In the mid-80s, MTV ran a marathon of episodes of The Monkees.  Having been a huge Monkees fan from an early age, I ran my state-of-the-art VCR round the clock to tape the entire marathon, including setting an alarm and getting up in the middle of the night to change the tapes. 

A year or so later, while grieving during a nasty break-up in 1986, I figured that nothing would take my mind off my heart being drawn and quartered like watching some of the madcap hijinx of these musicians as they romped through their rock star lives in their Malibu beachhouse. So I busted out the VHS tapes and popped them in the machine.  By the third episode, I so associated that show with the break-up that it was 1991 before I could watch a Monkees episode without getting a knot in my stomach and feeling like I was going to hurl*.

As Zen Teachers we use meditation to lessen our tension and reduce our stress, but we must avoid associating the stress and tension so closely with the meditative process that we are unable to approach our stillness and silence without a sense of rising anxiety.  It would be sad if, by entwining the two too closely, we poisoned our shot at tranquility, transcendence, and enlightenment. 

Stress is the reality.  Meditation is the antidote.  They’re different.

Learn from my experience with The Monkees and that long ago heartbreaker by remembering to separate the two.  TZT

*For the record, I can now watch those episodes (now transferred to DVD) sans hurling.