Talk 16: Surrender or Self-Improvement?

Talk 16: Surrender or Self-Improvement? post image

Meditation is about more than Self-Improvement. That is only its possible side-effect. If we bend meditation to our will and make it serve us, the only definite side-effect is frustration. At some point the meditator will have to make the switch over to something bigger than their sense of “Selfyness” and to a longing for freedom that has been driving their interest in meditation all along.

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  • Andrea Robinson

    You have a way of taking two very different points of view on one topic and presenting both of them very clearly, leaving us in a pleasant state of balance.

    It took me awhile to get the first sentence, where you flipped the roles of surrender and meditation and thus widened my point of view about both. There is much more in this talk than I could discuss in one short comment, so I’ll just pick one.

    Let’s say that part of ourselves that looks out for change in an effort to resist it is as biological as the part of us that seeks homeostasis, i.e., constant body temperature, continuous functioning of organs, etc. I think some people would call that resistance to change ego, and you rightly point out that it keeps us safe. So when we push past our egoic resistance to change by consciously putting forth the effort to meditate every day, we kind of re-set our homeostasis to one of being comfortable with both the act of meditating and the actual side benefits of meditating.

    I used to meditate every day, and then when I moved to where I am now, for some reason I stopped doing it. I don’t know if I was bored of it, or too caught up in busy-ness to think of doing it, or just reverting to a previous state of mind because I used to live here before. But for whatever reason, I did not meditate for a long time, and every time it crossed my mind, I just never felt motivated to do it.

    But I think that once you’ve inculcated that predisposition to meditating, even if something disrupts the regular practice the way my move did, it’s much easier to re-develop the habit. So the concept of rearranging what’s “normal” or habitual holds true. I’ve heard that it’s easier for a weightlifter to pick up the sport again after a hiatus than for a complete newcomer to pick up the sport. Probably because there’s much less resistance.

    Anyway, I know there was quite a bit more in this talk than what I’m responding to. Maybe I’ll have to listen a few more times! Ha-ha! :)

    • AlanKlima

      Those are great observations. I wonder if there isn’t a special kind of resistance that happens with the former weightlifter or former meditator, at least to getting started and getting going. Probably further on they each have an easy time, but sometimes when there is something we really want to do, but are putting it off, the resistance gets really huge. It’s kind of weird, but procrastination builds resistance. I’m looking at these two netflix dvds right now. Literally I can see them now. I am paying good money for them to just sit there. Why haven’t I sent them back? Why do I feel so resistant to that? There is a whole huge lot of resistance simply because of the amount of time that I have delayed on this. What force could possibly stop me from walking to my mailbox? It’s the amount of time that has gone by– it multiplies resistance exponentially and then it gets really weird, like it is for me now. So, I think getting back on that horse is a challenge, and the longer we delay the worse it gets. The change-prevention-department prefers the peace it has made with the situation, rather than risk what would happen if I faced it. And what would happen? A feeling of relief! What crazy beautiful creatures we are.

      • Andrea Robinson

        Right! I love this! The change-prevention-department. The more you cave into it, the more grip it has on you. Perfect example you gave, trying to overcome the resistance to sending back that DVD! I have the same thing with certain books – not read for years, they just sit there waiting for “someday.” :)