Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Can We Heal Our Self and Our Soul Through Meditation?

Are we looking in the wrong place for happiness?

Key points

  • Yoga is about more than just physical practice and Insta-worthy snapshots.
  • Yoga is about understanding the connection between yourself and the world at large.
  • Meditation and mindfulness have numerous physical and mental benefits.
  • The key to medication is quite similar to the ancient Sanskrit mantra: the power to make it through the tough times lies inside you.

May I live like the lotus flower, at ease in muddy water.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

Stenciled on many walls, in many yoga studios, in many countries are the words “May I live like the lotus flower, at ease in muddy waters.”

I have struggled with anxiety throughout my entire life.

I have struggled with "working up to my full potential" throughout my entire life. I never had an explanation for why my brain couldn't work the way other people's brains worked. I never had a justification suitable to the adults in my life as to why I couldn't pay attention the same way other people could.

Parshuram Achary/Unsplash
Sometimes, we just have to tolerate the muddy, messy unknown
Source: Parshuram Achary/Unsplash

I have never had the ability to insert even the teensiest of delays between what my brain screams and what my mouth blurts out.

Because it is muddy to have to struggle to stay silent when your heart and head have spent your entire life fighting to have your words heard by those who are supposed to encourage your growth, your voice, and your well-being.

In 2013, my oldest childhood friend -- the boy who both of our mothers had ultimate faith that one day I would end up marrying -- came down with a severe case of pneumonia and due to complications from many years of serious drug addiction, at the age of 35, fell into a coma from which he would never recover. Ultimately, the family had no choice but to admit him to hospice.

I spent six months doing nothing but going to yoga, and visiting him at first the ICU, and later, at hospice.

Hospice was surreal. His mother wouldn’t let me make reference to his impending death, lest we upset him. Personally, I imagined that my friend was probably quite happy being higher than he had ever been in his entire life, and would have no doubt shaken his head at his mother trying to protect him from the knowledge that he was dying. Because, hey, at least he was doing something he liked.

As we waited for him to pass, I sat in that mud. Because every wall of every "church" I sought to believe in insisted that the mud was essential for growth. That mud was a guarantee that things would get better.

I just had to wait it out.

But, most of us don’t know how to sit in the muddy unknown and wait for an opportunity to grow through, or grow past, that which holds us back. Or, in my case in 2013, waiting for the tether that connected my friend to this world to release him.

Research has well-established the fact that meditation and mindfulness help...well, pretty much everything. Meditation can help reduce anxiety, reduce back pain, lower blood pressure, and decrease the frequency and lengths of episodes of insomnia. Transcendental meditation helps teenagers develop coping skills, boosts the immune system, and can reduce age-related brain degeneration that leads to memory loss related to Alzheimer's Disease.

The importance of meditation and mindfulness is that much like Sanskrit mantra's, the power to better yourself and to reduce symptoms that negatively affect your well-being and personal growth -- that power is found within you.

(Not within your sourdough bread, or perfectly plated Pinterest-worthy meals)

Nothing is greater than our love and compassion for others -- and for ourselves. It is the power of love that allows us to push through the mud and find something better.

This past year has been full of mud. Mud Storms. Mud Hurricanes that required us to depend on the greek alphabet because we ran out of letters. Mud fires that destroyed people’s lives, and -- and sometimes, all that mud felt more like a sh@$storm than something to learn from.

We tried to make our own bread, to develop our expertise at air frying, and to post pictures of the gourmet dinners that were intended to make our ugly insides look beautiful on the outside.

Some of us isolated ourselves by taking extreme political positions that lacked any sort of reality-based content. Some of us were drawn into the conviction that Chrissy Teigen and John Legend and Anderson Cooper were eating babies as cosmetic surgery.

The mud was messing with our vision and we were drowning, blindly, and trying to latch onto anything that might help.

But, we were looking outside of ourselves, rather than inside ourselves. And this mantra, “Om Mani Padme Hum,” insists that you acknowledge to yourself and to the universe that things will be okay.

This ancient Sanskrit mantra requires you to suspend your disbelief, and to embrace the concept that whatever you are going through at this moment, wherever you are in maintaining control of your anger, your integrity, your mental or physical health -- where you are right now, at this moment, is fine.

For now.

This place where you are struggling, this place is okay -- for now.

All you have to do is to put in the work.

You already have the seeds that can grow into your own happiness, your own physical and mental health, your own well-being, and your own enlightenment.

This is inside you. This is your jewel. Not baking bread. Not mastering the air fryer. might need to cut back on all those TikTok videos.

More from Lindsay Weisner Psy.D.
More from Psychology Today
More from Lindsay Weisner Psy.D.
More from Psychology Today