In the beautiful, rich galaxy of healing techniques there are many therapies. From psychotherapy to chanting, to group sessions, to NLP, anger management, EFT, EMDR, music, family constellations, NVC, regressions, shamanism**(so many of them have barbaric names, sadly, but I’ve studied most of them at this point and I can vouch for all, WITH THE RIGHT THERAPIST). There is also meditation, which is a therapy. But what brings meditation compared to others therapies ?
Understanding the different types of therapies
Many of those therapies go back in time to investigate “what happened”.
Of all the species on this planet, we are the only creatures of meaning. We constantly feed on stories that have a beginning, middle and hopefully, closure. We make sense of the world through stories, which we endlessly exchange; turn on the news? Stories. Watch a movie, read a book? Stories, obviously. Have coffee with a friend – what happens? You exchange stories, nothing as dramatic as an alien invasion, but the small stuff of everyday life. Go to a funeral, to mass, see a coach, go to a job interview, ask for a raise, or time off from your spouse, explain to the babysitter why you’re late… all stories. The reason we are such avid consumers of fiction (TV shows! Movies! Harry Potter!) is that they help us make sense of the world, emotionally speaking. We can accept anything as long as we have a good story. If you want to be less emotional, you can read non-fiction – but the examples will all be stories nonetheless. The Greeks – especially Aristotle – were of course instrumental in defining the point, the structure and the use of stories.
When we look back at childhood wounds and traumas, a consequent part of the problem is often that we don’t understand. The shock was so great it froze something in us and prevented us from creating an acceptable narrative, one we could absorb and integrate. A great injury of trauma is that it robs us of meaning. Things “don’t seem to make sense anymore”. Thus, a therapy that explores past events and allows us to build our own understanding, our own story can free and empower us, sometimes dramatically (pun unintended).
Other therapies, at the other end of the spectrum, are intent on making our lives better NOW. Self-care, coaching, non-violent communication… all those are not equipped to unearth deep childhood trauma. They teach us to appreciate or improve our daily lives, reach goals, invest in our strengths, work around or on our weaknesses. In the absence of trauma, those therapies are excellently suited to fast and intelligent healing. However, if you suffer from deep wounds, resorting to those therapies only means you’ll put a lovely icing on a not palatable cake.
The thing is, it’s not about choosing, or pitting the ends of the spectrum against each other. They are like a right and left hand. Heal your past, but also focus on the present and cultivate your joy. A rising tide lifts all boats. It’s never a good idea to scoff at happiness, no matter how humble or fleeting. Some regressive therapies can turn into a manure dig, and encourage suffering for its own sake. Some “easy tools” can make a real difference.
So, where does meditation sit on this spectrum?
Meditation, to be present in the moment
Meditation is in the most neutral position, exactly in the center. Meditation is pure present, pure presence.
When we sit in meditation we sift through thoughts of our past and of our future – but we aim to just be in the here and now. In the here and now, as you sit, everything is fine. Slowly, gently, in this neutral central place, we build an airbag between ourselves in the world. We create a space we can always come back to, a place of safety, and little by little we can learn to see our memories – just thoughts! And yet such power! – simply float in front of us and lose their capacity for harm.
We can also – and this is a reason why meditation is such a healing, multifaceted tool – decide to focus on a specific subject, like love. By doing this, we create a bath of care and affection for our mind and our body that has immense fortifying and healing powers.
Meditation does not wish to delve into “why” or “how”. Those would ultimately only have intellectual answers. Meditation sits at the crossroads of intellect, emotions, bodily sensations… and past, present and future, but it sits in a tree, far above the mêlée. Meditation takes no sides, enters no debates, has no tricks. Meditation does not judge. It is the purest distillation process of our Selves. No interference. No imposition from outside sources. It gives us the opportunity to find our own source.
Have faith that you will find yourself on the way.