Hello Jim and thank you for both your post and your candor. Since this is a meditation forum, I feel that it would be most appropriate to limit my response from what I believe is a meditation perspective.
First I would like to share that in my experience, meditation practice has certainly been quite beneficial in promoting my increasing ability to abide in equanimity, or a sort of cognitive and emotional equipoise, in moments that I may tell myself are “difficult”. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I have “achieved” some sort of “state” that I no longer experience moments of fear, anxiety, sadness, etc., but what has happened is the cultivation of a greater ability to still feel centered and perhaps “calmer” despite the presence of these potentially afflictive emotions. Besides the obvious benefit of this, I have found that if I am able to abide in this state of equanimity during these potentially difficult moments, I am able to think, speak and act more skillfully so that I don’t simply just “add more kerosene to the fire”. And what I have realized on many occasions is that the acute “discomfort” I may be feeling is nowhere near as intense as if I “fan the flames” of that discomfort by adding the “what if?”.
BUT, again in my personal experience, the benefit of meditation in this regard unfolds little by little and progressively as we practice with “little things” that we may find mildly upsetting, so that we may next practice with “medium things” that we may find to be moderately upsetting and then after practicing with these perhaps we will be more relaxed and skilful in cultivating a skilful relationship to those “big things” that we may find highly upsetting. It’s like Shantideva supposedly said” There is nothing that does not grow light through habit & familiarity. Putting up with little cares, I’ll train myself to bear with great adversity.”
So the efficacy of meditation in moments that I feel are highly charged seems to be directly related to the
amount of steadfast practice I have had prior to that moment. In other words, it would help if the “level” of my practice is equal to or greater than the “level” of the perceived “difficulty”. Does make sense to you?
So may I ask, do you currently have a meditation practice?