “Here Juanita, You’ll never have to feel that emotional about that situation again, I found the let go switch!”. Well, wouldn’t that be nice? It’s never been that easy for me and I’m guessing it hasn’t for you either. Through conversations with others I found that “letting go” actually means being fully present with whatever emotions are present and even embracing them. When I’m fully present with uncomfortable emotions, the intensity of them lessens and then I get closer to that feeling of letting something go. For some triggers in my life, I find it impossible to fully let it go, because these reactions were learned early in childhood. And just when I think I have let it go, a situation arises and I realize that there’s another layer of emotion that needs my presence. In the meditation world, this presence is often given to oneself by cultivating the witness/observer part of your Self as you feel an emotion and want to react to it. Meditation can teach us to watch ourselves instead of react. Sometimes we can see an emotion rise and fall if we sit with it long enough and our minds don’t take over. In the counselling world, there are many psychotherapeutic techniques that can help a person cultivate the wise self watching all the emotions and other parts of themselves engage with the world. But perhaps the most helpful things psychotherapy can offer is the act of presence with another as they feel their uncomfortable emotions. It can be very powerful to have another person anchoring & present as feel the depths of our pains & struggles. I’ve often found that the only way I can be present with certain uncomfortable emotions is with my own therapist. I’ve paid that person to be with me for an hour and while I could end the session early, I won’t because I’ve paid and that often helps me commit to the act of fully being present with my emotions and even embracing them. This process is closest one I’ve found to actually letting shit go. With energy healing, presence is also a valuable gift to give to others and to ourselves - fully being present as a chakra opens or shifts. Energy healing also offers techniques to help clear the blockages in our chakras which lessens the emotional intensity. Often an integrated session of both psychotherapy & energy healing can help you integrate and process things with more ease. What things have you found to be helpful or unhelpful as you try and let go of things?
I have been an on again-off again meditator for years. I have always envied those individuals that have made meditation a regular habit in their lives. When I met my husband, he would meditate daily for 30-minutes to an hour every morning and evening. He would invite me to join him, but at the time I thought it looked pretty boring to sit silently for that long. He too goes through periods of meditating and not meditating.
Over the years I would read about people such as Ram Dass, Yogananda, or Michael Singer who had mystical and transformative experiences meditating, and I thought, “Well of course if you’re having that type of “wow/life-changing” experience, you would continue to meditate”. Or I would think, “Of course if you’ve chosen the spiritual vocation as your life path, these transformative experiences would happen”. And then at the same time I would read about stories of people who meditated for years and never had that “wow” experience while meditating.
So, if I can’t get a Guarantee of that “Wow Factor”, Why Meditate?
So, without having the “wow” factor goal in mind, I wondered why meditation would be so highly recommended for individuals.
Physical, mental, and emotional benefits
Calmness, focus, centeredness, happiness, better health, and self-love are all benefits of meditation. It seems that as each year goes by, more and more research demonstrates the healing benefits of mindfulness or meditation for more and more things. Pain, mental illness, stress, and burnout is just a few of the things it can help with. Just google “research meditation” or “research mindfulness” and you’ll notice a plethora of information at your fingertips.
When I taught Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) to teens and adults, mindfulness was a key component to this therapy. The main benefit of mindfulness in DBT is to help a person pause and connect with their thoughts & emotions and how they are using this information to interact with the world. Many other types of psychotherapy involving mindfulness have been created too, with the most famous probably being Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) created by Jon-Kabat Zinn. In other psychotherapies, the word mindfulness is never mentioned, but it is used in practice to help a person connect to their emotions and bring awareness to thoughts.
If you’re on a spiritual path, meditation seems a key part in going deeper into one’s spiritual journey whether it be with a religion or a more general spiritual path. Meditation allows a person to connect beyond themselves to something on a much grander scale – God, the universe, specific religious individuals such as Jesus or Buddha, and more.
Where Do I Start (or restart)?
- Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever You Go, There You Are, was one of the books that inspired me to start meditation. It’s an easy read with short chapters. This book is especially helpful if you’re interested in the Physical, Mental, & Emotional benefits. If you’re a person who is interested in being mindful but doesn’t want to sit quietly in meditation, this book provides many other options. You can do anything mindfully. Really.
- Want a book that also captures the spiritual benefits? Michael A. Singer’s The Untethered Soul is succinct and you can tell from the depth and simplicity of this book that he is a seasoned meditator.
There are a lot of guided meditations available on YouTube, it can be a matter of trying a few to find your favourites.
- Tara Brach is my favourite person to listen to for a guided meditation. I love her voice and her variety of meditations. You can find many selections on her website or on YouTube.
There are many apps related to mindfulness and meditation. After not meditating for many months, I tried the 14-day trial with Headspace. This was a great way to hear if I liked the person’s voice for guided meditation and try out some of their meditations. When flying on Air Canada earlier this year I found some of their meditations available on the online entertainment system.
After the 14-day trial I decided to buy a subscription for a year (They offer a great discount after you’ve completed the trial). I really appreciate the options to have a 1 minute or a 30-minute meditation. Also my screen can be dark and it can keep playing (unlike YouTube). Some days I’m happy if I meditated for 1 minute. Other days I want to meditate for a longer time. They also have great packages for different topics such as sleep, restlessness, worry and more.
If you notice in your life that it feels busy, even a few minutes of meditation a day can provide benefits of restoration and calm. Often between sessions with clients a take a few minutes to connect to myself and shift my energy from the past client to the next one.
I don’t use the word mindfulness in most of my sessions, but often I’m helping clients to connect with themselves in a deeper way to find the solutions that they seek. Many of us like to spend time in our minds, and while we would benefit from connecting with our bodies or our emotions, we are often not practiced at doing so. We are often on the move.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you found something to inspire you to start or restart your journey with meditation!
 Meditation is a form of mindfulness. There are many ways to be mindful without meditating, but meditation is a popular method of mindfulness.