A writer for Time.com set the otherwise, calm, collected and ultra loving meditation community on edge when she mentioned that Aaron Alexis, the suspect in the Washington Navy Yard shootings, might have been pushed to violence by his regular meditation practice.
We now know that his interest in Buddhism and meditation may not have been genuine. He went to the Temple in Fort Worth, Tex., reports the Daily Beast, to pick up Thai women. If anything, meditation may have very well been one of the few positive influences in Alexis’s life.
But it wasn’t the Time.com story that got to me. It was the comments, the very comments that I wholeheartedly agreed with. The Time.com writer made a faulty leap of logic. Saying that meditation made Alexis do it is like saying Thai women made him do it. (He had an affinity for them). Or that computers made him do it. (He fixed them). Or that cooking shows did it. (He watched them). But the article drove the very people who believe in the powerfully positive nature of meditation to call forth the parts of their beings that, through meditation, they’ve been working to weaken. The nastiness of comments could lead non-meditators to believe the writer’s main point: meditation makes people angry. In reality, it’s the other way around: angry people meditate because they don’t want to harm anyone with their anger.
At least, that’s why I meditate. In the past several years, since I began meditating, the practice has transformed me from an envious, thankless, entitled snot with an anger problem into someone who loves big, loves often, and loves without limits (on my good days, anyway). It has improved every relationship in my life, including my marriage.
I meditate so often that my kid often asks, “Mom, why do you meditate so much?” I always answer, “So I can be the mother, wife and friend that I know I can be.”
No one ever promised me that meditation would take my marriage from good to great, but it has. When I started meditating, my marriage was okay. I cared for my husband, but I wasn’t in love. We got along okay, but we weren’t exactly the kind of couple that people looked at and said, “Aw, look at them! Aren’t they sweet?” Now? We’re that couple, and I can thank meditation for the transformation. It not only helped me to shed my anger, it also taught me how to love.
Meditation has also transformed my work life, my friendships, and, yes, my relationship with my mother and my mother-in-law.
This is amazing to me because, when I started meditating, I thought I would never be able to learn how to do it. I even wrote a post about how I was hopeless at it. Now, I teach it.
But you don’t have to take my word for it. Research shows that meditation’s healing effects are powerful, especially for our closest relationships. Meditation can reduce marital conflict, foster forgiveness, help you get in the mood, and work better than Prozac at inducing happiness and calm. Even if you’ve never meditated before, you can experience the effects in as soon as a few minutes.
For instance, try sitting quietly and focusing on your breath. As you inhale, think the sound “Om.” Then hold you breath for a moment as you think the sound, “Ah.” Then exhale to the sound “Hum.” Do it a few times. Feeling calmer already, right?
Or sit quietly and think of someone you find easy to love, such as a pet or a baby. Grow that loving feeling in your heart. Love feels wonderful, doesn’t it? Now imagine that you can give that warm, light feeling to everyone in the world. See it leave your heart and envelop all living beings. Notice how giving love allows the love to grow.
Those are just two of countless meditations that can help you cultivate calm, peace, happiness, and love. There’s a saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” In reality, it ought to be, “Happy mind, happy world.” Peace—marital peace and even world peace—starts inside, in our minds. If, through meditation, we cultivate our better angels, we’ll be able to bring out those better angels in others—including our spouses.
Read more of Alisa’s writing at ProjectHappilyEverAfter.com.