Interesting enough, some pain in meditation is actually what brings us personal development.
Some discomfort in the body, in the mind, is part of the practice. Something to undergo, and when able to do so in meditation, we will be more resilient in life. We learn to distance ourselves from discomfort, understanding it is not who we áre.
Still, discomfort, how beneficial it may be, can also distract you from growth, when the pain is unnecessary. Some of the discomfort can be dissolved easily, bringing you into deeper meditation, giving you more benefits from your practice. Some discomfort can be even unhealthy for the body.
Here are a few pains you might encounter that are worth looking at.
The most important part of understanding the discomfort, that comes from emotions and the mind, is to know that they have always been there. They don’t bubble up due to meditation. When suddenly feeling sadness or depression, it is important to realize you have carried this inside, probably for years.
We learn to suppress our emotions, with so many different unhealthy coping strategies. When feeling discomfort through thoughts, we like to bypass the emotions bubbling to the surface, by working, by shopping, by chatting, by eating, by drinking, by gaming, by.. you fill in the blank. What is it for you?
Many people encounter these emotions in meditation and have to face the ugliness we have been burying for years. This can hurt, it can make you want to quit, it can demotivate you and even influence your regular life. This ís a part of meditation, it is part of the healing phases, that come from going within. It is the brave that will undergo this, so whatever the mind is telling you, just know it is a phase. You are healing. Emotions heal when you sit with them. Sit with the sadness, just feel it, don’t think about it, feel it and after some time, you will notice it will soften. Feeling your emotions is literally caring for yourself. You might be the first one in your life who will actually listen to that sensation, giving it the attention that you needed. You’ll be the grown up you needed way earlier in life, for your existing emotions and feelings, care for it, make time for it. Be gentle and the pain will soften.
It will also teach you that emotions pass, you will get more resilient in life, less reactive. Just because you understand it is just a sensation, that is not something to fight. You will not feel threatened anymore when someone hurts your feelings, you know you handle the hurt, if you get hurt at all, and know how to cope with it in a healthy matter.
This is one of the most interesting subjects, actually. When searching online for meditation, you will be bombarded with images of people sitting in cross-legged position on a floor, a beach, a yoga mat, their knees high in the air and a friendly face. You’re not having such loving thoughts in this position? You are not the only one.
Our bodies aren’t used to sitting up straight, without any support. We sit all day in chairs, hang on a couch. The muscles in our back aren’t very developed. Let me remind you of the yoga teachings, where all the movement, all the poses (asanas) were created to make the body strong and flexible to be able to sit in meditation for longer moments of time.
Unless you are an experienced yogi, or someone who is ultra flexible in their joints, sitting on a floor without any support is making your meditation unnecessary difficult and painful.
Our spine has a natural curve, to sit up straight without too much pain during meditation, you need to nurture this natural curve. Lovely this image of meditation on a flat floor, but only 0.1% of the population can actually do so correctly, the back bends out of its natural shape to take the position. Lift the pelvis with a pillow, meditation cushion or a block, so that the pelvis rises above the knee joints. Use a firm seat, this will make it way more easy to keep your posture. You will notice that the spine will be in a natural position.
Is the highest meditation cushion still too low to do so? Meditation in crossed-leg position might not be your way to go, for now. Use a chair for meditation, with your feet flat on the floor, try other sitting poses, or try guided meditation or bodyscans lying on the back. Forget about the images, it is about the practice.
Knee pain can be divided in reasons. One is just simply because the joints rest on a cold, uncomfortable surface. In this case use a blanket, a sheepskin or a specially designed cushion for this matter, a zabuton. This will bring comfort to your knees, it will be warm and soft.
The other reason is very important to notice. When you aren’t flexible enough to sit in the position with crossed legs, you will feel a stretch or a pull on the knee ligaments. This can be a nasty thing and can cause you injuries too. Try to lift the pelvis with a cushion, to create room for the natural curve of the spine, you will then also release pressure from the knees. Is gravity working too much on the knees to enjoy your meditation, place pillows and blankets underneath.
Are your knees high in the air and do you need several cushions to support them? Tailor position is not your pose right now. Use a chair and if you prefer to work towards sitting in tailor position for meditation, work on flexibility in the groin and legs, before you do so.
Ankles can hurt just like the knees, due to an uncomfortable surface, which can easily be released, with the use of some support, like a zabuton.
But it can definitely also be from too much of a stretch on the ankle itself. This will then mostly be joined with the pressure on the knees and back pain.
It is connected to each other. So start by bringing comfort to your overall posture.
When your posture isn’t corrected with cushions, a block or anything you prefer, you can get tingling sensations. This is because you are blocking the bloodstream and the energy stream. Make room for the body to find its comfort.
Meditation isn’t a goal to reach, it’s a letting go. The little comfort is needed to stop unneeded battles with the self.
Let go of the images around meditation how it should be and find your way.
Now.. some aches, sensations and discomfort can still be expected, meditation is a battle with the ego, which can’t wait to win your distraction. Watch the mind do this and you will learn to know the difference.
But start with bringing in the love ♥ for your body.