Compass for the Soul
Over the last few months I’ve discovered a growing willingness to be present with more and more of my experience of myself and the world. I like this kind of change for many reasons. For example, not being at odds with my experience means having more peace. Also, being able to face reality as it is rather than hide from it or wish it was different means I can engage with things as they are and I don’t have to waste mental energy on playing mind games with reality. But what struck me as interesting this time was how bringing attention to difficult places facilitates healing. This is what I’d like to focus on here.

The healing I refer to is the kind of healing that occurs during therapy when one is able to bring the light of attention to dark places. I’ve found myself more often during therapy sessions willing to admit to things I’ve never been able to admit to before (not even to myself). I’ve engaged difficult truths and the difficult emotions that accompany them. Not only that but I’ve also found myself willing to accept the times when I cannot engage things as fully as I’d like to. The result of bringing engaged, accepting attention to those difficult places is that healing can occur in those long neglected parts of the psyche. Needless to say, I’ve been finding myself more dedicated to the practice of therapy because I can feel the effect it has on me.

Over the last several of days as my meditation practice is directed toward the practice of Metta (Lovingkindness) I’ve noticed something else. When I have the intention of holding myself and my experience with kindness, I can be present to even more. For example, moments of distraction that I usually notice only briefly and push away were recognized and held in kind attention. The involuntary reaction of repressing that part of my experience was not as prevalent as it often is, leaving more present and able to accept this moment of “failure.” Bringing this kind of attention to a therapy session could be very powerful indeed!

For various reasons I’ve been thinking recently about the combination of meditation practice and therapy. Reflecting back on my experience, in this way, allows me to see the power of combining both practices, how well they support each other and how they help me in opening up to discover a more whole and more wholesome version of myself. The more I see that, the more I’m convinced that for many of us in the modern world, this is what spiritual practice looks like – a combination of East and West, transcending and transforming.