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How Quitting Meditation Helped Me Be Honest in My Mental Illness Recovery

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Awhile ago, I spent over two hundred dollars to embark on a quest to get an online Bachelor of Spiritual Healing. I never received my degree. I couldn’t force myself to finish once I realized two things: I do not like meditation and I had a mental illness.

I hypothesized my problems might be solved through spiritual healing combined with some chakra balancing or cleansing. I woke up early to go downstairs in the dark. I sat in a chair and forced myself to meditate. Instead of spiritual revelation, I ended up with a backache and frustration.

I watched awkward online videos of teachers who did not represent what I wanted in my life. I didn’t want to wear flowing robes or have tie dye wall hangings. I didn’t want to sit on a small wooden bench and focus on my breath for hours every day. I couldn’t be enticed with communal living and intensive courses, though at times I wished I could.

Mostly I wanted a simple and obvious solution. I wanted to find a way to heal and be in control of myself. I sought for that healing and control in ways advertised by others, paying for the potential of experiencing peace and healing. I was willing to do what it took to end up where I felt I needed to be.

I felt if I padded my resume with more knowledge and sought for my solution in as many varied locations as possible, I would somehow stumble upon it. I prayed, I read scriptures and yes, I meditated. But I had a hard time feeling those things.

Only eventually did I realize it was not due to a lack of effort that I didn’t find my solution in spiritual healing. I believe it was because of one simple fact. My problem was not a spiritual one.

I found I was searching in incorrect places and using incorrect means for answers because I failed to properly understand and diagnose the problem. In reality, more important than arriving at a satisfactory conclusion was acknowledging and understanding my starting position.

I learned finding my starting position involves one thing. Being honest with myself.

This can’t be that hard, surely? Well, it’s tough enough that WikiHow has a whole article entitled “How to Be Honest with Yourself” that includes many images, ironically, that strongly resemble the meditation I so detested.

But really, being honest with ourselves involves cutting the crap that ties us to the view we have it all together. It involves brutally acknowledging our failures, our needs and our desires. It involves acknowledging our faults and understanding we aren’t perfect and, more importantly, we don’t have to be. We don’t have to be 100 percent self-sufficient. It’s OK to need other people. It’s OK to need things outside our own skill set to provide.

Once we come to that realization, we are free to explore possibilities that once seemed “lowly” or “demeaning.” For me, once I gave up on the Bachelor of Spiritual Healing and accepted I had mental illness rather than a spiritual one, I could accept the fact I needed professional psychological care.

This possibility I had toyed around with, but ultimately rejected out of fear and a false assessment of own capabilities, became my only viable option once I let honesty control my fate. From that point, I made progress. Once I allowed myself to be governed with honesty and let that honesty define myself to others, I became more whole.

Of course, I am not completely whole. I, like each of us, am a work in progress. We are not perfect. We are not whole.

Instead, I believe this life is about healing. We break a bone and our body does its best to heal itself. It cannot perfect itself, but it does what it can with its limited resources. The same is true with our spiritual and mental health. We can attempt to heal, but we cannot force ourselves into wholeness. We are imperfect, but I believe it’s in accepting this fact that we push ourselves one step closer to the wholeness we so desire.

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Thinkstock photo via Rawpixel Ltd.

Originally published: April 21, 2017
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