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Meditation in Times of Distress

meditationI used to think meditation was something you would only want to do when times got tough.

Like – “I’m feeling sad and lonely. I should meditate.”

Or – “I didn’t get what I want and I’m bummed out. I should meditate.”

And I actually used to feel slightly embarrassed, or ashamed, or some combination thereof, when I would make time to meditate.

As if – if I had “a life,” I wouldn’t even have time to pursue a solitary practice like meditation in the first place.

Of course, these beliefs arose in me during the early 90’s, when “meditation” wasn’t a word you heard spoken in public very often (or at all). Today, the level of public openness to talking about and practicing meditation in its many wonderful forms has greatly expanded.

Happily, my ability to meditate has also improved since those first awkward attempts back in 1990. More importantly, so has my perspective on where, how, when and why meditation fits so well into my daily life.

Looking back now, I can see how there have been so many moments when my willingness and discipline to meditate in times of peace has come to my rescue in times of distress. 

Like an insurance policy that is “on call” for me 24/7 (so long as I keep making the “payments” by meditating as close to daily as I can manage), I have felt that inside-out calm spilling out and through me during painful surgeries, even more painful breakups, global and personal tragedies, difficult losses of loved ones, financial emergencies, sudden job losses, and so many more similar situations as well.

My 2011 abdominal surgery is a perfect example.

The day of the surgery, I got some very good painkillers. Then, after the procedure, the nurses gave me one of those nifty morphine buttons to self-manage the post-surgical pain.

But then the next day, they took the morphine button away and asked me to get up and walk down the hall (it is worth noting that, up to that point, I had been thinking this surgery was a piece of cake – I felt no pain at all!).

But at that moment when, morphine draining fast out of my system, I attempted to bend and then stand up out of the bed, the pain was so fierce, so overpowering – it honestly felt like I’d fallen on the blade of an unsheathed sword some careless samurai had left lying around.

At that moment, breath knocked plain out of me and brain scrambling to hold onto sanity, it happened. The inner peace and calm of the meditative state just flooded through me, calming my frantic mind and soothing my pain-wracked body.

In just a few seconds time, the pain- and panic-fog had been cleared away by this mysterious soothing inner mentor that arrived just when I needed it most and without me having to ask.

Now I think that meditation is one of those things I want to do every day, and especially on the “good” days when I am feeling at peace and in harmony with life and the world.

By meditating in times of peace, I strengthen and en-courage myself in advance for times of distress not yet arrived.

Today’s Takeaway: Have you ever struggled to make time for personal growth practices like meditation – and not just because of your busy calendar, but because it seems like “everything is going smoothly?” Think about the last time you were plunged into sudden distress – where did you find the help and support you needed? Is there anything else you might like to add to your support toolkit – now, before you need it most?

Woman meditating photo available from Shutterstock

Meditation in Times of Distress

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2016). Meditation in Times of Distress. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 22, 2020, from


Last updated: 8 Mar 2016
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