Meditation and 'danger'

Meditation and 'danger'

by Headspace_HQ » Wed Jul 16, 2014 10:53 pm


Is meditation possible in the midst of danger or while living in a situation where for every dangerous occurrence, there are a thousand other potentially dangerous occurrences that eventually does not manifest in danger?

I ask this because there are many people, and not just those living in third-world countries, who have to tolerate and endure versions of what I described, in highly varying intensities and/or to extremely different extents of the word 'danger'. Even in the US, many people have to endure situations where instead of actual danger, they are facing extremely unpleasant situations every day, for example, school bullying, or living in the house with an abuser. Many reasons prevent certain people from escaping their real-life situations: in such cases, how does meditation come into play? How can they find relaxation in such times?

Andy's Answer:

I think the first thing to say is that obviously meditation and mindfulness cannot prevent certain things happening to us in life. No amount of meditation can do that. Difficulties, challenges and even very real dangers as you describe will still arise for us all. Of course, for some these dangers are more severe and perhaps more sustained too. In such situations, meditation can be used in so many different ways and is entirely dependent on the individual, on their upbringing, environment and conditioning.

The first level is the level of prevention. Whilst we cannot necessarily prevent danger arising, we can most definitely create the most favourable conditions for them not to arise. At a very basic level, if we are rude, arrogant and obnoxious and express these traits amongst others, then the danger level will increase. But if we are calm, considered and respectful of others then it is likely to decrease. Clearly, meditation is far more likely to encourage the cultivation of the latter.

The second level is the level of management. In this scenario, something is already occurring. Maybe we can do something about it, maybe we can't, but either way we need to find some place of calm and clarity in the mind. Sometimes this clarity can help set us free from the situation, allowing us to make changes in our life for the better. In those very sad and unfortunate situations where people are unable to change their circumstances, then it at least provides calm in the storm, a place of safety where we can take refuge, no matter what else is going on. Some would say it is just an escape, but I would suggest it's much more than that. But even if it were just an escape, is that such a bad thing? More than that though, regular practice can help transform our perspective of the situation. That's not to negate the severity of the danger or situation, but it is surprising just how much a small shift in perception can transform our experience.

The third level is the level of treatment. By this I mean how do we cope with something after the danger is passed, perhaps even knowing that the danger will return. This level is still to do with self-awareness, but the qualities of compassion, empathy and forgiveness are more implicit, along with a greater awareness of impermanence and the changing nature of all things. These are all parts of the Headspace Journey and all included for this very reason. An example of this might be if someone has beaten us and they remain a threat from which, for whatever reason, and strictly hypothetically speaking, we are unable to escape. In this situation, all we can do is practice compassion and forgiveness What else is there? Of course, we can get angry, encourage thoughts of hatred and revenge, but ultimately it is only we ourselves who experience that violence of mind. So as if the situation was not bad enough, we are now compounding it from choice. We are giving them our mind as well as our body. But this is quite advanced practice I would say and I am not suggesting it is it is something easy to do or even appropriate to all situations, but I hope it gives a flavour of how meditation could potentially be useful in such a dangerous situation.
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