I’ve wanted to write for a while about my meditation practice. As with most things in my life the way I approach it and view it is pretty idiosyncratic. It may not make sense or be applicable to everyone. But I have found that I have had to continue practicing on my own in my own particular way just because I haven’t found a teacher or method that I feel resonates completely with what my own particular experience has been. So I will do my best to describe my experiences so that others may reflect on them and see if it can shed light on their own experiences.

I think my meditation practice didn’t really start until I felt like I needed to meditate. There were many years when I was interested in it. I tried different types of meditation in high school, but only things that I read online and probably didn’t stick with for more than a few days. In college I took a mindfulness based stress reduction course which I think was helpful at the time.

Meditation didn’t really make sense to me until I read the Three Pillars of Zen by Phillip Kapleau. Up until then it felt like everything I was reading was kind of leading me around in a circle. This book was the first thing that made sense to me and made meditation seem accessible and put it in a clear framework with practical ways you could actually learn how to do it.

I discovered this book at a time when I would really need it. I had been trying for years to find something like this, a practical guide that felt like it would teach me something that made sense in terms of my own experience. I had been living the past twelve years in various levels of existential crises. The first was in high school, when I broke up with my first girlfriend, and I read the book the Secret. I began questioning how the universe actually worked. If I was attracting everything to myself, what was genuine and what was just something I made happen with my mind? This led me to things like the Revelatorium and other new age, occult, and conspiracy related things.

And it began a time of deep depression. Not really knowing who I was or what I wanted. Not feeling like there was anyone else out there asking the questions that I was asking or having the thoughts that I was having. I wasn’t depressed for very long, but the feeling of alienation would persist.

The second major crisis would be after I graduated college. I had an intensely bad psychedelic trip, only a few months after I graduated. My sense of self and of reality was completely shattered and annihilated. And on top of this, whatever hopes I had for after college were non existent. I had nothing to do but go back to where my parents live. They had no comprehension of what I had experienced, so I had to figure out for myself how to cope and realign myself to the reality that I had for so long taken for granted.

So it wasn’t until after a long period of quitting jobs, running away unsuccessfully, not talking to my parents, and just feeling bad about myself, that I came across the book The Three pillars of Zen and began meditating the way it was described in the book. This was in 2019. The moment I realized I needed it was in 2020.

In 2020 I realized that what I had learned about in High School and dreaded and pushed into the back of my mind was most likely true. That there were people in the world who were working to depopulate the planet and gain control over the human population through the creation of a global technocracy. And everyone around me was in complete ignorance or denial of this.

I had hoped to attend a meditation sesshin in 2020 at the Rochester Zen Center, the zendo that Phillip Kapleau founded, but of course due to the most recent psy-op I was unable to attend. It was making me kind of despondent, to think that the one place that I was looking to for help to see through the illusions of life could not see through the illusion of a fake pandemic.

But I carried on anyway. I had begun practicing nearly every day, for at least 5 minutes, but I think usually 20 or so. I was just focusing on the breath, sometimes while counting or focusing on a koan. Even though I felt that I was coming to a deeper understanding of meditation, I still had a lot of doubts about what I was doing. I wasn’t sure if I had the right ideas about how to meditate or what I should be doing with it. One day in April of that year I had a meditation session where something happened that I hadn’t experienced before. I will include the journal entry I have from that day that describes the meditation experience.

“I was feeling frustrated because I couldn’t think of things to be meditating on and was just noticing the familiar negative trains of thought I have when that happens. I started thinking negative things about my parents and realized that I automatically judge myself and react to myself whenever I have those sorts of negative thoughts. I thought more about how meditation is supposed to be about accepting what is there and not striving for or desiring something else. I realized I didn’t have to be closed off to myself having these thoughts and could open myself up to them and accept them. As I realized/thought this, it felt like one energetic part of me that was angry and judging finally relented a bit and accepted this other energetic part of me. I felt a warm feeling in my heart that felt like a metal plate being warmed. I felt two tear drops fall out of my eyes at the same time.”

As I mentioned before, this is just my experience. I am not a meditation teacher. Meditation is usually described as observing thoughts without attachment. I don’t think I was actively trying to think about these things in this particular session, but I was noticing the thoughts arising and then feeling a noticeable shift of energy in my body. In zen meditation, or zazen, any of these types of experiences are considered myako, or illusion, and are not usually seen as significant. They can even be seen as a hindrance. But in the moment it felt very reassuring. It felt that I was finally gaining insight and reconnecting my feelings and emotions that had been disintegrated.

I feel that there were a few significant things about this experience. The first is the recognition that there are energetic “parts” in the body that can be reached somehow through awareness. I had already encountered this a few years earlier when I went to a reiki session. During the session the practitioner guided me through questions about the bad trip I had to uncover why it was still bothering me. As she was asking questions about it, she came to ask me, “Do you feel like you made a mistake?” and as I said yes, I began to cry and felt a huge wave of emotion and energy pouring out of me. The energy felt like it had been trapped in my arms and hands and was being sucked out in a spiral motion. To me it was one of the most incredible experiences I had ever had, but the practitioner seemed to act as if it was just a normal occurrence.

The part of myself that was releasing the energy in the reiki experience seemed like it was my inner child, which had been programmed by my parents to believe that it could not make a mistake. Its defense was to punish itself for making a mistake by trapping all that energy around it. Or something like that.

In the case of the meditation experience, there was one energetic “part” that seemed to be judging another energetic “part.” This separation inside of me was probably being felt as an ongoing uneasiness that was fueling negative thoughts. As the one part was identified and given the option to open up to and accept the other “bad” part, it was like the separator was removed and the one energy was able to engulf the other.

Another thing I would begin to notice from experiences like this was how prevalent these types of regard were in my thought process. In the example above, I noticed how I would unconsciously react to the negative thoughts I was having about my parents by judging myself and feeling disappointed in myself just for having the negative thoughts. I would notice this at various times when I was meditating, that as I notice certain thoughts, I also become aware of a layer of awareness where I am regarding the thoughts in a positive or negative way. This regard was an ongoing, unconscious process going on in the background of the thoughts.

One last thing I will note is how significant this emotional energy is in our thought processes. This is sometimes referred to as emotion-thought by certain Zen teachers. In meditation you begin to see how thoughts are usually just automatic and they are fueled by the emotions we are experiencing. This meditation experience seemed to show me how an energetic part of the psyche can be involved in this fueling of emotion-thought, and how it can be dissolved to create a noticeable change in the way the emotion-thought is being generated and experienced.

I’ve found that these experiences do not happen very often. If I am meditating regularly, they can occur every few months or years. Whenever my psyche feels it is in need of a shift. I try not to fixate on them or have any type of set goal during meditation. The great majority of times I meditate will be uninteresting. I still notice myself becoming distracted regularly. But I think that is the strength you are building through meditation, just the ability to see when you are becoming distracted. I will notice it as I go through my days at work. There are some days when I go through almost the whole day on autopilot, lost in thoughts, until I finally have a moment of awareness and can see how distracted and absent-minded I’ve been.

It’s hard to give a true sense of the benefits of meditation. They are very subtle. It is also hard to get people to recognize the need to meditate. If someone was centered and in the moment at all times, which maybe there are some people like that, I would say there is no need for them to meditate. But for most of the people I interact with there is a sense that they are mostly lost in thoughts and do not feel that they are capable of improving their state of mind without some external influence. They may not feel they have time to devote to themselves every day. They may not understand what meditation is. I have felt all these things. I think it has to be a very personal decision. There’s no way I can guide another person to do it if they’re not willing to try it for themselves. For me it was only because I had become so isolated and alienated, had experienced such failures in relationships, school, and work, had such chaotic and turbulent inner thoughts and emotions, and felt very little hope in anything else in my life.

Also, the type of meditation that I do would not be considered real zazen or zen meditation by some because the tradition of Zen is to meditate with a teacher who can confirm when you have reached kensho, which is when you attain a certain type of realization after meditating on a koan. This can be a long process, which for Phillip Kapleau took about five years of continuous effort. My meditation practice is my own unique process, based mostly on Zen buddhism but also factoring in other things I have read and my own experience. I had first learned about the koans several years before, and had tortured my mind with them for a while before giving up and feeling that they were not helpful to me. These are some reasons why I don’t usually recommend zen specifically as a practice. It can be hard or impossible to figure out the koans on one’s own and will most likely add more stress rather than improving your state of mind.

The reason why I chose a Buddhist meditation practice is because the Buddha stated simply that everything he did and said could be verified by our own experience. I have had several experiences that have been very similar to things I have read about in Buddhism. Many of the things I’ve learned about Buddhism have helped me to process my own thoughts and experience. In this same way, I want to offer these experiences and thoughts as examples to be considered that point in the same direction the Buddha was pointing to. So do not take my word for anything that I say here, but try it out and see for yourself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *