Many of us take up a meditation practice with the assurance that all we need is to meditate twice a day and everything will automatically fall into place. I beg to differ.
Sure, meditation practice can smooth out the rough edges of our personality. It can bring us to a new state of awareness where we feel more calm, more holistic, as if everything now ‘just worked’ for once in our lives. But here we can be lulled into a false sense of satisfaction.
We can have spent our life diligently meditating twice daily with our twenty minutes practice but still have paid little attention to the gaping holes in our psyche, the places more pressure needs to be applied in order to stop the hemorrhaging. We know that there are still holes in these thin veils of civilized behavior when our feelings of anger and blame overwhelm our ordinarily even seeming disposition.
The concern here is that for most of us using meditation as the sole means of growth and emotional development (as I did for many years), nothing is being touched on the level of the psyche. And it is within the psyche, as we learn from Jung and Freud, that so much of our angst and worries lie. Through meditation and prayer the surface level of our inner worlds may have been smoothed down but what’s all this unexamined stuff lying just beneath the surface? Here’s where the inner child lives still nursing the old wounds of time. Here’s where the tyrant archetype can erupt at any time. Meditation does not, even after years of practice, eradicate entirely these demons from our psyche. They may be mollified, eased, lessened to a good extent but like any shadow material these non-integrated archetypal energies can erupt at any time.
Eastern meditation itself does not a fully mature person make. It must be combined with the best of western psychology and maybe even some Buddhist wisdom, too. A daily dose of Christian principles like love, humility, forgiveness, and doing unto others as one would do for oneself— together these are what is needed to live a fully realized “adult” life.
It can become easy to forget that one needs to be growing in multiple ways, not only in the development of that alluring silence and steadiness that a regular practice of meditation brings. We must also engage with the intellect, the mind, the emotions and the ego. We must in other words engage the entire package of the individual psyche in order to become fully functioning adult individuals. There is no way to the other side of this moutain of self understanding but over it.