Anger during meditation

Although I have been doing yoga for about 3 years now, I must admit that it has, for the most part, been about the physical asana practice. I had never really tried meditation whether in a class or by myself. However, a few months back, a friend of mine told me to download a meditation app called Headspace and give it a shot – which I did.

I started Day 1 of the 10 day trial. I locked myself in the bathroom, sat on the marble floor and played the audio track in the app, where someone guided me through the process of meditation. Calming myself with my breath, I expected to feel different and refreshed after the 10 minutes of meditation was up. However, surprisingly, as I sat there with my eyes closed, I felt something rising in me – something unsettling and uncomfortable. I found myself getting restless, my mind shot from place to place and the more I told myself not to itch, I itched. The more I told myself to keep my mind at one point and just breathe through it, the more my mind rebelled and the angrier I became. My breath shortened and became painfully tight, every inch of my skin crawled and my head was a mess of uncontrollable thinking.

This was made worse by my misapprehension that the meditation experience was supposed to be tranquil and even enlightening. After all, that was what my friend had told me – he had experienced bliss through the process of meditation. It was because of this that I meditated with these expectations in mind.

In the Yoga Sutra 2.3, Patanjali explains the five afflictions which are to be reduced in the Yoga of Action – avidya (ignorance), asmita (egoism), raga (desire), dvesha (aversion) and abinivesha (fear). In my case, I have realized that it is Raga that is causing such negative emotions during my meditation sessions. Raga is the attraction for things that bring satisfaction to oneself. Our desire for pleasurable experiences creates mindless actions and blind sighted vision. I wanted so badly to achieve some sort of tranquility in my mind and in my life that I tried to bulldoze my way through meditation. What I had failed to realize is that meditation is about the process, and not the outcome.

With this realization, my meditation practice has become a little stronger. I may still feel restless at times, both physically and mentally, but I am now generally calmer during the process and have stopped worrying so much about what I am ‘supposed’ to achieve from meditation.

TYX (200hour Hatha/Ashtanga Weekdays)