How do you meet unpleasant thoughts and feelings in meditation? At a recent meditation course in Taiwan, all participants had learnt and understood that when you discover that you are lost in thoughts, you just return gently to the repetition of the meditation sound, while allowing thoughts to come and go. But when one participant told the group about being bothered by recurring thoughts about somebody who had behaved badly in the past, there came at least 4 different suggestions about what to do:

1) continue thinking until the thoughts go away by themselves
2) use the meditation sound to suppress the thoughts
3) make the meditation sound and the thoughts appear in tandem
4) transform the negative thoughts into more positive ones

In fact, all these solutions imply a non-acceptance of the thoughts and therefore of yourself. It’s as if these thoughts require you to do something beyond the general rule. They touch upon deep fears of accepting life as it is – with its imperfections and, at times, pains. The belief that you can relieve yourself from this situation by doing something extra is rooted in an unwillingness to see the actual situation. The paradox is that the only way to begin a lasting process of change is to accept things as they are.