Occasionally people voice concerns about meditation. There is sometimes an aversion to zoning out, to becoming “too zen”. People don’t want to lose their zest, their energy, their “give a damn.” They don’t want to lose their edge.

I find it interesting that people voice this concern when you often hear yoga instructors encouraging participants to find their edge, to breathe and lean into it. They don’t encourage people to avoid or ignore their edge, but to look for it and to move toward it in a conscious and informed way.

Meditation and inquiry help us to find our edge. In meditation and mindfulness we are developing the ability to sit with the acknowledgment of discomfort. It teaches us how to stay calm and investigative the discomfort while you are experiencing it and while it is present to be studied.

The breathing teaches us, wires us, to moderate the breath and the heart rate in the face of perceived, but not immediate physical danger. As we sit with whatever our discomfort is (boredom, anger, sexual tension, day dreams, sadness) we begin to learn about it over time. Hmm…the last time I sat here with this same feeling it was because someone else made me mad about that same issue. Hmm…maybe there’s something about that issue that pushes my buttons.

As we develop our ability to sit and see and understand ourselves a wee bit better, we don’t take many things so personally. We learn to see patterns in our lives that have tripped us up over and over again in may different ways.

Then we can recognize them as they come into our lives because we know how they feel. As we begin to experience the benefits of this practice we begin to honor its wisdom. We give ourselves permission to slow down long enough to figure out how to best manage our own energy that is being stirred up by past programming.

The more we acknowledge our own biases, our own triggers and themes, the more we decrease the time and energy we spend unconsciously reacting to them. As we acknowledge that our behaviors are often unconsciously motivated by our feelings of threat, of not belonging, of some how falling short of belonging, or reacting against real or, more often perceived, threats, the sooner we can redirect that energy, the biology of acceleration, toward forward movement (As opposed the dog-chasing-its-tail spiral of old programming.)

No, meditation and mindfulness practices won’t “zen you out”. They give you the tools to find and lean into your edge.