This message might save or change your life. It is my true experience. Have you ever faced repeating “dark nights of the soul” to the point where you become emotionally and spiritually exhausted to the point of giving up? Where you feel that life is really not worth living? It happened to me once, but thanks to middle-way meditation, I will never go back to those dark times.
I was raised as a Buddhist to firmly believe in the law of karma and the afterlife. According to Buddhism, self-harm or suicide will obstruct your path to the utmost salvation at the very least or send you to an unimaginably worse existence in your next life. The moral rules applying to harming others also apply to harming yourself. Still, although I had this knowledge, when I met with one of the worst challenges in my life, I almost lost my mind.
During that dark time, I asked myself: Do I not have faith in the greater good, something larger than myself, or even the Buddha's timeless wisdom and energies? Why did I almost lose my mind and let the negative thoughts completely consume me? Was it that I had not taken care of myself holistically? Did I pay more attention to outer appearances than to my inner self?
Many questions popped up until the very last question, which shook up my inner world enormously like an earthquake no one else could see, grasping my heart. Was it that I lacked self-love? I do lack self-love! This truly shook my inner world up big time! Wait, another question popped up in my head: How can a devout Buddhist who attends ceremonies and makes donations not appreciate herself? How could I not have self-love when I have been nothing but good, kind, understanding, helpful, and empathetic?
It dawned on me that something was wrong with my mental constitution. My sense of self was weak and paper thin, based on superficial gratification and external validation. Regardless of the number of times I attended ceremonies or went through the motions of spirituality—correctly in the eyes of others—I did not truly engage with it in the internal sense. Furthermore, I did not see my own worth, and I saw that this fault had been attached to my mind for almost as long as I could remember. It is a story not unique to me, as sexism and the like are sadly common in Thailand. These negative events had wounded my childhood mind until I felt permanently “not good enough.”
Back to how meditation saved my life: Despite myself, I recalled an event from before the darkness. It’d happened years earlier during my stay in New Zealand, a country that I found to be peaceful, safe, and relaxed. Even the weather was much better for the mind than my home in Thailand. It was a time when I truly felt the happiest in my life, where I could feel so whole, fulfilled, and complete.
One morning, I decided to meditate, as I had been taught using the middle way meditation technique. After sitting for some time my thoughts began to slow. With a still mind and stable concentration at the seventh base, I visualized a crystal ball at the center of my body. A feeling of true self love came over me. It was precisely then that I can say that meditation started me on a journey of spiritual fulfillment. I felt joyful and like a completely new person after that meditation session. It felt that I had the Buddha’s energy within me. This feeling of happiness and serenity confirmed Buddha's wisdom and guidance toward higher layers of purity and enlightenment.
Though I had a great experience, I was still only human. I let my meditation practice lapse, let life get the better of me, and was not aware of the impending mental collapse. This caused me to fall into the dark night of the soul. But, eventually, when I recalled the memory of my best meditation ever, with the crystal ball within, I snapped out of my delusion and apathy. I was invigorated when I knew that my true worth was with me all along.
I have realized that if you lack real spiritual practice on a regular basis, your inner world will remain dull, dark and, in the worst-case scenario, incapable of regulating your behavior when dark moments visit you. On the other hand, the results of true meditation are a guiding light that is stronger than “correct” outward appearances and behavior alone. In particular, the discovery of peace at the center of my being has given me a grip, a rock, or even a pillar, a big candle, a light, a glittering star, castle, or whatever place or object I love that I can visualize and hold on to while meditating. Meditation helps me connect to a source of great love, inner guidance, and divine knowledge within myself. The energy from meditation feels pure, clean, fresh, and warm. It allows me to become a newer, better version of myself, warming my heart like a true home. It confirms the Buddha’s teachings, and all this has helped me at times of crisis in my life.
My humble words of wisdom are simply the application of the Middle Way meditation, which anyone can learn from the Meditation Center of Chicago. You can practice day in, day out, with eyes closed or open. Just visualize a mental object at the center of your body, keep the attention there and feel an authentic connection to the original source of the higher love. With this meditation, you have the power to overturn any negative situation from within yourself. Don’t be sucked in and stuck forever in harmful thoughts or old generational patterns that no longer serve the present and future you.
I love you all very much.
M.A. TESOL, University of Leeds, UK
Second language educator, spiritual content creator and Inner Peace mentor (the Middle Way Meditation Institute, New York City)