Electric Shock or Stillness? A Lesson in Self- Compassion


Sad love heart symbol background

I was teaching a group of beginner meditation students and told them that we were going to do a 3-hour meditation. I was not serious, but they didn’t know that. I wanted to see their reaction. They looked at me like I was crazy.

I thought, “If I would have said we were going to go dig a ditch or something, they would have been happy to do that”. I asked them, “What exactly is the problem? Why don’t you want to sit with yourself? I’m not saying that you have to do anything. We are going to just sit. Just going to be. What is so scary about that?”

I said, “So if we sit here and I put a screen in front of you, you’re going to fine, right? We can watch a movie, no problem? But if you look inside, if you’re just with yourself for 3 hours, this is scary?”

The answer is yes, it can be. This breaks my heart. What has happened to us that we don’t want to sit with ourselves?

Electric Shock Anyone? It gets worse. In a study by Timothy Wilson, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia, they found that in 700 tested subjects 64% started to administer self-inflected electric shock while spending only 15 minutes alone with themselves.

Crazy, right?

They had people go into a room and just sit with themselves for about 15 minutes. They were allowed to bring in their phones but asked not to use them. Afterward, they were asked, “How was that?” They said, “I didn’t like that at all. That wasn’t good.” Some of them even cheated, admitting to checking their phone.

It wasn’t just young people. They did this with all age groups, and they all had a difficult time.