In a recent post I discussed how you could use meditation practices to work through internal blockages showing up in relationships you have with other people. On the S.O.M.A. Facebook group, several people commented on the entry and their comments sparked some further realizations about internal work. We discussed what happens when you're doing meditation work and the unhealthy patterns you are working to dissolve seem to flare up because of the work you are doing. There's two schools of thoughts on why that occurs. The first school of thought argues that the unhealthy habit is fighting back to keep itself in existence. There's certainly some truth to that school of thought and I think that a person can end up struggling with such habits and the underlying emotions if they aren't prepared for it to flare up.
The second school of thought offers an intriguing approach to this flare up of desire or unhealthy habits. It argues that when such flare-ups occurs its because you are actually making progress, and what initially seems like a regression is really just an opportunity to work more intensely with the habit or desire you are feeling. In my own experiences, I've found that this can be the case. You are doing the internal work, dissolving the internal blockage, and as a result you are freeing up all the tension and emotions bound into that blockage. The release of that tension and emotion can be accompanied by memories or by desires, which can be seen in this case as an attachment. If they are indulged in, potentially what happens is that the blockage reforms, but if you are willing to do the work, be present with the memories, and enter into a dialogue that allows you to work with what's being released, then the regression ends up being temporary.
When I've done internal work around specific issues, I've had those issues seem to take over my life, occupying my thoughts. However by accepting that as an indicator that the work is actually happening, it's also helped me recognize and understand that such a preoccupation can actually be a healthy sign that something is happening. You aren't repressing the thought or emotion any longer. The challenge is to learn to be present with it, which means that you acknowledge it, but don't act on it. This is hard to do for many people, because we live in a society that values action, but if you recognize that the choice to be present with what you feel or think is a form of action, what you'll realize is that simply being present with it is allowing you to do something about it. Indeed being present with whatever is coming up teaches you how to understand it and experience it without letting it consume you, which is a useful skill to learn for any situation you find yourself.
Meditation isn't a quick fix for internal work. It's a long process that can take years, but the results that can it provide you, if you stay the course is that you get a lot of clarity about yourself, you work through whatever issues are part of you and you learn how to direct your internal energy. When you are doing meditation to work through internal issues I recommend working with a therapist as well, because you can get some perspective from a person who isn't directly involved and who nonetheless can keep you grounded by asking questions and listening to what you are working through. If nothing else, make sure the people in your life know what you are working through. They can be a support system for you, helping you work through whatever is coming up, because they will hopefully understand what you are working through. Additionally by letting them in and discussing what you are working though, you may find that it takes a lot of pressure off you because someone else knows. In such cases, it is useful to ask the person to be present and listening and indicate whether or not you want advice. You may not want advice and if you tell the person you are talking with that, it will help them focus on listening instead of trying to problem solve.
Book Review: The Fruitful Darkness by Joan Halifax
This is a semi-autobiography that also explores Buddhist and Shamanic practices. I found it to be an insightful read, with many statements that caused me to pause and ponder them in relationship to my own life and spiritual practice. I especially liker the author's thoughts on stillness and silence, and found them quite useful to consider during a time when I'm in a period of transition. This is a book you'll read again and discover new insights each time.
Book Review: The Philosopher's Secret Fire by Patrick Harpur
This book takes the concepts Harpur discussed in Daimonic Reality and extends them further, exaining how the other world intersects with everyday reality through myth, imagination, dream, and even popular culture. He also explores the intersection of these themes with identity and how identity is formed for a person. Harpur does a good job with this book, showing how imagination impacts memory and identity, while also exploring Jung's archetypal theory in mythology. what I find interesting is how he shows how the otherworld interacts with people across cultures in a consistent way. It's an intriguing book that'll help you appreciate imagination and its intersection with the otherworld.